Preppy is a term in the popular vocabulary,
traditionally used to describe the characteristics of White,
patrician, Anglo-Saxon, Protestants (usually with some personal
or familial connection to New England; e.g. WASP) who attend
or attended major private, secondary preparatory schools.
These characteristics include particular subcultural speech,
vocabulary, accent, dress, mannerisms, etiquette, and general
way of being.
Lisa Birnbach's 1980
Official Preppy Handbook is a good, albeit tongue-in-cheek, "guide"
to the Preppy subculture.
Paul Fussell's book Status: A Guide to the American
Class System discusses the sociological implications
of the preppy subculture.
In recent years, the term has
come to describe those who affect some popular, bourgeois
physical manifestation of the Preppy subculture. In many
cases, this usage pertains merely to a person's dress, and
not their geographical location, upbringing, or other traditionally "preppy"
characteristic. In such cases, those described as "preppy"
are not, in fact, preppies.
The term is similar in formation to
yuppie, and had great currency in the 1970s and 1980s.