surfer nephew
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What Is the Surfer Nephew Aesthetic?

Stylist Allison Bornstein just coined the casual, coastal trend, and we're unpacking how to get the look here. Think: oversized tees, sunnies with coloured lenses and silky bottoms.

Amidst a sea of Aperol spritz makeup, 2000s eyeglasses, and picnic dressing trends this summer, there’s yet another niche style vibe to consider — and it might be one of the most interesting emerging trends. Introducing: the surfer nephew aesthetic.

If you’re confused by the name, chances are you’ve at least spotted the trend in action. Coined by stylist Allison Bornstein, the trend is one part Adam Sandler basketball casual and one part Carrie Bradshaw chic. Characterized by the perfect mix of  oversized, casual silhouettes and graphic tees with more classic pieces, the surfer nephew doesn’t take themselves too seriously.

@allisonbornstein6 #stylist #surfer #inspo #chicdesertaunt #desertaunt #surfernephew #surfergirl #greenscreen ♬ original sound – Allison Bornstein

Think about what one of the girls from 2002’s surfing movie Blue Crush might wear today for a casual dinner with a hunky out-of-towner — perhaps a white tee layered over a slip dress with Tkees sandals and a raffia bag? Quintessential surfer chick Ivy Sullivan from 90210 is another good reference. The goal is to look like you just threw together your outfit last minute, plucking discarded clothes from your bedroom floor or from the back of your jeep, and they just happen to look phenomenal together. It could be your situationship’s oversized button down! Your brother’s old graphic tee! The only criteria is it has to look casual, coastal and oh so chic.

The look has been popping up recently on celebrities like Jennifer Lawrence, who has incorporated the trend into her New York street style. The newly coined surfer nephew aesthetic is also a staple of OG fashionistas like Mary-Kate Olsen, who favours oversized, slouchy shapes paired with ballet flats and well-worn designer tote bags.

As Bornstein noted in her video on the emerging trend, the surfer nephew aesthetic is the counterpart to yet another trend she coined, the “chic desert aunt,” which is more streamlined and rife with muted but luxe desert tones. (For her part, Lawrence, as Bornstein notes, has surfer nephew street style and chic desert aunt event style.) And btw, Bornstein knows what the heck she’s doing. The popular TikTok creator isn’t just a fashion lover, but also a New York-based stylist and writer, probably best known to most as the creator of the viral “three-word method” and “wrong shoe theory” which have blown up on social media. So, she knows her stuff.

To be clear, surfer nephews won’t necessarily be toting surfboards around on the subway or rocking puka shells (although, all the power to them if they want to!), but the trend has some notable components. As Bornstein says in her video, the surfer nephew aesthetic includes jelly shoes (vs. the desert aunt’s mesh flats), beaded jewellery, raffia bags, sneakers, a general west coast vibe, and a love of dogs and leather vintage bombers.

The rise of west coast surfer chic isn’t all that new, seeing as people have long been low-key obsessed with surf and skate culture. Or more specifically, the laid-back and “carefree” aesthetics that are associated with surfing and skateboarding, and which convey a relaxed attitude and cool vibe. And surf culture has long had a hold on the fashion industry, too, with big brands attempting to emulate the sport’s casualness in less-than-casual environments. In 2019, luxury house Gucci attempted to tap into the world of surf with the launch of their pre-Fall 2019 collection, which spotlighted a retro look at ’60s surf culture.

In the same year, Prada followed suit with their Spring 2019 collection, sending models down the runway in neoprene shirts cut like guard rashes and sneakers meant to look like surf socks. And now in 2024, the look has been reimagined with a decidedly “off duty” twist — surfer nephews don’t look like they could literally go surf at that moment, but you know they could hang ten in a heartbeat. Whether or not you’re actually going to get on a skateboard or surfboard really doesn’t matter, you just have to look like you’d be in and around one at some point in your life — and not completely wipe out.

If you’re looking to add some casual coastal inspo to your wardrobe, we’ve rounded up some of the best pieces to get you — and your closet — in the surfer nephew mindset.

Jacquemus ‘Le T-Shirt Soalheiro’ T-shirt

They key to the surfer nephew aesthetic is a great oversized (always untucked) tee. Pair it with a slip skirt, some oversized shorts or linen pants and you’re good to go.

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Reformation Layla Skirt in Blur

Another essential element of the trend, and your summer wardrobe in general, is a great skirt in either a solid silk colour or a groovy print like this one from Reformation. Imagine something you could throw on after a morning of surfing “sick waves” at the beach.

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Gap Vegan Leather Platform Flip Flops

We love a dupe, and these Gap sandals are giving The Row in a big way (but at a much more inexpensive price point). Easy to slip on and off, these elevated flip-flops will take you from the beach to the streets effortlessly.

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A.L.C Gia Raffia Bag

To store all of your cool girl essentials, what could be better than a slouchy raffia bag? The answer is nothing. A straw or raffia shoulder tote like this one is key to nailing the surfer nephew look.

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Aire Monoceros Aviator Sunglasses

To top off your coastal-inspired look, it’s essential to don a pair of “devil may care” (a.k.a. I don’t care) shades. Bonus points if they have a coloured lens!

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