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The Preppy Aesthetic: From Exclusion to Empowerment

[Phillips Exeter Academy, one of the most prestigious boarding schools in the US.]

It’s officially fall. The wind is crisp, trees are blazing with fiery hues, and school is back in session. If only school was aesthetic like #preppy on Instagram, with elegant uniforms and majestic ivy-covered buildings!

But what exactly is this viral new trend and how should we embrace it?

The Root of the Preppy Aesthetic

The term “preppy” originally; referred to a subculture of privileged American youth who attended prep schools in the Northeast, such as Phillips Exeter and Andover, that fed into prestigious universities. The preppy stereotype was tied to old-money families, expensive sports, and luxury brands like Brooks Brothers. 

Traditional preppy fashion stems from mid-20th century Ivy League campus looks, characterized by clean lines, classic silhouettes, and a timeless appeal that refuses to go out of style. The preppy girl’s wardrobe includes blazers, button-down shirts, A-line skirts, tailored trousers, and simple dresses. The color palette leans towards neutrals, with navy, white, and pops of bright colors like pink and green as staples. Accessories like pearls, headbands, and ballet flats complete the look. 


Over the years, it’s transformed into a broader cultural phenomenon. Especially since the explosion of social media during the 2020s, the preppy aesthetic went viral and even developed sub-aesthetics. VCSO, or Southern Prep is a more trendy, casual version of the classic preppy look. 

While the roots are elitist, today, the preppy aesthetic is accessible to all, celebrating both classic and contemporary elements.

An Empowering Way of Life 

The preppy aesthetic is more than just fashion, it’s a state of mind that promotes:


  1. Confidence: Dressing well leads to feeling confident. When you’re wearing a navy blazer, you can’t help but sit straight and feel like conquering the world. 


  1. Academic Excellence: Embracing the academic side of the preppy aesthetic will motivate yourself to earn impressive grades and enjoy learning.


  1. Empowering Traditions: The preppy style embraces and cherishes traditions, paying tribute to the foundations that have paved the way for today’s women.


  1. Community Building: Unlike the exclusive origins of the aesthetic, the modern preppy community is inclusive and supportive. Girls who embrace this aesthetic often find a sense of belonging. 


  1. Success: Many women attribute their success to the values associated with preppy style: drive, discipline, and staying classy. 

Owning the Preppy Aesthetic

The beauty of the preppy aesthetic is that you can adapt it to your unique style. Mix and match classic pieces with trendy ones, and add a personal touch with accessories that reflect your personality. This style is all about celebrating the traditions that empower you while keeping an eye on the future.

The preppy aesthetic isn’t just a hashtag; it’s a way of life. Embracing the preppy look is a declaration of self-empowerment, a commitment to one’s growth, and a celebration of the strength of womanhood. So, embrace your preppy side and step into the world with the timeless elegance and confidence it brings.


Keeping up with the preppy aesthetic, check out Girl Spring’s guide to luxury gifts this christmas.

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