School of Rock in Session: Punk Prep Prevails

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As the dog days of summer draw to a close, the ethereal essence of autumn is swirling around State College. Trips to the pumpkin patch, Penn State football and the advent of contemporary fall fashion trends make the transition easier. This season, the timeless preppy motif is getting an eccentric makeover as punk rock meets prep in a style takeover inspired by the early aughts. Cleverly combining the clean-cut lines that encompass preppy couture with grunge-inspired staples like studs, spikes and the ever-classic leather, punk prep is making its way back onto the runway by way of designers like Prada and Marine Serre. 

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The key to owning your style lies in the willingness to break binaries. By challenging norms and redefining tradition, fashion is born. Punk prep finds itself on the precipice of convention and capriciousness, with the unique ability to embody fluidity and rebellion. Preppy style established itself as a mainstay in American society in the 1920s as a WASP subculture, encapsulating the quintessence of exclusivity and prestige into a bonafide dress code for the upper class. Originating amongst wealthy college students on the East coast, preppy fashion is often denoted by neutral colors, cohesive patterns, conservative necklines and slim-fitting pieces. 

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On the other hand, grunge vogue is characterized by oversized silhouettes, disheveled demeanors and a carefree aura that challenges conformity and encourages individuality. Coming into style in the 1990s, the grunge look was inspired by punk-rock icons. The motif offered an alternative to the norms that were enforced by blue-blooded, white-collar individuals. These elite few thrived off of exclusivity and elitism in all facets of society. This was particularly true for fashion; if you didn’t subscribe to the standards, you didn’t make the cut. 

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While preppy fashion often encourages traditionalism, conventionality and submission, punk style promotes eccentricity and independence from propriety and procedure. When the two motifs are fused into one synergistic whole, the rules go out the window — making room for the perfect storm of innovation, ingenuity and flair. 

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As with any fashion movement, staple pieces are the perfect stepping stones to incorporating the essence of punk prep into your wardrobe. For the coming season, VALLEY suggests styling a collared shirt with a leather blazer or a plaid sweater vest, topping the look off with a pair of distressed denim pants and combat boots. However, whether you choose to channel punk prep or not, remember that your style is an extension of you! Above all else, fashion should be inspiring, freeing and fun. Tag us on Instagram @VALLEYmag to share your take on punk prep!

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