How To Find Your Summer Aesthetic In 8 Easy Steps

The “trending” styles for summer are all over the map – where do you fall?

By Evie Solheim4 min read
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Even though summer is officially here, you’re not alone if you’re still figuring out your summer aesthetic! Whether you’re a maximalist who wants to look like the main character all summer, or a minimalist who just wants to stay cool while looking chic, we can all benefit from pinpointing our ideal summer style. 

All of the fun activities that come with summer give you a chance to reinvent your style – or at least put a new spin on how you dress! Maybe you’re taking a luxurious vacation or just heading to a picnic at the park – whatever your plans, you can find a cohesive summer aesthetic that’s perfect for everything you have in store this season.

The “trending” styles for summer are all over the map – there’s truly something for everyone. Prefer classic silhouettes and neutral colors? Maybe you’ll want to throw a light sweater over your shoulders and go full coastal grandmother. Love neon colors, fun accessories, and the “little shirt, big pants” outfit combo? Dressing Y2K could be for you. Obsessed with Instagrammers like @rosemaryretro and @emilyriboflavin? Then channel your inner ‘70s Bohemian with flowing skirts and headscarves! 

Of course, these aren’t the only summer aesthetics to pick from! Soft girl, country club chic, granola girl, French girl… the list goes on and on. 

Keep reading for more tips on honing your summer aesthetic.

1. Create a Secret Pinterest Board or Instagram Folder To Save Inspo

This may seem like a no-brainer, but compiling photos of your favorite summer looks will help you look for patterns and identify which pieces you need to build your wardrobe. Create a summer-specific Pinterest board or image folder so that you can really hone in on your summer aesthetic. 

These don’t just have to be outfit photos – you can also draw inspiration from a beautiful summer picnic, lush cottage, or still life painting. What moods and colors speak to you the most? Your summer aesthetic doesn’t have to apply only to what you wear – it can permeate how you decorate, how you unwind, and even what you read.

2. Evaluate Your Current Wardrobe

You can’t start building out your wardrobe without first taking inventory of what you have. If you’re like me, your problem isn’t having too few clothes – it’s having too many. At the same time, most of us could do a better job of curating great basics – the perfect white tee, a great pair of denim, and cute white sneakers can be wardrobe staples year-round. 

So take stock of what you have and begin to think about how you can create outfits you may have never tried before! You may have more options than you originally thought.

3. Purge Your Closet of Items You Don’t Wear (or Don’t Like)

After doing your closet inventory, start eliminating the summer items that don’t fit your aesthetic. Yes, it can be painful to get rid of clothes (I still have a few items I wore as a teen in my closet!), but you know when it’s time to let that dated blouse or skirt go. Eliminating clutter in your closet can help you wear a wider variety of clothes – you can actually see all the items that work for you instead of searching through piles and piles of clothes that don't get you excited! 

There are a lot of ways to pass on clothes to someone new who will appreciate them. Besides donating to Goodwill, you could host a clothing swap with friends or join a Buy Nothing group on Facebook to give the clothes to a neighbor.

4. Find 3-4 Influencers/Celebrities/Style Icons You Want To Emulate

Chances are, you already follow a lot of women with awesome style on Instagram. But not all of them wear the kind of outfits you’re looking to recreate this summer. 

Identify the accounts that embody the kind of style you want to have. If you like elevated basics, you may pick Matilda Djerf and Sissy Chacon, but if you like girly Southern prep, you may pick Lindy Goodson or Megan Pinckney Rutherford. Start making mental notes of the pieces they re-wear and what goes into their outfit formulas!

It can be frustrating to see cute outfits on your Instagram grid but notice all the models have the same silhouette – so check out our amazing breakdown of influencers to follow based on your body type so that you always have inspiration! 

5. Spend Time Exploring New Fashion Brands Online

This might be the most fun part of finding your summer aesthetic! Who doesn’t love a little (online) window shopping? These days, it’s easier than ever to find new clothing brands – just open up any social media platform and you’re immediately bombarded with ads. But are these brands going to be your new favorites or just give you a bunch of items to throw in the “return” pile?

I recommend digging a little deeper to find your new favorite brand. Sure, influencers are known for tagging the maker of every item they wear, but why not try a little real-life inspiration too? You can crowdsource your wardrobe by just swiping up on a friend’s Instagram story and asking her where she got her dress or her shoes! Remember, gatekeeping is so 2021, you guys.

And of course, never be afraid to compliment a stranger – you may find your new favorite boutique just by asking the girl behind you in line where she got her blouse!

6. Write Down a List of What You Need To Create a Capsule Wardrobe

It’s easy to think you need six slight variations on the little black dress – until you realize you only ever wear your favorite one. Grab a pen and paper and calculate the items you actually need to have to mix-and-match the wardrobe you want. According to The Capsule Project, a 12-item capsule wardrobe is about as pared-down as you can go – six tops, three bottoms, one dress, and two jackets. You shouldn’t exceed more than three colors in your capsule wardrobe.

Of course, you don’t have to limit yourself to this list – just use it as a guide! A capsule wardrobe can help you dip your toe in a style without filling your closet to the brim. Check out this summer 2022 capsule wardrobe for more inspiration.

7. Create a Shopping Budget and List

All right, now you have an idea of what pieces you need to fill out your ideal summer wardrobe – but you probably don’t have hundreds of dollars to throw around. Shop smarter, not harder. Sites like Stylecaster frequently share updated lists of the best sales at outlets like Nordstrom Rack, Kate Spade, and Urban Outfitters. 

And if you really want to ball on a budget, check out the thrift shops and consignment stores in your area. It may take you a little longer to find the exact piece you need, but you’ll likely score some gems along the way.

8. Start Slow and Evaluate As You Go

You’ll end up being happier with your wardrobe if you only choose pieces you can see yourself wearing for more than one season. It feels like we’re all told to buy “investment pieces” (translation: spend more dollars), but a piece doesn’t have to be designer in order to last you for years. Don’t rush to buy all the dresses, shoes, and tops you think you need to have the perfect summer – pick up a few pieces at a time and see how they make you feel when you wear them out. Hate strapless tops and dresses? You don’t have to buy them! Realize you’re comfiest in longer skirts? You can skip the miniskirt section next time you're at the store. 

Closing Thoughts

Summer is a fun time to experiment with your style and dress how you want to! Flowy dresses, cute overalls, fun sandals – the choice is yours. 

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