How to Dress Preppy, But In a Cool Way
One of the latest trends being remixed by Gen Z is preppy style.
“Old money” aesthetics are trending on TikTok, with brands inspired by prep wear. Think a modernized version of Ralph Lauren, or if Brooks Brothers was cool.
TikTok is excavating silhouettes from the past, combining them with clips that romanticize slower living and less flashy clothing. Picking up on this, brands have gravitated to similar aesthetics, so nostalgia marketing is now ubiquitous.
In some ways, this trend can veer towards the problematic. The notion that things were better in the past is not a new one, but it is a dangerous one. Like the cozy lockdown trend “cottagecore”, TikTok is aestheticizing the past under the guise of “good taste.”
The nostalgia of Vogue Italia outtakes and Prince Charles’ candids combined with the elevation of “simplicity” — read: expensivity — to create the appearance of a superior sense of taste. Dismissing our current era as gauche, this trend carries the tinge of grainy vintage ads and architectural spreads, promos for retro Ralph Lauren collections, Rolex watches, vintage Porsches, and Portofino homes — status symbols all which don’t merely gesture to wealth, but flagrantly virtue-signal to a dusty, unattainable past.
via @oldmoneydreams on Instagram
However, there is a way to harken back to some of these aesthetics in a less problematic way — by not taking them so seriously!
Though to some, that preppy style may feel too much like a reminder of the 2000s or a signifier of WASPiness, both are making their inevitable return but with a more playful, ironic twist.
Once the sartorial staple of obnoxious frat boys, tennis pros, and the Easter mass-to-brunch parade, preppy wear has been co-opted by street style. This time round, it’s embracing prep-inspired, classic pieces — but in a cool way. Due to the versatility of the style, from streetwear to luxury designers have taken it on. Seems, it’s a natural — what with the resurgence of a 70s inspired take on dad-style and tennis aesthetics.
From experimental patterns and styles to elaborate knits — and even beachy materials! — prep is no longer a dirty word.
Here are a few of our favorite preppy picks:
Sneakers are all about cultivating that effortless preppy style. Put these Reebok Club C Sneakers on to play — or to not play — tennis and “run” to the bodega as your only source of exercise — who will know?!? This classic shape harkens back to the 8os, lending a little of that coveted vintage vibe to any look.
Accessories make the outfit — we always say — especially your choice of bag. Preppy style is often associated with academia, so this Kanken is a fashionable — yet supremely functional — way to capture this look. The Fjallraven Kanken’s European stamp screams prep and refinement.
This kicky tennis skirt is an eclectic combination of the most iconic preppy mainstays — sporty style and plaid. While the white American Apparel tennis skirt has had its day in alt-fashion, this fresh take on the classic shape recalls school uniforms. It’s giving: Gossip Girl. It’s giving: headbands and loafers galore. Go forth in all your academic glory.
Certain brands scream prep. Ralph Lauren, Brooks Brothers, Lacoste. And like many other preppy mainstays, Lacoste is in the midst of a revival. Yes, Lacoste’s retaining their classic looks but adding contemporary takes and shapes. This logo dad hat is fit for the golf course or a get-together with friends. So, you — or your dad or grandad — can take that look from day to night.
One of the tenets of preppy style is simple, well-made garments in classic hues. This v-neck ticks all the right boxes. The modest pattern ensures it will never go out of style, and a solid tone goes with everything. Unlike the garish and gaudy products dominating the trendscape, this piece is not only stylish and relevant it feels relevant and stylish.