Every summer, we look for a new aesthetic to define our style, or at least influence it enough to update some of our key looks and avoid posting the same outfit twice on our Instagram feed. I know I do it, even though I try to shop as little as possible. You probably do too, whether you want to admit it or not. My point is, as much as we like to convince ourselves that trends don’t dictate our consumption habits or the way we look, they have a crucial influence on what we deem ‘cool’ or not—be that the latest trend in question or its exact opposite.
And this summer, the ‘coconut girl’ aesthetic certainly looks like it’s about to be crowned first place. Where does it originate from and how will it impact your wardrobe this summer 2021?
The fashion trend is mainly defined by the hibiscus flower print, a motif associated with Hawaiian shirts (also called Aloha shirts) that originated as early as the 1920s in Hawaii, along with surf-inspired graphics, puka shells, crochet details, halter tops, and platform sandals in bright colours. As a kid, I owned the ‘Barbie Cali Girl Summer’ called Lea—her skin was slightly tanned, and her hair smelled like coconut. A typical coconut girl icon if you ask me.
You guessed it, the aesthetic initially appeared on TikTok, now home to countless new trends, ranging from fashion to food and everything in between. Just in time for this year’s summer, and after countless COVID-induced lockdowns spent dreaming about the perfect outfits for a tropical holiday, many TikTokers have decided to replace their cottagecore, grunge fairy and egirl statement pieces with a more relaxed and carefree approach.
Think maximalist pastels mixed with youthful tackiness. Surfer girl mixed with pastel Scandinavian interior design—Roxi and Billabong with a touch of House of Sunny femininity, you know? Many fashion experts define the coconut girl trend as an evolution and amalgamation of Y2k fashion and the VSCO girl.
As an aesthetic, the coconut girl highlights a cultural moment where people are daydreaming of a summer that’s both carefree and removed from the troubles of our current times. That’s exactly why fashion is looking joyful and optimistic at the moment. According to Saisangeeth Daswani, head of advisory at trends intelligence company Stylus, it’s also one of the reasons why we’ve seen such a huge burst of colour on the runways recently. “It takes inspiration from beaches and that disposable camera finish,” said Daswani when speaking to NYLON. “It’s about halter tops and miniskirts, pastel colors, glitter tattoos, floral prints, and Claire’s-inspired accessories. It’s equal parts escapism and joy.”
It’s all about chilled out vibes, colourful (but not super bright) clothes, wavey prints and hair, shell necklaces and key pieces featuring hibiscus prints. You can probably already picture the real-life version of my Barbie Lea already—she’s tanned, most definitely smells of coconut and never wears shoes. She spends all her free time on the beach, her diet consists solely of fruits, and she exudes good ‘Sun’s out, bun’s out’ vibes only. Now, take all of the clichés I’ve just listed and try to find a common point between them. Nonchalant, positive, and relaxed are probably adjectives that came to mind, and it makes sense the younger generation would be craving those same attributes for their summer of 2021.
Who doesn’t want a laid-back summer after over a year of non-stop, stressed out panic? If that sounds like a dreamy way to spend your summer, then feel free to indulge in the aesthetic (responsively). If it sounds too cheesy for your miserable ass—no judgement here—don’t you worry, the coconut girl will probably only last a couple of months before we all get sick of it and move on to the next flashy and novel aesthetic.