Here at Vogue Runway, we’ve gotten in the habit of documenting each summer’s most popular (and most curious) items and trends. It’s an exercise solely for the months of June, July, and August, when the heat, the late sunsets, the summer Fridays, and the Aperol on tap come together to bring out our boldest, most experimental selves, buoyed by the fact that we aren’t physically weighed down by coats and heavy layers.
Only on an 80-degree afternoon can you wear the perfect outfit and snap the perfect candid photo of it in the park without even trying: The sun is shining, the trees have bloomed, your dress is catching the breeze, and you don’t even have a jacket to take off! If you happen to find yourself on a sailboat or vacationing in Lake Como, even better. These endless photo ops create the ideal environment for “viral” fashion items to emerge.
In 2018, for instance, everyone was ’gramming heart-shaped sunglasses, bike shorts, and enormous straw hats; meanwhile, 2017 was the summer of PVC sandals, beaded bags, and high-cut swimsuits. All of those items have remained hot well into 2019. Swimsuits are still winking at the ’80s, stretchy shorts have officially replaced pants, and it’s still pretty hard to score a pair of Maryam Nassir Zadeh’s plastic wedges. Chalk it up to the virtual immortality of an Instagram photo: Once it’s out there, it can serve as #inspo for years to come, revived every time someone new decides to give it a whirl.
This summer isn’t over yet (phew!) but the season’s It items have more or less crystallized. In the past, our lists have felt like a grab-bag of random trends and statement pieces, but after assembling this year’s group—a task that required days of scrolling through our feeds, revisiting bookmarked photos, and taking an informal poll around the office—many of the pieces actually felt connected. They almost read like a starter pack for the “look” of the summer: one that’s wanderlust-y, colorful, and a little psychedelic, with notes of Midsommar and lots of influence from the wellness boom. There are a few wildcards in the mix, too, including a pretty impractical embellishment and an outdated accessory that’s suddenly been co-opted by the Instagram set. Scroll through our full list below, plus a few suggestions if you’re in the mood to shop.
Nostalgia is the key ingredient for many of the summer’s hand-crafted, Instagram-first jewelry brands. From Eliou’s shell necklaces to Emily Levine’s beaded “friendship bracelets,” we all seem to be channeling our inner child. (Why we’re drawn to these symbols of naivety and youth is a conversation for another day.) The latest earthy, ’90s-era jewelry trend? Anklets. Vogue editors have been wearing them with slingback pumps and Birkenstocks, and fine jewelry designers are even proposing haute versions: Sophie Buhai’s comes in freshwater pearls, while Jacquie Aiche’s solid-gold style rings up at a cool $3,500.
In a rare stroke of luck, our second It item is also pictured in the photo above: Arizona Love’s “Trekky” sandal. Inspired by classic Tevas and wrapped with vintage bandanas, the multicolored shoe has become one of the summer’s hardest-to-get items. It’s almost constantly sold out (both on its website and at e-tailers like MatchesFashion.com), and to get on the waitlist, you have to contact the brand through Instagram DM. If you can manage to snag a pair, they’re basically the perfect summer footwear: comfortable, colorful, and easy to wear with jeans and breezy dresses alike.
The Leopard Skirt
Women have been wearing leopard slip skirts for years now, but it was only in 2019 that the garment earned its own Instagram account. Known simply as @leopardmidiskirt (and brought to my attention by my colleague Julie Tong), the feed is essentially a stream of paparazzi shots documenting girls in variations on the theme. No, not every skirt is good, and no, the ’grams aren’t always great either. But it speaks to the cult-like fervor around this seemingly uncomplicated item. Our theory behind its appeal mirrors the timelessness and versatility of leopard print in general: A leopard midi skirt is neutral yet statement-making, it can be worn year-round, it works with everything from a T-shirt and sneakers to a blazer and stilettos, and, duh, it looks great on social media. The obsession has even created a hierarchy of the “best” leopard skirts; Realisation Par’s is the ultimate trophy piece (it jumpstarted the trend and is perennially sold out).
T-shirts, hoodies, pedal pushers, caftans, handbags, button-downs, bikinis…literally everything is getting the tie-dye treatment. You could say it’s a trickle-down trend from the runways (see: Dries Van Noten, Stella McCartney, Proenza Schouler), but tie-dye is also the unofficial symbol of chill. You can’t be high-strung in a swirl of happy colors, can you? We’re the first to say you can just as well DIY this trend at home—it’s especially easy with T-shirts, socks, and other cotton basics—but if you’re really leaning into the #richhippie thing, consider a dip-dyed Rhode dress or a trippy Elder Statesman sweater.
The Fancy Flip-Flop
What to wear with your leopard skirt, tie-dyed dress, and sparkly ankle bracelet? Only a flip-flop will do this summer—preferably one that’s unexpectedly luxe. Totême and Aquazurra elevated the classic thong in glossy embossed leather, The Row’s flip-flops come with a cushioned platform, and Balenciaga’s have a chrome kitten heel for a bit of lift. The sleek silhouette is a welcome foil to chunky Birkenstocks and complicated lace-ups, with just a touch of irony as a bonus. (In fact, if you’re still committed to the flip-flop come fall, Tibi’s are even lined with shearling.)
Feathers? In the summer? At this point, it doesn’t even register as a surprise. Feathers have been trending on the runways for several seasons—regardless of it being Spring, Fall, or Resort—and we’ve been seeing them everywhere, even in the sweltering heat. That’s not so bad when it’s just your Loeffler Randall bag that’s covered in feathers, but on a dress, it’s a little more extreme. (Just extreme enough to be Instagram gold!) At the recent couture shows in Paris, where temperatures climbed upwards of 95 degrees, Céline Dion, Gilda Ambrosio, and a cache of models and influencers wore layers of feathers to Valentino, and no doubt influenced their tens of thousands of followers to try a similar look.
The Sunglass Chain
Do you live in fear of losing your sunglasses? No? Have you ever wanted to wear them as a necklace? Still no? Well, chances are you’re going to want a sunglasses chain anyways—or, as some call it, a “croakie.” The last time this writer saw anyone wearing one was in college, when misguided frat boys paired sport croakies with their Ray-Ban Wayfarers. Today’s iterations couldn’t be more different: Most of them follow the current trends for pearl, shell, and tortoiseshell jewelry, like Staud’s XXL resin chain and Donni’s pearl version. (The brand made the case for layering it with about 10 other chains in a recent post.) Sure, they might serve a functional purpose if you find yourself on a speedboat, but the rise of this trend can really be chalked up to selfie culture. If you’re on the beach and want to snap a photo in your new favorite sunnies (and maybe some great earrings and a bucket hat, too), it’s just another cute accessory to squeeze into the frame.
Originally Appeared on Vogue