Once upon a time, our parents shipped us off to wherever they weren’t, and we were forced to mingle with people our own age, bugs, trees, and water. (Unless you were like me, because my parents kept me at home with the neighbourhood kids, and we would wreak havoc on everyone around us for two months.)
But while no part of me wanted to sleep in a cabin surrounded by strangers, seeing movies like "The Parent Trap" made me think I was missing out on something special. I mean, what if I had a twin sister, too? What if I could be winning at poker? Or more realistically: camp fashion was the best, and how would I ever be able to re-create it at home?
I couldn’t -- then. But you and I can, now, since we are adults in charge of our own finances and destiny. And because there’s more than a month of summer left, here are a few summer camp-inspired pieces you can wear as a grown-ass woman.
1. Wet Hot American Summer T-Shirts
Let’s not waste time: Rusted Wave has recently released a line of "Wet Hot American Summer" t-shirts that sum up the cult comedy perfectly. So for $20-$30 (depending on the type of shirt), you can also rep Camp Firewood, the Hopkins Prize for Physics, and 89.9 FM (“The Fox”). Frankly, if there was ever a camp to be jealous about not attending, Firewood is it – now leave your baggage at the door because we don’t need it.
2. Crewneck Sweatshirt
Lest we forget Annie’s (from "The Parent Trap" – obviously) penchant for wearing collared shirts under her crewneck sweatshirts... despite being an 11-year-old girl at a camp where you could be sent to a cabin on a hill if you make a mistake. (In retrospect, that was so weird, right? And possibly illegal?) Fortunately, you can do the same with oversize fleece sold almost anywhere (but especially at chains like Old Navy or the Gap where their summer sweatshirts are on clearance). Camp called for keeping it simple, which explains...
3. White Sneakers
You obviously don’t have to stick to white sneakers, but with Amy Poehler’s "Wet Hot American Summer" look in mind, you might as well get as retro as possible. (And we’re grown-ups now: we’re not going to ruin our shoes after playing in dirt... or are we?) Fortunately, now that you’re not asking your parents for money, you have your choice of styles like the always-evergreen Keds or classic Converse – a.k.a. two shoes that work with almost any outfit in the world, even when you’re ready to stop reliving summer ’81.
Hands up if you regret pitching your windbreaker when you were a teen because it just didn’t seem cool anymore. (Me too. It’s official, everybody: we were idiots.) Fortunately, function and fashion go hand-in-hand this fall thanks to collections by the likes of Lacoste, who upped their athletic game and delivered a jacket for all seasons – in green, too (just like Haley’s in "The Parent Trap").
5. Back Floral Dress
Look: we’re not all Annie and Hayley or willing to join a campfire. So that’s why channeling Wednesday Addams circa "Addams Family Values" is important. Luckily, 2014 can’t get enough of the ‘90s (just like every year before), so you won’t be at a loss for a mid-decade floral with a Peter Pan collar (like the one here at ASOS). Extra points if you braid your hair and deal harsh truths.
6. Overalls, Plaid, Layers
"Camp Nowhere" was a movie for anti-camp lovers: in it, a bunch of kids ran their own show, made their own rules, and dressed however the hell they wanted. So that’s why I’m absolutely using it as an excuse to promote the use of overalls, oversized flannel, and hats. And while you can pick up oversized flannel from any Value Village or thrift store near you, you can also use the staple’s permanent popularity as an excuse to pick up something that might last a little longer. Case in point: an Isabel Marant plaid wool-coat blend that’s almost as great as "Camp Nowhere."
7. Backpacks/Duffel Bags
I’ve never been to camp, but I do consider myself an expert about camp because I watched more camp movies and TV shows than you can possibly imagine. So that’s why I know a backpack was everything. Not only could you sneak snacks in it, you could carry other things in it. (Like more snacks!) The only thing better? A duffel bag, whose only job was to carry all of your worldly possessions, and to keep them hidden from camp counselors, obviously. Fortunately, if you’re looking to recreate the magic, American Eagle is offering a bankable range (including a duffel bag that only ships to the States, for all you P.O. Box number holders), while Herschel’s Fall/Winter 2014 backpacks channel the best parts of the ‘90s must-have.
8. Baseball Hats
Behold: the easiest piece of camp-wear to own, and also the most attainable. Fortunately, you can get a baseball hat literally anywhere – and look for one accordingly. Because 2014 champions eclecticism, a kitschier type of hat trumps the designer-level safe bet. (You can get hats at gas stations, for heaven’s sake.)
It wouldn’t be a camp piece without singing the praises of the most underrated and most important piece in anyone’s closet, camp-attendee or not: the hoodie. Warm and necessary (especially in Canada, and especially near lakes or woods or in bed watching Netflix), camp meant nothing without the comfort of fleece mixed with the convenience of a hood and front pocket. And to truly get on that Canadiana experience is Roots, hoodie and sweatshirt connoisseur; producer of pieces I swear were designed only for camp. (But you already know that. We’re Canadians and all already own 26.)
Oh, I went there. You’re hopping in a lake? Put your hair in a scrunchie. You don’t feel like brushing it? Put your hair in a scrunchie. Want to look like Megan, that cool girl who taught you how to French braid? Cap that braid off with a scrunchie. Why we ever let the era of scrunchies pass is a travesty we all have to live with. Fortunately, Topshop can save us – just never forget what we tried to let go. CAMP FOREVER.
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