Southern Preppy Style Guide to Master the Posh Summer Look

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What is Southern Preppy Style?

Originating in the Southeastern American states of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Virginia, the Southern Preppy style is relaxed, colorful, comfortable, and has an overall summer vibe.

Southern Preppy Style

Compared to the Ivy League Preppy style built around academic formality, the Southern Preppy look depicts the American South’s warmer climate, vibrant culture, and slower-paced lifestyle.

The Southern Preppy style uses visuals like palm trees, elephants, monkeys, zebras, polka dots, florals, gingham, madras, cowboy patterns, and colors like light greens, yellow, orange, pink, and Nantucket red.

How to Dress Southern Preppy?

Main clothes, footwear, and accessories in the Southern Preppy style include seersucker shirts and dresses, polos, pastel-colored Bermuda shorts, and riding chinos.

The footwear comprises flats, sandals, and boat shoes, accessorized with striped cotton tote bags, needlepoint caps, sunglasses, and scarves in madras or floral prints.

Southern Preppy Style explained
Southern Preppy Style Outfits

Variations of the Southern Preppy style include cottagecore-inspired floral dresses, sleeveless vest jackets, equestrian leather boots, and wide-brimmed hats.

Southern Preppy Style Clothing

Given the region’s hot and humid climate, the Southern Preppy is built from garments cut in the original Preppy style but made by Southern Preppy brands that offer comfortable fabrics and culturally relevant aesthetic patterns and colors.

1. Striped Polo Shirts

Striped polo shirts – made from breathable cotton or moisture-wicking fabrics – are at the core of most Southern Preppy ensembles.

While the shirts provide the structure of a traditional button-up look, the stripes are in pastels like light blue, mint green, or soft pink, adding a casual and relaxed feel.

Slim Fit Stripe Short Sleeve Cotton Collar Neck Polo Shirt Slim Fit Rugby Stripe Short Sleeve Cotton Collar Neck Polo Shirt

2. Striped Seersucker Shirts

Popular in blue and white stripes, seersucker shirts represent the epitome of Southern Preppy fashion.

The puckered texture is light and comfortable, adds visual appeal, promotes airflow, and is ideal for a casual day at the office or an afternoon garden party.

Washed Cotton Seersucker Button-Down Collar, Stripe Short-Sleeve Sport Shirt Stretch Striped Button-down Seersucker Shirt

3. Striped Breton Tops

Striped Breton tops feature navy and white horizontal stripes with roots in French naval uniforms.

These tops match well with white riding chinos or pastel Bermuda shorts, conveying the nautical vibe to the Southern Preppy style.

Striped Print Heart Embroidery Notched Neck Tee Striped Print long sleeve round neck Tee

4. Shift Dresses in Floral Prints

The shift dresses with soft floral prints are an elegant yet laid-back choice for Southern Preppy women.

From cotton or linen, Preppy shift dresses have a loose fit that allows easy movement and comfort while adding a feminine touch to any Southern preppy wardrobe.

shift dress in retro pink fruit lace neck mini floral shift dress

5. Bermuda Shorts

Pastel-colored knee-length shorts tailored from cotton or linen – for extra comfort – are another Southern Preppy style staple.

Despite the slightly formal cut compared to regular shorts, Bermudas are great for popular at all kinds of Southern events, from barbecues to boat rides.

High Waist Belted Wide Leg Shorts Solid High Waist Button Roll Hem Shorts

5. White Equestrian Chinos

Slim-fit Preppy trousers made of cotton provide a slim-fit and streamlined look while remaining breathable.

Also known as riding chinos, these pants match well with seersucker shirts and riding boots.

Stretch Cotton Advantage Chino Pants mid-rise straight leg chino pants

6. Seersucker Sport Coats

Seersucker sport coats – traditionally in blue-and-white or gray-and-white stripes – offer a less formal appearance than a standard Navy blazer while maintaining Preppy’s air of sophistication.

Perfect for semi-formal occasions, the Seersucker sport coats are a vital garment of the Southern Preppy style.

Plaid Seersucker Blazer Women's Seersucker Single-Button Notched-Lapel Blazer

Southern Preppy Style Footwear

Whether attending a casual backyard gathering or spending a day on a yacht, the choice of Southern Preppy footwear revolves around comfort and elegance.

Here are the must-have shoes that capture the essence of the Southern Preppy lifestyle:

1. Boat Shoes

Boat shoes (deck shoes or top-siders) crafted from water-resistant leather or canvas and a rubber sole for extra traction on wet surfaces are the quintessential Southern Preppy footwear.

Available in navy, brown, or tan, boat shoes provide comfort and durability, ideal for humid conditions and various Southern outdoor activities.

Sperry Chunky Leather Boat Shoes Sperry Songfish Jacquard Boat Shoes

2. Jack Rogers Sandals

Recognized by the signature whipstitched leather and rounded toe post, Jack Rogers sandals are a staple for Southern Preppy women.

The design features a decorative leather medallion in the center, which adds a subtle, feminine detail.

Collins Suede Casual Sandal Jacks Sliver floral pattern Wedge

Southern Preppy Style Accessories

Like any Preppy style, accessories are equally crucial in the Southern variation to complete and elevate one’s outfit.

Here are the ideal accessories – combining charm and practicality – tailored to the unique needs of the Southern climate.

1. Striped Tote Bags

Whether heading to the beach or an afternoon soirée, a striped canvas tote bag is a must-have Southern Preppy accessory.

Striped large tote bag with a coin purse Large Capacity Color Collision Holiday Style Woven Tote Bag

2. Double Ring Belts

Strap-woven ring belts are an excellent addition to white chinos or Bermuda shorts.

The belts come in two or more complementing colors, with a polished metal buckle.

Double Ring Metal Buckle Belt Canvas Web Double D Ring Plaid Belt Silver Buckle

3. Beach Hats

The wide-brimmed hats are made from woven straw with a ribbon band in contrasting colors and are critical in the Southern sun while boosting the outfits’ elegance.

Two Tone boho floppy beach straw Hat Wide Brim Straw beach floppy Hat

4. Needlepoint Hats

From soft and breathable cotton, intricate needlepoint geometric patterns, and local emblems, these hats are a trendy accessory to any Southern Preppy outfit.

Twill Multitonal Center Logo Hat Twill Center Logo Hat

5. Pearl Jewelry

Whether a classic necklace or a pair of stud earrings, pearl jewelry confers a timeless and sophisticated touch to any Preppy style.

However, in the Southern Preppy style, pearl accessories are worn predominantly at formal events, showcasing versatility and elegance.

Faux Pearl Necklace Faux Pearl Decor Dangle Earrings

6. Square Sunglasses

When complementing your Southern Preppy look, sunglasses are more than just an eye shield; they are a definitive style statement.

The Wayfarer’s classic structure with either tortoiseshell or black acetate frames matches well with polo shirts and seersucker suits, adding an understated sophistication.

With metal frames and teardrop-shaped lenses, Aviators are another Preppy sunglasses classic loved for lending a touch of military elegance to your Southern Preppy style.

Polished Transparent Dark Grey framed Dark Grey lenses wayfarer sunglasses Polished Transparent leopard print framed Dark Grey lenses wayfarer sunglasses

3 Southern Preppy Outfit Ideas

Now that you understand the most relevant clothes, footwear, and accessories you need to put together a Southern Preppy look, here are three excellent outfit ideas to get inspired by.

Outfit Idea 1: Morning Shopping Vibe

Southern Preppy Outfit with floral shift dress and sandals
Southern Preppys Outfit: Floppy Straw Beach Hat, Acetate Frame Wayfarer-Style Sunglasses, Floral Shift Mini Dress, Leather Hand Bag, Jack Rogers Strappy Gladiator Sandals.

The focal point of this outfit is the rose pink shift mini dress, nodding to the Southern love for floral motifs and pastel shades.

Made of breathable fabric with floral patterns, the dress is paired with Jack Rogers’s strappy gladiator sandals in a combo ideal for the South’s hot climate.

The outfit is completed with a floppy straw beach hat, acetate frame wayfarer-style sunglasses, and a Kate Spade leather handbag for a touch of relaxed but sophisticated aura.

Outfit Idea 2: Game Ready

Southern Preppy Outfit with Polo shirt and boat shoes
Southern Preppys Outfit: Needlepoint Baseball Cap, Navy Striped Polo Shirt, Beige Bermuda Shorts, Leather Belt, Brown Leather Boat Shoes.

The striped polo shirt takes center stage in this outfit by adding a nautical flair to the Southern Preppy vibe.

Beige Bermuda shorts, a staple for casual comfort in the Southern heat, complement the shirt’s navy stripes.

The outfit combines brown leather boat shoes, a matching belt, and a red needlepoint baseball cap to add fun to the traditional Preppy look.

Outfit Idea 3: Late Brunch Date

Southern Preppys Outfit: Acetate Frame Oversized Sunglasses, Knot Waist Gingham Dress, Large Straw Tote Bag, Ankle Strap High-heel Sandals
Southern Preppys Outfit: Acetate Frame Oversized Sunglasses, Knot Waist Gingham Dress, Large Straw Tote Bag, Ankle Strap High-heel Sandals

The star of this ensemble is the knot waist pink gingham dress, embodying a picnic-perfect Southern Preppy vibe with its checkered pattern and blush hues.

The dress matches well with ankle strap flat-heel sandals, making the outfit suitable for casual and slightly formal occasions in the hot Southern weather.

Accessorize with a large straw tote bag, perfect for toting all your essentials, and oversized acetate-framed sunglasses for a modern take on this classic style.

Southern Preppy Similar Styles

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Professional Styling Advice

Are you looking to improve your fashion style and unsure where to start? Are you into relaxed-casual, E-girlY2K, or VSCO looks, but Southern Preppy resonates with you, and you wonder why?

Contact The VOU’s Style Experts to receive your free and personalized styling advice based on your current way of dressing, preferred outfits, colors, aesthetics, age, gender, body shape, location, and event you seek to attend.

Your dedicated stylist will meticulously select essential garments, footwear, and accessories to craft a wardrobe that complements and enhances your style.

Take advantage of this unique opportunity to experience a transformative fashion adventure, all at no cost to you.

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.

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