Fashion is frequently informed by the arts and the artists of the moment. No trend or collection exists within a silo. How we dress is inspired by what’s happening in our lives and within cultural movements of the moment (e.g., men in jewelry or the call to support AAPI-owned brands). While there are several summer trends living in my mind rent-free, none are as particularly poignant as hot-girl style. ICYMI, the colloquial term “hot girl,” was redefined from its former negative connotation to something positive by rapper Megan Thee Stallion with her album Tina Snow. It started as a lyric, but the phrase “hot girl” has since become a lifestyle. It’s not just about living your most bougie life. It’s also about embodying self-love, a positive body image, healthy boundaries and relationships, self-actualization, and, of course, sultry style choices. This movement toward more risqué outfits by celebrity style icons has inspired some of the most sizzling fashion trends. But you don’t have to take my word for it. We’ve rounded up 11 trends that were championed by celebrities before they became a thing. Your class syllabus for crafting a Hot Girl Summer (at least through clothing) lies ahead.
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Whether you love it or hate it, the Hot Girl Summer style aesthetic is incomplete without some risqué style choices, and if we’re talking racy, it doesn’t get spicier than the exposed G-string. Of course, there’s a long history of this “indecent” trend being in the spotlight— Jennifer Lopez has single-handedly started and revived the trend on multiple occasions—but what makes the whale tail more wearable than ever is its embrace into high fashion over the past few years. From Hailey Bieber’s 2019 Met Gala look to designers like Dion Lee and Sandy Liang incorporating the G-string into their S/S 21 collections, flaunting it all is back in fashion.
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Let’s be honest: Low-rise pants would never have become a thing without initially being worn by celebrities in the late ’00s. It’s one of the most significant trends of that period and one of the most controversial, to say the least. But no matter your feelings about low-rise pants, they’ve been embraced by everyone from Normani to both Hadid sisters, and frankly, we’re not mad about it. Sure, low-rise pants are racy, but since we’ve all been so cooped up, who wouldn’t want to let it all out?
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Nothing exudes “hot girl” energy like a corset. It gives “Angela Bassett burning her cheating ex’s car in Waiting to Exhale” energy or Madonna performing at her 1990 Blond Ambition tour. Of course, the garment has a long history of falling in and out of fashion. Invented in the 1500s, the undergarment was commonplace up until the beginning of the 20th century, which coincided with the women’s emancipation movement. Creative designers like Vivienne Westwood, Jean Paul Gaultier, and Thierry Mugler reinvented the garment by making it a statement-making piece rather than a restrictive item that physically molded the wearer to patriarchal beauty standards. The result is a staple piece in practically every modern-day icon’s wardrobe.
If you know, you know that Who What Wear editors live for emerging trends, and we can not stop thinking about all the various iterations of ties. From the lace-up or midriff flossing trend that has been on our radar for a hot minute to the more over-the-top mesh-tie pieces that make you look like you’re strapped in and drippin’, we’re all here for consensual clothing bondage. Clearly, we aren’t the only ones: Everyone from Cardi B to Bella Hadid has been spotted wearing this trend, making it one of the hottest looks of the summer. Strap yourselves in, hotties; this is a look you can(knot) skip.
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Before cutouts took over the runway and our Instagram feeds, they were all over the red carpet. Who can forget when Ciara donned a sequin cutout Peter Dundas gown to the 2019 Met Gala or the jaw-breaking Valentino Haute Couture cutout gown that Zendaya wore to the 2021 Oscars? Basically, cutouts have been out here doing the work. They serve body every single time. While we can’t all be Ciara or Zendaya, we can take a note from these daring fashion divas and be unafraid to go bold with some cutout pieces this summer.
One trend that’s been bubbling up in the Who What Wear editors’ chat and on celebrities like Dua Lipa is keyholes. Not to be confused with cutouts, keyholes are like that auntie who is always doing the most, making this perfect to adopt for summer. While traditional keyhole pieces feature an open neckline or circular metal fixtures, the newest version of keyholes are these peep show–like holes that give a whole new meaning to holding on by a thread.
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If you’ve made it this far, then it’s clear: You’re either embracing the Hot Girl Summer style aesthetic or are sitting this one out entirely. But before you make any rash decisions, I’m here to remind you that embracing this seasonal look is all about taking what trends work for you and how they make you feel. Should low-rise pants or cutouts be too much for your taste, adopting something as simple as see-through fabrics this summer is a great way to embrace your inner hot girl without running wild. Of course, you can go for full-sheer dresses or skirts that resemble some of the most iconic naked-dress moments, or you can opt for mesh and sheer separates to add a little spice to your summer wardrobe.
Although the concept of Hot Girl Summer may be new, the trends that encapsulate the vibe are not. Take, for example, belly chains. While body jewelry is like a time machine (think back to Britney Spears’s ’00s looks), this formerly dated trend has reclaimed the spotlight. Luxury labels like Chanel and Fendi have created stunning body and belly pieces, and celebrities like Hailey Bieber have been spotted wearing a Jacquie Aiche chain for a day by the pool, which is proof of the rise of belly and body chains of all kinds. And we can’t think of a better way to accentuate your gorgeous body by having it dripping in jewels.
Is it even summertime without a few celebrity swimsuit selfies? For real though, season after season, celebrities always champion the best swimwear trends, and this season is no different. So far, we’ve seen everything from brightly hued suits (hello, bubblegum pink) to metallic and embellished suits to swimsuits with cutout details and retro prints. If those aren’t bold enough, everyone from Tracee Ellis Ross to Shay Mitchell has been spotted taking their swimwear to the next level by opting for matching separates, throwing a dramatic coat over, and even donning a belly chains. Basically, when it comes to swimwear this summer, the bolder you can go under the sun, the better.
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After a year of sweatpants and house slippers, there was bound to be a resurgence of raunchy trends—it’s inevitable. But no matter who you are or how you feel about Hot Girl Summer, the one trend almost everyone can get behind is revenge heels. While the idea of revenge heels (heels that are doing the most, in the best possible way) is new, this is a trend that’s long been championed by everyone from Rihanna to Megan Fox. It is this embrace of heels in fun neon hues with platforms, PVC materials, sparkly details, and lace-up straps that make the idea of slipping into a pair of heels a little less painful.
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Call it cliché, but you can’t get the Hot Girl Summer style aesthetic without injecting a little pink into the mix (bonus points if it’s sparkly). While bubblegum pink dominated the S/S 21 runways and has become both an editor and crowd favorite, it’s also a hue that takes up space on the red carpet and on-screen. Think of our favorite film protagonists—including Elle Woods of Legally Blonde and Regina George of Mean Girls—whose entire style aesthetics center this color. It is the original hot-girl color, in a way. While pink in all its hues plays a role in shaping this signature style aesthetic, it’s far more than that. This color is really all about having the individual reclaim the meaning behind these trends and reclaiming the meaning behind clothing to empower ourselves—much like the hot-girl style aesthetic itself.
From OG hot-girl icons (hello, ‘Lil Kim and J.Lo) to rising stars (looking at you, Saweetie and Lizzo), women of all ages, shapes, and sizes have discovered what it means to be a “hot girl.” Sure, wearing cutouts and pink is part of it, but it’s also all about not letting anyone tell you how you should feel about yourself, how to dress, or how to live your best life. Doing the most and enjoying who you are in this moment is what Hot Girl Summer (and style) is all about.