Is it just me, or have seemingly disparate aesthetics started coexisting more harmoniously as of late? I’ve seen ultra-frilly summer dresses worn with chunky dad sneakers, bike shorts paired with pointed toe mules, and Air Jordans punctuating full-on pantsuits. Pieces that lean extravagant and special are appearing on the same platter as stuff that leans functional and casual.
With many posting photos in prairie dresses one day and in sweatpants the next, it’s fair to say Instagram has become a hub of trend saturation. Personally, I’m delighted to see an uptick in high-low dressing — or perhaps luxury-functional is a better descriptor. The contrasting nature of this trend makes for uniquely adaptable outfits that work in almost any scenario: Meeting friends for a picnic? A sundress and a pair of Nikes will do the trick. Going out for a drink? No need to change out of your T-shirt and track pants, just load up on bling-y jewelry.
This versatile trend just might be my cure for summer wardrobe boredom. I’ve been utilizing my wardrobe in ways I never previously considered. Below, a few Instagram posts I deem supporting evidence and pending inspiration.
1. A Not-So-Plain White Dress Shirt
Until recently, I conceptualized the dress shirt as an item demanded by occasion rather than selected for pleasure. It turns out I’ve been thinking about them all wrong. White button-downs are to accessories as a more spacious room is to activities (I regret that Step Brothers reference already, but you get the point).
Since coming across Kate Mao’s Instagram, I’ve realized that a plain white dress shirt is all the sartorial space I need to let my imagination run wild. Layer necklaces and rings that span the gold and silver variety? Of course. Throw on a sizable net bag and transparent sunglasses suited for a mad scientist? Don’t mind if I do.
2. A Sundress and Sneakers
I’m pretty sure we’ve all arrived at the consensus that there’s absolutely nothing groundbreaking about florals for spring and summer, but that never stops my tireless hunt for the perfect floral sundress every year. And I think I’m closer to finding one after seeing this Instagram posted by Kellie Brown.
Not only do I love her dress but I love how she styled it. Next time the weather begs me to slip on a wrap dress, I plan to step into a pair of crispy kicks rather than a pair of strappy sandals. I’ll also add on itsy-bitsy sunglasses because I, unlike Mindy Kaling, have no remorse when it comes to this trend.
3. A Careful Curation of Effortlessness
This outfit exudes a carefully curated kind of effortlessness, contradictory as that may sound. An oversized T-shirt and pants may be a relatively low-fuss combination, but the accessories tell a different story. Her semi-circular vintage purse and primary colored sneakers would earn a nod from any hypebeast hanging around Soho (or, you know, just me).
4. A Twist on Activewear
I’m fascinated by the idea of joojing up standard activewear — not to be mistaken for athleisure — with dainty pieces like slingbacks and a mini bag. It’s like the chicest limbo between blatant comfort and style consciousness. With a look like Summer’s, I can picture myself seamlessly transitioning from a lazy Sunday at the park to dinner at my favorite restaurant in Nolita, without looking out of place at either location.
5. A Perfect Balance of Trendy and Classic
Clashing patterns have never looked so good. This outfit checks so many boxes for me because Nnenna strikes a balance between being trendy — hello, puffy sleeved blouse and transparent handbag — and classic, thanks to the gingham trousers. Now that I think of it, my closet is sorely lacking separates of the bold print variety. Brb, changing that now.
In the meantime, drop the account of someone who’s been inspiring you in the comments!
Feature image by Nnenna Echem.