Men’s Fashion – How to achieve that cool “preppy look” this spring

April 9, 2013

The “preppy look” can be originated back to 1940s and 1950s America, where upper/middle class students of the North Eastern (Ivy League) American Universities acquired a certain dress code, which today is referred to as “preppy”. Examples of preppy attire include argyle sweaters, chinos, madras, button down Oxford cloth shirts and boat shoes. Along with a strict dress code, the students of these universities acquired a taste for expensive designer labels including Ralph Lauren, Marc Jacobs, Lacoste and Vineyard Vines. The “preppy” legacy still lives on today throughout America’s top universities, the look has also been adopted by fashionistas across the world and today you can see the preppy look permeating main stream fashion. Here is a quick guide to achieving the iconic “preppy” look.

Preppy Look Mens

Preppy Look Mens

Polo Shirt

Ok, granted the polo shirt is a timeless classic piece of clothing worn by a wide range of people across the board. To achieve the preppy look you need to know which polo shirts are acceptable and to do this you need to invest in the right brand label. The two polo shirts that you must own to achieve the preppy look are the timeless Lacoste polo and the archetypal preppy brand, Ralph Lauren. Lacoste is a timeless French label that was brought into the public domain through its heavy sponsorship of Tennis players in the 70s and 80s. Today Lacoste is still regarded one of the more prestigious designer labels on the market, with polo shirt prices starting $90 perfect for the aspiring “preppy”. Ralph Lauren mirrors the Lacoste pricing, but was specifically engineered in the 70’s for the aspirational and wealthy.

Rugby Sweater

The rugby sweater can find its routes in the British prep scene, where rugby players of leading universities throughout Britain had custom rugby shirts made to demonstrate what university they were tied to. This trend for the preppy type to wear rugby shirts was confirmed by the introduction of the “custom fit” Ralph Lauren Rugby shirt. To really achieve the preppy look a rugby sweater is a must. Ralph Lauren rugby shirts start at $130.

Boat Shoes

Boat shoes (also known as deck shoes) are typically canvas or leather with non-marking rubber soles designed initially for use on a boat. The boat shoe was adopted by the “preppy” fashionistas as they were obviously wealthy enough to own boats thus own a pair of boat shoes.  The most iconic boat shoe designer is Sperry, the American designers have been producing the boat shoe for almost 100 years. If you want to achieve the “preppy look” go get some Sperry’s, they’re good value with prices starting at $100.


Chinos were once firmly associated with Preppy types and golf players but the chino has seen a renaissance with the likes of Kanye West and Justin Bieber donning the chino. Although you wouldn’t automatically call the likes of Kanye West “preppy” you can now wear the chino to achieve the “preppy look” but also look remarkably cool. Ralph Lauren produces some of the finest chinos with prices starting $200 or for something a little different why not invest in a pair of Chinos by Scottish designers, Lyle and Scott, their chinos start at $100.

Button down Oxford Shirts

The button down Oxford shirt is another preppy look born from the British prep scene. Oxford University students and academics took a liking to the shirt and have been firmly associated with the Oxford since. The button down Oxford shirt has more recently been adopted by indie bands but can still be worn to achieve the ultimate preppy look. Paul Smith produce some quality Oxford shirts, with prices starting at $120.

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