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Get the Look: Preppy Style

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"Preppy is as Preppy does", and that means Prep isn't just a style -- it's a lifestyle, too. Conservative, neat and prepared for anything, the Prep knows how to style a look, seeks out natural fabrics, stays clean and neat, and always carries a sweater, just in case. Below, we've broken down the elements of Prep style.

Start with YOU

Start your fresh clean look by being clean, and that means good hygiene (greasy hair = NO, shower + deodorant = YES). While it seems weird to include that, a lot of tweens and teens tend to shower less than they need to, and the preppy look really is all about taking good care of yourself. In fact, no matter what your favorite look is, when you're concerned with style and how you present yourself, good hygiene is always part of the package.

Fight breakouts before they happen with a good gleanser like Cetaphill or Clean and Clear. Brush your teeth morning and evening and do a reality check to make sure your pearly whites aren't getting stained by smoking, coffee, tea or brushing too hard and often which removes protective enamel.

Makeup Tips

When it comes to makeup, less is more. You want to create a natural, healthy look. No blue eyeshadow or glitter makeup here. We're talking a good base moisturizer with foundation to protect your skin, and a natural looking bronzer, if anything, to give your skin a healthy glow. Be sure to use a light touch and blend your bronzing powder down your neck or you'll look like an Oompa Loompa gone wild. On your lips, a natural gloss or light pink or coral with shine but no glitter.

As for manicures, the Preppy Gal keeps her nails neatly trimmed, no cuticles or hangnails, and certainly NO BITING! You don't need to add color to your manicure, but if you do, seashell pink, natural glazes or a French Manicure will do nicely. Do the toes while you're at it, too. Preppy guys shouldn't neglect their nails, either. Same rules apply about keeping them neatly trimmed and no biting. And guys, lay off the nail polish. It's not for this look.

The New Tommy GirlThe New Tommy GirlCourtesy of Tommy Hilfiger

Wardrobe Tips

For a great visual education, check out the Preppiest brands: Ralph Lauren, J Crew, J Press, Vineyard Vines, Abercrombie and Fitch, Brooks Brothers, LL Bean, Lily Pulitzer, and Lacoste.

The Preppy color scheme for men and women, boys and girls is fairly simple and uniform: white, black, navy and beige, accented by ice cream colors like light pink, baby blue, teal, light lemony yellow and peach. Patterns that work for the Preppy look are plaid, gingham, floral, stripes, and argyle. Shirts often have buttons and collars. Cardigan sweaters or blazers layer nicely over the shirts. Pants are usualy khakis in warmer weather, corduroy in winter and fall, and even the jeans are plain, usually dark-colored, straight-legged and are always neatly hemmed and pressed. Shorts run on the longer side, like Bermuda shorts, and are tailored to fall just above the knee. For girls, skirts can be pleated or straight. Summer dresses are usually sheath dresses that go straight down to the knee with a scoop neck, boat neck or v-neck -- whatever best suits your figure. Preppies rarely wear socks. Boys and men often wear Dockers, loafers, leather flip flops or boat shoes. For girls Tom's shoes are hot this season, as are ballet flats, Sperry Top-Siders, wedges and flip flops. Preppy clothes usually stick to a few natural fabrics such as linen and 100% cotton. When you're shopping, a good guideline is that clothes should fit nicely, not too loose or tight, and shouldn't be revealing, ripped or flashy.

Ralph Lauren Rugby StyleRalph Lauren Rugby StyleCourtesy of Rugby

For men and boys, the key to the Preppy look is layering. A button-down shirt is often topped with a sweater or vest, then a blazer. For girls, the look is minimal and often a cardigan tops most anything with a crisp jacket in a weight that matches the season to top it all off.

Accessories

Keep accessories simple and classy. Think pearls, real or fake, and studs, preferably small and resembling a precious stone (like a diamond, real or fake). A good rule of thumb is it should look like someone's mother, grandmother or great-aunt could have worn it to "tea". For a belt, a ribbon belt is always classic, or leather if you are dressing heavier for cooler weather. Keep colors as natural as possible with clean lines and very little flair. Avoid big logos which look more like bragging or posing and less like a personal style choice. For guys, straw hats are a fun accessory for spring and summer. For gals, look for ribbon headbands and cute little bows for your hair.

Demeanor

Demeanor, or how you behave, is the last piece of the Preppy style puzzle. Polite, well-mannered, soft-spoken behavior and a considerate nature should accompany the Preppy vibe or it won't feel authentic. Behave like a scholar, a debutante or a gentleman. Practice good posture by pulling back your shoulders every time you walk through a doorway. This simple reminder will help you stop slouching and express yourself with the confidence of a true Prep.

Preppy guys are always prepared with a sweaterPreppy guys are always prepared with a sweaterCourtesy of Tommy Hilfiger

Behave like your grandmother's watching (or if she's a bit of a Wild Thing, like someone else's fancy grandmother is watching) and you're trying to impress her so she'll leave you the family fortune... In other words, play the role if it doesn't come naturally at first, and soon it will come naturally and you'll be a fan favoite among parents, teachers, grandparents and really nice kids at school. Not a bad side-effect of adopting a cool style.

Have Your Say

Do you have what it takes to go Preppy? Comment below and share your thoughts. We want to know!

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