(ABOVE) For me, preppy style means classic, timeless, casual, and unfussy.

It was 1974. I was a new freshman, and for I don’t know how long I had been stealing fascinated—yet oblivious—glances at her. (I was not self-reflective at 14.)

Then one day, as she leaned against a table on the other side of the room, I realized something: I liked the way she looked. Her hair, her composure, what she wore, how she wore it.

I can’t remember her exact outfit that day, only a collage of the items she often wore. Straight-legged boys’ corduroys, button-down shirts, shetland crewneck pullovers or fair isle cardigans, and duck shoes, topsiders or Olaf Daughters clogs. When it was really cold, she put a turtleneck and a polo shirt under the pullover. She wore very little makeup if any, her hair was a shoulder-length blunt cut, and her mannerisms were gracefully restrained. She embodied the elegance of something I would later learn was called classic preppy, and I was in awe.

I have gravitated to the style in some form or another ever since. (I deviated periodically through the years to experiment or find myself or lose myself, or something, but I always returned.)

The classic preppy (and typically for me, a bit disheveled) outfit I’m wearing in this first fashion post—cardigan, button down, white jeans, leather thongs, no makeup—is in honor of that girl I will never forget.

I bet she is still elegant today. ~Janis Lyn Johnson









Jeans: Max Jeans, Similar at Nordstrom / Shirt: Lands End, Similar Here / Cardigan: J. Crew / Belt: J. Crew, Similar Here / Sandals: Cole Haan, Similar at Nordstrom / Watch: Michele, Nordstrom / Prescription Detachable Sunglasses: Similar at Nordstrom