Streetwear is a fusion of all the best fashion niches—surf and skate culture, hip-hop, punk, sportswear, Japanese style—that grew to global prominence in the ’90s. Though the true streetwear fanatics have always been fervent, this style subculture really boomed in popularity in the past couple of years, and we’re here for it. It’s become especially popular for women, with edgy athleisure, comfy graphic hoodies and sneakers galore taking center stage in the women’s department.
If you’re looking to build up your streetwear wardrobe this summer but aren’t sure how to do it, we’re here to help. But before you go building your incredible streetwear wardrobe, let’s cover a few basics.
What Is Streetwear?
Streetwear is a casual clothing style that rose to prominence in the 1990s. Marked by a mixture of influences, including skate, surf, hip-hop, high fashion, punk and sports, streetwear enthusiasts are known for their relaxed, sporty and edgy style. Some of the biggest streetwear brands include Supreme, A Bathing Ape, Stüssy, Nike, Alexander Wang, Vans and Adidas, but there are many on the scene.
The Streetwear Accessories You Need
If you’re new to streetwear, start with a few of the core components of a good streetwear ensemble—joggers, leggings, hoodies, tees, bomber jackets and a few fresh pairs of sneakers—and learn how to layer and style them like the best in the streetwear world. Once you’ve laid the foundation, it’s time to accessorize. From foundational streetwear sandals to statement-making, trendy vapes, there are a million places you can take streetwear accessorizing. Here’s what you need to get started.
- A Pair of Slides—Love it or hate it, the sporty slides trend isn’t dying down anytime soon. Last summer, these ultra-comfy summer streetwear staples came back on the scene like a big blast from the past (the ’90s, that is), and we thought they’d have come and gone by now. Honestly, we’re pumped that they’ve stayed in style because they rank high on the ease and comfort scales. You don’t have to shell out for the Guccis, because Nike, Adidas, Reebok and other more affordable sports brands make some equally as stylish and cool versions.
- A Wearable Vape—Did you hear the news: vaping is the hottest new fashion statement? In all seriousness, with the rise of this subculture, vape manufacturers have begun turning their devices into conversation-starting, statement-making fashion accessories. Not only do the vapes look cool—with many featuring funky prints, sweet embellishments and bold, mixed materials—they’re also made to double as jewelry. You can wear your vape on a chain to channel this high-fashion vibe.
- A Punked–Out Denim Jacket—We believe that the first day of denim jacket season should be a national holiday. A classic that truly goes with everything, the jean jacket plays into two of the most vital streetwear components—punk and layering. To give your jean jacket the edgy, sporty vibe that makes streetwear so great, add a few patches, studs and enamel pins to the mix. Wear it with tees, dresses, workwear, whatever. It’s one of the most versatile items in your wardrobe.
- A Logo Belt—Another nod to the late, great 1990s, the logo buckle belt—think: Gucci and Louis Vuitton—has come to symbolize high-end streetwear. When styled with a pair of high-waisted denim shorts and a graphic tee or hoodie, a logo belt adds an elevated vibe to your whole summer look.
- A Mini Skirt—According to Vogue, in response to the ultra-popular midis and maxis of the past few years, the mini and micromini are making a massive comeback this year. The mini skirt stood as a symbol of freedom and rebellion in the ’90s, so it only makes sense that today’s modern shaker-upper be enchanted by the super-short hemline, too. This trend is perfect for the summer heat—wear your micromini skirts, rompers, shorts and baby doll dresses—and gives any look a sportswear flair, especially when paired with a graphic tee and slides.
- Funky, White–Framed Sunglasses—Obviously, each and every fashion subculture has its own signature set of sunglasses. For streetwear, that’s the round, plastic-framed shades and aviators. Go for a pair in a funky, eye-catching color, like white or red, and don’t skip out on the ’90s-inspired pink- or yellow-tint lenses. These essential streetwear accessories will truly go with everything, whether you’re headed to work or out for a night on the town.
- A Chest Rig—Like the athleisure slides, the chest rig rose to prominence last summer after it was spotted on haute couture runways and in the wardrobes of some of the world’s biggest fashion tastemakers. Not quite a purse and not quite a backpack, the chest rig offers hands-free carrying opportunity, making it ideal for all your summer adventures. Who wants to lug around an annoying tote or handbag when you’re traveling or hopping from festival to festival this summer?
- A Branded Phone Case—We hate to be bandwagoners, but a big part about streetwear is repping the brands you love and creating your own personal “brand.” For many of us, it’s not possible (nor affordable) to dress head to toe in a brand we respect. Enter the phone case. Rocking your favorite label in this manner helps you show your allegiance and personal style without spending a ton of money on clothes. Bonus points for the fact that a new case is practical, too.
Adding Your Own Personal Twist
At the end of the day, the coolest part about streetwear is that it’s relatively rule-free. In fact, it was born out of many notable fashion rebellions of the past 30-plus years, so it is inherently nonconformist and defiant. Streetwear, like any fashion niche, is about what you make of it and what you add to it. Though you can take cues from the biggest streetwear influences to lay a foundation, ultimately how you tie it all together is up to you. Take the opportunity to say something about yourself and to show your unique style and personal brand.