Add a sweet sweater to your preppy style.

Preppy Clothing Styles

by Erica Loop

While you might have had a wild streak in your past, going to the parent-teacher breakfast tea wearing a leather mini with a lace-up back and stilettos is likely to raise more than one eyebrow. Although dressing preppy certainly isn't a requisite for mom-centered functions and activities, this cute and casual style provides an easy alternative to stained sweats or an outlandish ensemble.

Preppy Roots

Think back to the clean-cut cardigans, button-down blouses and plaid skirts of the 1950s to see mid-century prep. Although "preppy" style may have its roots in the navy blue blazers of the northeastern prep school culture. It was the 1980s, its pastel colored ensembles and the pop culture satire "The Official Preppy Handbook" that many modern moms think of as crux of this casual look. The blue-blooded preppy style is traditional, basic and oh-so-understated.

Blue Blazers

The traditional ivy league or private school blazer -- a navy jacket with gold buttons and a patch or crest on the breast -- is a staple of preppy society. You can take this iconic piece and prep up almost any basic outfit. Throw your blazer over the white T-shirt that you wore to the park before heading out to your first grader's "reading rodeo" night at school, or go for a slightly more feminine look. Switch out the tried and true blazer for a a more girly looking tweed jacket in the same standard blue hues.

Cardigans and Khakis

The 1950s argyle or letter-man's cardigan is a staple of the preppy look. You can create your own basic outfit by pairing a plain-front pair of khakis and a cool cardigan. For a flirty feminine look that falls in line with your preppy wardrobe, try a fitted Jackie O style. Go for a plain pastel version or an argyle version. Keep it simple and opt for solid sleeves when choosing a patterned print. Style your look in a neat-and-tidy fashion, and button your cardigan all of the way up, covering your gym-worn tank or baby-food-stained T-shirt underneath. If you want a more modern take on the preppy khaki pant, substitute the standard for a softly colored pair of cropped chinos.


Whether you're wearing a blue blazer, a cropped cardigan, a button down or any other preppy look, adding the right accessories to your clothes is key. Add on a classic strand of pearls or super-simple, plain pearl stud earrings. Choose a simple shoe such as a plain moccasin or a boat shoe. If you are looking for something with a heel, go for a nude pump or a low-healed -- not stiletto -- riding boot.

About the Author

Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.

Photo Credits

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