Is It Too Early to Talk About the Shirt of the Summer?

It happens every summer like clockwork. A shirt trend will begin to pick up speed like the thumping bass of a Justin Bieber single. And you know from the very beginning you will wear the shirt and listen to the song so many times from June through August that by the time Labor Day comes along, every fiber of your being will beg for a detox. Anything but that shirt. Anything but that song. And so it goes, another adrenaline-inducing rollercoaster ride on the intensified trend cycle that is summertime. Music, alcoholic beverages, pool floats, memes, watermelon-centric dishes — nothing is exempt from this boom and bust. Shirts, however, are of special interest to me, not only as a fashion editor but also as a human being eager to feel the particular thrill that is wearing a summer top in its holy prime.

Some might say it’s a tad too early to predict what summer 2019’s shirt will be, but to that I say tut tut. The cosmic forces of the universe are already dispensing clues — they have been for months. It’s up to us to do the detective work. And that starts with retracing our steps, as far back as the last Shirt of the Summer in recent memory.

2015: A Toss-Up Between White Ribbed Cotton Tank Tops and Crop Tops

If I remember correctly, the summer of 2015 saw a notable spike in denim diapers i.e. high-waist shorts (so short, in fact, that the pockets would often peek out underneath). Said shorts were typically accompanied by white ribbed cotton tank tops OR crop tops of the festival-adjacent variety.

2016: Off-the-Shoulder Tops

Who could forget the mighty reign of off-the-shoulder tops? Not my collarbones, that’s for sure. Every shoulder-shrouding shirt has felt like a regression to them ever since, even though I’ve patiently explained that OTS tops became oversaturated to the point where an intervention felt both emotionally necessary and ethically imperative.

2017: Graphic T-Shirts

The ultimate fodder for contrast when combined with a tropical-print floral skirt or pastel trousers, graphic T-shirts had quite the heyday. I personally also appreciated that most of them were washer/dryer friendly, thus making them ideal wardrobe specimens for sweaty commutes.

2018: Puffy-Sleeved White Blouses

Merci, MaisonCleo, for democratizing access to the puffy-sleeved white blouses previously relegated to vintage shops and Italian street fairs. Not only have they been uniquely accessible ever since on Instagram and beyond, but they also go with everything and will immediately elevate a summer outfit to a certain level of crispness, thus making them an obvious choice to rise like cream to the top of the season’s trend cycle.

2019: ?

Does a question mark look more and more insolent the longer you stare at it? Like the punctuation equivalent of a raised eyebrow?? No matter, it won’t be there for long. I’ve narrowed down summer 2019’s top top options down to two possibilities based on what I’ve quietly observed [drumroll please]: 1. tie-dye T-shirts or 2. the artist formerly known as knit camisoles and currently known as summer sweaters.

Tie-dye T-shirts are a clear contender based on how thoroughly tie-dye has started to trend, bolstered in part by Polo’s recent application of it to a summer look book fit to be fantasized about. As for knit camisoles a.k.a. summer sweaters, a term coined by Man Repeller’s own Amalie MacGowan, these are extrapolated from the current form-fitting cardigan trend that has been sweeping Instagram feeds ’round the world. What is the summer equivalent of a tight cardigan, you ask? Remove the sleeves and you’ll have your answer.

So, what do you think? Tie-dye T-shirts? Summer sweaters? Something else entirely? Rogue predictions very much welcome.

Photo of Alexis Sundman by Melodie Jeng via Getty Images. 

Harling Ross

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

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