You’ve probably seen the preppy look. It’s been around for decades.
Does the preppy look work in a frugal wardrobe?
Yes and no. Here’s the good, the bad, and the crossovers to a frugal wardrobe.
The American Preppy Look Decoded
The preppy look can be easy to put together. Just combine pretty much any of these elements:
- the classic favored colors: solid colors of white, navy, green, yellow, hot pink, and orange
- any of the above colors with polka dots, chevron pattern, or stripes, especially stripes!
- any of the favored colors with repeating small prints of whales, elephants, anchors, etc.
- button down shirts and cardigan sweaters (sweater sometimes tied around shoulders or waist)
- seersucker shirts, shorts, pants, dresses, ball caps
- neutral colors with one or two accents of gold, usually earrings and/or or a necklace
- favored jewelry: button earrings (about the size of your little fingernail) pearl or gold, pearl necklace in any style, pearl bracelet worn with large goldtone watch
- statement necklaces worn with everything
- monogrammed everything, with big preference for gold chain attached to a script-style monogram (I’ve even seen a large monogram on baby’s diaper covers.)
- hats: ball cap or big floppy straw hat, often worn with aviator sunglasses or other large framed sunglasses
- high-heeled shoes, ballet flats, or a particular brand of sandals
- expensive brand names on as many items as possible
- wild colorful prints for summer leisure wear, usually the Lily Pulitzer brand
- in addition to the classic favored colors: pastel colors in spring/summer; muted neutrals in fall/winter
- short shorts in summer, often paired with a sweater suggesting you live in the colder northeastern US (I prefer capri pants as I am not 18 anymore!)
- perfect manicures and pedicures in mainly neutral or soft pink polishes (no French manicure looks unless they look totally natural)
Preppy Elements That Work in a Frugal Wardrobe
- The preppy looks seems to never completely go out of style. That’s what makes much of it classic and classy. A preppy item from the thrift store still in good condition will likely work today! What other style can say that? You might even find a good quality brand there for just a few dollars.
- You can save money by having only two pairs of earrings! The pearls can be faux and button gold earrings can be gold-plated. I just can’t get comfortable with wearing pearls with jeans though. It’s just not me.
- All cotton seersucker is one of the most comfortable fabrics to wear in the summer. It keeps it’s crisp look from the little ripples in the cloth. I have some fine wale (skinny ribs) capris that are wonderful on hot days and perfect for travel.
- Button down shirts can be dressed up or down and are great for work. Vary the look with scarves or necklaces.
- Cardigan sweaters are great for work, travel, and looking a little more put together. They don’t look as stiff or formal as a blazer.
- A big floppy hat is great protection from the sun (but use sunscreen too!) and frames your face! The one in the photo I got for $8. Sunglasses were $10.
- Lily Pulitzer has a new line at Target stores now if you want to check it out.
- I used to dress our boys in striped polo shirts from Sears when I wanted them to look clean for some family occasion. Stripes always seem to look crisp and clean.
- You can find preppy styles at any price range these days. I saw four woman at Walmart yesterday wearing decidedly preppy style clothing.
- A little monogram goes a long way. If you like them, try to limit it to one monogram per outfit so you don’t look too kitschy.
Preppy Joins Your Career Wardrobe
Some preppy looks work well for a career wardrobe. Classic neutrals with simple jewelry look professional. If your boss dresses in a preppy style, it could help your chances for a promotion if you look the part too. I think looking “well groomed” goes a long way to give you a professional look. You can work on your manicure skills using clear or pale pink polishes. I once got a job because I “looked so clean”–that’s what my boss told me years later! The clean and polished look is your goal. They always say to dress for the job you want, so keep that in mind.
For ideas to save money on clothes and more, click on any of the tabs below this post.
Click here to see some preppy outfits. These are updated classic looks that work for many occasions. Check out my other Pinterest boards while you’re there. And follow me on Pinterest for all my pins!