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What is Your Fashion Style? Preppy (Classic) or Boho

read article "What's your fashion style" on boomerinas

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.

what's your fashion style

Preppy or Hipster? Scarf LaRedoute.com

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.

read about your fashion style

What's Your Fashion Style?

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?”

read about boho and preppy clothing

Are You Classic or Boho Fashion Style?

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.


What is a daring red outfit to you?

Daring Red Outfit: Red + Orange or Long Dramatic Dress

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.

Tina Boomerina (AKA Christina Gregoire) is a Baby Boomer born at the end of 1952. Her mission is to make the internet a kinder and gentler place for Baby Boomer women around the world. Tina's specialty is fashion for women over 50.

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  1. Callie Hyde

    I love your site...and saw you on Pinterest! I am a Kaleidescope of styles....and I do not practice 'throw out your last dud if you haven't worn it in a year!" I would have had to pay a pretty penny to replace the wonderful cashmere, linen, raw silk and pure cotton clothes that I've collected, with today's mostly polyester, modal, and flimsy rayon materials to choose from in 2014. I am live in Boston, where I enjoy wearing my straight skirts, cashmere jackets, a beret and ballet flats. But, I report to a new boss and team in Boise, Idaho. So, that allows me to hop on a plane with my old Frye and western boots (from when I lived in Boulder), and wear my collection of suede and Boho blouses...and live the 'nine lives' that got me where I am today. In the summer...sometimes its navy blue and white stripes with boat shoes for the Cape. But the warm weather always has me hunting through my bins for teal, orange and fushia, for my collection of Indian tunics...and turquoise jewelery.

    • Tina-Boomerina


      You sound wonderfully eclectic. I wish I could wear everything you do.

      I agree with you about not throwing things out. I mean... I throw things out from time to time but I don't throw out things that I like. And, I wait a few years after I outgrow something... just to make sure I don't accidentally lose weight (by getting the flu or something... ya never know).

      Ummmmm... I'm from Seattle, you don't have to say "Boise, Idaho"... just like you don't have to say "Boston, Mass"... haha. I have a step-son in Boise. I've considered moving there to escape the ridiculously rising costs of my hometown. MSFT has destroyed the ambience of my burg.

      However, after watching Portlandia a few thousand times, I think Boise may be too "normal" for me. I grew up in the 60s and I'm hoping that Portland is like Seatown in the 70s. What on earth do you do in Boise? Tech stuff?

      Tina Boomerina

      Thanks so much for your comment. I guess you have proven me wrong (as per this article), but I'm still right... haha. I would kill for some raw silk items and Indian tunics.

  2. Darragh Worledge

    Thanks for writing this article. I was trying to find pictures of Boho clothing worn by older woman. Not much out there, but stumbled on to your post. It's inspired me to keep trying. I'm over 60 and like you mentioned, preppy clothing just makes me feel like I need to burst free of something! But those little voices of "right" and "should" keep confusing my clothing choices. So, really appreciate the words of support.

  3. Carly

    The two-party system is not going to survive in the United States because it is so inept at government, and it is so expensive. The best efforts of the two-party system to stop independent voter reiostratign have only increased it. Within a few years there will be more independent voters in the United States than party members, and political parties will no longer be able to deny independent voters the right to be candidates for public office. As soon as independent voters get ballot access, the two major parties are done.