16 April 2007

How to dress like a neo-Heather

Before I turned 14 and discovered the weathered good looks of Gene Hackman in The Firm and Ralph Fiennes in Quiz Show, nearly all my on-screen crushes were high school "preps" like Steff in Pretty in Pink, Hardy in Some Kind of Wonderful and of course, Jake from Sixteen Candles.

Likewise, some of my earliest and most indelible fashion (and personality) role-models were members of the popped-collar girl crowd like Blair from "Facts of Life," Claire from The Breakfast Club and the entire cast of Heathers.

Once I moved to the East Coast and spent four years at one of the prep-prep-preppiest eyelet-and-seersucker, cable-knit-and-linen, Tod's driving moccasins and Prada loafers loaded universities in the country, a place where you're more likely to hear the word "vineyard" used as a verb than a noun, my crush for all people and all looks preppy blossomed into passionate love.

I'm not saying I, nor anyone, should force a head-to-toe Ralph Lauren ensemble at Milly & Al's in Adams Morgan, but I do believe that in the conservative professional - and even social - DC corridors, to err on the side of preppiness is the most successful strategy to look audience-appropriate and maintain your unique style.

The operational definition of "preppy," from what I've observed, has evolved from the shoulder-padded blazer and Lacoste polo days of Heathers' yore to a look with a much slimmer silhouette, a much less overt pronouncement of wealth and privilege, and a much more permissive attitude toward mixing and matching traditional with trendy, ladylike with avant garde, and cotton knits with luxe satin.

The one characteristic of the preppy look that hasn't undergone a change over the years, however, is the primacy placed on full-coverage cuts. This means no cleavage, no backlessness, and certainly no short-short hemlines -- unless, that is, the neckline is high, the sleeves are substantial, the shape is demure, and the event to which you're wearing this outfit is not work-related.

To illustrate what this neo-prep style - my style - looks like, I've put together 20 representative items, most of which I can't afford but all of which I would warmly allow a Sugar Daddy to add to my wardrobe.


Top to bottom:
1. Leather bayswater bag by Mulberry ($995 at net-a-porter.com)
2. Silk pencil skirt by Castle Starr ($281 at revolveclothing.com)*
3. Lawless shorts by DVF ($185 at dvf.com)
4. Keyhole blouse by Corey Lynn Calter ($80 at azaleaonline.com)
5. Silk newel trousers by Lauren by Ralph Lauren ($139 at macys.com)
6. Martine jacket by Peter Som ($2,300 at eluxury.com)
7. Valentine flats by London Sole ($245 at urbanchiconline.com)*
8. ‘60s dress by Alice + Olivia ($426 at urbanchiconline.com)
9. 7.5mm pearl studs by Mikimoto ($610 at mikimotoamerica.com)*
10. Black/tan pumps by Lila Norman ($250 at activeendeavors.com)
11. Double-breated linen coat (£55 at topshop.com)
12. High-waisted pencil skirt (£32 at topshop.com)
13. Puff-sleeve shirt by Nili Lotan ($203 at shopbop.com)
14. Puff-sleeve top by Rebecca Taylor ($249 at shopbop.com)
15. Pharoah dress by Vena Cava ($531 at shopbop.com)
16. Pleated dress by Development ($369 at pinkmascara.com)
17. Bubble-sleeve top by Mint ($253 at pinkmascara.com)
18. Verna d'Orsay by Fitzwell ($69.96 at zappos.com)
19. Metallic box clutch by Bottega Veneta ($2,250 at net-a-porter.com)*
20. Chiffon and sequin dress by D&G ($795 at net-a-porter.com)
*your editrix's favorites


brown bear '02 said...

that last dress is so gorgeous. would look great on you!

or me :-)

Anonymous said...

Eh, not crazy about this look. Like that first bag, tho.

novaelle said...

I was yipping "LOVED IT!" in my head the whole way through this post. Well played!