If your style verges on anything that can be called even slightly preppy, you have the women of Barnard, Bryn Mawr, Vassar, Mount Holyoke, Radcliffe, Smith, and Wellesley Colleges to thank. The Seven Sisters colleges were all founded in the late 19th century, before women were admitted to schools like Harvard, Yale, and Princeton. These are, of course, important academic institutions, having produced some of the most influential women of the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries. They also happened to give us some of the most lasting womenswear trends of all time.
While the men of Ivy League universities made their mark in defining a specifically American, midcentury, preppy look, the women of the Seven Sisters had their own style that fashion magazines documented and replicated with bated breath. Now, a new book, Seven Sisters Style, looks back at exactly how college women popularized preppy style for the masses.
Check out these trends that originated on Seven Sisters campuses, and try them yourself.More
These unisex, above-the-knee shorts began popping up on Seven Sisters campuses in the '30s and eventually became so popular that when it was announced at Barnard in 1959 that "skirts would be the only proper classroom attire from now on," The New York Times labelled the move a "couture crisis." (The ruling was later limited to shorts that were "too short, too bright, or too tight.")
This wasn't just a summer trend: in the colder months, students wore wool or flannel Bermudas paired with knee-high, cable-knit socks for warmth.
Stand out in a sea of Coachella-style cut-offs with Bermuda-length denim shorts. We love Sandy Liang's embellished version, but this is also an easy D.I.Y. if you come across a pair of slightly oversize, straight-leg jeans on your next thrift store treasure hunt. Add a silky tank and suede, block-heel sandals to dress them up, or go sporty (like we did here) with pool slides and a metallic windbreaker.