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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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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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.