Seersucker, patterns, and stripes, oh my!
If those all sound like good things to you, you probably have preppy, if not “southern” style. This means things like shirts with collars, lots of palm trees, and the occasional embroidered lobster.
Sound like what your closet needs? Shop our favorite preppy clothing brands below.
1. Vineyard Vines
Want to wear clothing that makes you feel like it’s always summer? Vineyard Vines is the perfect brand for that. Their logo is even summery – it’s a cute little whale.
You can find patterned shorts for men here, in pinstripes or khakis with little embroidered aspects. Like their signature whale or sailboats.
Women can rock their very Lily Pulitzer reminiscent styles to the country club or even a summer wedding.
All their materials are lightweight and breathable, so you never have to worry about overheating while looking cute.
2. Lauren James
Have you ever seen a girl wearing a t-shirt with a pocket on the front and a cute southern saying on the back? Something like “All I need is God, Sweet Tea, and the SEC”? That tee probably came from Lauren James.
The women’s retailer carries everything from cute long and short sleeve t’s with sayings, to formal appropriate dresses. Got a Kentucky Derby party coming up? This is the brand to shop.
They also stock adorable accessories, like those straps that keep your sunglasses on. Expect to find lots of cute pineapples and palm trees in their accessories category.
3. Southern Tide
Not as well known or as well established as Vineyard Vines, this brand is up and coming. They’re gaining respect with a crowd that likes VV’s style but doesn’t want to pay quite as much.
That’s not to say they offer cheap clothing – you’re still going to spend around $75 for an outfit. But the quality is worth it and the designs are cute.
They offer graphic tees just like Lauren James but have more of a men’s section selection for shirts. They also offer stickers, accessories, and about anything you can think of with their logo on it, see options here.
Speaking of logos, you could say they took some inspiration from the VV whale, but on a smaller scale. Their image is a little fish, which theoretically you caught wearing their clothes.
4. Lily Pulitzer
There’s no higher version of prep than Lily Pulitzer, except maybe Kate Spade. Lily got her start with a juice stand, believe it or not, and they loved the designs she made for herself to wear.
The brand quickly caught on and has been a classic for the last fifty some years. Unfortunately, we lost Lily herself a while ago but she’s still in our hearts.
… and our closets. Her death was not the death of her beloved brand. You can shop in-store or online whenever you want.
She’s most known for her bright, almost Vera-Bradley-esque patterns on printed shift dresses. But the brand offers other preppy classics too.
Women can order brightly colored and embroidered capris and printed shorts.
There’s a children’s shop and a few items for men, but that’s not their primary market.
A surprising fave from Lily? Their academic planners. The covers feature the large, well-loved prints, and the layout is large and clear. If you’re in or know someone in a sorority, chances are they have a Lily planner somewhere.
Out of all the brands so far, Lily is the most expensive, so you’ll want to buy accent pieces from this brand – not a whole wardrobe.
5. Kate Spade
Speaking of designers we lost recently, Kate Spade tragically took her own life in 2018. Everyone was so surprised because she put so much life and cheer into her clothes/designs.
Kate Spade is mostly known for bags, though there are some garments available at select stores. The motto for Kate Spade is “Live Colorfully” and you’ll pay quite a bit for a bag that impersonates that motto.
Most of her pieces are around $150-$250 for a good-sized purse. If you’re not sure if you like the brand, find an outlet mall near you. There’s often a Kate Spade outfit where things are significantly marked down.
When it comes to high-visibility brands, it doesn’t get more recognizable than the alligator logo.
Lacoste is almost a high-fashion brand, but not quite. Think of it as J-Crew on steroids or the lower-cost (but not cheap!) version of Ralph Lauren.
They’re known for their basics, like polos and sweaters. If you’re looking for a preppy, knitted, maybe even argyle sweater – it doesn’t get better than Lacoste.
7. J. Crew
Since we mentioned them above, it made sense to put them next. J. Crew is the grown-up version of all these brands, in that their patterns are more subdued. Instead of cute sorority girls wearing their dresses, it’s more likely to be suburban moms.
That doesn’t mean you can’t class up and wear J.Crew to your college class though, you’ll just pay more. They have a good presence in the in-person malls that still exist out there, so check their website to find a store.
You can also find them at select outlet malls, for about 30% off (on average) the retail price.
They have a good selection of jewelry, so don’t forget to check out that section of their website.
How to Wear Preppy Clothing Brands
Unless you’re going somewhere formal that calls for head to toe prep, the best way to balance a preppy piece is with a non-preppy basic. For men, that’s usually preppy pants or shorts, with a normal polo.
For women, that could mean jeans and that printed Lily Pulitzer shirt.
Ready to get some more life in your closet? Go shop those preppy clothing brands and share this with your best country club friend.
Can’t decide if you want a Lily Pulitzer beach tote or a Kate Spade bag? Learn the current purse trends here.