Charli xcx brat summer
BACKGROUND COURTESY OF ADOBE STOCK, PHOTOGRPHY COURTESY OF GETTY, INSTAGRAM.COM/@CHARLI_XCX

Welcome to Brat Summer

Wear a rotation of slinky tank tops. Ask for what you want. Stay out late and misbehave. Step into your 'Brat' era, courtesy of Charli xcx and her new album.

People are way too nice these days, according to Charli xcx. And Brat summer is here to change that.

“I feel like everybody [thinks] their moral compass has to be so in check all the time. But sometimes it’s just fun if it’s not,” the artist said on a recent episode of the Las Culturistas podcast. “Everyone’s kind of a b*tch sometimes, and that’s OK.” In the past decade or so, she continued, niceness has become a superficial “commodity.” And as a result, people aren’t as genuine anymore. But Brat — her new viral album that embraces mess — is pushing back on that norm with an alluring attitude for the season ahead.

Last summer saw pop culture painted hot pink to champion the Barbie movie and its celebration of once-vilified hyper-femininity. In 2024, the zeitgeist is slipping into a more off-kilter realm of reclamation, complete with a slime-green backdrop and bad decisions.

 

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Since its release on June 7, Brat has captured the internet’s attention, dominating dance charts, receiving praise for “making pop fun” and infiltrating every algorithmic channel imaginable. It seems everyone — from esoteric It girls to the official New Jersey government X account — identifies with being a brat. And who can blame them? The name alone commands your attention with its severe straightforwardness. But though an album titled “Brat” might be pre-conceived as an ode to getting what you want, the project is an expansive reflection on the experiences of womanhood.

Throughout the record, seemingly conflicting mindsets work in tandem. Tracks like “360” and “Von dutch” boldly boast the status of a widely envied cool girl, welcoming listeners into main character mode. But alongside these anthems lie painfully contemplative songs. “I might say something stupid” is a vulnerable reflection on feeling unspecial and invisible, while “I think about it all the time” wrestles with the existential pressure of a biological clock. The latter is followed by “365”, a beat-heavy celebration of sweaty, nonstop partying — capturing the duality of this club-going figure. You see, a brat is on the prowl for parties and introspection.

Charli xcx brat summer
Photo by MEGA/GC Images

To be said brat, you need a foundation of outward self-assuredness, a tinge of cheeky nihilism (“We’re all gonna die,” Charli xcx says matter-of-factly in her Las Culturistas interview), and a healthy dose of hedonistic tendencies. It’s about being irreverent, but still caring a lot. Sitting in these contradictions, Charli xcx breaks down the reductive stereotypes of being a brat.

As Emma Madden wrote in the New York Times, the titular term “has always carried with it associations of low class and low culture.” Coined in the 16th century to describe beggars, it’s morphed over the years to encapsulate someone who can never get enough. Dripping with sulkiness and ill-tempered habits, the word has long been synonymous with a badly behaved child.

Even the now-iconic Bratz dolls were looked down upon in mainstream media for their stigma-filled name. Critics at the time wrote them off as bad examples for young people — girls especially — because they supposedly placed too much emphasis on superficiality. But this judgment discounted the fact that they offered a different kind of representation of girlhood that was unapologetically self-confident, bold and, from the start, way more diverse than Barbie’s white, willowy model.

Riffing off this stigma, playful petulance is baked into Charli xcx’s Brat, punctuated by the most bratty tendency of all: having ambition and going after what you deserve. Lyrics offer visual codes of the I-don’t-care-what-you-think aesthetic, including lower back tattoos, skinny cigarettes and snagged tights. But Brat summer is more of an attitude than a clear-cut uniform. A brat takes a .5 selfie on the crowded subway platform. A brat waits hours in line at a Chloë Sevigny closet sale, brings a digital camera everywhere, and has in-depth musings about The Real Housewives. A brat complains when it’s warranted and doesn’t stress about changing their mind.

Charli xcx brat summer
Photo by Neil Mockford/GC Images

How does this translate to getting dressed? “It can go the way of luxury, but it can also be so trashy,” Charli xcx said of Brat summer in a recent interview, adding that, clothing-wise, a strappy white tank top with no bra might be all you need. More in-depth inspiration can be sourced from the artist herself, whose Brat era looks are casual yet coolly rigid. Think micro shorts and leather jackets. Acid washes and low-slung jeans. Studded belts and statement sunnies. Wearing an “I ❤️ ME” shirt, smudging your winged-out eyeliner, and keeping your sunglasses on indoors, for instance, are all peak Brat behaviour.

 

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A post shared by Charli (@charli_xcx)

Ultimately, the Brat summer look borrows from the signature Charli xcx sound. Often glitchy, exaggeratedly auto-tuned and sometimes garbled, it’s an adrenaline-filled roller coaster ride. You don’t really know what’s going on, but you know you want it to happen again.

Similarly, Brat summer is about embracing an imperfect indie sleaze-inspired oeuvre. It welcomes you to feel both vulnerable and hard-edged. It might involve having good taste while being deliciously low-brow. It means holding space to feel like the hottest person in the world while still battling insecurities. Being a brat doesn’t make you bad — it means crafting your own personal genre, regardless of what others think.

Here are some essentials to get you started on Brat summer, below.

Kiss Nails I Got This Salon X-Tend gel kit

kiss nails brat summer

Step one to feeling like a brat? Colour-coded nails, of course. These soft gel press-ons offer a salon-level sculpted look for a fraction of the price. Capturing the slime green aesthetic of the album, this kit is an easy entry point for sporting the aesthetic day and night.

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Reformation Tasha tank

reformation tank brat summer

As Charli xcx said herself, all you really need is a white tank to achieve Brat summer status. Let this ribbed pick by Reformation be the one you choose. Designed to be snuggly fitted with an eco-friendly stretch fabric, it’s durable and crafted with sustainability in mind. Brats shop smart!

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Dynamite foldover mini skort

dynamite skirt brat summer

Skorts are so Brat-coded. Offering all the flirtiness of a mini skirt with the comfort (and protection) of shorts, they are the perfect choice for dancing the night away. This pair by Dynamite is made with stretch fabric for easy slip-on styling all summer long.

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Anthropologie translucent stone square hoops

anthropologie hoops brat summer

The lime green translucent hoops are lightweight, statement-making and just the right amount of weird. With a softened square shape and chunky build, they are the perfect pop of vibrancy to an outfit and give a nod to this summer’s budding hue. Made of resin, they’re durable and dramatic, making them the perfect accessory for bumpin’ that.

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Jasgood double grommet studded belt

amazon studded belt brat summer

The studded belt instantly takes any black ensemble to edgier heights. This grommet-filled design is easily adjustable with a wraparound design of statement buckles. Pair with a black baby tee, low-slung pants and boots, and you’re Brat summer ready.

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Lancôme Le Stylo eyeliner

lancome eyeliner brat summer

This creamy liner offers a seamless glide application on the lash and waterline. Made for blending, its built-in smudger yields the ultimate post-party cat-eye. The final matte look that is also waterproof — meaning sweat and (tears) won’t stand a chance. A Brat must-have.

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Aldo Tayylor boots

aldo boots brat summer

Worn with booty shorts, mini dresses or baggy cargos, these mid-calf boots exude the best kind of Brat summer Charli xcx attitude. With a Moto-inspired design and a fold-over detail, they’re utilitarian and polished. Plus, they feature Aldo’s Pillow Walk padded soles, so they’ll keep you comfy all day (and night) long.

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Poppy Lissiman Cherloi sunglasses

Blacked-out statement sunnies are a staple of being a brat. These curved oversized sunglasses are crafted for a dramatic eye-catching effect. Made with recycled black acetate and matching UV-protected lenses, they are wearable, durable and just plain cool.

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Superdown leather jacket

superdown jacket brat summer

Cropped, edgy and rife with bold buckles, this Superdown leather jacket is reminiscent of a fit worn by Charli xcx. The asymmetrical front closure gives it some visual eccentricity, while the bulky hardware adds a hardened edge. Pair it with low-waisted pants for the full Brat summer effect. Charli xcx would approve.

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Jeffrey Campbell Bubblegum sandal

jeffrey campbell brat summer

Step into your Brat era with these colourful chunky sandal heels. Complete with a shiny finish, a hefty platform and a criss-cross strap, they are playful, dressy and everyday chic. Plus, the no-fuss slip-on styling is ideal for running out the door.

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Jaded London Whipstitch low-rise

revolve jeans brat summer

Jaded London’s acid-wash jeans capture the aestheticized messiness of the moment. The waist is lined with tiny metal loops featuring rope woven in and out for a DIY effect. The overall finish is edgy, cool and purposely intense. It’s also perfect for showing off your lower back tattoo.

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