The Biggest Style Movement of Summer 2019

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 straw hat so full of joie de vivre it looks like a bird of paradise. A cowrie shell anklet. A tie-dye tank top married to a floral prairie skirt. A dress that resembles a lovingly tattered doily. A quilted patch that doesn’t cover a tear. A crocheted cardigan. A pair of knit trousers with kick-flares, just because. Picture these disparate elements in your head, paste them on a mental paper doll, and behold: the prevailing vacation uniform of summer 2019.

It feels almost oxymoronic to ascribe the term “uniform” to an outfit worn on a summer vacation, much less a uniform composed of such un-uniform-like components. The idea of considering tie-dye tank tops and floral prairie skirts viable material for uniform dressing would probably make a purist quake inside their white jeans. And yet, the evidence is too overwhelming to ignore. Everyone seems to have mutually agreed to dress like they just got back from a garden party in Ibiza by way of a music festival in Sedona. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t personally thrilled about this consensus.

But how, precisely, did it manifest? This question is one I’ve been pondering since I began tracking the emergence of the aesthetic movement as early as April, when I spotted this photo of STAUD designer Sarah Staudinger lounging somewhere tropical in a flowing white dress, with every extremity bedecked in cowrie shells. Around the same time, Loewe released the look book for its collaboration with Paula’s Ibiza, replete with patchwork jeans, straw bags emblazoned with peace signs, and paisley wrap skirts. Then there was this dispatch in May courtesy of blogger Lee Litumbe, featuring more cowrie shells, a straw sun hat, and an enormous straw bag. In June, Fisayo Longe and Busy Philipps contributed to burgeoning fray with a doily dress and crocheted cardigan worn over a bikini, respectively. The real kicker came in July, though, when LoveShackFancy’s Resort 2020 look book dropped, encompassing all that I had been observing in one fell swoop.

There is an energy to this particular manner of dress that, the more I think about it, feels somewhat revelatory. It’s the first solid, palpable evidence that we are truly entering a post-trend era. Sure, there are traces of summer style trends, past and present, scattered throughout—seashell jewelry, tie-dye, prairiecore, etc.—but not in the sense that they steal the show. These ingredients aren’t watered down so much as they are blended like a soup, according to the individual wearer’s specifications. Perhaps that’s why summer vacation style appears more flavorful than ever: It’s doing the most it’s ever done. It’s the sartorial equivalent of a piña colada with extra pineapple chunks. An Out of Office reply with a wittily self-aware rejoinder. A pool float that doesn’t care you’ve seen it a million times on Instagram.

It’s ubiquitous enough to be a uniform, but fungible enough that it will never look the same twice. There’s no trick to mastering it besides this: Close your eyes, and think about how summer smells. Think about how it looks, how it feels, how it tastes. Okay, now open your closet, and wear exactly that.

Photographer: Marley Rizzuti 
Stylist: Harling Ross
Art Direction/Production: Emily Zirimis
Models: Amira Natanne and Frankie Cavalcanti
Market: Elizabeth Tamkin
Makeup: Isabel Rosado
Hair: Karla Serrano
Photo Assistant: Erik Rasmussen
Production Assistant: Louisiana Mei Gelpi

Harling Ross

Harling is a writer and was most recently the Brand Director at Man Repeller.

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