fashion . Styling Tips

Style Smart: How To Do Preppy Style Right

From sweaters to tennis skirts

Preppy style in 2021 is quite a departure from what we’ve seen in the late 2010s — thanks to the Gossip Girl reboot and various trends we’ve spotted in the TikTok fashion community. The silhouettes have become much more relaxed (read: comfortable) and there’s more emphasis on expressing your individuality, rather than conforming to conventional dress codes. Curious about how to do preppy style right? Read on for four easy styling tips. 

As seen at Miu Miu


Miu Miu Preppy Style

Miu Miu Spring/Summer 2022 collection show. (Photos from: miumiu.com)

While the trend for preppy style in 2021 is leaning towards more relaxed and comfortable fits, Miu Miu — the sister brand of Italian luxury fashion house Prada — and its recent interpretation of prep-inspired classics for its Spring/Summer 2022 collection featured a number of short, stomach-baring designs. This spurred mixed reviews from the fashion set as a few spoke up about how the brand is setting unrealistic body standards for women. 

Still, the brand presented a refreshing twist to Y2K collegiate staples and successfully rekindled our love for prep-inspired classics, such as the knit vest, button-down shirt and blazer. As for our takeaway from this collection? Attempt these looks by the book if you wish to, but it’s also cool for you to reference them with a pinch of salt so that they still fit your body, personal style and identity. Fashion is your form of expression — not anyone else’s.

Get a little kooky with your colour choices

Preppy style doesn’t have to be plain and neutral. Beyond dressing in black, navy or grey-coloured uniforms, consider expanding your options to include sweaters, button-down shirts and cropped cardigans in brighter hues too. Above, @laurajung went with a bright fuchsia button-down and styled it with a striped sweater and a white tennis skirt.  

PS Paul Smith Cardigan, Zara Poplin Shirt and H&M Tennis Skirt

(Left) PS Paul Smith Cardigan, ~USD263.57 (farfetch.com); (Centre) Zara Poplin Shirt, ~USD37.05 (zara.com); (Right) H&M Tennis Skirt, ~USD29.66 (hm.com).

Style it: Re-create @laurajung’s ‘fit with a multicoloured cardigan, which you can easily drape over your shoulders to achieve the preppy look. Don’t forget about your solid-coloured button-down shirt and tennis skirt too. 

Live in lighter layers

Most of us are probably familiar with the classic prep-style layering technique, which typically involves donning a thick sweater vest over a cotton button-down shirt. However, for a more feminine take on this style, consider switching out your shirt for a sheer collared number instead just like @baebyshaa. You can also opt for a cropped sweater vest in a light knit material to keep cool underneath these layers. 

Glamorous ASOS Shirt, Rally Movement Pomelo Fashion Top, Monki Skirt from ASOS

(Left) Glamorous Relaxed Shirt, ~USD41.57 (asos.com); (Centre) Rally Movement Plain Crop Top, ~USD44.47 (pomelofashion.com); (Right) Monki Argyle Knitted Mini Pleated Skirt, ~USD28.21 (asos.com).

Style it: Start with a sheer button-down shirt that’s slightly relaxed in fit. While you’re at it, consider looking for one that has interesting details too, such as bell sleeves or vintage-inspired patterns to add more textures to your look. Then, slip into a black crop top and complete your outfit with an argyle skirt. 

Become BFFs with the beret

A preppy outfit is incomplete without a statement head accessory — just look at on-screen high school queens such as Blair Waldorf and Cher Howoritz, who made headbands and French berets a part of their trendsetting ensembles. Digital creator @_daisyys shows us how she’s rocked the beret as part of her soft beige outfit and we’re taking notes. 

Zara Beret, H&M Jacket, Charles & Keith Charlot Bag

(Left) Zara Wool Beret, ~USD29.62 (zara.com); (Centre) H&M Single Breasted Jacket, ~USD48.22 (hm.com); (Right) Charles & Keith ‘Charlot’ Bag, USD69 (charleskeith.com).

Style it: Accessories can make or break your look — for this particular ensemble, the beret and chocolate-coloured shoulder bag do a mighty fine job of showcasing the best of prep. For your clothing, go with a beige blazer, a white top and a pair of high-waisted trousers in an oatmeal shade. 

Own the oversized look

A well-fitted jacket may look perfectly in place within a prep-school setting, however, it also tends to come across as a little too formal for everyday wear. With this, consider bringing your outerwear game to the next level just like @bexrobb by going with a slouchy, oversized blazer instead. Notice how Bex’s standout black accessories have helped to elevate her ensemble from “schoolgirl” to “streetstyle darling” too.

ASOS YAS Blazer, Our Second Nature, H&M Zip Front Boots

(Left) Y.A.S Blazer, ~USD103.19 (asos.com); (Centre) Our Second Nature Shirt Dress, ~USD80.93 (oursecondnature.com); (Right) H&M Zip-Front Boots, ~USD44.51 (hm.com).

Style it: Build the foundation of your preppy ensemble with a shirt dress that will help you to make a strong style statement. Set aside your classic whites for now and go with one that features unique illustrations, designs and patterns. Then, throw on an oversized blazer and slip your feet into a pair of zip-front boots. 

What’s your ultimate prep style staple? 

(Cover photos from: hm.com and charleskeith.com

Next, click here to discover three ways to style trendy cropped shirts.