Although I like the occasional Channing Matthew Tatum look–hipster and laid back with a touch of class–if I had to choose one style for men to wear it would hands down be the preppy look. Preppy has come to define the upper and upper-middle class in the U.S. defining prestigious academic institutions such as Harvard, Princeton and Yale.
The look is defined by an English countryside tailored base with sports apparel influences from activities such as sailing and yachting, equestrian, hunting, fencing, rowing, lacrosse, tennis and golf. The preppy look is often coupled with exquisite crafted leather goods such as belts and shoes.
Dressing preppy is not as easy as it seems. Some go overboard and look like they got dressed in the dark wearing four different types of patterns..while others don’t know where to start when integrating it into their look so just stick to what they know – sporty jeans and t-shirts. To avoid looking like a page from a Ralph Lauren catalogue, this essential preppy style guide will help men incorporate a cleaner and more refined look into their everyday wardrobe, while simultaneously maintaining their own personal style.
The Key Pieces
Chinos. Focus on long colorful pants and forget about jeans. If your one not to dabble in colors, start off by adding khaki, navy, and light blue or grey pair of chinos to your collection–staple pieces for any wardrobe. However, I urge people to take the concept further and opt for colors such as timeless and classy white, light green, coral and light pink. I personally am not a fan of the extra bright, unusual colors and neon shades–as I mentioned before, these outfits are for everyday wear and are meant to be seamlessly incorporated into ones wardrobe without infringing on ones style–but if one wishes to set themselves a part, go ahead and opt in for a red or yellow!
Polo Shirts. White, navy, grey, light pink, light green, light blue, orange, yellow..you name it, any color works as long as their is prestigious branding on the side sleeve or chest–usually an animal, random number or a reference to polo. The alternative to polo shirts is the thicker, long-sleeved rugby tops, also a viable option for when it gets cooler at night or when on the boat.
Thinking about popping the collar? It really is up to you. Both looks can be pulled off.
Navy Blazers. They can dress you up even when you are wearing the most comfortable and laid back shorts and t-shirt. A navy blazer with brass buttons or embroidered crest can be paired with literally anything. Until you have the blazer, you will not have preppy look pinned down.
Sweaters/Cricket Jumpers. It can make a look seem modern or sporty. Wear it over a t-shirt with the sleeves rolled up and you’ve got a jock look. Where it underneath an Oxford shirt and you’ve got the modern Ivy League look. For cricket jumpers, plain colors or embroidery around the neckline all work.
Brogues/Penny Loafers/Boat Shoes. Rich browns or oxblood, printed leather or laced, with socks or without socks, with shorts or chinos. These shoes, like the sweatshirts, are meant to be used interchangeably to dress up or dress down.
Belts. The most versatile accessory in the prep world–woven, elastic or vegetable-tanned leather belts, complete with brass buckles, sometimes lined in silk. Rule of thumb: No studs or widths lower than 25mm or higher than 35mm.
Tweed Tailoring. If you want to go the extra mile for fancy events opt for tweed tailoring for a touch of English outdoor elegance. Look for slim, but not restrictive so as to make your tweed look sharp while maintaining comfort and practicality.
Casual Ties. Again, another extra step that is not required for all is the diagonally striped or small embroidered woolen or knitted bow or neck tie. It is meant to be worn in a smart and casual manner with chinos, sports coats, cricket jumpers and shirts.
Follow this essential guide to incorporating American Prep style into your own personal wardrobe and you’ll find yourself with a capsule wardrobe full of versatile and seamless clothing options.
And if you need any more convincing on the Prep styles versatility and functionality, to quote author Lisa Birnbach:
“Prep clothes are sensible: rain clothes keep you dry; winter clothes keep you warm; collars are buttoned down so they don’t flap in your face when you’re playing polo. Layering is a natural response to varying weather conditions.”
Shop the look at: Brooksbrothers.com Ralphlauren.com Tommyhilfiger.com
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