Young people are increasingly looking for more formal styles, with hoodies and T-shirts featuring graphic designs so common. Although loafers and blazers may sound like the classic boomer wardrobe staples of the 1980s, rugby shirts are more likely to be worn by 20-somethings this fall with their preppy style.
The preppy look may actually be threatening to overtake the streetwear style that has been so dominant among young people for the past decade. The luxury resale site The Real Real reports that searches for the streetwear brands Vetements and Yeezy are down 24 and 25% respectively, while searches for the classic preppy brand Ralph Lauren are up by 238%. Depop has seen a 57% increase of searches for “prep” and “preppy” over June. Ralph Lauren searches have increased by 29%.
Michael Ford, Depop’s senior cultural trends researcher, said that “with the ‘classic streetwear look’ of graphic tees, hoodies and sweatshirts going so mainstream there is a counteraction within these style circles to draw inspiration from more formal styles to be noticed.” It’s more shocking to see Gen Z or millennials in well-tailored suits than tattoos.
The Preppy fashion style is more than 100 years old and is associated with the elite of the US north-east coast, whose children went to preparatory schools or “prep” colleges. It became more popular from the 1960s and peaked in the early 1980s when Lisa Birnbach’s 1980 bestseller The Official Preppy Handbook introduced – and parodied – the lifestyle and aesthetic for a wider audience.
This is the era the current preppy revival is inspired by. There is also a fascination for preppy as the appearance of “old money”. Tik Tok videos with the hashtag #oldmoneyaesthetic have 33m views, with preppy favourites such as pleated skirts, argyle and plaid dominating. The trend’s association with white privilege has been criticized by some creators. @deadhollywood called the old money aesthetic “the peak of white supremacist fashion, not rednecks in camo”.
Jack Carlson founded Rowing Blazers in 2017. He is a preppy profile, a former rower for US Olympic team. However, he is determined bring a new take to preppy.
He said, “The trick is to take the good and leave the bad. I believe there is baggage associated all that.” “That’s not the energy we want at all.” Carlson describes Rowing Blazers to be “very inclusive, very irreverent and sometimes even ironic”.
This season, box sets are helping to support the preppy trend. You can now watch it on BBC iPlayer.
Netflix will soon release the third series of Sex Education. It features a British perspective on preppy. H&M collaborated to bring you preppy staples. These have been reworked with a Gen Z style, featuring cropped polo shirts and oversized plaid trousers. Longline sweater vests are the highlights.