Summer 2022 has already been deemed “tepid vax summer” — and you could say its trends are following suit. The season seems to be dominated by one idea: party time. Gone are the tie-dye hoodies, sweatpants and shorts paired with slippers. In are the Y2K-tinged looks that offer a more dressed up point of view but with a side of slick sportif and a healthy dose of irreverent, look-at-me styling (think halter necks with minis and Western boots, cargo pants and corset tops, platform sandals and mini skirt sets).
The season still offers a slice of sleepiness, however, with the nap dress carrying over to its third summer (its smocked bodices and puffy sleeves being features that many of its ardent fans refuse to give up just yet — plus the allure of “cottagecore” remains strong). And Birkenstock’s two-strap Arizona sandal (and all of its knockoffs) remains a quiet must-have for any and everyone. It’s followed up by its cousin, the more evergreen Boston clog, and a whole market of sensible clogs that continue to receive a glow up from fashion brands looking to strike a balance between style and a newfound sense of comfort that even die-hard trend followers don’t want to give up.
Life may be back to a tentative sense of normal this summer and people are definitely getting dressed — and dressed up — again. But most are still trying to figure out what their post-pandemic personal style really is. Should they lean into the Y2K revival, with all of its chaotic trends (which are also defining some of the year’s bad fashion)? Or step out in something ultra sexy, with cutouts, glitz and platforms galore? Or play it safe with quieter trends that allude to a sense of hesitation in the push for normalcy (or perhaps just make more sense in a work-from-home environment)?
Whatever the reason, this summer plays into an overall duality of hedonism and caution that is defining life in 2022. Herewith, a look at eight of of the top fashion and footwear trends set to dominate the summer ‘22 season.
1. Cutouts galore
Yes, this is the summer of the cutout. For spring ’22 collections, designers (including LaQuan Smith, the trend’s ruler) weren’t just dreaming of freedom from pandemic living. They were dreaming of a sense of sexuality on display, bound up in a trend that aims to free the body by restricting it with bands of fabric and strategic strips of flesh.
2. Platform mules
Blame it on those Versaces. The Italian fashion houses Medusa Aevitas ankle strap platforms, done in a series of saturated, vibrant satins for fall ’21 and now spring ’22, have given way to a whole slew of like-minded heels, done in a slip-on mule style for summer ease and a pedestal or fluted heel for extra drama.
3. Cargo pants
Here comes the Y2K, full force. This slow-burning trend may have started with Buzzfeed-style jokes about the Abercrombie & Fitch styles worn in the early aughts. But a series of street style snaps of Hailey Bieber in her own low-rise, baggy cargos mean that everyone probably has a pair of these pants in their carts right now.
4. The nap dress 3.0
The living is supposed to be easy in the summer, as the famous lyric goes. Which is probably why no one wants to give up the nap dress just yet. Its smocked bodice and loose shape is brilliantly designed to hide sweat and general discomfort from the heat, while a puffed sleeve or ruffler shoulder gives just a hint of flair. The OG Nap Dress comes from Hill House Home, but plenty of brands have riffed on a similar idea of breeziness, from Ganni and Cecilie Bahnsen in Copenhagen to Batsheva’s Laura Ashley collaboration. The best part about the trend? No one really cares if it’s a few seasons old.
5. Corset tops
Another Y2K piece (whose origins go back much further), the corset’s currency depends on its styling. The garment can act as a layering piece or be worn alone, but peak summer ’22 is pairing it with those low-rise, baggy cargo pants, a look that Versace perfected on the runway for its fall ’21 collection. Expect to see more of it on the red carpet this fall.
6. Western boots
What goes around comes around, again and again, and the Western boot will likely always find a space in the fashion cycle. This time it’s less about the early aughts (when the boot found its niche with tiered, eyelet mini skirts, denim cutoffs and low-slung hip belts for a country-lite look a là Jessica Simpson, Britney Spears and Carrie Underwood). Instead, there’s an ’80s edge to the trend, paired with leather, stirrup leggings, sleeker minis and blazers.
A holdover from the pandemic knitwear trend, crochet is the cozy sweater’s wild-child cousin, it’s loose weave destined to make a statement by revealing more skin than its silhouette or hemline suggests. This summer, it’s done in everything from full-on midi and maxi dresses that evoke beachwear to mini and midi skirts (with or without panels underneath) and vintage-style crop tops. Expect crochet to carry over to next year, as resort collections such as Moschino’s are already highlighting the knitwear.
8. Mini skirt sets
Like the platform heel, the coordinated set is a long-running trend that has come to define the era. Its details and silhouettes have shifted each season, from the pantsuit to the pajama set and everything in between. This spring and summer, it’s the mini skirt set — no doubt inspired by a summer ’21 photo opp from Olivia Rodrigo in a vintage Chanel suit (complete with those towering Versace Medusas). The mini comes with a matching bra top or cropped tank and a cardigan-style jacket that’s all proof of the enduring influence of Cher Horowitz from “Clueless.”