Derived from the word preppy
which attained popular usage in the 1980's, but with earlier origins dating as far back as the 1950's. Originally a reference to a person who might attend preparatory school; usually a young person born to a wealthy or well-to-do family; a WASP
(White Anglo-Saxon Protestant). By the 1980's it was used primarily to define a social clique among young people who dressed in a very prim and polished way, wearing for example Polo branded shirts with upturned collars, white slacks by Ralph Lauren, and boating shoes by Sperry. Owing to the fact that 90% of all preppies were neither wealthy (in the strict definition), headed for preparatory school, or accomplished sailors, preppy
quickly gained a wider usage as a derogatory term more akin to poser
. It is now representative of a young person who is very badly informed, and who, due to low self-esteem and a dodgy American education system, quickly falls prey to modern mainstream marketing practices and gladly shells out his or her parent's hard-earned dollars for items of little or no intrinsic value in the false hope that it will bring them popularity amongst their peers. They are the crass consumers of the 21st century, and a hard target for a large percentage of America's advertising dollars. They are inclined to choose clothing by brand rather than fit, style, or economic prudence, and are willing to pay a premium for outfits designed and sold by clothing companies that adhere to a strict, elitist, and above market-value pricing policy, such as Abercrombie & Fitch or Hollister Co.. They are more likely to be Republican, and will often seek salvation as hard-line Christians in later life, owing to the many failures they will suffer on the road to adulthood, and discoveries that "growing up" does not automatically confer upon them competence, accomplishment, or overflowing bank accounts, as their childish fantasies once led them to believe.
A prep is a person who considers Abercrombe & Fitch to be a "lifestyle choice".