As much as we love our basics around these parts, they can sometimes feel a little too, well, basic. There’s no denying the power of a plain white tee, but when was the last time a plain white tee stopped you dead in your tracks? Unless you count Kendall Jenner’s all-ecru fit from The Row, the answer is almost certainly “never.” These days, though, in the midst of the freaky fashion movement, a new breed of basic is emerging. One that’s decidedly less basic, a whole lot weird, and definitely worthy of a double take.
Enter: the “subversive basic.” A term coined by TikTok trend forecaster Agus Ponzoni, subversive basics cover all manner of tanks, tees, and other simple essentials that have been twisted off their axis—sometimes subtly, sometimes not-so-subtly—by designers. Whether it’s an asymmetrical tank or a sheer, cutout crewneck sweater, they’re a simple yet spicy way to elevate your summer fits. They’re often served up in neutral tones and still share some core DNA with the basics you know and love, so they’re relatively easy to work into the rest of wardrobe. But their edgy, off-kilter details pack a serious, unexpected punch.
If you’re brave enough to dive into the deep end on this trend, designers have delivered plenty of wild options that even the most novice of fashion freaks can pull off. If you’re a true first-timer, make like Troye Sivan and give this eyelet adorned tank a try. For the seasoned exhibitionists out there, emerging knitwear designer Khann Brice Nyguyen’s sexy take on the sweater is your chance to bare it all. And if you’re hoping to test the waters without blowing the budget, well, there’s nothing a pair of scissors, a three pack of Hanes, and a strategically placed cutout or two can’t accomplish.
Whether you’re trying to turn heads at your next outdoor bash or beat the heat with panache, a subversive basic will overdeliver on the bold-yet-understated energy you’re looking for. Are they a little out there? Of course. Are they for everyone? Not necessarily. But they present an easy entry into taking on fashion’s new lawlessness. And as with tackling anything new, the basics may just be your best place to start.