Summer isn’t just about sundresses and bikinis (not all about them, at least). We tapped the top buyers from your favorite stores—Nordstrom, Net-A-Porter, and ModaOperandi—to weigh in on the hottest trends of the season. They talked about serious Venice vibes, a new way to wear your pearls, and a pant style we haven’t seen in over a decade. Read on for their industry insight on the styles you should be paying attention to, ahead.
We’ve waxed poetic about our obsession with tie dye, but the summer trend is leaning further into its West Coast roots. “We are loving a California cool vibe for the warmer months, including upbeat and casual trends such as Hawaiian shirts, bucket hats, racer back tank tops, and anything tie-dye,” said Elizabeth von der Goltz, the global buying director of Net-A-Porter. She enjoyed the psychedelic moments seen on Chloe, R13, and Prada’s runway, but don’t sleep on beachside stalls and Etsy shops for an affordable option. Polish off the look with denim cut-offs and old-school sneakers like Vans to really capture the SoCal aesthetic. Stephanie Schafer, the senior fashion director of Nordstrom’, is also dye-ing over the trend, but suggested a grown-up way to dip your toes in the look: “The beautiful print technique feels fresh in sophisticated silhouettes such as dresses and skirts.” In other words, you don’t have to go full-hippie to participate.
She sells sea shells, and we’re buying it all up in the form of jewelry and hair accessories. According to von der Goltz, the shell trend “seemed to be everywhere last summer, [but] has grown to include pearls and beads this season.” It ties in to the aforementioned ‘California Cool’ trend, but with a wanderlust spin. Affectionately dubbed “souvenir jewelry” by her team, the trend also “includes anything with shells, pearls, coins, or stones. It’s an elevated take on the jewelry finds one would snag at a fabulous local shop on holiday” Schafer also chimed in, stating that “shell jewelry has transformed from beach basic to elevated elegance. Shell studs, charms, and pendants are the coveted accessory this summer.”
You don’t have to invest your paycheck to partake in this, either. “A great way to buy into some of these summer trends is through hair accessories,” von der Goltz suggested. “We’re seeing this category grow with each season and include everything from hairclips to headbands to headscarves.” Her favorite accessory brands are Valet and Eliou, which contrast precious stones with color and whimsy.
When it comes to summer bags, our minds immediately think of straw totes. All the buyers we asked still approve of this seaside trend and don’t see it waning anytime soon. Lisa Aiken, the fashion director of ModaOperandi, dissected why we love them. “They elicit a vacation mindset, even while using them in the city,” she stated. “As a versatile summer staple, it is polished but not stuffy and can really tie together a look.” But the style isn’t limited to raffia, but all beachy keen textiles. “Craftwork is becoming a year-round trend in bags,” says Schafer. “Straw, crochet, wovens and craft details are [all] trending.”
If you’re searching for a leather it-bag, Aiken is a big fan of Bottega Veneta’s new pouch clutch. “Oversized or mini, it is the perfect piece to take you from day into night and become an essential in your handbag wardrobe. I’ve been wearing mine on repeat,” she said.
Modern Tea Dresses
This summer, trade in your fit and flare sundresses for a retro-inspired style. “The long and languid dress is the silhouette of summer,” said Schafer. “Draping, wrapping, ties and knots achieve a soft, sophisticated look, while high-shine silks and satins create daytime opulence.” Aiken calls these styles the modern tea dress, “riffing off a shape from the forties.” These styles show off a little ankle, but still retain a hint of flirtation. This sleeper trend is “super flattering and a great length […] It is in line with a trend we are seeing— pieces with a vintage feel being reworked to [look] new.” Find dresses that are midi-length and flow away from the body, like a dropped waist. Prints and colors are up to you, with styles ranging from saturated hues to antique florals.
Say goodbye to skinny sunnies. According to Schafer, big is back with an athletic twist this season. “Oversized shield sunglasses are trending this summer,” she says, referring to sunglasses that look similar to what your dad wears while playing squash. “Think ‘90s sport with a futuristic take and the bigger, the better.” If you’re feeling adventurous, go full dad mode in colorful Oakleys, or tone it down with geometric black shades.
“A utilitarian theme and dose of practicality is welcome for summer,” said Aiken. These lightweight layers are ideal for hot days that need coverage from the dangerous rays. She suggests “linens, khaki, as well as the cargo pant and Bermuda shorts, [which] exemplify this trend.” You heard it hear first: cargo pants are back. If separates aren’t your thing, von der Goltz said “the boiler suit plays into this theme and is the ultimate one-step dressing option. It is so efficient, comfortable, cool and stylish.”
According to both Scafer and Aiken, it’s time to square up with square-toed shoes. “The clean, geometric shapes make the shoe style modern,” said Aiken. “They beautifully toughen up a feminine dress.” She touted Wandler’s recently launched shoe brand as her new favorite. For Schafer, “minimal sandals are a must. Look for slender straps balanced with a block heel, or square toes for the newest take.”