Living the Preppy Life On a Budget
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I have mainly a preppy sense of style – mixed in with vintage, contemporary, and a little bit of random! Living the preppy life isn’t exactly cheap, but I’ve figured out how to do it on a seriously cheap budget.
What is “Preppy” style?
I associate “preppy” style with classic, New England, Ivy League fashion that’s heavily influenced by the late 1950’s/early 1960’s. Preppy is a timeless, classic aesthetic that includes home decor and a general way of life.
The reason why I love dressing in a preppy style is because it’s so elegant – I look prepared and put together no matter where I go, with minimal effort. And I love vintage clothing which is a big part of preppy style.
The Best Preppy Brands
I love the best of the best when it comes to living the preppy life: Ralph Lauren, Vineyard Vines, L.L. Bean, Barbour and of course J.Crew. My favorite place to shop for budget preppy clothes that not the thrift store is J.Crew Factory – I’ve gotten so many deals over the years. I also love TJ Maxx because they always have a high inventory of Ralph Lauren items.
How To Live the Preppy Lifestyle – On Pennies
Buying Barbour and Vineyard Vines gets expensive quickly, and I’m over spending my hard earned money on brand names. I’ve become a master of dressing preppy but with spending 90% less than everyone else.
1. Shop the Thrift Stores
Thrift stores are my new best friend. For example, I really wanted a high quality, beige cable-knit sweater since it’s such a preppy staple but I didn’t own one. These run around $100 if you buy them new from L.L. Bean or Abercrombie, but I ended up snagging a vintage Lands Ends one in perfect condition for just $10 at my local Clothes Mentor!
If you’re patient and shop stores in upper class areas near you, you’re guaranteed to find some real gems for under $10. Save your pennies so you can spend your hundreds!
2. Buy Vintage
This has been a real winner, for me. Dooney & Bourke bags these days cost hundreds of dollars new, but vintage All Weather Leather bags from the 80’s are under $50 on Etsy in good vintage condition – it’s also surprisingly easy if you’re thinking of cleaning your leather items to bring them back to their former glory. And sometimes, being a vintage piece makes it all the more preppy! Etsy is my number one place to shop for vintage pieces – I’m not much of an eBay shopper because I feel like there’s more fakes for sale on eBay than on Etsy.
3. Purchase One Statement Item
You probably don’t need a Louis Vuitton handbag, wallet, keychain and belt. That would cost thousands of dollars. You don’t need 5 Vineyard Vines shep shirts, you can create a lot of preppy outfits with just one.
Remember, you don’t have to buy multiple products from the high-end, expensive brands. No one’s judging you for the brands on your arm. Buy what you like and is within your budget.
Instead, buy one small leather good and use that as your statement piece. For example, I have a vintage All Weather Leather, made in the U.S.A. P217 Dooney & Bourke camera bag that I bought for $50 on Etsy because it’s small, holds my essentials, and is made to last, unlike some higher-end brands these days. Then, I have a Louis Vuitton key pouch that I use as my statement piece but I keep in my D&B so it’s protected from rain/snow.
4. Create a Preppy Capsule Wardrobe
Capsule wardrobes are the concept of having just a few, very versatile pieces in your wardrobe that are easy to mix and match and create a wide variety of outfits. I love this concept because you really do only need a few staple pieces to create a wide range of preppy outfits. Here’s an example from Carly the Prepster on what you need to buy to create all those classic preppy looks! So, instead of buying a L.L. Bean cable knit sweater in lime green brand new because it’s on sale, wait until you can find a beige one at the thrift store because you can create way more looks with a beige sweater than you can a lime green one.
Don’t know where to start? Here’s a few of my preppy essentials that you only need to buy a few of to get started:
Remember, don’t dress preppy and wear brands because you feel like you have to. Most of the time, I shop at Target or the thrift store to create my preppy sense of style! Living the preppy life can be done on a budget – my thrift hauls with brands like Lands End, Zara, J.Crew and Orvis where I buy 5+ pieces for under $40 are evidence of that!