Preppy style for women: Building the perfect capsule wardrobe

A woman is wearing white jeans, a brown belt, a red top, and sunglasses.

Preppy style for women: A timeless yet playful collegiate inspired style representing elegance and sophistication. But what is it about?

As a general rule, preppy style for women follows a classic conservative fashion trend that originated from Ivy League universities. Typical elements are patterns like stripes or checks and it incorporates a cable knit sweater, blazers, and pleated skirts. 

The preppy style for women can be defined by more than that though. To gain a comprehensive understanding of this topic, we will provide you with a list of clothes that makes a preppy appearance as well as some styling tips and inspirations to put together the perfect preppy outfit in 2024.

If you want to know how the male side is doing with this style, check out my article about preppy outfits for men.

Definition of the preppy style

The preppy style for women is, as well as preppy style in general, about classic sophisticated looks that express an elite way of living.

Originating in the 1950s, it became popular in the 1980s through a book called “Officially Preppy Handbook” by Lisa Birnbach. Though meant as a joke, this book quickly became the icon of the preppy style and is still today. 

Many people follow the rules to gain a preppy aesthetic. A style, defined by sweater vests, rugby shirts, and boat shoes never disappoints with timeless and enduring fashion.

The wording “preppy” derives from the expression preparatory and means the form of preparatory schools the students mostly attended to prepare for Ivy League universities. This may explain the collegiate inspired style, doesn’t it?

Preppy style clothing for women

To build your capsule wardrobe easily, we will now look at some crucial preppy clothes, you will need to have to match the classic style.

Preppy tops for women

Starting at the top, we have a list of clothes that represent the preppy outfits for women perfectly. You can pair those as you like to create sophisticated and timeless ensembles. So, let’s get started:

  • Classic button down shirt
  • Collared shirt
  • Polo shirts
  • Peplum tops
  • Blouses
  • Strippt boatneck tops
  • Cardigan
  • V neck sweaters
  • Cable knit sweaters
  • Blazers

You can complement an layer those garments to suit any occasion and season.

If you want to check out preppy style for the season of fall, read this article about preppy fall fashion.

Preppy pants/skirts/dresses for women

Moving on, we will need some bottoms for you to create a stylish outfit. Therefore, we created a list of the most common bottoms for preppy women:

  • Chino pants
  • Chino shorts
  • Tailored pants
  • Pleated skirts
  • A-line skirts
  • Midi dresses
  • Shirt dresses
  • Little black dress

If you combine these bottoms with the tops from above, more than half of your preppy outfit will be done already!

Preppy style outerwear

If it gets a little more chill or rainy, you will be glad the preppy style offers some timeless outerwear.

The most common preppy outerwear for women is the trench coat. Also, you may find Pea coats, quilted jackets, and varsity jackets to complement your classic outfit.

Preppy shoes for women

What are we missing? Shoes! With preppy-style shoes, it is rather simple, so keep it that simple! The following list will give you an overview of what to wear:

  • Loafers
  • Boat shoes
  • Pumps
  • Mary janes
  • Sandals
  • Ankle boots
  • Ballet flats
  • Heels

With these shoes, you are able to complement any preppy outfit. Keep those shoes rather plain so they will not stand out as much.

For some more inspiration on which shoes to wear to achieve the preppy aesthetic, check out this article.

Here, you can see a woman wearing some white Loafers. They are made out of leather with a brown sole.

Preppy style accessories for women

Lastly, let’s look at some accessories so you can express your preppy style personality perfectly. Therefore, a list of accessories that represents the preppy style for women is the perfect option:

  • Pearls/Pearl Jewelry
  • Gold jewelry
  • Silk scarfs
  • Tote bags
  • Sunglasses
  • Nautical inspired accessories
  • Watches
  • Umbrellas

For some more inspiration on preppy accessories, check out my recent article here.

Key elements of preppy outfits for women

Preppy outfits for women consist of some key elements that we will discuss now. If you follow those principles, styling a preppy outfit will be an easy task for you.

Combination of neutral and bold colors

The typical preppy color palette consists of some crucial neutral colors:

  • Khaki
  • Navy
  • White
  • Black
  • Brown
  • Beige
  • Burgundy

Also, some bold colors like Red, pink, baby blue, Kelly green, mint, and lavender can spice up your preppy outfits easily. When combining those colors, opt for a neutral base and add some finishing bold touches.

When it comes to patterns, checks and stripes are the main ones to opt for.

High-quality natural fabrics

Regarding fabrics, quality and comfortability are the most important factors. To achieve the preppy look, opt for fabrics like:

  • Cotton
  • Linen
  • Cashmere
  • Silk
  • Wool
  • Tweed
  • Madras
  • Corduroy
  • Twill

As these are very versatile, you can easily mix and match your preppy clothes to achieve a classic look. As you may notice, some fabrics can be worn in a different season than others.

Timeles silhouettes

One thing that can make or break your preppy outfits, is the silhouette. To achieve a classic style, you will want to choose a classic silhouette, am I right?

This implies, that you will need to add well-tailored preppy pieces that are of good craftsmanship to your wardrobe. As they will sit rather tight, a good body shape is very beneficial.

Preppy outfit ideas for women

Now that we’ve discussed the key elements of preppy style for women, let’s look at some outfit ideas to make these features work:

Sailing outfit

Prep likes to incorporate nautical elements in its style. Therefore, this outfit perfectly suites for any colder occasion. Try to incorporate some nautical-based accessories in it like a bracelet with an anchor or rope. 

Additionally, the colors blue, white, and beige will look the best on this outfit and will create a good contrast. 

Mini skirt and blazer

This outfit consists of a mini skirt and a blazer with a button-down shirt underneath. To make it look more preppy, polka dots can be a great pattern to put some extra contrast in. Otherwise, the blazer should match the color of the skirt and the shoes.

You can add sunglasses and a bracelet to this outfit to create a more unique look. 

School uniform

Prep likes to base its outfits on the college style that Ivy League students wear. This consists of a school uniform that the outfit will imitate. 

Crucial for this outfit is a neutral-colored button-down shirt as well as a blazer. You should also wear a skirt to match the preppy aesthetic the best. 

Final thoughts on the preppy style for women

As we’ve seen, the preppy style for women contains more than just some patterns and colors. The most important parts when it comes to the preppy style for women are carefully chosen clothing of good quality, a mixture of colors and patterns as well as fabrics and accessories. When you go out wearing a preppy outfit, wear it with confidence and you will look stunning. 


What is preppy style for women?

Preppy style for women is about combining classic elements like Chinos, Blazers, collared tops, and elegant sweaters with sporty elements like pleated skirts, shirt dresses, and tennis shoes to achieve a timeless aesthetic.

What are the best brands for preppy women?

Brands like Ralph Lauren, J. Crew, Vineyard Vines, Tommy Hilfiger, and Lilly Pulitzer offer great preppy clothes for women.

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