We’ve all got those essential pieces in our wardrobe and accessories that get us through the summer. Here are my top 25 that I just can’t live without!
They’re an investment, sure, but I’ve never loved a pair of sunglasses more. In the perpetually cool, classic silhouette, these are a pair of sunglasses that will truly never let you down. If you want to look like the Blues Brothers, go for the black pair. For a slightly beachier, laidback, but versatile look, I prefer the tortoiseshell pair.
I’ve found that American Eagle has cute, cheap sun hats with beautiful, huge brims to keep you cool and sheltered from the blistering summer sun. They’re always glamorous and fabulous, and will keep you looking like a movie star, at the beach or running errands around town.
A high-waisted floral skirt, in my opinion, can get you anywhere! Easy, breezy, and it goes with almost everything! To have the most fun with these, pair with other patterns and colors. I love to pair mine with bandeaus, striped tees, and band tees. It’s an easy way to try out pattern mixing if you haven't tried much before, and it’s also a great way to subtly push some boundaries. Look for fun embellishments like buttons, high-low hems or chiffon pleated versions! The possibilities are endless!
Best in an airy chiffon, there is nothing easier than slipping this on with cute shorts (whether those are high-waisted or denim cutoffs) or light summer trousers. It’s also a great top because it doesn’t require too much jewelry – the bow serves as a necklace. Nobody wants to fuss with layers and overwrought outfits in the summer, which makes tops like these perfect! Look for contrasting colors and prints or pretty nudes and pastels.
5. Peplum Top
Peplums are a gift from God. The right peplum tops are flattering to just about everyone, nipping in at that perfect spot and flowing out for that great retro vibe. A peplum top is a great day to night piece in the right fabric and colors. For some extra retro/Zooey Deschanel fun, go with polka dots, but keep in mind that a peplum works with anything: florals, stripes, solids, colorblocking. Just throw it over some jeans and you automatically look pretty and put together, without looking like you’re trying too hard.
Okay, now don’t roll your eyes. I DO NOT mean ugly, unflattering, mid-calf, tacky jeans. I mean Audrey Hepburn. I mean strolling around in Europe. I mean perfectly short, just right above the ankle, chic. These are pants to buy in every color and to try out in any patterns too. They couldn’t be more easy, or classic. Vintage, darling. Updated, however, in the season’s hottest colors, neons that really make this style pop.
This is THE shirt that defines summer bliss for me. Light, easy, goes with everything and makes it infinitely cooler. Any wash works. For some extra edge, try a dip-dyed version, or an acid washed version. If you want one to wear for years though, go with the classic.
A universally flattering silhouette, this is my go-to when I want to look and feel like Reese Witherspoon’s best friend in Pleasantville, or like I could conquer the world. This is another great pick because it works in a myriad of ways. Wear it in any color (neon to nude!) or print (floral, polka dots, stripes) with oxfords or heels. This dress will work with just about everything!
Toms are wonderful. They look cute with pants, shorts, and dresses, and they fit really small feet! They’re great walking shoes (they brought me all around Italy and have made more than a few trips around New York City), but they’re not ugly by any means! These are perfect for summer concerts, trips, and just running around town. Added bonus: cute colors, patterns, and embellishments.
All I really need to get through life is a pair of black high-top Chucks.
For dressing up in the summer, keep it fun with some platform sandals or cute bright wedges. Floral and other patterned wedges also brighten up every wardrobe! They can dress up everything without keeping your style held down with stuffiness.
Right out of The Virgin Suicides, a great white top can complete any summer wardrobe. In a sea of fringe, tiny bandeaus, and neon, you’ll look fresh and cool by going with a simple white top and not trying too hard! Tunic versions are great too.
13. Straw Fedora
The perfect topper if you feel out of place in a wide brimmed sun hat, a straw fedora just screams “laidback cool,” and it’ll never let you down. Nobody will notice if you’ve got a sunburn or if your acne’s flaring up on a certain day because all they’ll see is a cool cat taking it easy. A fedora never let Sinatra down, and in the summer, a straw fedora will always treat you nice.
14. Canvas Backpack
Who needs a Northface or a generic branded tote when you’re carrying a quirky canvas backpack? They’re equally convenient as a normal backpack and can carry as much, but they’re 20X more stylish and the opportunities to individuate yourself carrying one are much more readily available. I love these in different prints, whether they’re tribal or floral.
15. Neon Satchel
These are the perfect satchels, and completely worth investing in. For summer, instead of a classic red or brown, go for neon! It instantly brightens any outfit and draws all kinds of good attention! Bonus: multiple sizes and you can get yours monogrammed! Even better, Zooey Deschanel’s a fan.
A girl can’t go through summer without some killer shorts. My top 3:
There are a million different ways to wear denim cutoffs, whether you go short-short or boyfriend, dark wash or distressed. Their versatility and instant statement make them perfect for every summer wardrobe, and they’re the reason they are a staple every single season.
If you’re bored with denim cutoffs (which would be silly, but I’d understand not wanting to wear them every day), try a floral pair. They’re sweet and sassy, and give a cute oomph to every outfit.
C) Lace Shorts
In any and every color, these work, and make an outfit a little sweeter. I like mine high-waisted (as I like most of my shorts… and skirts… and pants, for that matter), but I like pairing them with combat boots for a little edge – an outfit can sometimes only take so much sugar, after all.
17. Shift Dress
In the long heat of the summer, a cool cotton shift is simple and fresh. There’s nothing easier than this, and all you need for a great outfit are a few accessories. Just throw on some killer sandals, an amazing hat, and voilá! Stunner!
18. Polka Dot Dress
An attention getter without even trying, polka dots will stop anyone and everyone in their tracks. Whimsical and sassy, they can take on any traits you’d like them to, and are easily toughened up if you feel a bit too sweet to get anything done! Marc Jacobs and Lucille Ball alike approve of polka dots, so how could anyone possibly resist?
19. Pleated Skirt
A pleated skirt is floaty and romantic without getting too carried away. In any color, nude and neon included, it can compliment any other elements of an outfit perfectly. In a print, it can easily steal all of the attention. It’s a wonderful alternative to the boring and overdone bodycon skirts, and it works in more than one length. A pleated skirt is a beautiful and fresh item to incorporate into a wardrobe.
20. Slip Dress
Delightfully 70s/90s, a slip dress adds some much-needed edge to a wardrobe in a very subtle way. It’s a bit racy, without going over the top in a bad way. Emulating only the best (Penny Lane, the Lisbon sisters, and Elizabeth Taylor), you’re sure to be a rock star by layering a slip under a long, slouchy cardigan with a belt and some combat boots.
21. Combat Boots
Every girl needs a pair of combat boots, more specifically, a pair of Dr. Martens – even better, FLORAL (Liberty London) DR. MARTENS! They became a classic themselves, though a rather unlikely classic. They were never meant to make a fashion statement, but were eventually adopted in such a bold one that they’ve continued to make waves today. The Liberty London Docs are gorgeous, and the perfect balance between tough/utilitarian and sweet/girly.
22. High-Low Skirt
These skirts are another great way to add interest to an outfit. They work beautifully in various prints, but I truly love them in solids. The silhouette is such that it doesn’t really need to be printed too. There is enough interest with the silhouette alone. Either way, though, they are a great addition to a wardrobe.
23. Infinity Scarf
Before I lost this scarf in New York, I wore the purple striped version everywhere. It’s very nice jersey and it’s HUGE. It can be made into a skirt or a dress if you wish, but I typically wore it as a scarf or shawl. It’s the perfect remedy to Air Conditioning chills!
Oxfords could get me through the summer and I’d be happy. There are so many beautiful pairs out there. Some have lace, some are metallic, others are nude, some are neon! With all of the options, they easily go with a multitude of outfits.
Naturally, you’ll need something to capture all of your amazing summer moments! I use a Nikon D5100, a DSLR, but in the past I’ve loved Canon Powershots. Anything that captures memories works.
When in doubt, go for retro fun, or just try to be Penny Lane.
Song of the Moment: Rising by Son Lux