There are some brands that ring in summer year after year. If you’re in the Hamptons, or on Nantucket, you know that salmon shorts and a Vineyard Vines quarter zip will make an appearance on at least three different guys you see grabbing their morning coffee. After all, it’s not summer without these classic summer clothing brands.
We’re going to take it a step further though in this article. You may know and love these summer clothing brands, but you may know much about their histories. So our PSA today is an introduction to the lexicon of New England summer style, in addition to the summer clothing brands you need in your life.
Where to Wear It: Nantucket and The Vineyard
Color is the hallmark of Vineyard Vines, whose iconic pink whale can be seen on clothing (and on the back of cars) everywhere there’s a beach. Known for slightly outrageous, but nonetheless understated prints, their pieces outfit the whole fam. Vineyard Vines is the summer clothing brand that will be seen fishing, golfing, and barbecue-ing with families all throughout the Eastern seaboard.
Vineyard Vines, which is probably the most popular summer clothing brand, is most well known for preppy pieces made for men and women that can be worn for any summer activity. However, while the Martha’s Vineyard inspired brand is huge now, it didn’t start out that way. In 1998, the two founding brothers, Shep and Ian Murray, gave up desk jobs to embark on a labor of love. Like a true American dream story, they built their summer clothing brand company from the ground up.
Today, the pink whale logo yields such wide recognition that it competes with top designers for fame. And yet, unlike high fashion designers, the brothers have remained committed to building a stable brand that doesn’t yield to trend.
Cay Floral Smocked Midi Dress
Classic Vineyard Vines Swim Trunks
Where to Wear It: Palm Beach
Have you ever spilled on your Lilly Pulitzer dress and thought, “I’m so thankful for these bold patterns — they will hide the stain?” Ok, maybe that’s just us, because we love BBQ sauce. Believe it or not, styles from what probably is the most classic summer clothing brand for patterned dresses were designed for just this — to hide stains easily.
You know they say the best inventions are those by necessity, and that’s definitely the case with this summer clothing brand. Lilly got her idea after moving to an orange grove with her husband, Peter Pulitzer. The couple sold fresh squeezed juice, which she loved, but it always stained her clothes. To solve this problem, Lilly commissioned a dress maker to make her styles that hid the orange juice well. The rest is history.
Lilly was an eccentric woman and proudly owned a pet monkey. Her bold patterns accentuated her identity. And, her lavish lifestyle was met by her notable friends such as Jackie Kennedy who wore her pieces and help popularize the brand.
Lilly Pulitzer cuts are often modest and simple, and can be worn for almost any summer occasion. The highlight, and that which the brand is known for are the incredible prints. Today, contemporary designers continue to introduce new prints to the collection year after year, taking inspiration from wild destinations and the flora and fauna one can find there. We love anything vacation inspired.
Sundea One-Shoulder Eyelet Shift Dress
Where to Wear It: Boston, Miami, Chicago + Charleston
Summer clothing brands aren’t just clothes; they also include shoes. If ever there’s a need for a semi-casual sandal, there’s but one solution: a pair of Jack Rogers — in any color. The whipstitched flip flops have become some of the most popular styles of footwear for the summer. It seems as though Jackie Kennedy informed a lot of the preppy summer fashion that remains popular today. While on a trip to Capri, she found a pair of similar flip flops and loved them so much, that she commissioned her cobbler in Florida to reproduce them. Of course, everything Italian is admirable when it comes to fashion. It’s about the way of life that these timeless pieces enable.
Today, the same factory that produced the first pair for Jackie produces the countless pairs sold each year. And while the original designer is unknown, the sandals are credited to Jackie who effectively branded a class of women with highly wearable shoes. Because they are so versatile, they wear well with preppier brands like Vineyard Vines. But people of all walks of life wear them in many different ways.
If Jack Rogers achieves anything, it is to blend an outfit between lower-end pieces and higher end designers. And a classic summer clothing brand to elevate a pair of Jack’s is Missoni.
The Italian fashion house has been producing some of the most influential trends onto runways. Athleisure and bra-less fashion both have been credited to the Missoni brand who pushed the boundaries of what was deemed wearable. As a result, their comfy-chic aesthetic has popularized a liberating collection of clothes for all occasions.
Missoni also holds true to their northern Italian methods of sustainable production. Their impact is minimal compared to other brands which means it feels good to bear their brand.