Pull Off the Preppy Look

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The preppy style is the fresh but elegant look that is long been seen on the campuses of American Ivy League colleges such as Harvard and Yale, and it is a great look to opt for over summer if you have got the youthfulness to pull it off. With a growing number of US inspired clothing now available in the UK, it is just a case of knowing which brands to choose from and how to put key pieces together to create the classic style.

The term preppy derives from the pre-college preparatory schools that upper middle-class children in the North Eastern states of America sometimes attend, and although the look has its origins in the 1950s, it was largely popularised 30 years later with the publication of the Official Preppy Handbook by Lisa Birnbach, and is now recognised as a sub-culture. Since then, many famous faces have been seen sporting the look – men and women alike – and every now and then it crops up on the catwalks of top designers too. Overall it combines wealth and sophistication with youth and sport, but think tennis and sailing rather than football and rugby.

Men hoping to achieve the look should undoubtedly invest in a button-down collar shirt that is preferably in a subtle stripe, and then team it up with a lightweight blazer. Those feeling a little bolder can twin up the shirt with a cable knit sweater, which should be worn tied around the shoulders. Crisp polo shirts are also a must-have to get the look, as are well-made brogues, but if you are concerned that you cannot quite get the balance right, turn straight to the ultimate college brand – Franklin and Marshall for some inspiration. The US label takes its name from one of the oldest colleges in the States, and its collections aim to stay true to an all-American image, even though interestingly the vast majority of its clothing items are actually produced in Italy.

The Franklin and Marshall range includes varsity jackets, blazers, college sweatshirts, knitwear, shirts and pants that have the classic clean lines associated with the preppy style, and coupled with some classic shirts, chinos and sweaters from Ralph Lauren – the ultimate US label – you cannot fail to create the desired effect. For great finishing touches, you can also accessorise with items such as summer neck scarves and straw trilbies, but these are not for the faint-hearted, so if in doubt, stick to cotton blue shirts, navy blazers and tan brogues or boat shoes for a thoroughly cool but sophisticated style.

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