We all remember the ’80s right?! Huge brick mobile phones, men’s power suits, red leather jackets ( à la Thriller), the awful track suit trend, Madonna look-alikes and preppies everywhere! Interestingly enough though, the school girl trend was around way before the 1980s and bad hairstyles ever came to play. According to Lisa Birnbach, the author of The Official Preppy Handbook, the trend surfaced as a result of a growing number of preparatory schools in England and throughout the Northeast. While that is a true and known fact there is a bit more that goes into it. Apparently this trend goes all the way back to the 1950s, further back even to the ’30s where children would wear button-down shirts as part of their school uniforms. What started in the British public school system as a way to provide education to both the Empire and the Anglox-Saxon Protestant community, quickly found its way to the United Sates, who rapidly copied the format and instilled the same values and formulas to prepare its students for university entrance. Along with that of course we see the differing of social status, the elite that could attend said prep schools and the lower-class, who would attend public schools. This social status also involved membership to a distinct number of social clubs, (specifically country sports clubs) namely tennis, polo, golf, sailing and of course, rugby. Which was exclusive to American and English prep schools only, therefore wearing a rugby shirt automatically defined you as a member of the elite class.
Consequently all these schools and clubs (like anything else) incorporated their own style of fashion. The school uniforms consisted primarily of khaki-colored pants, polo or button-down shirts and the ever so popular penny loafers, which have recently made a huge comeback! As for the social clubs the attire stayed pretty consistent across the board. Basically your school uniform and the sports you played depicted your family’s affluence, and as we all know the preppy school girl trend never really faded. If anything from the 1960s to the late 1970s it might have taken a back-seat, but never really went away. In the 1980s though, the school girl trend made its biggest impact yet fashion wise. As corporate America took over…so did the trend, everyone was engulfed in it. It was everywhere. The music, film and general vibe of the ’80s were profoundly influenced by this once elite trend.
And though we’re no longer living in the ’80s, this trend stayed a constant in the fashion industry. With brands like Polo Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hillfiger, Izod and Lacoste, the trend has managed to keep its target market and gain new followers as well! How? It’s one of the simpler and yet more refined trends in the industry.
Take a pair of brown penny loafers, your favorite black tights, purple skirt, black shirt and mustard-yellow cardi and done, prep’ed and ready to go! Comfort and sophistication, and took no time at all. Take advantage of this season’s bright colors and mix them with this trend, as opposed to sticking to the usual pastels this trend is so often associated with, or even the usual stripes and checkered patterns. Looking at the runway shows, designers really outdid themselves introducing new fabrics and colors as an alternative to the cottons, linens and pastels they’ve so often showed. Khaki became camel, pastel blue became black, while soft pinks and yellows became bright fluorescent pops of color! I’d have to say Proenza Schouler, Tommy Hilfiger and Cynthia Steffe are among the ones that stood out to me the most from all the shows showing this trend; their use of original silhouette mixed in with the season’s color palette showed originality and technique on their part. Impressive.
Remember to always be yourself and let the trend fit your style. This can be achieved by simply drawing from one point of inspiration. Whether it’s the silk button-down shirt paired with high-waisted pants, ankle booties and checkered scarf, or the striped blouse underneath the tweed blazer. It’s not about being rigid with it, rather allowing yourself freedom to have fun with it! Keep it classy and sassy, ladies – don’t be afraid to play dress up! I myself have been searching high and low for that perfect pair of penny loafers. If you spot some, by all means do let me know! ‘Till next time!
All images courtesy of Style.com and Elle.com.
Graphics by Trina.
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