Streetwear has been popular since its debut in the 1990s in California and New York City fashion scenes. Pulling inspiration from hip-hop and skater culture, this trendy and comfy style is made up of hoodies, graphic tees, sweatpants, baseball caps, and, of course, sneakers. The four pillars of any streetwear wardrobe include comfortable athleisure staples, limited-edition pieces, gender-bending menswear style, and contemporary art graphics.
From one side of the country to the other, and even outside of the United States, streetwear remains one of the most popular styles of dress. But in December 2019, Virgil Abloh, the artistic director of Louis Vuitton, predicted the iconic look’s last gasps. Then, only a few months later, the Covid-19 pandemic hit. This meant even Louis Vuitton had to circle back to work-at-home comfortable, casual style over more structured looks. Yes, the coronavirus may have saved Hypebeast flair from fading out. Now that the style has revived and appears poised to remain fashionable, how can you boost your streetwear game? To help you channel your inner hip-hop skater, here are five tips for how to dress in streetwear.
1. Start From the Street
When assembling streetwear style, start from the street and work your way up. The foundation of any iconic streetwear outfit is a great pair of sneakers. The ones you choose say a lot about you, setting the tone for the rest of your outfit. Check out top-selling athletic brands and leading designers to find your perfect sneakers. For many people sporting street style, footwear is the most expensive aspect of each ensemble. But there is a lot of room to assert your own sense of style here, from urban to luxury to retro chic.
2. Go For Comfortable Yet Sophisticated
Most streetwear styles are comfortable and casual, mixed with some grown-up apparel. Whether you are in college or the corporate world, you need to find the perfect balance in your streetwear to ensure you do not look sloppy. Maintain this balance of comfortable and casual by mixing in smart pieces.
For example, go for tailored trousers with top layers of trendy graphic tees, sweatshirts and hoodies. Just remember your streetwear should fit loosely but not completely overwhelm you. As a rule of thumb, unless they are oversized, buy shirts, bomber jackets, or parkas that are a size larger than you would normally wear.
3. Have Fun With Colors and Prints
Black, gray, blue, and white are some of the most common colors used in street ensembles. But, in being true to the 1990s, you should also incorporate some bright colors and even neon into your wardrobe. An obvious way to add pop to streetwear outfits is to accessorize with colorful, cute purses. But that’s not the only way.
Aim for complementary hues when pulling together a look. As a rule of thumb, tone down brights on top with neutral or basic colored pants or skirts. Having some great blue jeans, khakis, or dark chinos in your closet makes this easy. Bright colors also complement camouflage prints.
Speaking of prints, remember to avoid going overboard with designer logos. Instead of appearing chic or expensive, multiple logos thrown together appear tacky. Be confidently cool and not a showoff. Less is more, as the saying goes.
4. Opt for Quality Over Quantity
Having a full closet may appear to give you the most choices for your streetwear style. But it is far better to level up on a few quality pieces that cost more than to have a closet full of cheaper options. You certainly do not need to buy the most expensive items. But having some key pieces that will wear better, last longer, or never go out of style puts you on the right track.
For example, if you need a new hoodie or sweatshirt, invest in one made of expensive fabric like cashmere. You will get more wear out of something that looks great and dresses streetwear up a little than by buying multiple cheap cotton pullovers.
5. Play With Proportions
Sizing your streetwear outfits is different than fitting tailored apparel. It is also not enough to just size up everything you wear as some hip-hop icons did in the 1990s. Today’s looks are more refined, combining oversized hoodies, jackets, and shirts with slimmer pants and even straight legs or slim skirts. To enhance your street style, look for key pieces that provide a loose, relaxed fit without swallowing you up.
Feel Free to Experiment
Overall, wearing streetwear is supposed to be stress-free, comfortable, and casual. While inspired by the street, you do not have to be a skater or hip-hop star to effectively pull this style off. This brand of chic suits a wide range of ages, personalities, and lifestyles, so you can easily fit right in on the street scene. Although the quest to build a wardrobe can feel intimidating and even clumsy at first, you will soon know what makes your own perfect outfits. Perhaps one of the best aspects of channeling these looks is knowing you can show off a bit of your personality, often hidden in buttoned-up attire. Remember, when in doubt about what is on-trend or hot right now, you only have to take to the street to see what’s out there.