7 Steps to Mastering Preppy Style

You can never go wrong with a preppy look, but getting there? Easier said than done. So, we put together an easy-to-follow plan for achieving and maintaining the style this spring.

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1. Remember: Color is Paramount.
All about black-on-black? Get ready for a shock to your closet: Pink, green and navy are essential to a preppy wardrobe, not to mention a plethora of complementing brights. (Think orange, blue and yellow.) Plan to pair them with khaki and white, and to incorporate darks ultra-sparingly.

2. A Close Second? Stripes.
From skinny and nautical to bold-as-can-be, you can’t go wrong working stripes of any kind. Our fave incarnations are red, blue and white or any combination of bright-on-bright.

3. You Can Keep Your Go-To Button-Down.
A variety of oxford shirts should rule your rotation—particularly white and pastel styles. Wear them with everything, from skirts to classic trousers. Feeling particularly preppy? Go ahead, pop your collar.

4. And Stay Mad for Plaid.
From tartans to madras, most checks fit the bill—but you’ll want to change your plaid palette with the seasons. In fall and winter, stick to “schoolgirl” pairings (like hunter or red with navy blue). In spring and summer? Switch to brights and pastels.

5. But You’ll Need to Lose Your Cutoffs.
Get ready to go long—in terms of your hemline, that is. Preppy-perfect bermudas extend to the length of a pencil skirt, and work wonders with topsiders and every pony-clad shirt.

6. Your Heels, Too.
The unofficial footwear of buttoned-up prepsters? Flats, and—among them—topsiders reign supreme. Stock up on versions that span the rainbow, knowing you’ll wear them forever. (They never go out of style!)

7. Love Layering? You’re In Luck.
Every “preppy” knows a few cardigans are musts, as they make getting dressed in the morning so easy. Feeling less than polished? Tie one over your shoulders. Bored with your button-down? Layer on your brightest style.