“I was going for the Catholic school girl look today,” was the first thing this week’s Fashionista told me when I caught her out on the quad. Seeing that Illinois Wesleyan University is considered a private school, it only makes sense that the private, preppy look is the most prevalent among students. Not to mention that 30 percent of IWU’s student body is involved in one of our four sororities or five fraternities that promote Polo, Sperry Top-Sider’s and bows or bow ties non-stop here on campus. It only makes sense then, that this week’s style advice will give you some tools and tips on how to represent this classic look on your own campus, whether you’re involved in Greek life or not!
Passing the test of time, preppy fashion started as the Ivy League style of dress during the ’40s and ’50s. Designers such as Brooks Brothers, J. Press, Ralph Lauren, J.Crew and Vineyard Vines created this look that appears neat, put-together and well balanced through colors, patterns and accessories that are homely and clean. The basic rule to remember when going for this particular style is to keep your pieces relatively simple and sensible. Clean lines, close fits, modest cuts and high-quality textiles are a must while flashy, complicated or revealing articles are a bust.
When building a preppy wardrobe, focus on items that will last forever because they are made well and won’t go out of style. Start by choosing colors that fall within the preppy spectrum. Go with a basic black and white piece, like this Fashionista, or try out some navy and beige. Since spring is not far around the corner, you could also include bright shades of yellow, lime green or pink. Choosing the correct print is also important, as such patterns and symbols may be familiar, but are defining characteristics of the prepster style. Plaid, gingham, nova checks, tartan, nautical stripes, argyle, floral and some paisleys are all fun options. Boat and classic V-necked shirts are safe cuts to choose, while collared shirts, like this Fashionista’s are also highly encouraged.
With these guidelines in hand, try out some classic preppy staples. For your top, Polo shirts (collared or not), jackets or blazers in classic navy, or cable knit vests and sweaters are good choices. Pair these with chino and khaki pants or dark wash, straight leg jeans. While she still portrayed the dark wash style (she even managed to incorporate our Wesleyan green!), this Fashionista mixed it up with slim cut jeans. As the weather gets warmer, you could pick a skirt or pair of bermudas in preppy madras plaid, seersucker or classic linen. Lilly Pulitzer patterns are a favorite amongst the girls in my sorority, which look cute on tea length and summer dresses. Ballet flats, boat shoes and wedges are standard shoe choices while simple colored small handbags or monogrammed large totes are the prep shoulder accessories. Add a string of pearls, diamond studs, a big hair bow and you’re all set!