1. The Maxi Dress — The maxi has steadily become a year-round staple, not just an essential for the hot months. But its easy, free-flowing nature and the fact that it can make you feel glamorous in an instant make it particularly suited to summer’s laid-back vibe.
2. The Paper-Thin Tee — Don’t be fooled! The paper-thin, perfectly fitting T-shirt is actually quite elusive, but once you have a few in your arsenal, they can fill in for just about any summertime outfit you have in the hopper.
3. The Floral Skirt — You don’t necessarily have to be a skirt person to want to have the season’s sophisticated floral number in your closet. But considering how versatile and pretty it is—super-short or a little longer, brushing the knee—we recommend adding one to your lineup, stat.
4. The Linen Shirt — The best kind of linen shirt is one that feels like you’ve been wearing it for years and, shape-wise, falls somewhere between tailored and slouchy. Over a bikini top or buttoned up for work, this breathable basic is a permanent summer essential.
5. The Denim Vest — You probably don’t think a denim vest qualifies as an “essential,” but considering how many layering possibilities it presents — over a maxi dress, under a blazer, paired with a pencil skirt — this piece is a must for the girl who likes to keep her outfits fresh with the least amount of effort.
6. The Modern Sundress — Whether you’re headed to a summer wedding, major interview, baby shower, or just a hot night on the town, this year’s modern tailored sundress is an indispensable addition to your dress collection.
7. The White Jean — Finding a pair of slim white jeans that fit properly and feel as good as they look can be like finding a needle in a haystack. But trust us, the extra effort is worth it considering how striking they can look with just a bit of a tan and a striped T-shirt. Jackie O in the South of France, anyone?
8. The Structured Tote Bag — Sometimes, practicality trumps everything when you’re jetting off to who-knows-where three weekends a month. A little advice: Save yourself the extra aggravation by keeping a clean, structured tote on hand. It makes a great work bag that transitions easily to a weekend catch-all with the addition of a sun-dress, sandals, and a good read.
9. The Summer Knit — Never underestimate how much you could love a sweater in the summer months. Even though it’s hot and humid, there always seems to be a chill somewhere (ie: on the train!), so keep this feminine, low-maintenance knit close at hand.
10. The City Short — We are an office divided between the short shorts and the not-so-short shorts. Hence, in choosing our cropped summer staple, we decided to focus on cut as much as length — the two are equally important when you’re showing some leg.
11. The Flowy Top — Let’s face it: When humidity is at 95% and there is heat literally radiating from the asphalt, all you want to do (besides stick your head in a freezer) is wear the easiest, flowiest top imaginable. To avoid that sloppy, hippy look, go for tops with clean darts and elegant detailing…think modern boho, not Burning Man.
12. The Cropped Colored Jean — Yes, they’re kind of trendy, but so be it! This is one trend that happens to be super practical, too. In the right cut, a bright-colored pair of jeans can do wonders to wake up your weekend look, and it can even be a jazzy stand-in for a date-night dress.
13.The Pointed-Toe Flat — After seasons upon seasons of the highest shoes imaginable, it’s nice to know the pointy flat is giving those skyscrapers a run for their money. For those of you who like to walk (not hobble) in the warm weather, while channeling your inner Audrey, this shoe is for you.
14. The Sophisticated Swimsuit — Despite its versatility (at the beach or under a maxi skirt), it’s surprising how many women don’t have a flattering sophisticated swimsuit in their wardrobe. Well, time to remedy that, because given all the fun new styles that have emerged in the one-piece arena, there’s really no reason not to have one.
15. The French Bateau Top — If you’re a longtime reader of R29, you probably know all too well how much we worship a good bateau top. Whether you’re building a minimalist look or clashing patterns, the striped tee is like the secret sauce in a good wardrobe. So, if your oldies need an upgrade, here’s your chance to re-up your favorite staple.
16. The Army Jacket — We’ve never met a blazer we didn’t like, but this summer, we’ve got our sights set on a nicely tailored army-inspired jacket, one that adds just the right dose of irreverent cool to any outfit, be it shorts and a tee or a floor-sweeing party dress.
17. The Flat Neutral Sandal — If you’re like us, you search for this pared-down essential every summer, only to discover the one you want after your size is sold out. This time around, score your clean and sophisticated neutral sandals early so you have the whole season to break them in and make them your own.
18. The Casual Trouser — Truth be told, not everyone on the R29 team is a trouser lover (present company excluded!), but this summer would absolutely be amiss without a wonderful pair of tailored bottoms. With just a plain tank and some pointy pumps, these babies are a no-brainer.
19. The Party Top — We’re guilty of pushing this piece every season, but honestly, who doesn’t get completely bored with their party tops every few months? Hence, the need for a new spin on this after-dark essential, one that will no doubt work with all your favorite PM pieces and take you straight through to Labor Day.
20. The Clubmaster-Style Sunglasses — No matter how many pairs of shades you have stashed away, there’s always room for one more, and this summer, these are the ones we’ve got our eye on…literally.
21. The Relaxed-Fit Jeans — We can thank Jenna Lyons for showing the world how enigmatically cool the right pair of slouchy jeans can be. And yes, there’s a fine line between slouchy and sloppy. Our advice: Find a pair that sits comfortably on the hips and offers a loose but still lean silhouette. And, that little roll at the hem is just standard for summertime.
22. The Sophisticated Friendship Bracelet — In the summer months, we all feel compelled to dial back the preciousness in getting dressed, and that definitely extends to jewelry, too. Instead of piling on the gems, it’s nice to pare things down to just a few key pieces, and among them, some fun but still sophisticated friendship bracelets you never have to take off.
23. The Day-To-Night Platform — Nobody wants to give up their heels when the warm months hit, but we also want height that still lends itself to long days that melt into weekends, and will easily work with anything. And that’s just what you get with a great day-to-night platform…practicality that’s still highly impactful.
24. The Classic Brown Belt — Hopefully, you have one of these gems in your arsenal already, but if you don’t, here are a few suggestions for one of the hardest working accessories in a working summer wardrobe. On a long maxi dress or cinched around a roomy blazer, the classic brown belt is like the sartorial Swiss Army knife, “fixing” just about anything.
25. The Panama Hat — We all need some summer shade, but why not make sure your sun protection still packs some attitude, too?
26. The Big Earrings — We’d be lying if we said that statement earrings weren’t a current obsession, but they also happen to be oh-so-perfect for summery bare shoulders, and some night-time pop you can whip out of your purse at a moment’s notice.
27. The White Sneaker — A clean, crisp pair of simple white kicks is the best possible reason to walk to the restaurant instead of taking a cab, or to stroll to grab your latte instead of driving. They also look fresh and fantastic with shorts, cropped printed pants, and dresses alike.
28. The Woven Necklace — Long and loose and completely devoid of delicate bells and whistles, the woven necklace is a welcome summertime switch from all your heavy (but still much-loved) big statement necklaces.
29. The Bright Cross-Body — Outdoor flea markets, picnics, a morning jaunt through the Marais…you never know what plans are going to come your way, so be sure to nab a hands-free bag that’s ready to go anywhere and has just enough room in it for all your hot-weather essentials.
30. The Printed Scarf — Despite all the practical reasons a lightweight scarf is utterly essential in the summer months, we most love how it instantly adds a bright pop of color or pattern to the simplest look. Plus, you can stuff it neatly into your bag to keep at the ready for chilly sidewalk dining or sub-zero movie theaters…whatever the (cool) case may be, it’s a must-have.
Design by Emily Kowzan
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