If your favorite style icon is Ali MacGraw in Love Story, then you almost certainly have a preppy style personality.
An all-American style which is inspired by prep school attire, this is a way of dressing which can transcend seasons, and generations.
What is preppy style?
So, first, what exactly is preppy style? This collegiate-inspired style is casual in the main, but that doesn’t mean that your closet will be totally full of denim and jeans.
You also love to wear skirts and dresses as well as classic blouses with pussy bows or Peter Pan collars.
How to tell if you have a preppy style personality
A preppy style has a lot in common with classic style so you may well find that you are drawn to elements of both. It can also draw inspiration from natural style.
As a preppy style personality, you love cozy knits, checks and stripes and prefer to wear flat shoes and natural fibers, including leather as well as wool.
If you aren’t sure what your style is, you could take this fun style personality quiz to see which style you are most drawn to.
You appreciate clean-cut styles
I won’t find you in distressed jeans or a moto jacket. Instead you prefer a blazer, a v-neck sweater and a classic jeans style like bootcut or straight-leg.
Sylvia @sylviacolella above (read her style interview here) puts together a number of preppy pieces, including her trench coat, loafers, cap and striped scarf to create a stylish outfit.
Check out this similar sweater, coat, jeans, striped sweater, boots, handbag, cap and sunglasses.
You aren’t trend obsessed
It’s much more important to you to have a good closet of essentials than to shop for a statement piece each season.
For more inspiration take a look at the 33 essentials every woman over 40 should have in her closet.
You have a love of stripes
If there’s one pattern you have in your closet, it will be stripes. That’s because as well as being college-inspired, the preppy look also has a nod to the nautical.
You love a dress or shirt with a collar
While you’ll wear t-shirts and boat necks too, collared clothing styles such as the peter pan collar, classic button-down shirt or shirt dress and the polo style are among your favorite looks.
Natalia @odin.stylish.me above wears a preppy polo shirt and loafers.
Get her look with this similar collared shirt (other options here and here), jeans, loafers, handbag, belt, earrings and sunglasses.
You don’t have a preference for pants or skirts
While preppy style is generally comfortable, you are just as at home in a pair of pants as you are a skirt and you probably have equal numbers of each in your closet.
Preppy style women
The preppy style is one that has been adopted by many younger celebrities in recent years, including Emma Watson and Olivia Palermo.
But it’s also loved by Alexa Chung (above, right, who combines preppy with some bohemian), who is in her fourth decade, and Gwyneth Paltrow, who combines preppy with classic style. Reese Witherspoon is also often seen sporting a preppy look.
Kate Middleton also often dresses in a preppy style both off-duty and on. She loves blazers and pussy bow necklines.
Plus, there are plenty of women from years gone by who could show them all a thing or two. Fashion designer Lilly Pulizter epitomized preppy style, whereas no-one wore a twinset better than Jackie O or Grace Kelly.
Designers you like if you love preppy fashion
TommyNow – Thom Browne – Ralph Lauren
As the preppy style is really an all-American look, your preference tends to be for American designers including Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger and Thom Browne, Gucci and Prada have also increasingly been fans of the preppy style in recent seasons.
All of these designers will appeal to your love of a clean-cut, classic style with a little hint of “geek” chic.
Preppy clothes and accessories
Now, let’s take a look at some of the best clothing, shoe and accessory styles to get a preppy look. Plus, read on and you’ll find a capsule wardrobe especially put together for the preppy style personality this summer.
Tops to get the perfect preppy look
The preppy style personality really goes for two main options when it comes to tops.
You will want to make sure you have plenty of casual options in your closet, including a classic polo neck and Breton-striped top.
But, you also like ladylike, dressy blouses and will often choose to dress up your jeans with pretty blouses featuring Peter Pan collars or pussy bow detailing.
Polo RL Classic Fit Mesh Pony Shirt – Citizens of Humanity Kayla Stripe Button-Up Shirt – Anne Klein Smocked Cuff Bow Blouse – COS Slim-Fit Heavyweight T-Shirt
Abi @stealmystyle40 above drapes a sweater around her shoulders to create the perfect preppy look.
Retreat her style with this similar shirt, jeans, sweater, flats and shoulder bag.
A classic sweater and a cardigan is definitely vital to achieving a preppy style.
For a true preppy look, choose a v-neck and look out for details such as cable knit as well as varsity or cricket-style stripes. You could also look for a sleeveless sweater to wear over your shirt.
Club Monaco Ribbed Cashmere Polo Sweater – BP. Oversize Cable Cardigan (plus size here) – Karen Millen Nautical Cable Knit Sweater – BP. Cable Knit Sweater Vest
Preppy style outerwear
For transitional months or cooler evenings, you can invest in a padded, yet fitted, vest which you can wear over your shirts and v-neck sweaters.
You will also want to add a classic blazer as well as a quilted coat. Plus, you could think about adding a classic pattern such as plaid.
River Island Tipped Collar Blazer – Chartou Wool Plaid Double Breasted Coat – Club Monaco Soft Trench Coat – Wantdo Winter Thicken Jacket
Carmen @carmen_gimeno above mixes striped patterns with her top and scarf.
Steal her look with this similar sweater, blazer (other options here and here), jeans, sneakers, tote, scarf (another option here) and sunglasses.
Jeans and pants for the preppy style personality
When choosing jeans and pants, you won’t be looking for the very latest hem style or for jeans with holes in them.
Like the rest of your look, you like a clean cut look which could transcend decades.
You will want a classic jeans style as well as looking out for options with patterns such as checks and for pants which have a defined crease. A sailor style will also appeal to you.
FRAME Le Mini Boot Jeans – Vince Coin Pocket Stretch Cotton Chino Pants – Vince Textured Plaid Cotton Blend Trousers – Lyssé Wide Leg Denim Trousers –
Preppy dresses and skirts
You will probably have an equal number of pants to skirts if I were to take a look in your closet.
Look out for styles featuring pleats which will go perfectly with your Peter Pan collars. As a preppy style, you could opt for a shorter skirt length if you are confident about your legs.
You can always wear a shorter skirt with opaque tights. Or you could choose a knee-length or midi option.
adidas Zip Polo Rib Midi Dress – Eliza J Fit & Flare Sweater Dress – Max Mara Leisure Durante Cotton Blend Jersey Skirt – Kate Kasin Pleated Swing Skirt
Kim @kimair above (read her style interview here) layers her shirt under her dress.
Recreate her outfit with this similar polo dress, shirt, sneakers, clutch, earrings and sunglasses.
Like the rest of your look, your shoes will be very classic styles. They will also, usually, be mainly flat.
You aren’t too keen on heels and you definitely don’t like to be uncomfortable. Instead, look out for loafers with bows or tassels, a pair of brogues or Oxfords and flat knee-high boots for the cooler months. For summer, you could look for sneakers or boat shoes. For more formal occasions, you might like Mary Janes, either flats or with a heel.
Franco Sarto Carolynn Loafer Flat – Sam Edelman Loraine Loafer – Michael Kors Padma Loafer Pump – Sperry Crest Vibe Sneaker
Accessories to go with your preppy clothes
When it comes to accessories, you like to be understated rather than flamboyant.
You love a classic satchel, some well-made leather gloves which will last you for years and, of course, a long wool scarf. Headbands are particularly on-trend right now and are a key component of preppy style.
Your jewelry will be tasteful and understated, like the rest of your wardrobe, so you might only choose to add a pair of diamond or pearl stud earrings and a watch for your day-to-day outfits.
Tory Burch Spaghetti Leather Tote – Mulberry Mini Alexa Leather Satchel – Mali + Lili Tassel Convertible Vegan Leather Envelope Clutch – Kate Spade New York Gingham Oblong Scarf – Pendleton Jacquard Scarf – WETOO Fiddler Cap Newsboy Hat – rag & bone Heritage Wool Blend Baseball Cap – Éliou Pietro Freshwater Pearl Necklace – Monica Vinader Cultured Pearl Stud Earrings – Tasha Crystal Denim Knotted Headband
Patricia @madamechicbcn above (read her style interview here) adds preppy style to her outfit with her cap.
Get her look with this similar sweater, skirt, boots, bag, cap and sunglasses.
Here are 9 preppy outfits created from the wardrobe choices above
Below you will find many of the clothing and accessory options put together in a capsule wardrobe for summer. You could easily mix and match many of the tops and bottoms to create many different outfit options.
Also, read our ultimate guide to creating a capsule wardrobe that works best for you.
shop some of the items above here:
Take a look below at our previous season preppy capsules. You can see this is such a timeless style that all of the items featured would still look just as good this season and beyond.
If you love a preppy style, then you’re definitely in luck.
There are plenty of brands, both designer and from the high street which cater to the preppy aesthetic. These are some of my favorites. How about you?
- Tommy Hilfiger
- Kate Spade New York
- Ralph Lauren
- Marks & Spencer
- Paul Smith
- Jack Rogers
- Want To Discover Your Style Personality? Take This Fun Quiz!
- Understanding The Different Styles
- A Capsule Wardrobe For The Classic Style Personality
Like this post on the preppy style personality? Share it on Pinterest!
Feature image by Hild
Want to get more articles from 40+style in your inbox, subscribe here.
You can also connect with 40+style on Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest.
Support 40+style by using the links in our articles to shop. As an associate for Amazon and many other brands, we receive a small commission (at no cost to you) on qualifying purchases which enables us to keep creating amazing free content for you. Thanks!
I don’t like preppy style one bit, but I do love the style personality profiles, so it’s great to see an updated one, even if it’s not my style. I would love to see a Eurochic or edgy update soon!
I was raised wearing preppy and dressed this way before finding my style. I do lean towards some preppy but I am more Eurochic and feminine. When I took the quiz I wasn’t surprised by the feminine label. Much fun and interesting!
Nope, not preppy. But then I hate Jeans so that question was mostly elimination. The question on celebrity style was random guess – names but not pics on style? I don’t watch movies so another guess. Heck I am way over 40 and so missed too many ‘culture’ cues. LOL. I will admit a couple of the more classic – non jeans – looks are interesting.
I wouldn’t describe my style personality as preppy. I hate stripes , plaids and sweaters. I love blazers and ankle boots. My favourite designers are Armani, Vivienne Westwood and Chanel.
I would never have described myself as preppy in a million years but I quite like the suggestions so will give them a try!!!
I like both classic and preppy styles. As I commented on the classic style article, Brooks Brothers is a good place to shop.
I think I’m a romantic prepoy. In my mind, the difficulty about each of these is the focus on having a flat stomach for the skirts and pants.