What is Your Fashion Style? Preppy (Classic) or Boho
by Tina Boomerina (Christina Gregoire)
I have a theory that women’s fashion styles fall into one of two categories: preppy (classic) or bohemian. If you know which one you are, it will make your online shopping experience easier. Some of you may think my idea is a bit of an oversimplification, but anything that simplifies your life in this day of digital overload should be a welcomed change.
I was just online, shopping for something to wear, and all of the options began to overwhelm me for a brief moment. So, my ENTP personality (logical, intuitive) kicked into gear and I decided to come up with a shorthand way to narrow down the shopping process.
Your Clothing Style Simplified
After years of minor fashion mistakes and major style disasters, I’ve decided that any girl or woman can classify her main style as one of these two looks:
- Preppy: traditional, elegant, classic, tailored, simple, timeless, basic, structured, neutral, geometric.
- Boho: unique, indie, global, hippie, flowing, experimental, eclectic, artsy, colorful, flowery prints.
My Description of Preppy Fashion
For the record, when I use the word preppy as a fashion category, I mean it in a generic way. I’m not referring to the description found in The Preppy Handbook.
To me, any woman who can look halfway decent in a boring LaCoste crocodile shirt (without having people point and laugh) is somewhat preppy by default… even if she doesn’t know a Ralph Lauren from a Marc Jacobs.
Hey, women who look chic in white button-down blouses, pantsuits with classic lines, navy A-line skirts, and (twinset) sweater sets are all “preppy women” to me… even if they live on Maui and wear nothing but muumuus.
If you’re a Boomer Chick, think back to the late 60’s or early 70’s. Preppy is “straight”. Preppy is normal. Preppy is cheerleader. Boho is hippie. Boho is freak (in the playful hippie sense of the word). Boho is indie.
Hipsters... What Are Hipsters?
Update: Things have changed a bit since I wrote this article a few years ago. Some of the elements of the classic preppy style have been abducted by hipsters. I'll write an article about hipster style someday soon. From what I can see, hipsters take thrift store finds and classic stuff and hippie threads, like kimonos, and combine everything into a new bohemian-hybrid style.
So, hipsters are not quite flower-child boho babes, but hipsters are certainly not classic-style, Daughters-of-the-American-Revolution, Junior-League types either. In some ways, the hipster look comes off a little more like beatnik style. I'm diggin' it, man, although it's not my style... yet. Unfortunately, I'm way to old to wear shredded denim shorts.
Anyway, most women still fall into one of two categories, preppy or boho.
PINTEREST PALS: If you came to this site from Pinterest, you might not see the photo which brought you here. I lost a few photos when we updated my site. If you want to know where to buy something in a photo, leave a message in comments.
Are You Preppy or Boho?
If you don’t know which category you fall into, you’re probably preppy.
If you're classic/preppy, you’ve never had to think about what type of clothing looks good on you. You’re the kind of woman who can walk into Sears, put on the first jacket you see, and ask, “Where are the pants that go with this?”
If you’re boho, you won’t even bother trying that stuff on. You know better from experience. Your body won’t fit into a tailored jacket. Your silhouette won’t look balanced in an off-the-rack suit. You might look like a man in drag if you wear a tailored blazer with jeans, or your curvy body might look like it's going to bust the seams. At the very least, you will look uncomfortable in classic clothing. And, you might look like you're ready to cry if you're ever forced to wear any kind of conservative suit.
If that’s you… you’re exceptionally bohemian. Leave the suburbs right now and go to Paris to become an artist.
Classic Skirts and Pants
If you still don’t know which side of the fence you fall on, try thinking about the types of skirts and pants you feel comfortable wearing.
- Knee-length skirts (preppy).
- Calf-length skirts (boho).
- Tailored slacks (preppy).
- Bellbottoms or leggings (boho).
If you can walk around in a tailored jacket and tailored pants for five minutes (in public) without cringing, you’re preppy. On the other hand, if you put on a traditional knee-length belted shirtdress and you feel like you want to cry, you’re boho. Well, you might be one of those women who can look good in beige Dockers as well as purple bellbottoms… lucky you. Some chicks can go AC/DC clothing-wise.
However, it makes sense for you to choose a style and stick with it… at least when it comes to the investment pieces of your basic wardrobe.
Investment Wardrobes: Classic vs Boho
If you're preppy (or classic), you should invest in black or navy designer suits. You should buy beautiful white or cream button-up blouses. You know the drill.
If you’re boho, I do not want you to invest in expensive navy trousers or white button-up designer blouses. You'll never wear them. Your investment pieces should be things like elegant, floral, designer maxi skirts in silk charmeuse or huge Navajo turquoise jewelry. Forget what you've read about investment clothing. A chic, navy designer sweater is not for you. Trust me, there are other designer clothes out there that will fit your body and your soul.
Which Red Outfit is More Daring to You?
Now, don't laugh at this question. Look at the photo above and tell me which outfit is more daring. I don't want you to tell me which outfit is sexier... or tell me the answer you think you should give. I want you to think about getting dressed in a bold, courageous, new way... in one of the outfits above.
Classic Style: If you're 100% classic preppy, and you're totally honest with yourself, I know you won't feel comfortable wearing a "coral orange" wool coat with a "berry" red scarf. Preppy women with classic style would cringe at the thought of wearing two "clashing" reds next to each other.
Mixing bold brights in this manner is a fashion-forward concept. Those two colors don't really clash at all in the brave new world, but women with classic taste would usually have a hard time wearing two different reds. Tasteful women wouldn't want to look like they "got dressed in the dark". I'm not sure if you preppy chicks would be comfortable in the look-at-me red dress. You tell me.
Boho Chic: If you feel more comfortable in the red evening gown than the casual suburban-mom outfit on the left, you are probably boho. And, if you've recently made your hair fire-engine red to match your festive party dress, well... you don't need me to finish this sentence.
(Note: Both of these outfits are cute. There is no wrong answer. But, in reality, I am more at ease in a long red gown and crazy hair than a casual outfit with a normal look. The best part of that casual outfit is the bright, artsy, "clashing" color combo. Uh oh... a big red BOHO sign just lit up on my forehead. It would feel daring for me to wear the red coat and jeans outfit... unless I punked it out with a bright turquoise infinity scarf and a plum fedora and huge earrings and God knows what else.)
Clothing Style Categories for ADD Shoppers
Why is it important for you to recognize whether you’re classic or artsy? It just makes it easier to shop.
If you’re like me, you can sometimes become overwhelmed with all the different styles of clothing online. There are so many things to look at. You can shop American stores. You can shop European stores. You can probably find websites that only sell purple Goth corsets in size 14… well, you know what I mean. It’s all out there, if you look hard enough. (Article continues.)
Continue reading about classic and boho clothes for women over 40 on page two.
Photo credits are on page two.