The summer 2021 fashion trend season is well underway. Which look will come to be your favorite by the end of it? To help get a handle on everything you’ll want to try in the next few months, we’ve tapped buyers and experts at some of the biggest retailers to tell us which fashion items are this summer’s greatest style contenders.

While some trends are to be expected — see: denim shorts and sandals (though, this year, with a ’90s twist!) — others feel like uniquely post-pandemic finds — hi: bodycon party dresses and skin-revealing cut-outs — resulting in a warm-weather wardrobe that straddles the line between practical and fun.

Ahead, the summer trends worth noting — according to fashion insiders.

At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. If you buy something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn commission. 

Denim Shorts

“Denim shorts are the ultimate staple for summer-friendly outfits that everyone should own. They’re such a versatile piece, that you can wear them from day to night and change up your look with just the switch of a shoe. This season, I’m opting for a longer-length style — perfect for a day at the beach or dressed up for a fun night out.”

– Caroline Maguire, Fashion Director at Shopbop

Agolde Pieced Angled Shorts, $, available at Shopbop

Pistola Denim Kelly Shorts, $, available at Shopbop

Bodycon Mini

“After endless months of being stuck indoors shrouded in comfortable layers, the re-emergence from lockdown brings with it a certain boldness, and a willingness to test drive more daring pieces than we may have before. The mini bodycon dress will be a star of the summer.”

– Celenie Seidel, Senior Womenswear Editor at Farfetch

Louisa Ballou Heatwave Sheer Mini Dress, $, available at Farfetch

The Attico Belted Cut-out Fitted Dress, $, available at Farfetch

Heeled Flip-Flops

“We have seen a great reaction to heeled-toe thong sandals this year so far. ASOS DESIGN Haven has sold phenomenal units and often sell out immediately [upon release]! We have dropped lots of colors already this season including lilac toweling and neon — the most popular color being all-white which is perfect for summer.”

– Vanessa Spence, Commercial Design & Visual Director at ASOS

ASOS DESIGN Haven Padded Toe Thong Heeled Sandals In White, $, available at ASOS

ASOS DESIGN Haven Braided Toe Thong Heeled Sandals In Gold, $, available at ASOS

Wanderlust Prints

“Dressing like you are on vacation (even if you are still sweating it out in the city) is a must. This is the season for wanderlust prints.”

– Divya Mathur, Chief Merchant at INTERMIX

Agua By Agua Bendita Avena Canarios Tiered Mini Dress, $, available at Intermix

Cara Cara Whitney Tropical Fruit Shorts, $, available at Intermix

Mini Bags

“The mini-bags trend isn’t going anywhere! This summer, I’m excited to see variations of the style sweep the streets of New York. If the past couple of months have shown us anything, it’s that there has been and will always be a need for a bag big enough to carry your phone and small enough to make an impression.”

– Telsha Anderson, T.A. owner and buyer

Reike Nen Pebble Long Mini Bag, $, available at T.A.

Peet Dullaert Orange-Gold Clutch, $, available at T.A.

Cottagecore

“Over the past year, we have all enjoyed spending time in nature and exploring the great outdoors. We see this continuing and reflecting in the way we dress this summer — romantic dresses in soft fabrications, rubber boots, and clogs are the perfect pieces for picnics in the park or staycations outside of the city. “

– Liane Wiggins, Head of Womenswear at MATCHESFASHION

Alemais Rosa Floral-Embroidered Midi Dress, $, available at MatchesFashion

Ganni Chunky Recycled Rubber-Blend Chelsea Boots, $, available at MatchesFashion

Clogs

The clog has made an unexpected and cool comeback, and the must-have collaboration of the season comes from The Frankie Shop x Porte and Paire. These styles are set to become a staple in every wardrobe. “

– Libby Page, Senior Fashion Market Editor at NET-A-PORTER

Porte & Paire x Frankie Shop Glossed-leather platform clogs, $, available at Net-A-Porter

Bottega Veneta Puddle Rubber Clogs, $, available at Net-A-Porter

Smocked dresses

“Maybe it’s the anticipation of the next season of Bridgerton, but I’m so excited for corset tops and smocked dresses! I love how flattering these dresses are while also being super comfy when it’s 90 degrees! I will also throw on a boot and cardigan and wear this throughout the fall.”

– Melissa Thompson Charatz, Division Merchandising Manager at Anthropologie

Daily Practice by Anthropologie Tiered Maxi Dress, $, available at Anthropologie

Sunday In Brooklyn Smocked Midi Dress, $, available at Anthropologie

Cut-Outs

“This is the summer of the cut-out! Baring some skin is suddenly appropriate for day, night, and everything in between.”

– Divya Mathur, Chief Merchant at INTERMIX

Cult Gaia Cameron Knit Cut-Out Midi Dress, $, available at Intermix

Intermix Mylie Cut-Out Rib Knit Sweater, $, available at Intermix

Stripes

“Stripes are the print of the summer! From bold stripes to tiny stripes, no pattern feels more suited for the warmer weather.”

– Caroline Maguire, Fashion Director at Shopbop

Staud Athena Top, $, available at Shopbop

Lele Sadoughi Striped Terry Cloth Oversized Scrunchie, $, available at Shopbop

Anytime Metallics

“The Roaring ’20s 2.0 is on everyone’s lips, and fittingly metallics are having a major moment — from sequins and glittering paillettes to Glomesh mesh to shiny Lurex. Where sparkle traditionally emerged after twilight, it now qualifies a perfectly acceptable choice with denim for a bodega run. Anything in the interest of sparking joy!”

– Celenie Seidel, Senior Womenswear Editor at Farfetch

Bambah Glitter Pleated Culottes, $, available at Farfetch

ANOUKI Disco Ball Midi Pencil Skirt, $, available at Farfetch

Baseball Caps

“As parts of the world emerge from life in lockdown to a life of more freedom, we are seeing certain pieces that were adopted as part of our lockdown wardrobes become ‘hangover trends,’ transitioning into our new way of dressing and finding new identity. The baseball cap, paired with activewear for daily walks, now finds its way into highly stylized looks.”

– Celenie Seidel, Senior Womenswear Editor at Farfetch

We11done Embroidered Logo Baseball Cap, $, available at Farfetch

Balenciaga Glow-in-the-Dark Baseball Cap, $, available at Farfetch

Marble Print

“Graphic prints are splashed all over ASOS this summer, especially marble print.”

– Vanessa Spence, Commercial Design & Visual Director at ASOS

ASOS DESIGN Marble Print Square Neck Bodysuit In Black, $, available at ASOS

ASOS DESIGN Marble Print Bodysuit In Beige, $, available at ASOS

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