Or Kate Spade I love you, JCREW I need you, Preppy-Colors I have to have you.
One of the nicest compliments I ever received was from a graphic designer and former co-worker as he introduced me to his wife: “Katie puts colors together better than anyone I’ve ever met.”
I promptly began preening and smiled smugly for the rest of the evening, subtly shifting my Kate Spade patent leather Flicker purse in green closer as it complimented my yellow shoes perfectly.
Orange capris? Liberty print blouse? Yellow and blue shoes? London Butter nail polish in “slapper”? Mm, yes, please.
The prep look is nothing new to me. Between years and years of living in Catholic school plaid skirts, cardigans, and button downs and growing up riding horses (riding boots and blazers anyone?), I don’t think I had much of a choice. My fashion style found me from a young age and stuck.
I went through an all-black phase in high school, more bad 90s New York intellectual than goth, but it could only stick too long until I started mixing in raspberry linen A-line skirts with my black tops, pearls (everything looks better with pearls) and classic oversized black sunglasses. It was inevitable after all, I’d been a hot pink and Laura Ashley kid, and never met a skirt I didn’t want to twirl. Clearly the black slacks had to go.
While I was no newbie to J.CREW as it is a prep wardrobe staple, for a long time it was devoted to the khakis and sweater set variation. Then in 2008 Jenna Lyons stepped in as the creative head and prep got a whole new look – bold colors, tailored styles, classic looks modernized but rarely turned into a trend, beautiful fabrics, and nods to Ivy League looks prep is famous for. Want to wear stripes and not look like a hipster or a boat captain? You won’t find a better selection than J. CREW. Need a blazer that fits a woman’s curves, doesn’t look like it was designed for South Beach or an 80s corporate working woman movie? Check out the school boy blazer in nearly every color. The fact that it closely mimics my old riding school jackets is just a perk. And I swear to God the Jackie Cardigan will change your life. I own one in eighmore colors than I care to admit. Don’t judge. Sales are a beautiful thing. Still don’t believe that prep can be fashionable? Look who was at Fashion Week the last four years in a row. That’s right, J.CREW.
If my obsession with J.CREW wasn’t enough, finding Kate Spade only made it worse. Their motto, “Live Colorfully” spoke to me. I know who actually gets into a marketing brand? Well, this girl. It’s more than just gorgeously colored purses and accessories, they’re selling a lifestyle and I’m buying it wholesale. I’m not an optimistic person and the “look on the brighter side” has never been my own personal motto, but Kate Spade makes me want to do just that- to be brighter, bolder, and a more colorful version of myself. When I carry my green Kate Spade bag, I never fail to get a compliment- even in the grocery store. I know we shouldn’t let our confidence depend on our material goods, but I feel more me when I’m all dolled up like a preppy little rainbow. As if with one glance someone can see who I want to be: confident, with a touch of snob; classy and classic (prep never goes out of style); and charming.
Perhaps its an exaggerated, grown-up version of playing “just pretend.”
Then I turn up “She’s a Rainbow” and twirl around and around in circles until I’m that five year old with her skirts above her head again.
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