For the past few years, maximalism and dopamine-dressing have been all the rage. This can be attributed to quarantine– people picking up hobbies like crocheting their own clothes, dressing without fear of being judged, and general boredom. However, this season, understated and subtle fashion is on the rise. People are gravitating towards less dramatic colors and textures, shifting towards neutrals and pastels, and mixing it up with bold accessories.

Before I begin, I must give a disclaimer: fashion is subjective and there is no right or wrong way of dressing. When magazines or fashion labels say certain pieces or colors are out of style, it is just another way of coercing you into buying more. Instead of running to the stores and buying heaps of new pieces you’ll end up hating, check what’s already in your closet and if you can wear it in a new way.

Now that I’m finished with my lecture, let’s get into the Summer 2023 fashion trends!

In this piece we’ll be covering:

  • Quiet luxury
  • Mermaidcore
  • Colorful (and not so colorful) trends
  • And more!

Shhh! It’s Quiet Luxury

Model walks down the runway in a monochromatic tan outfit, consisting of an oversized blazer, tank top, and wide leg trousers.
This season is all about understated fashion. Designers are going back to tried-and-true basics and subverting them. Img Courtesy of Essential Homme.

If you like your fashion with a touch of elitism, the quiet luxury trend may be right up your alley. The goal of this aesthetic is to emulate the wealthy’s simple, yet classy outfits, without the wealthy’s budget. Much of this aesthetic is akin to minimalist capsule wardrobes. The pieces are timeless and high quality to last a lifetime.

Unlike the Hypebeast phase in 2016, the quiet luxury trend excludes brand names, logos, or ‘trendy’ silhouettes. For inspirations, look to the Olsen twins, the television show Succession, and Gwenntyth Paltrow’s skiing trial. (Is there anything more luxurious utterly absurd activities?) The trend consists of classic shapes, classic pieces, and neutral tones like white, black, cream, beige, and brown. Feel free to throw in some gray if you’re feeling wild.

Common articles of clothes include straight leg, mid or high rise jeans, cashmere sweaters, maxi skirts and dresses, linen button-ups, and blazers. For men it involves  expensive coats, watches, and accessories like leather belts and shoes. Everything can be paired with another piece in your wardrobe, making it the most wearable trend of 2023.

Left: Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen wear turtlenecks and maxi skirts in black and brown tones for a photo-op. Right: Candid of Gwennyth Paltrow entering the courtroom wearing a white turtleneck and olive green trench coat.
Mary Kate and Ashely Olsen always look classy in their simple, yet luxurious pieces. Gwennyth Paltrow's skiing trial has given us so many subtle, yet fashionable looks. Image courtesy of Getty Images.

The Little Mermaidcore

Halle Bailey at the premiere of 2023’s The Little Mermaid in an iridescent gown with clams at the bust.
Halle Bailey dressed according to theme for The Little Mermaid premiere in a mermaid-inspired gown. The fabric, bodycon shape, and clam details all create an oceanic vibe. Image courtesy of Getty Images.

If you’re looking for something more playful than the quiet luxury trend floating about, might I suggest the ‘mermaidcore’ aesthetic for Summer 2023? With the new live-action The Little Mermaid hitting us with nostalgia, summer beach visits, and the need to wear loose fabrics, mermaid imagery is going to be hot this summer.

model walking down the runway wearing a sheer black turtleneck and flowy teal skirt with ruching.
The fitted teal skirt with a v-line waistband gives off mermaid tail imagery. Image courtesy of Alaia.

To engage with this trend, break out your flowiest fabrics (I’d recommend satin slip dresses for an ‘I just got out of the water and my clothes are clinging to my body’ type of look), sequins, and ruffles. Try some bodycon silhouettes with a flare at the bottom to give the impression of fins. Whatever you have to live out your H2O: Just Add Water dreams, drape your body with it.

To fully embrace the nautical vibes, add some seashell accessories, fishnets to look like netting, and pearls for your hair. Mermaids can wear any color, but the most common for this trend are teals, light blues, creams, pastels, pinks, and the next trend: lavender.

Lavender Haze

Models wear different interpretations of clothes in shades of lavender. One in a princess-style dress, two in modern, subversive outfits with blazers.
Digital lavender has taken over runways and commercial fashion. It is a bright color that can be styled formally, casually, preppy, or edgy. There are no bounds. Image courtesy Selkie and Charles Jeffery Loverboy.

Deemed color of the year by WGSN, digital lavender has taken over the runway and fashion trends since winter. It certainly helps that Taylor Swift’s ‘Lavender Haze’ was released in late 2022 to reinspire the color. If regular purple represents hope, digital lavender represents optimism-something we all need to survive the ridiculous heat. The pastel hue adds color to our wardrobes, while muted enough to blend with existing items, making it arguably the most realistic trend of the summer.

There are so many different ways to style lavender. You can go full mermaidcore, as mentioned above, dress it up formally, or wear the pastel as a sweatshirt. There are no wrong ways to style a color, especially one as versatile as lavender.

Back to Black

Ann Demeulemeester model walking the runway in straight leg black leather maxi dress with exposed cleavage.
Ann Demeulemeester and many other designers at the Winter runway from 2023 Paris fashion week used monochromatic black outfits with intriguing fabrics and silhouettes. Image courtesy of Ann Demeulemeester.

Monochromatic black outfits are in this season and I could not be happier (I did have an emo phase, thank you very much). Black is not typically associated with Summer weather, but we’re all going to be sweating like crazy anyways, so what’s a bit of extra light absorption?

All trends seem a bit silly, but especially this one. An all-black outfit is a timeless look and should not be confined to one season. That being said, wearing solid black outfits is a great way to show your outfit-making capabilities while expressing your own style.

There are infinite ways of styling the iconic color. It can be dressed up or down in a variety of different aesthetics. Valentino’s Spring 2023 collection showcased a very formal styling, but can be styled in more wearable options for everyday life. Different textures and silhouettes ensure that an all-black outfit won’t be boring, so experiment with velvet, leather, lace, silk, as well as the more common cotton pieces.

Versace model wearing black dress with a cutout around the chest.
Versace's Spring 2023 line contained tons of gorgeous black dresses. This dress's cutouts and slinky fabric make it a sexy, upscale outfit for summer. Image courtesy of Getty Images.

Sexy in Sheer

Tory Burch model wearing a white skirt, gray bra, and white sheer dress on top.
Tory Burch styled sheer fabrics in her Spring/Summer 2023 Ready to Wear Show collection. Image courtesy of Door 11.

Every season, there seems to be some form of non-opaque trend. This past spring it was lace, but the summer 2023 fashion trend is to wear sheer fabrics. This does not mean you have to get your panties out, though you certainly can if you like.

In the past, sheer trends have been about looking as nude as possible. This time around, the goal is a much more subtle (a common word of this season) play on texture. Designers like Tory Burch went wild with sheer pieces– some layered under blazers and button ups, some by themselves, some as skirts, some as dresses over other outfits. There is no end to how to wear it.

If the see-through fabric leaves you feeling more exposed than you like, try past trends like lace and crochet with open weave to still play around with layering and translucent layers.

Composite image. On the left, a model wears a white crop top with orange decals and an orange crochet skirt. On the left, a model poses in a sheer white lace top and sunglasses
There is no wrong way to rock the sheer trend. Lace and crochet add depth to an outfit and make excellent layering pieces. Image courtesy of Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters.

Flowers in the Third Dimension

Runway model in a gray blazer, gray skirt, red shoes, and purse. Large red flowers adorn either side of the blazer’s lapels and the purse.
This summer’s method of wearing florals is to attach 3-D flowers onto your outfits. Image courtesy of Who What Wear.

Say it with me everyone: Florals for spring? Groundbreaking. But, flower power is carrying over into the summer, particularly the 3-D flower accessory on dresses and chokers.

This trend consists of fabric flowers in the form of accessories, broches, and chokers to add another dimension (pun not intended) to an outfit. 3-D flowers give off a very youthful, y2k, playful vibe. It takes a common motif and turns it almost childlike. This trend brings the drama and can be dressed up and down. If you don’t believe this is the new thing, ask Carrie Bradshaw.

promotional poster for And Just Like That… Sarah Jessica Parker as Carrie Bradshaw is dressed in a pink dress with a large flower making up the entire bodice.
The 3-d flower trend can be as big or small as possible. And Just Like That styles Carrie Bradshaw in a minimalist, bright pink dress where the flower is the main feature. Image courtesy of HBO Max.

Though it is often styled as a choker, 3-d flowers add a fun element to dresses and dramatize the mini rosettes that we’ve been seeing on tanks since last summer’s coquette-ification.

Composite image showing a woman in a white, coquette-style, tank top with miniature pink rosette along the collar and a woman wearing a black structured tank top with large, red 3-d rose along the collar.
3-D Flowers have been popular for a while, but this season, larger flowers create a more dramatic effect. Image courtesy of Starlight Fair and @Vivian.yrl on Instagram.

It was styled very formally on the runway, with blazers and dresses, but can be calmed down to a fun accessory that’s perfect for summer.

Those are our Summer 2023 Fashion Trends!

Remember, there is absolutely no need to follow any trend this summer, or ever. Finding your own personal style and using what you already have is the most fashionable thing you can do. That said, trends can be a fun way of trying new styles and experimenting with your style. Play around and find what you love– that’s real fashion.