How To Dress For Hot Girl Summer (Without The Pressure Or The $$$)

Photographed by Poppy Thorpe.
When Megan Thee Stallion inspired the first Hot Girl Summer in 2019, few of us had any hesitations about living our best lives. And many of us did just that. One year later however, during the first few months of the pandemic, summer meant sofa cocktails and Zoom therapy sessions. Then when summer '21 came around, what we thought was going to be our year ended up getting spoiled by an unpredictable traffic light system that put paid to our travel plans, and half-hearted festivals going off with several hitches.
That brings us to now. We’re anticipating the Hot Girl Summer to end all Hot Girl Summers. COVID restrictions are few and far between, weddings are back on the books and travel vouchers can finally be redeemed. With events majorly upping the ante and the overall excitement of this year's possibility, there's a mounting pressure to spend more, go out more, experience more this summer. And maybe, just maybe, the pressure might be too much.
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One look at our social feeds and we're bombarded with messages from brands and content creators encouraging us to shop. Event-specific shopping edits are hugely successful marketing strategies (e.g. Nasty Gal’s 'The Journey Is The Destination' festival edit and PrettyLittleThing's Hot Girl Summer drop). Influencers are sharing massive shopping hauls and memes about overspending on clothes are a dime a dozen.
Sure, this is all part of the capitalism cycle but this year's summer-ready messaging feels particularly magnified following the uncertainty of the last two years. This leads us to ask: what if we don’t have the money to be spending loads this summer? What if we're still working on our relationship with our new, post-pandemic body? What if we just want to enjoy a bit more freedom this summer – without feeling the need to look the part, too?
Let us be the first to say: it's okay to feel this way. It's okay not to do it all this summer. Hot Girl Summer is just a mindset so here are three major tenets to remember when it comes to summer style that doesn't break the bank (or harm the Earth).

Shop your own wardrobe first

Remember when we were captivated by capsule wardrobes and minimalism, only for them to be overshadowed by the impulse shopping and overconsumption of the pandemic? By meeting somewhere in the middle (because minimalism has its own set of issues) we can discover lots of gems from the most perfect, most sustainable place to shop: our own wardrobe.
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Ahead of summer, before you tap 'add to cart' on several new dresses, cute tops and that suit you've been eyeing in the color of the season, remember that there are already tons of summer-ready clothes in your wardrobe. Whether you bought them mid-pandemic in anticipation of better summers to come or have realized they don’t fit like they used to, now's the time to pull them out, give them some love (like a dry clean or alteration if needed) or re-home them for someone else’s Hot Girl Summer instead.  
There are even apps to help you do that, like Whering and Stylebook, both of which allow you to digitize your entire wardrobe and build outfits with the help of stylists. 

You can’t buy fun, no matter what a brand tells you

Capitalism has conditioned us to buy new outfits for one-off events, regardless of whether we plan to wear them again. Fast fashion makes this kind of overconsumption possible for the masses, with brands pumping out thousands of products a year or even per month
As we enter the second weekend of this year's Coachella festival, we are reminded of how – somewhere between Woodstock and the inception of Instagram – music festivals became commercial opportunities and content factories rather than cultural experiences. 
Trend forecaster Mandy Lee (@oldloserinbrooklyn) touched on this in an analysis on TikTok earlier this week. "Coachella’s like, the perfect example of how capitalism sells us the promise of unforgettable experiences, community and music all under the guise of participating in capitalism," she said.
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@oldloserinbrooklyn My quick analysis on the shift of Coachella culture/fashion #coachella #analysis #fashion #revolve #coachella2022 ♬ You - Petit Biscuit
Lee isn’t the only one taking note. From influencers literally going to Coachella in sweats to the spike in wardrobe rentals for summer events like festivals and weddings, there are some promising moves away from this consumerist mindset.

Experience moments; don’t curate them

We’ve grown so accustomed to seeing our diaries through a social media lens that it’s rare for friends to go for dinner and not take a single photo. Holidays now aren't just for us; we broadcast them to our friends and followers. Add the pressure of Hot Girl Summer '22 into the mix and it's no wonder you might be feeling pangs of anxiety.
That need to look picture-perfect at all times this season? Bin it. Hot Girl Summer, just like social media, can only ever be a highlights reel and after two unequivocally shit years, we don't deserve that pressure on ourselves.
Wild thought: what if we used this summer as a chance to reconnect with friends and enjoy new experiences instead? What if, instead of spending way beyond our means on a weeklong, curated Caribbean adventure, we just ordered a couple of pizzas to a friend's house and laughed our heads off into the wee hours of the night? We won’t remember the clothes we were wearing in 20 years’ time anyway.

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