Prep is Back

by Emma Burkard

In the past decade, we’ve seen 90’s grunge and skate-inspired trends rising to popularity in mainstream fashion. With the 2020’s coming around, however, the trend in fashion has become more fun and colorful recently. As almost a reaction to the grungy styles, we’ve been seeing, instead more preppy styles are coming back around. Fashion lines and influencers who would not have been caught dead in something preppy a few years ago are now embracing the look. TikToker @victoriaparisf has had a huge influence on fashion trends with her “get dressed with me” videos, where she often mixes very preppy items with Y2K styles. Here are some preppy-influenced styles that we will definitely see coming back around this summer, despite how much we hated seeing the popular kids in high school wearing them.

Image Source: @victoriaparis

Lilly Pulitzer/Vera Bradley/Pucci-esque patterns: Colorful, swirly prints that were super in style about ten years ago are coming back around. Most fashion influencers would never consider wearing something like Lilly Pulitzer last year, but now the choice to wear these preppy styles seems almost like an ironic fashion statement. If you see some influencers mixing in a “vintage” Lilly Pulitzer skirt or halter top with their outfits this summer, don’t be surprised.

Image Source: @trecholopis

Cardigan tied over shoulders: Even though this looks like something a suburban mom at the golf course would have worn in the early 2000s, it has become super trendy again to tie a cardigan or sweater over your shoulders as an added layer. Some people have also been tieing them cross-body for a more unique look. This is a good way to add a preppy flair to your outfit without investing in any new pieces, in case you’re not sold on the trend yet but want to try it out.

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Polos and collared shirts: Different variations of collared shirts are always popular in some way, but I’m talking about the preppy kind of tight polos worn in private school. Emma Chamberlain, who has definitely been leading the mainstream fashion trends right now, included a bunch of these in her summer lookbook YouTube video. Halter-style polos like ones suited for golf or tennis practice have also been extremely popular.

Seersucker: I actually haven’t seen a ton of this around yet, but I can predict that seersucker is going to be coming back as well. This classic preppy fabric for shirts, skirts, pants, etc. will likely be seen a lot this summer. This could be a really interesting material to mix into an outfit with other non-preppy clothing items, like something edgy or grungy, to create a unique juxtaposition.

Baseball caps: While caps aren’t necessarily preppy on their own, it definitely seems like baseball caps are being worn in a preppy way this spring. A lot of influencers have been throwing on a Yankees cap with their outfits to add a slightly athletic flair to their look.

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Ruffled skirts and dresses: These have been everywhere lately and are definitely going to be a mainstream fashion staple this summer. LoveShackFancy is known specifically for its preppy ruffled styles, and a lot of brands have been copying their look. I’ve seen some people mix a ruffled skirt with edgy pieces like a chunky pair of boots to create a less feminine look.

Image Source @themontanaexperience

Prep is surely an interesting fashion trend to be becoming popular right now, with the connotations of upper/middle-class white suburbia that comes along with it. It seems like the choice to wear these items in a fashionable way is almost a campy or ironic fashion statement, in rebellion to edgy streetwear styles. The key to integrating a preppy piece into a look is styling it in a way that is essentially not preppy- so that it is somehow clear that the piece is being worn fashionably, and not because your style is “outdated.” As the summer goes on, I think we can only expect more preppy styles to be coming around. But please, can we maybe not bring back boat shoes?