Ivy League style is synonymous with a crisp, tailored look built around Oxford shirts, blazers with embroidered crests, chinos, and the ever-classic penny loafers, and a symbol of refined casual wear.
However, given the style’s roots in British athletic traditions and America’s elite Ivy League schools, only a few selected clothing brands genuinely convey the style.
In this article, I’ll introduce 10 of the most representative Ivy League brands that have shaped and continue to represent this enduring style.
1. Brooks Brothers
Best for Tailored Suits, Oxford Shirts, Repp Ties
Specializing in finely tailored suits made from premium wool and high-quality Oxford shirts, Brooks Brothers is the gold standard in formal Ivy League preppy style.
Esteemed individuals, from U.S. Presidents like Abraham Lincoln to John F. Kennedy, have donned Brooks Brothers, solidifying its reputation as a preppy-style leader.
Best for Weejuns Loafers, Classic Saddle Shoes, Camp Moc Deck Shoes
Founded in Maine, G.H. Bass & Co. has introduced the first penny loafers, also known as Weejuns, which have become a staple of Ivy League preppy style.
Alongside loafers, the brand’s saddle shoes and comfortable camp moc decks are ideal for Ivy League campus strolls and casual events.
3. L.L. Bean
Best for Bean Boots, Rugged Outerwear, Flannel Shirts
L.L. Bean excels in providing durable and practical clothes that capture the outdoorsy essence of the Ivy League preppy lifestyle, like the iconic Bean Boot and rugged outerwear.
The brand’s flannel shirts, cable-knit sweaters, and chinos are ideal for creating that British countryside or New England campus look.
Best for Classic Cotton Piqué Polo Shirts and Preppy Tennis Wear
Designed by French tennis legend René Lacoste, Lacoste set a new standard for casual elegance in sportswear with its iconic cotton piqué polo shirts.
Notable individuals like President John F. Kennedy and actor Clint Eastwood have been seen in Lacoste, attesting to its widespread appeal across different style sensibilities.
Best for Boat Shoes, Nautical-Inspired Footwear, Casual Loafers
Sperry is best known for introducing the quintessential boat shoe to the North-Eastern Ivy League preppy style.
Following Prince Charles’s several appearances in Sperry boat shoes, the brand’s popularity soared, becoming a must-have in preppy footwear.
Best for Button-Down Shirts, Chinos, and Club Blazers
Founded in New Haven, Connecticut, Gant specializes in Ivy League button-down shirts, chinos, and club blazers.
Combining European Preppy style with American practicality, the brand’s shirts have introduced the locker loop and box pleat among American college students.
7. Ralph Lauren
Best for Polo Shirts, Blazers, Cable-Knit Sweaters
A defining voice in American Ivy League preppy style, Ralph Lauren’s Polo line excels in classic, upscale polo shirts, blazers, and cable-knit sweaters.
Public figures from Princess Diana to film director Wes Anderson have showcased Ralph Lauren’s clothing, reinforcing its status as a definitive preppy brand.
Best for Slim-fit Chinos, Patterned Blazers, Crewneck Sweaters
J.Crew brings a fresh perspective to preppy style by offering colored slim-fit chinos, British aesthetic blazers, and color-blocking crewneck sweaters.
J.Crew’s natural fabric clothes in structured tailoring, streamlined fits, and contemporary patterns appeal to a younger audience.
9. Tommy Hilfiger
Best for Nautical-Inspired Polo Shirts, Windbreakers, Denim
Thanks to the inspiring use of nautical-inspired patterns, Tommy Hilfiger’s take on classic American preppy clothes has a modern twist appealing to a younger audience.
Various celebrities have sported the brand, from David Bowie to Britney Spears, reflecting its wide-ranging appeal from classic to contemporary.
10. Rowing Blazers
Best for Bold Crewneck Sweaters and Rugby Shirts
Although a newer entrant to the preppy fashion scene, Rowing Blazers has quickly gained a reputation for its rugby shirts and bold crewneck sweaters, paying homage to collegiate aesthetics.
Founded by a former member of the U.S. Rowing Team, Rowing Blazers blends contemporary trends to deliver an authentic Ivy League preppy style that resonates with a younger, fashion-forward crowd.
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5 Key Takeaways
- Heritage is Critical
Brands like Brooks Brothers and G.H. Bass & Co. have been dressing esteemed Preppies for decades, lending them credibility and quality.
- Adaptability Matters
Newer brands like Rowing Blazers and J.Crew give traditional Ivy League style a contemporary twist by infusing current trends without sacrificing the core components.
Each brand has hallmark products that define its place in the Ivy League preppy lifestyle. For instance, L.L. Bean is known for its rugged outerwear and Bean Boots, while Lacoste is the go-to brand for classic cotton piqué polo shirts.
- Global Reach
Brands like Gant and Lacoste demonstrate how the Ivy League style isn’t solely an American phenomenon but a global one by blending European finesse with American practicality.
Ivy League preppy style isn’t confined to just clothing but extends to footwear and accessories, and brands like Sperry and G.H. Bass & Co. prove that shoes are as symbolic as tailored suits or Oxford shirts.
After years of managing hundreds of fashion brands from London's office of a global retailer, Mandy has ventured into freelancing. Connected with several fashion retailers and media platforms in the US, Australia, and the UK, Mandy uses her expertise to consult for emerging fashion brands create top-notch content as an editorial strategist for several online publications.