Spring 2011 has showcased everything from 80s revival to an abundance of khaki to the disco heyday, but no season is complete without the necessary prep qualities “ at least in terms of post-winter collections. Here’s how you can adopt the prep school look without going overboard.
The pioneer of things all-American, it’s no surprise that the Ralph Lauren SS 2011 collection showcased crisp white shirts, pleated pants, belts and neutral tones. True, fringe, metallics and lace helped keep looks interesting, but thanks to the backbone aesthetic of nearly every ensemble, to combine a risky piece with a relatively safe look is the perfect way to infuse preppy classics into your wardrobe. A white-button up with a blazer is perfect for the private school aesthetic, while well-fitted khaki pleated shorts can work with a neutral shirt just as well as one bright or loudly printed.
As proven by Tommy Hilfiger, it’s possible to combine two seasonal trends and not seem like a slave to fashion. This year, the designer combined bright colours with well-structured, tailored pieces to keep preppy looks from seeming dull, and as proven by the likes of short A-line skirts worn with bandeaus and cropped blazers, to channel brights colours, preppiness and the 1970s simultaneously is entirely doable. By opting for bright classic pieces, you can boast two seasonal must-haves at the same time, and since the prep look is one that’s withstood ins-and-outs, the classic qualities of your ensemble will cancel out any overtly trendy qualities.
As taught by any great shoe-wearing fashion guru, by boasting prep-inspired footwear, an otherwise standard ensemble can channel the season’s infatuation with clean lines and simplicity. Penny loafers and oxford lace-ups help maintain the classic qualities of school uniforms, but by pairing them with skinny jeans, pleated trousers or a printed A-line skirt, you can prevent looking like an escapee from private school. Preppy footwear can also help bring down an overly trendy outfit and balance an otherwise risky look, making knee socks or a midi-skirt seem less like a novelty and more an outfit’s staple.
This season, handbags took on a structured aesthetic, channeling the 1980s with crossbody bags and satchels that helped further establish spring’s preppy qualities. While the likes of Club Monaco have established themselves as one of the season’s prep fashion go-tos, by using the likes of vintage-inspired bags, ankle socks and classic barrettes, an otherwise neutral outfit seems inherently prep school. Just remember not to overdo it: the combination of loafers, a satchel, blazer and midi skirt may seem like a good idea, but you don’t want to take a page out of the book of 1984.