Yes, preppy fashion is back – but not as we knew it

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Everywhere you look on the high street, there are chunky loafers, sweater vests, oversized boxy blazers, and chic wide-leg trousers.

Depop saw an impressive 2,771% increase in searches for ‘tartan’ over September. Meanwhile, searches for ‘knee high boots’ and ‘cable knit’ have also increased 190% and 137% month on month respectively.

On top of that, searches for ‘loafers’ went up 86%, while ‘varsity jackets’ searches also went up 62% that month – both of which have recently been seen on the likes of Hailey Bieber and Bella Hadid.

So, that’s right, it’s official – it’s cool to be a prep again, but not the way it used to be.

Gone are the days when money was the only signifier of cool. No longer are preppy looks relegated to the most vanilla of personalities – far from it.

Agustina Panzoni, Depop’s trends and category manager, tells ‘It’s taken some time for cable knits and varsity jackets to shift their association with socioeconomic status, but the preppy look has developed since its origins at Ivy League and Redbrick universities and we’ve seen a new generation continue to democratise and interpret this style as their own.

‘This trend is another example of Gen Z’s fascination with references from the 90s and early 2000s, from the Clueless Chanel-inspired ensembles, Hilary Banks’ preppy looks from Fresh Prince of Bel-Air or Rory’s perfect preppy autumn wardrobe in the Gilmore Girls.

‘The new age of preppy adopts original styles but with a modern twist. Traditional items such as loafers have a chunky new frame, while tartan patterned skirts have been hiked up by the likes of Miu Miu and Vivienne Westwood.’

Yes, the most interesting thing about this newfound preppy overtone is that it’s now applicable to loads of fashion niches – from the twee to mainstreamers to emos and goths, simply tweaking your colour choices and footwear makes being a prep cool no matter who you are.

Maybe it has something to do with the fact that, as tweens and teens embrace baggy low-waisted jeans and crop top combos, trend-minded adults need to find an office-appropriate version that walks the line between fashion and function.

There are also so many fashion-forward preppy pop culture moments to draw from during the 90s and Y2K – eras which are still utterly dominating the trend cycle.

Agustina says: ‘Preppy fashion has long pulsed in and out of the limelight.

‘From 90’s and 00’s classics like Clueless and Gossip Girl inspiring us to wear pleated skirts and knee-high socks, to Sex Education hailing “back to school” style, it’s safe to say preppy is officially in this autumn.’

It helps that autumn and winter happen to be the ideal time of year for a trend that relies on heavier layers to rear its head. Who wants a boxy blazer and a high collar in a heatwave?

Agustina says: ‘Preppy is perfect for the autumn to winter season, with cosy cable knits, varsity jackets and cardigans blending fashion-forward outerwear with comfort in the cold weather.’

In a post-lockdown world, it also makes particular sense that people would want to dress a little more formally, but still keep over-sized comfort of wide-legged trousers and big boxy blazers at the forefront of their minds.

‘The chunky Prada loafer has made its mark, and it seems everyone’s adopting a love for loafers this year,’ says Agustina. ‘Depop users are certainly in favour, as we’ve seen an 86% increase in searches for “loafers” this month alone.

‘We love the way Hailey Beiber is styling her loafers with white socks at the moment, while Bella Hadid and Kendall Jenner are known for taking classic preppy pieces and working them into their Y2K style.

‘If you want to make a real bourgeois statement, layer in a classic necktie to emulate looks we’ve seen across Louis Vuitton and Ralph Lauren runways this season. Sellers such as @elvintageclothingofficial source unique, vintage ties that Blair Waldorf would envy.’

Shop the look

Vero Moda tailored suit blazer and skirt co-ord in chocolate

Get them from Asos – the blazer for £55 and skirt for £22.50.

BDG cable knit jumper

Get it from Urban Outfitters for £59.

Grandwalk loafer

Get it from Aldo for £90.

Wide-leg trousers with darts

Get them from Zara for 29.99

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