It’s no question that ‘preppy’ is a way of life – but what does that descriptor ACTUALLY mean? For many people, it’s a derivative of what we learned from our more conservative parents, blended with a modern day aesthetic. Preppy can describe your personal style, your wardrobe, your home, or even your attitude.
Preppy or prep (all abbreviations of the word preparatory) refer to a subculture in the United States associated with the old private Northeastern university-preparatory schools. The terms are used to denote a person seen as characteristic of a student or alumnus of these schools.
Traditionally, this includes conservative clothing and decor, shopping from well established and historical brands (like Brooks Brothers or Ethan Allen), and clothing designed to reflect the leisure lifestyle activities of the upper crust: equestrian, sailing, squash, lacrosse, hunting, fencing, crew, golf, rugby etc. Theres an iconic cult following for Preppy brands and designers like Vineyard Vines, Lilly Pulitzer, Tommy Hilfiger, and hundreds more – and similar design aesthetics have spilled over into home design as well. In our household, I like to think of our style as a blend of Northeastern preppy (him) and California breezy (my side) – and together, we’ve created a home that feels warm and lived in, but distinctly traditional and preppy in parts. I’m from LA, so anything to stuffy feels suffocating to me – but I can’t help but fall for crisp colors, plaids and tartans, and colorful pieces in traditional styles. In our living room, I’m curating a stack of coffee table books that are a nod to our shared aesthetic – here are my top 5 favorites:
1. Preppy: Cultivating Ivy Style, by Jeffrey Banks & Doria de la Chapelle (bonus: foreword by Lilly Pulitzer!)