30 Summer Wardrobe Musts: Collect ‘Em All!

Okay, maybe you’re a little behind the 8-ball — you still have some wooly sweaters and too-heavy coats cluttering up your closet, and it’s very possible you have no idea where your favorite flat sandals are. Oh, and it’s going to be 83 later this week. We all know the story. The seasonal closet overhaul can be seriously daunting — but it doesn’t have to be. Because with each turn of the temps comes a chance to update and reinvent your look, and in some ways, your life.But, we all need some motivation and a handy cheat sheet to make it happen, no matter what your budget is. So, let’s just say it’s officially time to make room for the pieces you really want. From the coolest work-to-weekend T-shirt and grown-up sundress to the most gorgeous statement earrings and chic white kicks, consider our newest 30 Summer Wardrobe Essentials your official guide to sartorial happiness.

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. 

Diane von Furstenberg Maxi Dress, $299.76, available at My WardrobeVictoria’s Secret Maxi Dress, $69.50, available at Victoria’s Secret. 

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. 

A.P.C. Sheer Jersey T-Shirt, $120, available at La GarconneMadewell Linen Tee, $31, available at Madewell. 

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. 

Antonio Marras Floral Skirt, $426, available at FarfetchMotel Ditsy Floral Skater Skirt, $66.80, available at ASOS.

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. 

Uniqlo Linen Shirt, $64.25, available at UniqloAcne Joy Linen Shirt, $280, available at La Garconne.

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. 

Free People Cut Off Denim Vest, $128, available at Free PeopleForever 21 Cropped DenimVest, $22.90, available atForever 21. 

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. 

See by Chloé Python Dress, $660, available at OtteAE Ikat Sundress, $39.50, available at American Eagle.

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? 

Acne White Mid Rise Skinny Jeans, $200, available at My WardrobeJ.Crew Matchstick Jean, $78, available at J.Crew. 

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. 

Jil Sander Structured Bag, $1,351, available at FarFetchZara Vinyl Shopper, $99.90, available at Zarav


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. 

Rag & Bone Bridget Pullover, $275, available at Rag & BoneNasty Gal Hi Lo Knit, $68, available at Nasty Gal. 

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. 

Rachel Comey Wesson Short, $380, available at Rachel ComeyJ.Crew Sailor Short, $59.50, available at J.Crew.

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. 

Zara Loose Blouse with Crochet Detailing, $59.90, available at ZaraBy Malene Birger Top, $290, available at Place des Tendances

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. 

Free People Cropped Skinny Jeans, $88, available at ShopbopRag & Bone Zipper Capri, $187, available at Rag & Bone.

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. 

Steve Madden Vegasss Flats, $79.95, available at Steve MaddenLoeffler Randall Willow Mignon Knot Flat, $275, available at Loeffler Randall. 

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.

Oasis Tie Wrap Swimsuit, $55, available at OasisZimmermann Savannah Floral Print Strapless Swimsuit, $330, available at Net-a-Porter

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. 

Reiss Striped Jersey Top, $115, available at ReissFrench Connection Scott Stripe Basic Tee, $58, available atPiperlime. 

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. 

Dorothy Perkins Khaki Safari Jacket, $44, available at Dorothy PerkinsBoy by Band of Outsiders Jacket, $540, available at The Corner. 

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. 

Chloé Braided Flat Sandal in Petal, $695, available at ZoeH&M Sandal, $20.97, available at H&M

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. 

Monki Marla Trouser, $51.18, available at MonkiSee By Chloé Jacquard Check Trouser, $426.24, available at My Wardrobe.

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. 

Sandro Elegante Top, $220, available at Net-a-PorterTopshop Premium Sequin Crop Top, $90, available at Topshop.

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. 

Carven x Colette Sunglasses, $311.90, available at ColetteWith Love From California Sunglasses, $14.50, available at Pacsun. 

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. 

Gap 1969 Sexy Boyfriend Jeans, $79.95, available at GapHope Stay Jeans, $202, available at Totokaelo. 

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. 

Madewell Braided Friendship Bracelet, $10, available at MadewellBottega Veneta Fire Nappa Bracelet, $210, available at Bottega Veneta.

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. 

Pierre Hardy Sandal, $595, available at ShiriseZara Platform Sandal, $99.90, available at Zara 

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. 

Barneys Co-op Jean Belt, $138, available at BarneysLevi’s Favorite Belt, $38, available at Levi’s. 

25. The Panama Hat — We all need some summer shade, but why not make sure your sun protection still packs some attitude, too? 

Rip Curl Santa Monica Hat, $24, available at SwellSteven Alan Carla Hat, $148, available at Steven Alan. 

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. 

Prada Crystal Earrings, $540, available at PradaWallis Red Square Earrings, $12, available at Wallis. 

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. 

Keen Women’s Santiago Sneaker, $49.95, available at DSWY-3 White Plimsoll Sneakers, $250, available at SSense.

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. 

Falchi by Falchi Gold and Turquoise Ribbon Necklace, $38, available at Macy’sTory Burch Cactus Wreath Necklace, $425, available at Tory Burch. 

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. 

Reed Krakoff Bag, $613.04, available at ColetteNasty Gal Even Satchel, $60, available at Nasty Gal.

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. 

H&M Scarf, $6.95, available at H&MNina Ricci Floral Print Silk Scarf, $309, available at MyTheresa.

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