The opposite of preppy style: Which styles oppose prep?

This image compares the preppy style and punk style, an opposite of preppy.

The preppy style is widely known on the internet as a timeless and elegant aesthetic. But what is the opposite of the preppy style?

As a general rule, the opposite of preppy is considered to be “grungy” or “punk” in terms of style. Preppy features chino pants or polo shirts, while the grungy or punk style features leather jackets, ripped jeans, or ripped tights. 

Even though these are considered to be the opposite of prep, there is more to this than just these two styles that oppose the preppy style. If you want to find out more about it, read on!

Not particularly the opposite of the preppy style but rather a style that gets mixed up with it is old money. Check out old money vs preppy style here to get to know the differences.

History of the preppy style

The preppy style had its origins in the 1950s and 60s. To this day it resembles class and elitism of the upper-middle and upper class. TBack in the 1980s, Lisa Steinbach published a book called “Official Preppy Handbook” that was meant to make fun of prep as an elitist style and aesthetic, brought back the preppy style. 

Whilst prep has its place many people still prefer other styles to express their identity. Some might be similar to the preppy style, but some completely oppose prep. As there is no the opposite of the preppy style, this article will feature multiple that oppose it in different ways. 

What is preppy style?

The preppy style has some remarkable features that make it unique. In general, it is known for its elitism and collegiate looks. Often people want to express their wealth through the preppy style. This is also why prep comes to mind when thinking about activities like tennis, golf, or sailing which wealthier people participate in.

A man is playing golf wearing a preppy style for men.

Some key features that make the preppy style what it is, are:

  • Combination of elegant clothes with trendy and sporty ones.
  • Neat appearance wherever prep goes.
  • High-quality clothing.
  • Exclusive brands without big logos.
  • Extraordinary patterns like gingham or plaid
  • Colors like khaki, beige, or navy blue
  • Sometimes bright colors, depending on the kind of prep.

This style with all its trademarks can be achieved by wearing classy items. For tops, the most common ones are button-down shirts, polo shirts, and blazers. Pants are usually chino shorts and pants, dress pants, or jeans. Preppy shoes are typically loafers, boat shoes, or white sneakers.

Opposite styles of preppy

Now, let’s take a look at what styles oppose the preparatory style. As it is known as elite and classy and an expression of wealth, the opposing styles must do the contrary thing. 

The styles that match must have a more alternative and edgy look. The styles that match these criteria are grungepunk, and goth

Grunge has trademarks like ripped jeans, Dr. Martens- or combat boots, beanies, and messy hairstyles.

Punk follows similar principles with boots and jeans, but mixes them with leather jackets, graphic t-shirts, bright hair colors, and heavy makeup like black eyeliner and other more edgy features.

Goth matches the punk aesthetic to some point as black makeup and clothes are also a thing as well as ripped tights. It likes to keep things dark though, as black hair is a typical element of goth as well as medieval clothes and accessories like crosses, skulls, corsets, and capes

Boho, the slight opposite to the preppy style

Unlike the other three, the bohemian style is an eclectic, free-spirit aesthetic. This expresses through loose-fitting clothes, natural colors, and flower patterns.

Clothes that match these criteria are boho skirts, bell-bottom pants, long dresses, denim shorts, and tunics. This not only is entirely different clothing but also reflects nearly the opposite way of living compared to the prep.

For a more in-depth guide on boho, check out my article here.

How to achieve the opposite of preppy

So how do you achieve the opposite of the preppy style? With the right combination of clothes, makeup, and accessories you can achieve any of these styles:

Boho style: Wear wide-cut clothes with light fabrics like linen or heavier ones like wool. Maxi dresses are a great way to achieve this style. Layered necklaces will be great accessories to match the aesthetic. The footwear usually consists of sandals or ankle boots.

Grunge: To achieve the grunge style, layering is key. Also, distressed jeans, shirts, and shorts are typical items to wear. For shoes, use Dr. Martens or combat boots. Hair can be messy but makeup shouldn’t be worn.

Punk: To achieve the punk style, leather jackets, and t-shirts with band emblems are key. Also, skinny jeans and ripped tights are typical items. Combat boots will work with this style too. Spiked accessories are typical for punk and makeup is often dark. The hair is typically colorful. 

Goth: For the goth style, leather jackets are also a thing. Additionally, corsets and lace dresses can be worn. As the Goth style is inspired by medieval culture, long silver chains, capes, and other items are common. For hairstyles and makeup, black is the dominating color.

If you want to see a similar but nevertheless different style to preppy, check out my article about classic vs preppy style where I will show you all the differences and similarities.

Final thoughts on the opposite style to preppy

As we’ve discussed in this article, lots of styles feature quiet a different aesthetic compared to preppy. Whilst the might not be the most wearable ones for formal occasions or to go unnoticed, goth, punk, grunge, and boho still express a unique vibe to express certain preferences.


Is old money the opposite of preppy?

Old money is a timeless style that not by any means opposes preppy. Whilst there are some differences, old money mostly has the same aesthetic as prep, only is it a little more elegant.

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