As you’ve likely noticed, preppy’s back in a big way. And while I’ve always harbored a secret crush on its blueblood cool, I have a hard time integrating uptown-inflected pieces into my downtown-eclectic style. How to make this classic style look more Crossroads, less Pencey Prep? 3 tips (courtesy of my extensive research and a few trips through our American Beauty feature):
1. Play It Against Type
Beneath that coiffed, country-club veneer, preppy’s got a debauched side that’s dying to get out. How do I know? Check out what destroyed denim or tie-dye skinnies do for a button-down or blazer. Suddenly the look is more Kim Gordon, less Cindy McCain.
2. Keep an Eye Toward Proportion
Cardigan plus below-the-knee skirt? To quote the venerable Tim Gunn, it’s “the express train to Dowdyville.” Cardigan plus hot-to-trot short-shorts, on the other hand, strikes a cool balance of sexy and bookish. Or, take your cues from the Alexander Wang fall runway and style an oversized button-down with an underwear-as-outerwear bra, second-skin leggings, and platforms. It’s the mix of body-con and boyish that makes it chic.
3. Make It Personal
Put aside your preconceived notions about preppy: e.g. that it demands to be accessorized with pearls and ballet flats. Instead, think of classic pieces as blank slates open to interpretation. Take something that’s the soul of preppy, a seersucker blazer, for example. You can style it dominatrix-preppy with platform pumps and a studded cuff, hippie-preppy with wood-heeled sandals and crochet, or rocker-preppy with ripped jeans and a shredded tank. The possibilities are, as they say, endless. The point is to let your personal style come through.