The Summer Trends Teens Actually Care About

Illustration by Meghann Stephenson, follow her on Instagram @meghannfinley.

Nothing smells like teen spirit quite like school’s-out-for-summer June, and no teen’s got a better nose for it than one of our very own. We asked our Ask-a-Teen Kate Glavan all about summer trends, from the kinds you wear to the kinds you hear to the kinds you spin between your fingers.

What are the big summer fashion trends for the teens this summer? 

Girls are going for the Jane Birkin look. Outfits with overalls, off-the-shoulder tops, gingham, woven baskets, small heels, silk tops and delicate blouses. Pigtail braids are another trend, along with rose-tinted sunglasses or the Kurt Cobain white sunglasses.

What about at your school?

Trends at my high school come from Instagram muses still in high school; girls like Alexis Ren, Stella Rae, Maddi Bragg, etc. influence most girls I know who try to emulate their outfits. It’s cool to be compared to a famous Brandy Melville model or YouTuber who attends Coachella and other hip events. There’s a lot of West Coast envy here in the Midwest, so shopping at fast-fashion stores is a simple way to follow the trends.

What summer trends are you most excited to try this summer?

I love woven baskets and sandals, dewy skin and delicate gold jewelry. I’m definitely going for vintage-feeling looks while incorporating more bright colors into my wardrobe. Summer is the perfect time to test weird pieces I find at thrift stores because I’m not constrained by a high-school dress code or peer pressure.

What summer trends are you most dreading the appearance of all over Instagram?

LaCroix drinks, that red one-piece swimsuit everyone tried to get for free on Instagram and aggressive, glittery highlighter. More importantly, I’m really over girls who don’t acknowledge what cultural appropriation is, because a lot of the “boho festival looks” are offensively ignorant. Things like bindis, locs, etc. will not win you “cool” points on Instagram and frankly, I think more teenagers need to call out their friends in these situations.

Are unicorn foods over or still going strong?


You’re graduating and going to college in the fall, right? How do you think you and your classmates will perceive and relate to fashion trends in college, versus how you did in high school?

Yes and I’m so excited. I only can hope fashion trends will become less of a contest to see who’s recently gone to Zara to buy a designer knockoff, and more about individual style. I think there will be less pressure to look a certain way because nobody knows your past, which is both scary and comforting.

Talk to me about those fidget spinners as a trend (separate from their original use as a calming/focusing aid). Are they still cool? On their way out? Do you use them? Are you too old?

The fidget spinner… Honestly, I don’t know even when they started! I wholeheartedly believe that fidget spinners magically appeared in the hands of middle schoolers one day, and then everyone else tried to dissect what was happening. No one uses them in high school, so I feel as clueless as adults are about this one.

Memes are the biggest trend among high schoolers. Meme accounts on Instagram are full of “starter packs” with tons of images that describe a cliché person, such as “Entry level alt boy” or “Indie girls at a festival.” I hope teens create more meme accounts. They’re creative outlets to talk about mental health, feminism, loneliness and iconic trends from childhood. Meme culture is the perfect touch of nostalgia, bad graphic design and self-deprecating humor.

Any trendy new phrases we should be aware of?

Teenagers use phrases like “Who is she?” or, “Whose man is this?” to point out an interesting stranger. Another thing is talking about objects or places like they’re people. For example, let’s imagine Minneapolis was having really nice weather. I’d say, “Ugh, Minneapolis, thank you. She really gets it, she’s doing so well.”

What do you care most about this month?

Climate change. It was really devastating to see the current administration turn a cold shoulder to the entire world by dropping out of the Paris Climate Agreement. There are so many economic benefits to investing in solar energy, such as more jobs and new technologies. The cost of disasters and displacement is much greater than the upfront cost of converting our current energy processes, which is why I’m so confused by benefits from this decision.

The 2015 Agreement gave me a glimmer of hope about the future amidst all of the depressing news about what humans are doing to sea life, bees, climate refugees, glaciers, forests, etc. I know that once my generation is old enough to run the country, issues like LGBTQ+ rights and abortion rights won’t be divisively partisan. But the only issue in the world I feel truly hopeless about is climate change, which I fear my generation won’t be able to take on besides undoing the damage we couldn’t control.

Last Q: What do you think the song of summer will be?

“Green Light” by Lorde and “I Feel It Coming” by The Weeknd are going to be popular this summer, but I’ve really been into alt-j’s new song, “In Cold Blood.”

Amelia Diamond

Amelia Diamond

Amelia Diamond is a writer, creative consultant, and Man Repeller alumnus living in New York City.

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