These Are the Items That Will Define Summer 2021


Temperatures may be through the roof, but we’re only a couple days into summer—meaning there’s still time to figure out what to wear in summer and to get your reemergence wardrobe in order. Whether you’ve already begun dressing to the nines or are slowly working up the nerve to slip back into a pair of hard pants, this season’s seen-everywhere pieces have a little something for everyone.

For those of us who remember ordering from the dELIA*s catalogue in the late nineties and early 2000s, the trends dominating summer 2021 look eerily familiar: bucket hats, friendship bracelets, kitten heels (kitten heels!)—the list goes on. It’s a mashup of the zaniest Y2K throwbacks—think Spice World meets Lizzie McGuire meets middle school sleepaway camp—mixed with polished pieces that feel more appropriate for post-adolescent activities like, say, working in an office.

Frankly, I’m here for it. After a year cooped up inside, it feels like there’s less pressure to reemerge looking perfect than there is to simply reemerge, ready to celebrate, wearing whatever you wish—whether that’s a rainbow knit bucket hat or ’70s-inspired crochet tank.


Ahead, we’re calling out and forecasting which pieces will define summer of 2021—wares you’re sure to see everywhere from Instagram to the sidewalk to your favorite .com shop. And because we’re guessing you’ll want to join in the fun and shop all these pieces, below.

Knit Bucket Hats

If you’re still resisting the return of the bucket hat, I urge you to reconsider. Everyone else seems to have embraced them, so what’s stopping you? I pair mine with EltaMD’s Broad-Spectrum SPF 46 for an added dose of sun safety.


Missoni logo plaque woven bucket hat

Åland knit short bucket hat

Cheque hat in lilac/cream

Checkerboard Bikinis

Maybe we all watched Queen’s Gambit one too many times, or maybe we’re just getting tired of tie-dye, but checkerboard prints are popping up everywhere this summer. As someone whose day-to-day style isn’t quite so bold as to successfully pull off an extra-loud pattern, I’ll be taking this trend to the beach.


Self-Portrait one-shoulder underwired gingham bikini top

Frankies Bikinis Barb one-shoulder bikini top


Self-Portrait high-rise gingham-seersucker bikini briefs

Frankies Bikinis Jenna high-waist bikini bottom

Rectangle Shades

If round sunglasses feel too John Lennon, oval sunglasses look too Jackie, rectangles will feel just right.


Le Specs Unreal sunglasses

Aperçu Alyssa sunglasses

Crap Eyewear the Supa Phreek sunglasses


Asos Design mid-rectangle sunglasses with blue lens in tort

Top and Skirt Sets

Matching sets can easily feel like pajamas—especially when a top is paired with a tiny coordinating skirt or shorts. Follow Lorde’s lead and wear one of these midi-length sets next time you’re filming a music video for your chart-topping single.

Significant Other Abbie ribbed-knit cropped top


Significant Other Abbie ribbed-knit midi skirt

Square Toed Sandals

Who could have guessed those “vintage” Nine West pumps you used to own are now a hot hot-item on Depop. Perhaps the most controversial item on this list, square-toed sandals have officially returned to the mainstream.

Zara square-toe leather slide sandals


Pêche Linda square-toe sandals

Mango quilted heeled sandals

Jimmy Choo Narisa knotted leather sandals

Crochet Tops

Crochet is absolutely everywhere this summer. Keep things low-key with a beachy neutral, or go bold with a bright, ’70s-inspired pattern.


Ulla Johnson Lucia crocheted wool crop top

Ciao Lucia Palma crochet sweater


Scotch & Soda crochet crop tank

Saint Laurent crochet-knit tank

Middle School-Inspired Accessories

Your eighth-grade self is calling and it wants you to dig out your old friendship bracelets. Not to worry if you’ve lost track of them—there are plenty of delightfully nostalgic options available.


Carolina Bucci Forte beads 18-karat gold and Lurex multi-stone bracelet kit

Lisa Says Gah Lennie necklace

Serendipitous Project Lucy hair clips


Bottega Veneta hand-enameled silver and macramé bracelet

Poplin Crop Tops

What to wear in summer?  A crop top! Which, this season, has managed to reinvent itself once again—returning in crisp, polished fabrics and bold prints.

Ganni printed poplin crop top


Faithfull the Brand Joseva cropped shirred cotton-poplin top

Mango cotton blouse with ruched detail

Fishnet Totes

If you spend any time on Instagram, you’ve no doubt witnessed the rise of the now-ubiquitous fishnet grocery bag. Keep it simple with a basic market tote, or level up with something a little more statement-making.


Urban Outfitters to-go market bag

Prada knotted cord tote bag

Ganni large fishnet tote bag

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