It’s time to replace your summer linens and floral patterns with preppy-sport attire, and collegiate designs. The scholarly influence on fashion is in, and we’re taking a clean-cut approach to athleisure wear this autumn, with our Ivy League-inspired looks.
The college drop-out era may have put prep back on the radar, but the term preppy has slowly faded into obscurity with campaigns for preppy fashion failing to make the hot list. But like most fashion trends, we're seeing a shift...
Now, the love affair between collegiate styling and athleisure wear is no secret. Everywhere you look for athleisure fashion, you'll also see subtle elements taken from tennis, golf and polo for a smarter approach to lazy day fashion.
Whether you’re looking for back-to-school outfits, casual athleisure outfits, elevated gym outfits or you’re simply seeking trendy yet comfy ‘fits to see you through the entire day, preppy athleisure wear offers all the neutral tones, retro logos and collared hems you could ask for.
Let’s get into it.
When Did Athleisure Wear Turn Preppy?
When you think athleisure wear, you may usher up visuals of track jackets, matching sweat suits, sports jerseys, and form-fitting pieces sported as often in your local supermarket as the gym floor itself.
Typically, athleisure wear has been influenced by styles and silhouettes taken from soccer, football and athletics, especially for comfort, and this has been the trend up until recent years when the pickleball craze hit, and tenniscore led to a takeover of the preppy aesthetic in just about every fashion corner of the web.
The early 2020’s was the turning point for athleisure wear, as comfy attire began circling towards sports that were considered more preppy; like golf, tennis, polo, horse-riding and rowing. With this came a shift in designers wanting their clothes to signify the leisurely lifestyle that these activities offer. At the same time, the resurgence of prep-inspired styling stood to break down the perceived barriers of these sports and make them more widely accessible.
Thus, athleisure wear turned preppy - and maybe it’s because we didn’t want to say goodbye to our loungewear, but still wanted to look presentable, that the preppy style, (both classic and familiar) began gaining more traction.
This was also the era we honed in on our love of collegiate styling, which, we'll be honest, has always had its place in our loungewear drawers (thank you GAP). The best thing about this marrying of sport and preppy leisure is that the foundation of the aesthetic is a uniform of timeless classics and outfit essentials. With classic cuts, approachable designs and interchangeable styles, you’ll have endless styling options with a preppy athleisure wardrobe, and you’ll always look put together.
Our Top Preppy Athleisure Wear Picks
Here's our roundup of our favourite athleisure wear pieces that give that preppy style without compromising on comfort.
We've hit the mallet to the ball with this one, our piped collar Rest Day Street Polo Pullover is a timeless take on the classic polo shirt. Swap a pair of chinos for some matching sweat shorts or straight-leg joggers, and boat shoes for a fresh white pair of sneak's for the outfit to take on a more sporty feel.
Did you really think we would talk about preppy fashion without mentioning our tennis-inspired Sport Dress? Taking inspiration straight from the courts, this fitted little number is both sophisticated and stylish and is straight out of a catalog for our favorite preppy skirt. Throw a dark green sweatshirt over your shoulders for a winning combination for preppy leisure dressing.
Taking influence from preppy fashion's poster child, the Ralph Lauren Polo, the Rest Day Essentials Sweatshirt Polo combines preppy and sporty elements in they perfect heavyweight cotton blend. Casual yet smart with a collared 1/4 zip design, and wordmark graphic, this collegiate polo puts the preppy in athleisure wear so you can relax in style.
It's all in the name with this one. Featuring a dark green, collegiate-style logo, can you get anymore preppy? Leaning into the more casual side of the studious style, with a baggy fit and premium fabric, this hoodie will be your go-to for when you want to prep up your athleisure wear. You don't need to have even gone to college to be representing this team.
Taking on a modern approach to preppy fashion with a cropped silhouette, the Collegiate 1/4 Collegiate Zip Up sports a original collegiate inspired conditioning logo and washed vintage design. The cropped shape makes for the perfect pump cover to pair with your high waisted leggings, or for a more casual look, pair with the matching joggers.
Incorporating the preppy aesthetic in your athleisure wear can come in the form of the chosen color palettes. Right off the bat, forest green is a hue closely associated with sports club inspired athleisure wear, a rich shade that pairs superbly with crisp whites for an iconic tenniscore look. This fleece hoodie is the coziest hoodie you can wear as part of a matching set, or with a tennis skirt for a full-prep look.
Just like Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger are the heritage brands of America, the Legacy range is our heritage line. Created with old-school bodybuilding aesthetic in mind, the pieces in this collection wear our OG Legacy logo like a college badge of pride to remind us of our lifting roots. Pair this sweatshirt with matching Legacy cycling shorts, and slouchy socks and dad trainers as to nod to the retro athleisure aesthetic.
Take yourself right back into the classroom with this little number. Our college inspired Phys-Ed graphic takes over the back of this 1/4 zip sweatshirt, while at the front we've got even more action with a collared design. Available in two color's central to this aesthetic; light grey marl, and a country khaki, this sweatshirt screams preppy, without even trying.
Symbolising the clean-cut uniforms of the elite schools, checks and plaids are a classic component of preppy fashion. But far from classic from Gymshark, the flannel shirt is a first for us as we tap into the casual, laid-back way you like to sport athleisure wear outside the gym. Perfectly prepped, our Check Shirt looks the part paired with clean white tees, tennis shoes and retro logo printed pants.
How To Style Preppy Fashion With Athleisure Wear
Here's some styling tips for you to consider when creating preppy athleisure wear outfits that will make it easy for you to nail the style like a pro.
Leggings may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you imagine preppy styles, but vintage J.Crew catalogues would tell a different story. Layered with collared shirts and slouchy oversized socks in crisp fall editorials, it’s an outfit that can be easily recreated for the modern wearer. To create a preppy outfit, use leggings as a baselayer to build up from, and dress them up for a true prep vibe or down for your spin on preppy collegiate fashion.
When it comes to layering, we all know baggy hoodies and oversized sweatshirts are fundamental to the athleisure wear wardrobe, but to get your scholarly style on, why not swap a plain hoodie for a collegiate hoodie with wordmark graphics. The preppy style is big on layering, so have peeks of your shirts showing under your sweaters and hoodies for that country club member look. Throw your oversized sweatshirts over your shoulder or wrap your check shirts around your waist as seen in preppy styling, but also for added dimension to your outfit.
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For more layering and transitional styling tips, head over to our guide to layering clothes so you can get more from your favorite pieces.
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Now for colours, preppy fashion leans towards the more neutral side of the colour palette, favoring sheet-whites, soft creams, nautical navies and blacks, but there might be a pop of bright color here and there. These burst of colours include rich and deep tones like forest greens, oxblood reds, whilst baby blues and khaki greens are also popular. Preppy designs often bring all these colors together in check, plaid or houndstooth prints.
When it comes to logos, this is where we like to ramp up the retro. Here at Gymshark, we’re all about looking back in time for our fashion influence, and the 90’s was indeed a stellar time for preppy fashion. For the preppy style, vintage style logos inspired by school crests and spellout wordmarks are printed on our athleisure designs for that retro feel.
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