Summer fashion 2021: What to wear for every occasion

·6-min read
Summer of love: but what to wear? (Evening Standard comp)
Summer of love: but what to wear? (Evening Standard comp)

The countdown to freedom is officially back on. The WhatsApp group invites are pinging, the Paperless Post RSVPs are rolling in as diaries fill up for when restrictions finally lift on July 19. From government officials stating they’re “very confident” on ending lockdown to vaccine centres blasting club music for over 18s in queues, the sense of optimism is palpable as we gear up to finally being freed from choosing who makes the cut for tables of six.

For summer 2021, the mantra really is go big or go home. It’s set to be a season of saying yes, rather than being told no. A season of staying out, rather than being forced in. However, with expectations at an all time high, the pressure is on to look just as good as freedom feels. Pre-pandemic a common mantra was “I’ve nothing to wear”, post pandemic it’s “what is even cool now?” Are trainers still in? Are skinny jeans really out? It’s been a long time coming so remember getting ready is all part of the thrill of an unrestricted night out.

From the cold glass of white wine as you do your makeup to the heels or flats debate, no one wants a sartorial meltdown, especially when there is fun to be had. So instead of approaching dressing day by day, take it invite by invite. From the pub garden to a seaside escape, here’s what to wear now that going out is finally back.

£14.99, zara.com (Zara)
£14.99, zara.com (Zara)

Peek-A-Boo At The Pub

Getting a table in your favorite pub garden has become one of the hottest tickets in town. After all that fuss of securing a booking it’s only right you put similar effort into your outfit, especially if you’re aiming high for a “Vax Girl Summer ‘’. Forget moseying down to your local in jeans and a T-shirt, 2021’s version of PG (pub garden) dressing is a lot more, erm, PG-rated. Step forward peek-a-boo dressing. This season designers including Christopher Esber, Prada and Chanel all showed pieces featuring cut-out detailing on the runway. Before you shudder, it’s all about showing just a flash of unexpected flesh rather than major midriff. From sharp shoulder slashes to chic criss-cross waist detailing, think more refined, less reality star. The Line By K is a good starting point. Founded by fashion blogger turned designer Karla Deras, its one shoulder tops featuring pleating and twisted detailing (£95, net-a-porter.com) are loved by everyone from Bella Hadid to Jennifer Lopez. Zara also has a plethora of options. Highlights include a peachy hued sleeveless top with side split hems (£14.99, zara.com ) and a verdant green version with a cut-out high neck (£19.99, zara.com). Top tip: Juxtapose the “Hot Girl Summer” upper half by teaming with slouchy, creamy colored trousers and a chunky sandal.

£69 marksandspencer.com (M&S Ghost)
£69 marksandspencer.com (M&S Ghost)

Bring The Party As A Wedding Guest

Celebrate the return of weddings with a dress that sparks joy. Florals will work for everything from a city rooftop lunch to a relaxed country bell tent. This summer is about ditzy prints in muted tones. Reformation’s Nikita dress in Pompadour or Noemi (£248, thereformation.com) runs from a UK size 4 to 28 and is a guaranteed winner. Falling mid-length it features a trumpet skirt and ruffled edged neckline which doesn’t feel too daring. For a religious ceremony just add a cashmere cardigan from British brand Aethel. Elsewhere, M&S has teamed up with Ghost on a collection of pretty mid-length tea dresses that have romance written all over them. Starting from £69 (marksandspencer.com), elevate with strappy heeled sandals and a fun clutch bag. Lulu Guinness has some great tongue in cheek options whilst LK Bennet’s pretty striped envelope shapes (from £75, lkbennett.com) come with a useful crossbody chain. You’ll also need a chic face mask. Leave the surgical options to the medics and don’t even think about a slogan version. Instead, opt for a simple reusable silk mask from Cult Beauty (£20, cultbeauty.co.uk) or Slip (£29.25, slipsilkpillowcase.co.uk).

from £405, ladoublej.com (La Double J)
from £405, ladoublej.com (La Double J)

The Freedom Festival Goer

Nothing says freedom quite like a festival. With Boris’ ever crumbly roadmap, it’s only the true optimists amongst us who have already booked Wilderness (August 5-8th), All Points East (August 27-30th) and Isle of Wight (September 16-19th) and that calls for an equally optimistic dress code. Channel the infamous summer of love with psychedelic prints and crafty crochet pieces. Everyone from Ashish to Bottega Veneta showed collections with a homespun twist this season. This trend is all about mixing and matching. Start with a pair of party pants. LaDouble J’s (from £405, ladoublej.com) featuring groovy geometric designs and vibrant blooms are certainly not for wallflowers. Paloma Wool, Urban Outfitters and Free People also have some striking options. Mango’s openwork knitted tops (from £29.99, mango.com) are the best on the high street but do check out Ebay and Depop for vintage finds too. Remember the more eclectic the better so don’t shy away from accessories. Monki’s rectangular retro sunglasses (£10, monki.com) and Staud’s bandana inspired bag (£215, luisaviaroma.com) will nail the mood. For footwear, avoid any portaloo open toe disasters and go for a classic pair of Dr. Martens boots.

£45, boden.co.uk (Boden)
£45, boden.co.uk (Boden)

The Seaside Staycationer

With the ever changing red, amber and not so green travel lists, a British seaside staycation has become this summer’s it-holiday. The organized fun crowd who booked months ago will be smugly taking the Sleeper Service to Penzance or M5 heading to Devon. The rest of us? We’ll be lucky with a day trip to Whitstable. A Brexit feeling break calls for practical rather than show off swimwear. Between crowds, shingle and the bracing temperatures of the North Sea, it’s best to leave the thong bikinis to Love Island. Instead, try a pared back one piece. H&M’s shaping swimsuits (from £24.99, hm.com) and Sweaty Betty’s Springboard version (£60, sweatybetty.com) with an in-built bra shelf will make you feel secure enough to tackle choppy water without the fear of a dreaded nip slip. For the more active, a rash vest is a must. Boden has some gorgeous colour block versions made from recycled materials (£45, boden.co.uk) with matching swim shorts. Avoid peak British awkwardness by using a changing robe such as Finnistree’s towelling version (£50, finisterre.com) or a much coveted DryRobe. (£150, dryrobe.com).

For a fish supper, go for an easy breezy look. Amp up the nautical mood with oversized stripes from Arket (£69, arket.com) or add seaside charm with Kitri’s starfish embroidered shirting (£125, kitristudio.com). Pair with denim cut-offs and utility inspired sandals. Teva Originals or Suicoke will keep your feet happy as you hit the promenade.

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