How to have a hot girl summer on a budget in Pittsburgh | Arts + Entertainment | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

How to have a hot girl summer on a budget in Pittsburgh

click to enlarge Hot girl Shori Sims - PHOTO: COURTESY OF SHORI SIMS
Photo: Courtesy of Shori Sims
Hot girl Shori Sims
Being a hot girl isn’t about gender. It’s about a vibe.

Summer doesn't officially begin in Pittsburgh until June 20, but many are already talking online about their hot girl summer plans. As of June 15, more than 57% of Pennsylvanians 18 and older have been fully vaccinated, and many opportunities to go out are opening back up. But despite the inclination to think that the only way to have fun is to spend money, there are still ways of having a hot girl summer while on a budget.

“A hot girl summer really means just like a summer that's for you, you know, where you're doing what you want, like, making moves for yourself,” says Shori Sims, a student at Carnegie Mellon University. “A hot girl summer can mean different things to different people, as long as you're just, like, doing you and living your best life.”


Sims, 21, attributes and associates the concept of a hot girl summer to Megan Thee Stallion’s 2019 song “Hot Girl Summer,” featuring Nicki Minaj and Ty Dolla $ign. The song was released Aug. 8, 2019, although Megan Thee Stallion teased its release as early as July 18 on Twitter.

“I feel like Megan really popped off a couple years ago, which is when that kind of entered the cultural lexicon.” says Sims.

Sims plans to focus her hot girl summer on making money and getting smarter, since “a smart girl is a hot girl.”

According to Google Trends, the term “hot girl summer” reached its peak number of web searches in August 2019. Afterwards, the popularity of the term dropped, with a small resurgence to a third of its initial popularity in the summer of 2020. But now, the phrase is back and may reach or surpass its initial popularity in 2019.


“People weren't even thinking about being hot last summer. They were thinking about surviving," says Sims. "But now, I feel like it's really come back in a big way."

When trying to figure out how to have a hot girl summer, returning to the source material is a good place to start. In the pre-chorus, Megan Thee Stallion sings, “Got a whole lot of options 'cause you know a bitch poppin' / I'm a hot girl, so you know ain't shit stoppin',” indicating that a hot girl summer entails having self-confidence, knowing what you want for yourself, and not settling for less.

“I got a mullet,” says Owen Hipwell, 24, who works as a bartender. “Pretty happy with that. Probably one of the best decisions I've made over the last couple months. Gonna get a tattoo, decided to start working out again. … Also dressing in a more ridiculous way or at least just putting more effort into [my appearance] certainly than I have in the last like year and a half.”

When searching for clothes that align with how they want to present themselves, 
Hipwell and Sims recommend going to thrift and consignment shops such as Clothes Minded in Bloomfield, Avalon Exchange in Squirrel Hill, and Red, White & Blue Thrift Store, which has locations in Beltzhoover and Avalon.

But for Hipwell, having a hot girl summer is also about going out so that you can be seen being a hot girl. While many of the options that are opening up to go out cost money — whether through buying tickets, drinks, or food — there are plenty of places that one can go, spend time with friends, and spend little to no money.

“I've been hanging out at my friend's house, just like watching stuff, we've been skateboarding ...” Sims says. “Even just window shopping, like, you can do for free. And it's pretty fun, looking, trying on clothes and stuff like that.”


Other free spaces include libraries, which have the benefit of air conditioning, and public parks and pools, which, according to Hipwell, have the benefit of letting you feel the full summer heat because he believes “an important part of hot girl summer is sweating it out.”

Areas along the three rivers are also excellent places to relax with friends, bring a picnic or go for a walk, and enjoy the views. Hipwell recommends having friends in high and low places, especially if they have a pool, and inviting friends to do chores with you, whether at home or out and about.

“I convince people to walk to Home Depot with me all the time. And then make them carry things back with me,” Hipwell says. “I need to get some stuff from Home Depot, why don't you walk with me? And it's, like, oh, you gotta carry this lumber back now.”

For those who have some money — but not too much — to spend on a hot girl summer, there are also low-cost options such as the Carnegie Museums. Sims also recommends small experiences to pamper yourself, including getting your nails done or having your eyebrows threaded, that are “little things that, like, you instantly feel a million times better.”

“Feeling a hot girl is something that comes from inside,” Sims says. “If you feel like a hot girl, then that's what you are. No one else can tell you if you're a hot girl or not.”

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