In the 1980s, the term “Preppy Fashion” rose to a whole new level of popularity as it was used to describe the fashion movement of the upper-class academia of the prestigious Ivy League schools.
To pull off that classic, refined, and relaxed scholarly aesthetic, we have gathered the most popular preppy fashion trends from the 1980s for you so that you can showcase the iconic look.
So what were the most popular preppy fashion trends of the 1980s?
80s Preppy Fashion Trends
In 1980 “The Official Preppy Handbook” was released, and the preppy fashion world would never be the same. This book outlined for the world the proper fashion and etiquette that was necessary to be a “proper preppy”.
When people think of 80s fashion, many will remember the bright and bold neon fashion of the day, but there was also a big preppy fashion movement as well that featured a more conservative and upscale vibe.
Here are some of the most notable preppy fashion trends of the 1980s:
1. Polo Shirts
A polo shirt was the epitome of preppy fashion, and you needed to collect them in every color if you wanted to embrace the style. Popular brands like Lacoste and Ralph Lauren were top picks in the 1980s when it came to polo shirts.
It was a trend inspired by the leisure activities commonly participated in by Ivy League students which included polo, horseback riding, tennis, sailing, hunting, fencing, golf, tennis, and more.
The polo shirt was and still is a “preppy fashion” trend that was born out of necessity, and you needed to have plenty of them in your collection if you wished to execute the style properly.
2. Tennis Sweaters
When it came to sweaters, in the 80s preppy practitioners flocked to tennis sweaters. This was one of the marquee trends in 80s preppy fashion, and it made you instantly look sporty and elegant at the same time.
Women who were preppy enthusiasts could also jump on the “preppy fashion” bandwagon by sporting a tennis dress, but it was an important point to also wear them with a cable knit or argyle sweater wrapped around their shoulders.
3. Ivy League Cardigans
Cardigans were a popular choice for both men and women to keep warm in the northeast weather, and of course having the letters from your favorite Ivy League Alma Mater was a fashion must.
If you found Ivy League Cardigans difficult to come by, you could simply purchase some Ivy League patches and sew them on to any cardigan so you could rock that sophisticated look just about anywhere.
4. Ivy League Sweaters
As aforementioned the weather could get chilly in the northeast, and another great way to keep warm as a preppy was with an Ivy League Sweater. Letting people know that you went to an elite college (or at least admire them) was a must when you were a preppy in the 80s, and what better way to do so then with a sweater with the logo of your Ivy League school on it.
5. Sweaters Tied Around The Neck
Your Ivy League Sweater also doubled as a preppy fashion accessory when you tied them around your neck. Coming indoors from the chilly weather meant sometimes you had to take your sweater off, and tying it around your waist wasn’t fashionable at all. The sweaters tied around the neck fashion was not only preppy protocol, but a popular preppy fashion look as well.
In case you needed another fashionable preppy way to stay warm, you could do so with a Turtleneck. Typically when we refer to turtlenecks people think of sweaters, but there were also turtleneck shirts and even dresses as well.
Turtlenecks were usually made of cotton or wool, and they went great with just about any 80s preppy fashion outfit you could come up with.
7. Navy Blue Blazers
The navy blue blazer was also one of the key trends of “preppy fashion” in the 1980s which was inspired by the official uniforms of the Royal Navy. It was a great option on special days when you needed to elevate your preppy fashion aesthetics.
When shopping for the staple navy blue blazer, preppies chose wool or cotton fabrics, and if it already came with the gold buttons or an embroidered crest, that was all the better.
8. Ray-Ban Sunglasses
Of course any preppy fashion look would not be complete without the right pair of sunglasses, and the sunglasses of choice in the 80s were Ray-Ban Sunglasses. Typically either the popular Wayfarer or Clubmaster was the way to go, but many of the popular round lens varieties were great choices as well.
9. Seersucker Jackets
The seersucker jacket was made of an all-cotton fabric that features striped or checkered patterns which you could comfortably wear during spring or summer.
This was a popular choice among the more bold and daring preppies, as they often came in bright colors which were popular fashion in the 80s. They were a great way to add some “cool” to any formal occasion that a preppy would attend.
10. Chino Trousers And Shorts
For both men and women, chino trousers and shorts were one of the most important pieces that defined “preppy fashion.” A good preppy would have these in all different colors that they could wear no matter what the reason or season.
11. Repp Stripe Neckties
Repp stripe neckties have always been associated with preppy fashion, and any preppy’s wardrobe should be filled with a wide variety of them. These were the standard ties preppies would wear with their navy blue blazers for any formal occasion.
12. Boat Shoes
These were the standard footwear for preppies of all genders because they could be worn for almost all types of occasions. Whether if be a day out on the yacht sailing, to lunch at the country club, a good pair of boat shoes like Sperry Top-Siders were a preppy fashion staple that every good preppy needed to have in their wardrobe.
13. Penny Loafers
Besides boat shoes, the traditional style Penny Loafers was another must have for those looking to complete their preppy look. These shoes were great for more formal occasions like dinner parties and fundraisers, and they perfectly paired with a some nice chino trousers and a navy blue blazer.
14. Popped Collars
When it came to preppy fashion popped collars was a must. It not only let people know you had money, but also that you were cool and had a wild side as well. Whether it be your favorite Lacoste polo or just a button-up shirt, wearing them with a popped collar was a popular preppy fashion, especially among the younger generation.
Is Preppy Fashion Still Popular?
Preppy fashion had been around for decades before the 80s, and it still continues to be a popular fashion trend today. When it comes to money and the elite, preppy fashion hasn’t really changed too much over the years. It’s just one of those timeless looks that seems to endure, after all, money never goes out of style right?
The academics and alumni of these long-established schools in the Northeastern United States have created a subculture born out of old-money upbringing and pursuit of a laid-back scholarly type of sophistication. And this subculture still remains today.
Preppy fashion and style may have started way back in the early 1900s, but the Ivy League schools have brought the style to a whole new level that people even in the coming generations will inevitably emulate.