Emma Chamberlain's summer 2021 outfits

Plot Twist: Emma Chamberlain’s Summer Outfit Inspo Made Me Preppy Again

Hello, inner golf dad!

Originally Published: 
Screenshots via Emma Chamberlain/Youtube

In Elite Daily's I Tried series, we put celebrities’ favorite products, recipes, and routines to the test to show you what living like your fave star is really like. In this piece, we tried out looks from Emma Chamberlain’s “What I’m Wearing This Summer” video.

When it comes to beloved creators on the internet, Emma Chamberlain is at the top of the list. Over the years, she’s gained millions of loyal fans thanks to her self-deprecating comedy and conversational vlogs. She also happens to be a Gen Z fashion icon: Her first viral YouTube video was a 2017 shopping “haul,” and ever since then, her ability to make casual, everyday outfits look effortlessly chic has made her a major trendsetter both online and IRL.

As someone who’s been looking to spice up my world after a whole year of lounging in sweatsuits indoors (thanks, coronavirus), I was immediately interested when Chamberlain uploaded a video in April 2021 that she simply titled, “What I’m Wearing This Summer.” I should also admit: I’m on the Gen Z/millennial cusp, and I’m forever trying to be down with the kids, OK?! So, with Chamberlain as my guide, I decided to dive into Gen Z fashion head-first.

There are more than 25 ~lewks~ in Chamberlain’s video, so I chose three and tried to copy them to the best of my ability. Here’s what I came up with:

Look 1: The Golf Dad

Emma Chamberlain/Courtesy of Abby Monteil

If I learned anything from Chamberlain’s video, it’s this: “If all else fails, channel your inner golf dad.” As she notes, this is an aesthetic that honors the time-honored archetype of golf dads who love nothing more than hitting the green and enjoying some quality wine and cheese. Honestly, it’s an idyllic vibe that Gen Z deserves to try out!

I’ll admit I did have a few reservations about the golf dad look. First of all, I’m fairly petite, so I was worried about the oversize polo looking frumpy on me. Also, I’ve also moved away from preppy styles after going through a hardcore pleated skirt phase in my tweens, and revisiting that phase of life can be cringe-worthy.

With all that in mind, I grabbed my favorite baseball cap and my actual golf dad’s L.L. Bean polo with a healthy dose of skepticism... and I was pleasantly surprised by what I saw! The thick polo was easily the most comfortable piece of clothing I tried on during this sartorial experiment, and it was a casual enough look that it didn’t feel like preppy overload. As the weather heats up, I can see myself throwing on the polo with jean shorts and boots to head to a coffee shop or go on a little hike. Just don’t ask me about my form on the putting green.

Look 2: The Beachy Cover-Up

Emma Chamberlain/Courtesy of Abby Monteil

In her video, Chamberlain declares we should “get long skirts going,” because they’re comfortable and provide full-coverage. I mean, who hasn’t worn a short skirt to a party or around town and worried about accidentally flashing people? She also mentions this outfit would be a perfect summer cover-up, and while, as a New Yorker, I don’t have easy access to Los Angeles beaches like she does, I was cautiously optimistic about channeling my inner California girl. I didn’t have the same strappy black top she wears, but with a basic tank and similarly pastel yellow skirt on hand, I was ready to go.

Unfortunately, I can’t say I agree with Chamberlain about bringing long skirts back. While it was nice to stroll around my neighborhood and ride the subway without worrying about a Marilyn Monroe moment, wearing such a long, form-fitting skirt felt much more restrictive than I would’ve liked. This particular style of skirt also felt way less flattering on me than a more flowy ensemble would, but I will admit the pastel yellow is a cute touch.

Look 3: The Sporty ‘90s ‘Fit

Emma Chamberlain/Courtesy of Abby Monteil

As Chamberlain puts it, this is classic ‘90s vibes. From the touristy sweatshirt to the breezy track short vibes, it’s an effortlessly retro, low-key ‘fit that might even make your parents a little jealous.

I didn’t totally achieve the pastel vibe Chamberlain has going on, but I channeled her energy with a Brooklyn sweatshirt and my good old Nike shorts. Individually, this sweatshirt and shorts are my go-to uniform when I’m doing laundry or watching Netflix, but I wasn’t so sure the combo would be as Instagram-ready as Chamberlain seemed to believe.

That said, it ended up being more fashionable than I expected after I tucked the sweatshirt into my shorts. This outfit gave summer patio meetups and baseball games energy, and it’s definitely the most versatile of the three looks I tried out. I can pull endless sweatshirts and breezy shorts from my wardrobe and mix and match to perfection. I’m even tempted to try and make the word “athleisure” sound cool again.

Final Thoughts

Truth be told, I have an all-or-nothing mindset when it comes to fashion. I tend to go for bright colors and eye-popping pieces when I’m actually going somewhere (a novel concept!), then throw on a T-shirt and sweats for maximum comfort when no one is watching. But I want to get better at being able to turn basic wardrobe staples and thrifted finds into stylishly casual looks, and Chamberlain’s video reminded me of that goal.

I don’t think I’ll ever stop loving the occasional maximalist ensemble, nor do I want to! And while I don’t know if I’m keen on buying more long skirts or fully embracing the preppy aesthetic, Chamberlain’s video made me want to go out to my local thrift store and see what cool, unexpected looks I can throw together next. How do you do, fellow kids?

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