Southern Vs Northern Preppy – 5 Differences You Must Know

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While the Preppy style is a staple of American fashion, only a few people know the style’s regional variations: Southern Preppy and Northern Preppy.

With similar roots – elite Ivy League – the two Preppy Style variations differ in the choice of materials and colors as reflected in garments, footwear, accessories, and styling and layering techniques.

As we’ll explore below, the geographical location, climate, and cultural aspects influence each stylistic variation.




1. Climate

As the Southern Preppy style originates from the hot and humid climate of the American South, the core material is lightweight cotton, ideal for breathability and comfort.

Influence of Climate in Southern preppy vs Northern Preppy style

On the other hand, Northern Preppy is designed for the colder, rugged landscapes of the Northern U.S., featuring thicker, insulating materials like wool, tweed, and flannel.

Southern Preppy fashionistas wear seersucker shirts to combat the heat, while a Preppy Northerner prefers a cable-knit sweater to fight the cold.

2. Culture

With aesthetic roots in the British aristocracy, the Southern Preppy’s eye-catching colors, lightweight materials, and Southern belle charm reflect the warm culture of the American South, especially during events like the Kentucky Derby or Cotillions.

Cultural Influences of Southern preppy style vs Northern Preppy style

Also rooted in the British countryside’s hunting and fishing culture, the Northern Preppy outfits are made of thick materials like wool and tweed in earthy colors, adapted to the rugged landscapes and seasonal climates of the Northern U.S.




3. Environment

Southern Preppy’s pastels and tropical hues reflect the region’s vibrant landscapes and sunny climate, while patterns like gingham and plaids deliver Preppy heritage without sacrificing the style’s casualness.

Environmental Influences - Nothern and southern preppy enviroment, color palette and pattens

Inspired by the wooded environments and rocky terrains, the Northern Preppy color palette is earthy, augmented with patterns like houndstooth and argyle, recalling the style’s British heritage.

Whether it’s the light greens and Nantucket reds of the South or the deep forest greens and rich browns of the North, each style’s colors are a nod to their respective natural landscapes.

4. Function

While both ways of dressing, Southern and Northern, revolve around function, each fashion style provides a different type of utility.

Southern Preppy’s core garments are shift dresses, polo shirts, and Jack Rogers sandals designed for comfort and activities like tennis or horse riding in warmer climates and leisurely afternoons on the country club lawn.

Functional differences between Southern and Northern Preppy styles

On the other hand, Northern Preppy is built around rugged and practical garments like houndstooth plus fours, Sloane Ranger quilted field jackets, and Bean boots for collegiate sports, hunting, sailing, and snowy treks.

5. Accessories

Most Southern Preppy style accessories have a dual function of charm and practicality, while Northern accessories are utility and durability-based, layered for added warmth.

Accessorizing in Southern preppy vs Northern Preppy style

While the Southern Preppy style uses accessories like pearl jewelry and straw hats to add a touch of elegance, the Northern Preppy style uses accessories like argyle socks and Irish walking hats for functional reasons.




Similar Styles to Northern and Southern Preppy

Ivy League

British Sloane Ranger

French Bon Chic Bon Genre

Old Money

Country Club

3 Key Takeaways

  1. By reflecting the geography, climate, and activities of their respective regions, Southern and Northern Preppy styles offer unique regional twists on the classic Preppy look.
  2. With breezy fabrics and cheerful color palettes, the Southern style is a testament to the warm and passionate culture of the South, often found in BCBG and Equestrian styles.
  3. On the other hand, the Northern Preppy style’s sturdy fabrics and earthy colors offer rugged but functional garments, footwear, and accessories suited to colder climates and outdoor adventures.

Despite the stylistic differences, both Preppy styles maintain the classic, tailored, and timeless look that is the hallmark of Ivy League Preppy fashion.

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Professional Styling Advice

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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.

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