An Open Letter to Summer Fashion Trends

Every year fashion magazines come out with lists of the newest “hot summer trends.” This year (as usual) I’m disappointed. Summer trends, you can do better. Here are a few open letters to the top offenders.

Dear Crop Tops,

You might remember me from the scathing note I sent to your sister, the shrug sweater, in 1997. To recap, it said something like: “Why do you parade around like you are a real sweater when you are so obviously just a PART of a sweater?” This was a dark time for teen girls in general: we had to wear unflattering turtlenecks and light-denim jeans and anything else the sadistic costumers on Friends could come up with. But the shrug was the worst. The shrug acted like it could keep you warm or complement any ensemble, when really it just bunched up in your armpits and neglected your core. At best, a shrug sweater made you look like you were borrowing clothes from your baby-aged cousin; at worst, it made you look like style-hating dogs had maliciously eaten the bottom part of your cardigan. My point is, the shrug got the message and resigned itself to the bargain bin at Goodwill for all of eternity. You are the same as the shrug sweater, but worse, because as far as I can tell, you don’t even pretend to serve a function. You’re so “free and loose” that I still have to wear a bra, but you cover up nothing the bra doesn’t. You’re a glorified napkin bib, and you should be ashamed of yourself.


Dear Beach Hair,

I used to think you were annoying. When I was 8 and I went to the beach in the summer, it bugged me how you insisted on hanging around, even after I’d spent the morning making VERY tight braids to avoid you. I didn’t like that you made it impossible to run a comb through anything, and the idea of having to spend time with you made me want to wear a hat. Now, though, fashion magazines and the hair care section of Walgreens has me believing that you’re some kind of sexy, desirable thing. You’re apparently so sexy and desirable that if I can’t get to a beach (and who can?!), I should spray hundreds of dollars worth of product into my hair to achieve a sort of replica effect. You remind me of Dennis Johnstone from eighth grade. He was super annoying and naggy too, but then in high school his parents bought him a Lamborghini and suddenly everyone thought he was hot and dateable. But I saw right through it. You can’t just dress something up and expect it to be better. You are the Dennis Johnstone of hairstyles, and Chelsea Kincaid is going to dump you. You’ll see.


Dear Sheer Dresses,

I know you think you’re fooling everyone, but I see right through you.

Your Pal,

Dear “Tribal” Print,

I’m writing to send my sympathy for what you must be going through. You belong to a rich cultural tradition, so varied and multifaceted that to write a catchall letter to just one of you (when there are hundreds of unique Native American tribal patterns and prints) is offensive in and of itself. But then the other day I saw a picture in Seventeen applauding someone’s festival-going get-up by telling readers that they should encourage their boyfriends to buy a “sick tribal mank,” and I decided I should reach out. I want to tell you it’s all going to be ok, but I’m not sure. Everyone from Paul Frank to Urban Outfitters to Victoria Secret seems to believe it’s fine to appropriate what isn’t theirs for profit, and apologize later if they have to. It’s pitiful how white America hasn’t come very far in the last several hundred years, huh?


Dear Denim Cutoffs,

I know we’ve been together since middle school, but I just don’t know how to quit you. I want bigger and better things for both of us. (My mom says that khaki is a “more grown up version of the same thing,” and I could imagine you with a very interesting future at Buffalo Exchange.) Every year I go into the summer with every intention of breaking it off, but then I decide to take you out on one last big adventure — a grand finale, if you will — and you just consistently blow my mind. Remember the time we got to third base on that Social Justice Club camping trip? I couldn’t have done that without you. Remember how we painted the Habitat for Humanity house on the alternative spring break, and I spilled white paint on you, and somehow it made you look even better? I get that rhinestones on the back pocket was a passing fad, and that you are never going to be workplace-appropriate — but the thing is, no one has ever made my ass look better. I love you. There. I said it.


Dear Bathing Suits As Outfits,

Are you kidding me with this?


Dear High-Waisted Shorts,

I’m obsessed with you, but I know you’re bad for me. You look like you’ve got a lot of material at first glance, but whenever I wear an untucked T-shirt over you, people ask me if I forgot to put on pants. Please leave me alone. Stop beckoning to me on days when I am going to ride my bike with my new boyfriend’s parents. It’s not that I’m a conservative dresser, or not proud of my thighs: it’s that sometimes I need some people to not see my vagina. At least not immediately.


Previously: Baby-Sitters Club for the Modern Woman

Sophie Lucido Johnson is a writer, artist, and comedian living in New Orleans. She is the editor-in-chief of Neutrons Protons. You can find her comics and writing here.