The Call of the... Preppy

Natalie started a thread earlier and asked us all which looks we'd like to explore down the road.

Tanya also got me looking forward - into Fall.

So I was cruising around the web at lunch and realized that I'm seriously feeling the call of preppier elements! 1-3 are all from the Ralph Lauren Rugby line. 4 arrived today and I will be posting shortly (!) and 5 is the inspiration for a new bag DIY I will be starting as soon as my supplies roll in.

I still love utility, steampunk, tomboy, militaria/warrior elements - and what's interesting is I don't feel these and preppy are mutually exclusive. The red pants have a built-in *pen holder*! How coolly utilitarian is that? It's still UWP if I carry my pen in case I need to stab an attacker in an alley, right? o_0

What does everyone else think of a preppy style?

This post is also published in the youlookfab forum. You can read and reply to it in either place. All replies will appear in both places.


  • Suz replied 9 years ago

    I can see you in every one of these, Rae! Love the pants and the dress!

    It will be interesting to see how you integrate this element into your fashion persona. To the extent that "preppy" is a division of "classic" that shouldn't be difficult.

    There's also an element of whimsy to the items you've posted, which may be another factor that is attracting you.

  • sarah replied 9 years ago

    I could totally see you in these, Rae - preppy with an edge! You could always carry an exact-o knife or something instead of a pen.

  • Diana replied 9 years ago

    I discussed this a little bit with Angie in my outfit post from Monday, which was a bit preppy (at least for me) since in the past I have said I was allergic to prep and clearly that is not really the case. I think my definition of "preppy" is strongly influenced by the fact that I live in Boston, though, where being as preppy as possible is like a sport. =P I really DO NOT like serious Boston prep, like Lilly Pulitzer and Vineyard Vines. You know, polo shirt with a string of pearls, pink and green prints, grosgrain ribbon belts, boat shoes, that kind of thing - really not for me. It's extremely polished and prim and proper. I prefer a much more laid back, less polished, preppy, maybe something like RATE preppy.

    (Incidentally, Angie said she liked J. Crew preppy, which I see as being more laid back than super Boston prep.)

    So, I would totally wear outfit #1 with the red pants and the red striped leggings/pants in #3. #2 is too seriously preppy for me! I'd probably pair the preppier elements with more urban or arty pieces as well for some contrast - I don't think I can do head to toe prep.

    ETA: I also prefer British preppy to American preppy. It reads as a little edgier and more RATE to me. Plus, secretly I want to have an English country estate. =P

  • rae replied 9 years ago

    Suz, great point about the whimsey. I wonder if it is my silly side rearing its head and peeking out of the UWP?

    Diana, that is an important distinction. I also don't think I can do the Boston Prep you describe - sounds way too ladylike. Seems like the tomboy persona is still hard at work in the preppy outfits I envision (I picture #2 with combat boots, jeggings and a utility jacket). I do like RL, LL Bean, J Crew, Eddie Bauer... seems like they always at least have a few things one could go huntin' and fishin' in. :)

    ETA: Heh heh, I want a country estate, too! Ride out to meet me at a polo match sometime, both of us in our RATE-preppy outfits.

  • Meredith1953 replied 9 years ago

    You would great in all these pieces! I think a touch of preppy whether American or British is really playful and cute!

  • Inge replied 9 years ago

    I'm often drawn to preppy looks (retro elements is another one), and like you I don't think it can't fit in with my other style preferences (modern classic, punk, androgyny). Looking forward to seeing you play around with this, Rae.

  • jayne replied 9 years ago

    I am drawn to both preppy and UWP. The common thread for me is the structure, fitted shoulders, collars, plus good weight in material (so it is serious), and the bold colors. Stripes are not usually dainty but bold and strong, masculine. Also with Ralph Lauren in particular, you get the western vibe with the gear, in belts, buckles, chains, zippers, etc.

    I love what you posted and have had a dress like that and loved it until I shrank out of it.. Riding boots are definitely on my fall wish list also.

    SO I think they match up!

  • Chrizzle replied 9 years ago

    Throughout my life I have found myself being drawn to certain elements that are considered preppy, and after reading these posts, I think what I like is RATE prep (that's Rough Around the Edges for newer people), exotic prep, or prep with an edge. Maybe ... a trustafarian UWP preppy? I really kinda like pink and green combos regardless of their preppy associations - I think they look good together, and good on me. I admire the use of bright color and pattern in preppy style.

    OT: I notice that home decor magazines and websites like to describe brightly colored items, often with geometric or botanical patterns as preppy. When I see rooms or houseware items done in bright pink, green, orange, and yellow, with certain geometric patterns, they make me happy because they remind me of my rather modest upbringing in Jamaica, or maybe of the Middle East or a Mediterranean coastal town, not of a Nantucket beach house.

    My grandmother's house had rooms that looked a lot like some of the ones lauded as the epitome of prep. That kind of decor is common in Jamaica because it's inspired by the landscapes, the weather, and local plants and animals. Is something that's been around forever (particularly in a different culture) preppy just because preppies also like it? I'll see if I can find a picture of the kind of room I mean. Edit: found one!

  • catgirl replied 9 years ago

    I definitely see a link to UWP/punk. Plaid/argyle styles cut both ways, for instance. I'm feeling a bit of a style change too, toward more streamlined elements, but still wanting those utility/warrior elements. I'm glad you're on this journey with me - we can keep each other on track!

  • rae replied 9 years ago

    I am thoroughly enjoying all of these explications - I am glad to know that I am not the only one who sees preppy possibilities beyond the gold course.

    Inge and Jayne, it makes me happy that you already are drawn to and use these elements in a modern way. I will have to take some WIW notes! So right about the commonalities and ability to mix well with other styles.

    Chrizzle, I am fascinated by the interior design tie-in! Does this color scheme evolve in both cultures through total coincidence? Was there some appropriation along the way? I could see either - or both - happening.

    Una, thanks for bringing up the Punk connection - like Punk is a sub-species that evolved from a preppier animal. So maybe in a way we are both technically going back to UWP's roots? Regardless, I'm realy enjoying your more streamlined looks!

  • replied 9 years ago

    I love this for you! I like subtle prep style but I need to stay away from the super-kitschy literal stuff we wore back in the '80s. I was in high school and having a matching ribbon to tie around the neck of your button down oxford cloth shirt (which was layered over a polo shirt) was the height of teen style. I'm pretty sure I had a grosgrain belt with whales on it too. Anyway, I love the modern prep style I'm seeing now and I could see you taking the above items and making them *yours*.

    @Chrizzle, I LOVE the picture you posted. I think what you're describing could be called "British Colonial" style, which I have always loved.

  • Mo replied 9 years ago

    I have to say, at a glance none of the thumbnails looked like what I would call preppy. I think Izod, sweaters knotted over the shoulders, boat shoes.
    I like these looks for you!

  • Laura (rhubarbgirl) replied 9 years ago

    Ooh, I want pants with a pen holder - seriously, that would be handy. Except then I'd accidentally stab myself in the butt when I sat down or something. ;)

    I think there's a sense of utilitarian whimsy with these options, if that's not too much of a contradiction in terms - like it's practical, but not merely practical, it's aggressively practical in a way that collides with the steampunk aesthetic.

  • christieanne replied 9 years ago

    I think your utilitarian side is drawn to a military or uniform influence. Sort of prep but not in the sense of Original Preppy Handbook (more like the Cape Cod Prep that Diana described).
    I am drawn to prep as well but done in as a spin on the traditional styles I wore in the early 80's - Sperry Topsiders but now in metallic, school boy satchel bags, loafers.
    You really need a schoolboy blazer!

    And punk-prep in my mind is taking a striped oxford button down and shearing the sleeves off - I could see that being RATE.

  • goldenpig replied 9 years ago

    Wow, I did not realize there were so many kinds of preppy. I don't know much about the definition of preppy (in my mind it's something like J Crew or Tommy Hilfiger, polo shirts and boat shoes, etc) so I'll just say that I can see you in all of these pieces Rae! And I can't wait to see your version of the bag in #5!

  • ManidipaM replied 9 years ago

    I'll confess I tend to think of plaids and chinos and polo shirts and long shorts and loafers for 'preppy' too, adding in scarves and pearls and straw hats... but of course (this reminds me of the boho thread), there is a lot of diversity in preppy beyond the stereotype!

    I love the items you linked to Rae, especially the pants (pen holder! delightful!), and though I did not see 'prep' at first, the discussion is opening my eyes...

    ... and showing me I like a bit of prep in my eclectic/bohemian myself! Love loafers for example, and plaids, chinos (yikes! hide me from Angie, o warriors? :-p), straw hats...

    Claire, I'm still smiling at your schoolgirl style! Reminds me our school uniform actually *mandated* knee-length socks rolled down to the ankle (2-inch width of fold, measured with a ruler each day after morning mass by the prefects, or student officers, stationed on the landings as we filed up the stairs to our classrooms!). Hilarious!

    Funnily, it didn't occur to me until now that British public-school/country-seat style was prep too --- which it is, the original prepster!

  • catgirl replied 9 years ago

    Pondering this more, I think I like "boy prep" (surprise surprise) more than "girl prep". Navy blazers, nautical themes, argyle, loafers, rakishly rumpled oxford shirts... Sort of the preppy bad schoolboy look.

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