By Justin Hermstedt
What is prep? Some say it’s a way of life. It’s more than just wearing Ralph Lauren (praise be unto him). It’s not what fills the closets in fraternities. In fact, it’s closer to your dad’s wardrobe than your frat-daddy’s one.
What we recognize as prep today can be traced back to the early 20th century Ivy League schools. Today, there are two major hemispheres of preppy style: Northeastern (think J. Crew) and Southern (think Vineyard Vines). Prep is about wearing clothes that never go out of style. It’s about practicality, versatility and effortlessness.
Here are five essential elements for a preppy wardrobe:
The Button-Down Shirt
The button-down shirt is the most blatant prep staple. You can fit a button-down shirt into a wide range of outfits. It can work with shorts, under a sweater, or in a suit. However, not all button-downs are made equal. Seek 100% cotton and find a shirt that fits as perfectly as possible. Muted colors and modest patterns are most versatile.
“Clean” meaning minimalist and bright, not “smudgeless.” White leather sneakers are your best friend here. For business casual or more formal occasions, sneakers can be a bit of a stretch, so opt for a brown leather shoe. Go easy on the boat shoes though.
AKA khakis, these are often the pant of choice for preppy dressers. Similar to the button-down, the best thing about chinos is their versatility. Toss in a navy blazer and you have the original prep uniform.
A Jacket for Every Occasion
About 29 days out of any given month, the aforementioned navy blazer has no rightful place on an average college student’s body. There’s a right tool for the right job, and the same can be said for jackets. Fall is the perfect time to try out mid to lightweight jackets, from denim, to chore coats, to Harrington jackets.
Attention to detail matters in any look and can distinguish an excellent outfit from an okay one. In a preppy look the details are crucial. Add tasteful accessories. Get the perfect break on your pant legs. Wear clothes with textures that add dimension to your outfits.
Photography by Georgia Hickam
Modeled and styled by Justin Hermstedt