When we think “preppy,” we first think of the unavoidable band of fraternity boys so correspondingly dressed in khakis and pop-collared, untucked button-downs, with pastel cardigans, eloquently resting upon their shoulders and some kind of boat shoe adorning their feet — stripped of socks, of course. Oh, and the croakies. We mustn’t forget the croakies!
On second thought, however, “preppy” might signify a broader wardrobe — one chock-full of classic, chic, collegiate wear that automatically boosts stature about 10 notches and makes any wearer of it look like they spend their summers sailing on Nantucket.
The preppy style has made its way into nearly every corner of the fashion industry, from luxury designers to more affordable, everyday brands. Those who flaunt the style so often remind us of how chic it looks. With that said, we decided to throw together a list of 10 preppy clothing brands to shop this summer. Even if you’re not into the clean country club look, you might want to take a look at these brands for some summer dress inspiration.
ModCloth offers a large selection of pieces that harmonize perfectly for that preppy and vintage look you’re after. This fashion brand advertises a wide array of prints, dresses, button-downs, and high waisted pants and shorts. From pastels to neons to neutrals, you can guarantee that garbs from this retailer are sure to match whatever else is in your closet. The prices are tolerable and definitely worth spending on quality. So, what are you waiting for — throw some color into your wardrobe already!
We’re going to guess that this one was relatively obvious. Could we really write an article on preppy fashion brands without mentioning the notorious whale-branded line? We didn’t think so either. Founded on Martha’s Vineyard, this line takes preppy casual to a whole new level. This line boasts splashy prints, saturated salmons, blue tones, and a lot of whale-themed apparel. A woman’s summer outfit might include a midi skirt, a lightweight cardigan, and a straw hat. Women are offered scalloped hems, bright statement jewelry, patterned tunic dresses, and, of course, cashmere sweaters. Men can spruce up their wardrobe with spiffy ties, colorful bow ties, and leather belts — most of which are decorated with whales. With a variety of swimwear, sun hats, graphic tees, and beach totes, it’s hard to go wrong with a Vineyard Vines supplied summer.
This UK brand has risen in popularity, showcasing vibrant prints, bold color, and pattern combinations. Sister Jane seems to follow a preppy and kitsch aesthetic. Oversized dresses, bows, lace, and colorful prints file this line perfectly in the “preppy” department. Whether you’re exploring the city or going to a tea party, this company might just fit all of your summer exploration needs.
You can almost smell the prep in the name, can’t you? This brand is a staple— mostly for the graphic tees, which are adorned with cool and preppy prints. The beach gear is in full supply, making this brand a perfect summer investment, with a variety of T-shirts, sweatshirts, and hats for adults and kids. Seaweed is not only comfortable and casual everyday clothing for all ages and styles but perfect for anyone wanting to show off some beachy prep.
Barbour gives preppy a whole new meaning. Instead of showing off southern charm or New England affluence, this British line advertises prep in the chicest way possible. And, perhaps you’ve heard: Barbour jackets are the best thing since athleisure. In addition to their fetching staple jackets, women indulge in feminine blouses, knitted sweaters, and gilets (AKA the British equivalent of a vest. Fancy, right?). And now, women are able to shop British fashion designer, writer, model, and influencer Alexa Chung’s line, Barbour by ALEXACHUNG, which, in its essence, captures the femininity and chicness of the modern preppy woman. Men, on the other hand, spice up their wardrobes with polos, handkerchiefs, and, of course, hand-made quilted jackets. Be sure to check out their leather luggage and colorful totes for all of your summer getaways.
Brace yourselves for summer print overload. Sea blues, turquoise greens, and pretty pinks comprise nearly all of Lilly’s beautifully brushed prints, and we want to wear them all. Not to mention, the supply of tassels, versatile swimsuit covers, wonderfully scalloped finishes, summery prints, and resortwear prep make us want to plan our next tropical vacation ASAP. It’s no secret that Lilly Pulitzer is the unspoken country club debutante dress, and for good reason. With every style of dress imaginable and in nearly every print created, you’re guaranteed to look as good as you feel on your way to the yacht club. There’s only one thing left to do: book a trip to the tropics of Florida, boat our way into the sunset, and show off our Lilly — head to toe.
A pair of Jacks in the summer is about as necessary as a pair of thigh-highs in the fall. So, basically what we’re saying is, these sandals are simply a summer staple. This wooden-soled, hand-crafted, pliable leather sandal is the perfect finish to any summer outfit. But, if you’re in a more flopsy mood, the jelly flip flops are not a bad idea. Aside from the jellies, JR offers flats, sneakers, heels and wedges. Oh, and did we mention rain boots? Those too. The price tag for these unmistakably preppy shoes is higher than we’d all like, but the longevity and durability of them is well worth the slight financial burden. Not to mention, the jellies are nicer to your wallet and easily just as posh. Get your hands on a pair soon — your summer uniform awaits.
Nothing says “preppy” quite like a pair of classic boat shoes, and Sperry is the most quintessential place to find them. In the neutrals wonderland that is Sperry, shoes come stitched in leather and seersucker and are just as comfortable as those slippers you wear to bed. The brand has extended its expertise into the sneaker world, and let’s just say this: they mastered that too. So, whether you’re boating for leisure, on your way to play a match of tennis, or challenging a friend to a game of croquet, Sperry’s products are easily a hot button item on any preppy shopping list.
Influencer, fashion designer and Charleston sweetheart Julia Engel recently launched her very own clothing line, and there’s no way we couldn’t feature it on this list. While the brand doesn’t necessarily scream “preppy,” it flaunts a feminine style that seems to attract a debutante audience. Fashion blog turned clothing line, Gal Meets Glam provides the chic woman with effortless class and immediate femininity through a collection of elegant dresses. A GMG dress can be dressed up for a country club brunch, or made casual for a boat ride out to sea. Whichever way you choose to style Engel’s modish designs, you can be sure that the “preppy” look will be well achieved.
Oh, Tommy. How could we forget about you? Tommy Hilfiger, AKA the genius behind the preppy genre of fashion, created his multi-billion dollar corporation with the intention of pioneering an all-American “lifestyle brand that was preppy and cool” (his words, not ours). The label that once began as a menswear line has since grown expertise in women’s fashion as well. Swimwear, activewear, formalwear and (of course) red, white and blue everything. This brand takes a chic spin on “preppy,” and can easily be dressed up however you’d like. Does it get better than this? Yes. Yes, it does. The brand has also experimented (and succeeded) with a transition to sustainability through recycled clothing. Oh, and they have a line solely dedicated to LGBTQ+ pride. Let’s just say, Tommy Hilfiger is not a bad brand to invest in this summer.