• 05/28/2024

Redefining the Preppy Aesthetic? How to Fuse and Style This Fashion Trend

blonde girl preppy aesthetic with pink skirt

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Aesthetics always come and go, and it can also come back— sometimes in almost an entirely new form than before. The image of the preppy aesthetic can differ based on who’s describing it. Nevertheless, it’s a fun fashion trend to fuse with the vintage look and the rest of your closet.

Preppy Aesthetic Then Vs. Now

The preppy aesthetic is quite different from before. If you ask millennials and the older side of Gen Z, they will likely answer with adjectives like “posh,” “tweedy,” and “tailored.” Preppy can best be characterized as classy boarding school uniforms for elite families. It makes sense, as the adjective itself is derived from “preparatory.”

Gen A, or people born around the 2010s and older, have an entirely different impression of the preppy aesthetic. Rather than formal wear, fashion is more defined by a more laidback and bright clothing style. There’s a certain youthfulness with an oversized sweater and skirt.


What I learned from my #middleschoolers today about what #preppy means now: – It’s still somewhat connected to style – The preppy style of my day is different – It can be used ironically or as an insult. – It’s still a battle between the #preppys and #emo – They all have different definitions. 😂😂😂 #middleschool #preppy #preppynation #teachers #middleschoolteacher #genalpha #middleschoolslang #teachersoftiktok #teacherfyp

♬ Ke$ha – Die Young – 辰歌

The idea can be quite foreign, with some people categorizing the new aesthetic as a subbranch of the actual trend. They typically dub this as VSCO or TikTok preppy. To a certain extent, people associate it with the pretty or girly preppy aesthetic.

The main reason behind the shift in fashion interpretation is because of how people change over time. With the new generation taking up space, they hold plenty more influence over pop culture and clothing. The transformation doesn’t mean bidding farewell to the vintage preppy look. It simply means welcoming these new variations on the well-loved aesthetic.

girl with black hair and pink blazer for preppy aesthetic

The Keys to the Modern Preppy Look

The old and new preppy aesthetics seem on opposite sides of the spectrum. That said, it is possible to fuse them to create a modern look acceptable to all generations. Here are the three main elements to add to the mix:

  • A pop of pink: With its neutral color palette, the vintage preppy aesthetic is more similar to dark academia. Meanwhile, the new generation’s version involves plenty more cheerful colors, specifically pink. Turning to pink may resemble the coquette aesthetic’s essence of empowering women and their femininity
  • A touch of smart casual: The newer preppy trends focus on more athleisure and older ones seem much more professional. As a compromise, aim for smart casual. This dress code can offer confidence while exhibiting a relaxed vibe.
  • An extra sense of comfort: As beautiful as the typical preppy look is, there’s a certain stiffness. Unfortunately, some people may feel a fabric that triggers anxiety about their body. Others touch the same cloth and feel attractive. Prioritize your own comfort.

Clothes to Get the Preppy Aesthetic

To achieve the modern preppy aesthetic, you’ll need a few clothes and items to complete the look. Mix and match these to express yourself, whether you’re aiming for classy, peppy, or somewhere in between.

1. Collared Shirt

The essence of preparatory school uniforms is a collared shirt. Stretchy fabric like rib knit can feel a little smoother to the touch. Use this as the first layer of your clothes. You can let the collar poke out from the blazer or sweater to give off that student vibe.

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2. Knitted Blazer

If your wearing a regular T-shirt or tank top, pair it with a knitted blazer on top. This can replace the collar of a more dressed-up shirt while offering a cozy look. You can keep the jacket open or button it down for a more calm and collected appearance.

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3. A Graphic Sweater

A graphic sweater can also be a second layer for your preppy aesthetic outfit. Big and bold text can add a casual yet fun factor to your everyday wear. Alternatively, a picture or icon also works the same way in adding some variety.

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4. Pleated Skirt

Preppy enthusiasts can have numerous options when wearing bottoms. That said, the most ideal article of clothing is a pleated skirt. The short A-line cut can provide so much femininity to the look. Bonus points if it has a plaid pattern for that schoolgirl look.

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5. Flowy Pants

If you’re more comfortable wearing pants, a pair of high-waisted, flowy slacks can work the best. Pair this with a collared shirt and you’ll be good to head outside. If you want to emphasize your shape with this piece, a belt can add the cinch you need.

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6. Headband

A headband can be a good way to balance everything you have going on in your outfit. It also keeps your hair neat and tamed. Pick a hue that stands out from your hair color, like white or black. Brown can also work well if your outfit has the same tones. 

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7. Fashionable Tote Bag

A fashionable tote bag can pull your preppy aesthetic outfit together. Aside from style, make sure it functions well. If you need to take your laptop around, pick one with a briefcase shape to keep the device secure.

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8. Vintage Bow Tie

Pull inspiration from old preppy looks with a long bow tie. This accessory can be nice to tie around your collar or your waist. Pick black to pair it with any outfit. If you have a plained look, a colored variation or a checked pattern can be the statement piece.

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9. Boat Shoes

Some people may debate between heels or doll shoes, but boat shoes actually work best for the preppy aesthetic. There’s a sense of formality with this footwear without seeming intimidating. Instead, it’s more snug and fit for any occasion.

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10. Stanley Cup

Most Gen A teens note the importance of a Stanley Cup in the new preppy aesthetic. Adopt this into your style and hydrate while staying fashionable.

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Achieving the New Preppy Aesthetic

Preppy aesthetics, both old and new, are still fun to try out, no matter what generation you belong to. Diving into these different trends can help you know yourself better. Understand what makes you feel more comfortable in your skin.

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