The first preppy wardrobes originated somewhere in the dorm rooms of the American Ivy League in the early 20th century, and have since been splattered across the mass market by coming-of-age movies like American Pie and Father of the Bride. Exemplifying the upper-middle class saw some of the world’s biggest fashion houses adopt the preppy look into their core male, and from there, the world became a hub of fine knit sweaters tied loosely around the shoulder.
The issue with men’s preppy fashion, is there’s a fine line between classy collegiate and, well, looking like you belong in a retirement home. It’s important to be smart about your choices, and not go full cable knit and tartan without thinking. These tips from our Kent and Lime stylists will help you work the preppy style into your look without being mistaken for the head of the lawn bowls team
You’ll notice that a lot of preppy style revolves around a narrative. The polo player, the stable boy, the nautical nomad, the sharp professor. Choose which guy you’re going to embody, and make sure each piece you choose rings true to your character. Getting it wrong and pairing your boat shoes with your wax stable jacket and you’ll find yourself looking less Ivy League and more commuity college drop out.
Many preppy styles give a gentle head nod to their heritage. The classic, traditional patterns like tartan and gingham, and tailoring like blazers and slacks can be found delicately worked into modern fashion pieces – and this is what’ll help you nail the look. Taking styles too literally and snapping up any old item just because it’s got a preppy print can mean you miss the mark.
Combining the right colours can subtly prep-up your otherwise ordinary clothes. The right colour combinations and carefully curated accessories can be all you need to look like authentic Princeton alumni. Creams, reds and blues work well for a summer nautical style, while more autumnal tones like navy, forest green and stone offer more of a quintessentially British, Oxford style.
Nautical nomad: Stone chinos, blue striped shirt, boat shoes and brown belt.
College professor: Navy pants, brown brogues, cable knit jumper and tweed-look blazer. Add shoulder bag to add an alluring sense of authority.
Stable boy: Suede desert boots, jeans, gingham shirt under forest green knit, and a wax jacket for winter.
Polo player: Polo shirt with collar lifted, tucked into cuffed chinos, and brown brogues with visible socks.
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Colours that stand out and are you. Go for a green, go for a burgundy
Use what you already have. If it's a check shirt for work or the blazer and then pair it up with some more preppy items
Add that blazer with your smart casual look for that college professor persona