Busy Bees

Preppy: An Original American Style.

While women across the USA were reading Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, taking notes, and following the rules of “the look” -- something else was quietly happening and had been for a long time at the prep schools and universities in the Northeast United States.  As early as 1912, the birth of a truly unique design was taking place – Prep Style! In fact, you can say that the Prep Style is a completely original and entirely American creation!  It fit the way Americans live then and now.

Brant Point Lighthouse with Beach, Nantucket, Credit: Tim Grafft/MOTT

Up until the early 1970s, the fashion industry was ruled by the “Dictators of French Fashion” that is the French fashion designers whose strict designs and formal styles ruled the runways, magazines and department stores, creating the look that people followed until a new dictator began their reign – most likely someone else from France who didn’t understand or appreciate the uniquely sporty, casual, and independent American way of life.

The term prep derives from the expensive pre-college preparatory or prep schools on the US East Coast and Prep style continued on as people moved on to the Ivy League universities -- The Ivy League being the athletic conference consisting of the sports teams from the eight private universities in the Northeastern United States:  Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton, University of Pennsylvania and Yale.

Image Credit: Andrew Vallejos

Preppy clothing style originated from the collegiate traditions that shaped the preppy subculture over 100 years ago and also reflected traditional upper class New England leisure activities, such as equestrian, sailing, yachting, hunting, fencing, rowing, lacrosse, tennis, golf, and rugby. This can be seen in sport stripes and colors, equestrian clothing, plaid shirts, field jackets and nautical-themed accessories. Vacationing in Florida popular with the East Coast upper class, led to the emergence of bright color combinations in leisure wear and also became associated with prep style.

Prep Style of course has exploded in the last three decades, no longer confined to the prep schools and universities in the Northeast.  Prep Style is an inseparable part of American Style from coast to coast that embraces a relaxed, easy, effortless, and fun way of life. 

American prep is found everywhere... the north, south, east, and even out west – in the great American brands such as Brooks Brothers, J. Press, Lilly Pulitzer and Ralph Lauren among others.  People all over the world are obsessed with Prep Style.  For many, it is much more than just a fashion statement that is dictated by someone thousands of miles away it is a true lifestyle that reflects the life that families and fiercely independent people live – embracing tradition, manners, celebrations and rituals. Yet, it is a way of dressing that is timeless, effortless, clean, easy and sporty without strict and formal rules.

The greatest compliment made today is not that you dress like a magazine, celebrity, model, or look like you came off a runway in Paris, but that you seem to dress perfectly without trying and appear effortless in your manner of dressing. This of course is the hallmark of the Americans who master Prep Style.  Here at Busy Bees we simply call it American Prep…take a look!

Image Credit: smittenkittenorig