American Prep Essentials
Even if you’re not an avid follower of fashion, you’ll have probably heard of the term ‘preppy’. With its origins in north eastern American university wear, preppy fashion has come to define the United States’ upper and upper-middle classes. It’s also known as Ivy League style: the defining campus uniform of prestigious academic institutions such as Harvard, Princeton and Yale.
The general aesthetic sees an English countryside tailored base built up with sportswear influences from modalities such as equestrian, sailing/yachting, hunting, fencing, rowing, lacrosse, tennis and golf, amongst others.
Image: Gant Rugger SS13
In short, it’s a refined approach to casual dressing that’s ideal for the warmer spring/summer months. So, with this in mind, here are five key items you’ll be needing to get the look this season.
1. G.H. Bass & Co Weejun Loafer
The definitive Ivy League footwear silhouette, a slip-on loafer really is the best starting point when it comes to preppy dressing. However, forget fussy tasselled styles this season and opt for a classic penny design instead.
When it comes to brand, there really is only one choice for an authentic preppy aesthetic: G.H. Bass. This all-American company dates back to 1876 and its now iconic Weejun model was first introduced 75 years ago.
They tend to come up quite small, so you may need to opt for the next size up from your usual.
Bass Weejuns Larson Penny Loafers, available at Urban Outfitters, priced £125.
2. Kirk Originals Notorious Sunglasses
These tortoiseshell shades wouldn’t look out of place in a remake of The Talented Mr. Ripley. The film, which stars Matt Damon and Jude Law, is a masterclass in refined, preppy summer dressing and a quality pair of sunglasses is a sure-fire way to nailing the look.
Hand-crafted from the finest Italian acetate, these statement frames are fitted with 100% UV 400 lenses and have been hand-polished to perfection.
Given the price point, you’d be right to remember where you put them down.
Notorious Sunglasses, available at Kirk Originals, priced £255.
3. Polo Ralph Lauren Checked Shirt
A clean white Oxford or striped shirt are the easy options when going down the preppy route, but why not inject some life into your wardrobe with a bold printed version this season?
The preppy motif of choice, madras checks look superb during the warmer months, especially when anchored with classic beige chinos/shorts and brown penny loafers.
This pastel option epitomises Ralph Lauren’s preppy heritage, and is crafted from 100 per cent linen to ensure you stay cool when temperatures rise.
Ideal for holidaying or casual summer weekends.
Polo Ralph Lauren Button Down Checked Linen Shirt, available at Mr Porter, priced £110.
4. M&S Cashmere Cable Knit Jumper
No preppy outfit would be complete without a luxurious jumper.
Luckily, these days you don’t have to pay designer prices for an indulgent piece of cashmere. This powder blue cable knit from M&S’ superb Best Of British range is perfect to throw on over the top of a crisp white polo or Oxford shirt on cool summer evenings.
Tie it loosely around your shoulders during the day to channel a preppy tennis club vibe.
Pure Cashmere Cable Knit Jumper, available at Marks & Spencer, priced £179.
5. Zara Skinny Chinos
Beige chinos are an American prep staple, but the relaxed styles favoured in the 1950s aren’t quite suitable today.
Update the look by opting for a leaner fit. These Zara chinos are cut slim for a contemporary silhouette and can be teamed with pretty much everything in your wardrobe.
Try tucking a striped shirt into them and finishing with a woven leather belt.
Beige Skinny Chinos With Belt, available at Zara, priced £29.99.