Fashion & Style

What is the preppy look

Info Guru,

Rate This Article:

4.0 / 5.0
80s shirt
A dress shirt can be the basis of a preppy look
  • Share
  • Tweet

Recognizing what is the preppy look to reclaim your 80s style

As with all things, fashion tends to come in cycles. What was old becomes new again. 

The 60s had their fashion resurgence, and the 70s crept back into our closet when we weren’t looking. So it only makes sense that the 80s would also make a comeback. Ah, the 80s; the decade of loafers (worn without socks) and polo shirts. 

To take advantage of this fashion phenomenon, let’s revisit what the preppy look actually was and then flip up those collars, tie a sweater around your shoulder, and let’s bring preppy back!


Monograms add class and elegance to your ensemble and still stand as the flame-bearer of preppy fashion. Up the “prep factor” of any item of clothing adding a monogram. A few good-quality monogrammed articles of clothing add an affordable bit of luxury to a wardrobe.

Clean Cut

Preppy fashions have a cleaner, more elegant cut.  A simple silhouette lends a certain ivy-league appeal to a look. Longer skirts, such as a modest tea length, pair well with a sweater twin set. A classic cut navy blazer is another hallmark of this posh style. Consider a simple seersucker or madras plaid for spring and a tweed or corduroy in autumn.   

Likewise, hair should be kept simple and styled—never shaggy. An elegant chignon or a simple pony tail are both suitable choices for the ladies. Headbands are another fashionable way to add a bit of prep to your style. Headbands come in a variety of styles and colors, and they are a sensible way to handle a bad hair day. For men, Short cropped styles are a wise choice.

Elegant jewelry can help to accentuate the clean lines of the preppy style. Consider a single strand of pearls or simple diamond stud earrings.   

Fabrics Types, Styles, and Patterns

Oxford cloth and chambray are classic preppy fabrics and provide comfortable elegance. Chino pants teamed with a classic, cable knit sweater, is the perfect pairing for a brisk fall afternoon. When summer’s heat blares like a furnace, consider a madras plaid sundress or Bermuda shorts in a classic khaki, madras plaid, seersucker, or linen.

The colors of the fabrics also define the preppy style, with pastels being the hallmark. Pink polo shirts, khaki slacks, and a navy blazer are iconic images of this established style. If you are uncertain about what to wear, consider this phrase: When in doubt; pastels are never ‘out’.”

Polo is Not Just a Sport

Many preppy styles are inspired by sportswear. Polo shirts are practically the preppy’s uniform. Likewise, tennis garb is much favored and golf-inspired shirts, skirts, and dresses are also mainstays of this style. Men also borrow their athletic look from the rugby field, as rugby shirts are a staple of this 80s inspired fashion. When worn with dark wash, plain jeans in a straight-leg cut, the ensemble takes on a style of time honored tradition.

Just Say No

One of the mottos of the 80s was “Just Say No.” (Although, “Where’s the Beef” was pretty popular, too!) Keep this motto in mind; part of knowing how to carry off a certain style is knowing what to avoid. To embody the preppy look, you should avoid overly flashy or revealing clothing. Pack away the ripped jeans, the faux fur, and rhinestones. Good riddance!

Of all the styles to make resurgence, the preppy style might be the most “wearable” and comfortable of them. These fashions are suitable for work or weekend wear, and they mix and match well to create a variety of outfits. Even if you don’t want to makeover your entire wardrobe, a few preppy pieces will likely pair well with what you already own.

Rate this Article

Click on the stars below to rate this article from 1 to 5

  • Share
  • Tweet