preppy outfit

8 Must-Have Items To Achieve The Preppy Look for Ladies

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The preppy look for ladies is a clothing style that’s been around for a long time. Famous examples of ‘preppy chic’ include Jackie O and Blair Waldorf from Gossip Girl. If you’ve ever wanted to try out the polished look of preppy fashion, I have good news! The preppy style is easy to recreate. You probably have most of the staples in your wardrobe already. The secret to achieving this look is to focus on classic pieces that have a contemporary twist and feminine silhouette. I’m sharing the 8 must-have items for anyone wanting to experiment with the preppy look for ladies!

1. Blouses Are Your Best Friend

When you’re building your preppy closet, blouses are a must-have. They’re one of the most versatile pieces, and you can easily dress them up or down. Bow blouses are an easy way of achieving a preppy look for ladies, giving a feminine twist to a classic shirt. When you’re shopping around for blouses, keep an eye out for materials like satin and silk that look more elevated than a polyester blend. 

Another blouse that you’ll want to add is one with a Peter Pan collar. These collars are easy to style over sweaters and dresses when wearing your blouse as a layering piece. And yes, you can still wear jewelry with this type of shirt too! Just slip a necklace under the collar.

plaid skirt fall back to school outfit

2. Ballet Flats for Casual Days

Shoes are one thing that gets overlooked when people are trying the preppy style. Your footwear can make or break any outfit, no matter which style you’re aiming to copy.

Ballet flats are the perfect effortless go-to show when you want something comfortable and casual to wear. Think of the shoes that Audrey Hepburn wore in Sabrina. While canvas shoes like Keds work for the casual side of preppy fashion, ballet flats give you a more elevated look! 

You want to invest in a pair that you can wear every day in a neutral color you can mix and match with different outfits. Ballet flats can also be a way of adding a fun pop of color to any look if color is what you prefer. As you’re shopping, add these other shoe styles to your wardrobe because they all give off the preppy vibe: Loafers, Mary Janes, Sperry’s, oxfords, and riding boots.

3. Learn to Love Stripes

The preppy look for ladies takes a lot of its inspiration from boating culture. Stripes are one of the most obvious examples. Fans of preppy fashion have stacks of striped sweaters and tops in their closets. The great thing about stripes is that they’re easy to bring into your wardrobe!

While t-shirts are a popular option, you can also try striped dresses, skirts, and button-downs. When you’re styling stripes, it’s best to add neutrals to your look. The classic go-to outfit would be a striped sweater, classic jeans, and a pair of ballet flats – perfect for a casual weekend.

Of course, it all depends on your season too. If it were the fall, you could wear your sweater with jeans, a vest, and riding boots to achieve the preppy style and if it were spring, then you could choose a skirt and flats. But either way, stripes bring the aesthetic of preppy fashion, making them a must-have!

On the topic of sweaters, don’t forget to add a cable knit sweater to your wardrobe. This preppy piece makes a great layering item (wear over a button-down or under a vest), and it can be a great stand-alone piece as well.

preppy look for ladies

4. Top-Handle Handbags

No look is ever complete without a handbag! It’s important to have a focus on feminine accessories when going for the preppy look for ladies. You want to think of easy ways to add a touch of class to any look. Structured top-handle handbags are a go-to for preppy icons like Kate Middleton as they evoke the silhouette of bags like the Hermes Birkin and Lady Dior. Even a large tote bag would work too, however. Just try to stay away from a backpack, as we don’t want to take the preppy look too literally. You’re not in school after all! 

When shopping, consider investing in a top-handle handbag with a classic and understated design. Though not exactly known for understated, Kate Spade, Vera Bradley, and Lily Pulitzer are three more favorite brands for preppy fashionistas if you prefer the more colorful and monogrammed side of preppy fashion.

Related: How to Have a Modern-Day Grace Kelly Style

5. Don’t Forget Tights

Part of achieving the preppy look for ladies is to look polished from head to toe. You can’t go wrong with basic tights, though bold colors and little details can all work too! Just make sure to throw away any tights with rips and holes in them. Not chic!

If you want to invest in a more expensive pair of tights, you can usually find a pair in a higher quality material that acts as shapewear to help smooth out any lumps and bumps. Double duty!

patterned tights outfit

6. Yes to Blazers

Preppy fashion is built on the idea of the “New England” lifestyle of polo matches, boating, and summers spent at Cape Cod. One of the signature preppy brands is Ralph Lauren, which is the go-to brand for blazers.

For an equestrian-inspired look, you can choose a blazer with embroidery on the pocket, similar to what you would see jockeys wearing. If you’re looking for a more understated look, choose a sharp blazer in a color like navy or black. Little details like elbow patches all play into the preppy look too!

You want your blazer to fit you like a glove and be the perfect partner for your sweaters, tops, and dresses. Depending on the fit and how you style it, you can even make a Zara blazer look as though it’s from a Chanel ready-to-wear collection.

denim skirt and plaid blazer fall back to school outfit

7. Embrace the Headband

If you’ve ever watched an episode of Gossip Girl, you’ll be familiar with Blair Waldorf’s headbands. They’re a must-have to achieve the preppy look for ladies! Headbands are a similar way of accessorizing, and they’re perfect if you want an elegant look without styling your hair.

Lately, headbands have been making a comeback (as these things go with fashion), and because of that, you have so many style options to choose from that you’re bound to find one that fits your personal preppy style.

8. Every Woman Needs Pearls

The preppy look for ladies wouldn’t be complete without a set of pearls. While diamonds might be a girl’s best friend, pearls are a preppy girl’s pal. You can wear pearls every day by incorporating them into your jewelry collection with stud earrings and small bracelets. A single or double-strand pearl necklace is a must-have for formal events, and it can help you channel your inner Jackie Kennedy. 

Don’t forget the other accessories that all play into the preppy look, such as reading glasses and a watch.

preppy look for ladies

There may be a few new things you need to add to your wardrobe to achieve the preppy look for ladies, but overall, you should have the majority of these items in your wardrobe already. Need more ideas on how to wear some preppy pieces? Keep reading!

Up Next: Need Help? Here’s How to Wear a White Button Down Shirt!


Founder and editor of My Chic Obsession, Carolyn is your trusted fashion maven. Carolyn's drive to help others achieve a classic and timeless wardrobe fuels her posts, making a go-to resource for style seekers worldwide. Beyond the wardrobe, she resides in the heartland of the Midwest, dreaming up new ideas and raising her two lively boys - her biggest fashion critics.