How to Be Preppy

Preps always look well put-together.
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The preppy aesthetic represents class, good breeding and an elevated mindset. While not everyone can go to Yale or claim to be a debutante, it is easier than you might think to emulate the preppy style and convince people that you might just be a member of this storied social class.

1 Manners Matter

If you want to be a preppy person, or at least pull off the look, then you have to act preppy. A preppy person's behavior is upstanding, competent, politely reserved and never obnoxious. She is a debutante or the president of the golf club; she isn't going to be caught fist-pumping at a rave.

2 Know the Brands

Certain designers are essential to the DNA of preppy style -- note soely for the label but also for specific items. Think of Ralph Lauren polo shirts, L.L. Bean monogrammed tote bags or the subtle flash of Burberry plaid on the underside of a trenchcoat. These are iconic preppy styles in the same way a striped sailor shirt and cigarette jeans are considered Parisian basics. Ralph Lauren, Michael Kors, L.L. Bean, Tommy Hilfiger, Club Monaco, Burberry, J. Crew, Coach, Lily Pulitzer and Longchamp are all brands that are at home in the closets of preppy people. Certain clothes are unquestionably part of the preppy wardrobe. They include navy blazers, headbands, boat shoes, khakis, ballet flats, riding boots, polo shirts and Capri pants -- all monogrammed wherever possible. Ripped jeans, extremely short shirts and shorts, wrinkled or stained garments, and oversized clothing are decidedly not preppy.

3 Keep It Clean

Being presentable and polished at all times is important to the preppy look. You will never catch yourself wondering when a prep last took a shower. Maintain your cuticles and keep your nails trimmed. If you are going to paint them, keep the colors subtle. Makeup should be simple and appear natural, so steer clear of glitter or shocking peacock shades. Keep your hair brushed. Unkempt waves may be great for the surfer-chic aesthetic, but you will rarely see a flyaway on a preppy head.

4 Jewelry

Preppy people wear tasteful jewelry -- the opposite of flashy. Much of the preppy look relies on the “classic” aesthetic, and jewelry choices are no different. Don’t pile on jewelry or accessories; any look that suggests clutter isn’t preppy. Fashion designer Coco Chanel once said “Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off.”

Patrick Phillips is a Bay Area-based style writer who has written for such publications as Harper's Bazaar and Joonbug. His knowledge of fashion and style spans historical costume, modern day couturiers and the powerful influence wielded by famous style icons.