30 Summer Wardrobe Essentials You Need, Stat

Why is it that in the season where we want to wear nothing, we end up hoarding the most stuff? Just think about the amount of swimsuits, shirts, dresses, and sandals taking up room in your closet (and try not to think about the stuff you haven't even unpacked yet from under your bed). 

There's a reason for all the clutter though: For us social overachievers, every warm day of the year is filled with activities, events, dates, and shindigs…which can make you feel like you need a new outfit for each new frolic. But, there's really no need. In an effort to streamline what we already have and come up with a game plan for the first shopping trip of the season, we've come up with this year's 30 Summer Wardrobe Essentials. Take a gander and commit this to memory, so you can focus on the truly important things about summer (like, say, trying every single margarita served in your neighborhood). Good luck!


1. The Maxi-Dress — Maybe you're bored with your maxi-dresses from last year, or maybe you just wore it so much you're craving some variety in the mix. Whatever the reason, the maxi is still on top of its sartorial game, and this summer's offerings are a touch swankier, giving them loads more versatility.  

T-Bags Embellished Necklace Maxi Dress, $288.75, available at My-WardrobeUniqlo Women Dop Suno Maxi Sleeveless Dress, $39.90, available at Uniqlo.


2. The Paper-Thin Tee — No explanation necessary. This 100-hit wonder just works, no matter the occasion or what you're pairing it with. We say, stock up on styles that offer a little structure balanced with just the right drape.  

T by Alexander Wang Linen Stripe Tee, $125, available at La GarçonneJ.Crew Vintage Cotton Tee, $25, available at J.Crew.


3. The Full Skirt — Our version of the summer party dress, the full skirt is all we want to wear when the style stakes are a little higher. Try yours with a bateau top or a basic, fitted button-down. This is summer statement-making at its finest.  

Topshop Floral Embroidered Calf Skirt, $130, available at TopshopPreen Sims Floral Paintdrip Printed Duchesse Full Satin Skirt, $816.75, available at My-Wardrobe.


4. The Breezy Button-Up — We spotted Jenna Lyons in one of these a few months ago, and for some reason, the image just stuck…and ended up being perfect for the summer season. We've been wearing ours with long and loose, gold or silver chains and slouchy jeans with heels. It's ease and elegance, redefined.  

Everlane Silk Blouse, $80, available at EverlaneEquipment Diem Clean, $218, available at Equipment.


5. The Denim Vest — The very best replacement for your spring blazer or denim jacket, the denim vest goes with practically everything and is just the thing to add a little edge to a pair of cropped printed pants, summer dress, jumpsuit…the list goes on!  

Rebecca Taylor Denim Vest, $295, available at Rebecca TaylorMango Denim Gilet, $45, available at House of Fraser.


6. The Modern Sundress — No question, sundresses are a savior no matter where you're spending your summer. But this time around, we searched for one that was a little more fashion-forward, and a little less frumpy. Mission accomplished.  

Band of Outsiders Striped Cotton Dress, $695, available at Net-A-PorterASOS Midi Dress in Spot and Stripe Scarf Print, $81.46, available at ASOS.


7. The White Jean — Total summertime Wardrobe Essential hall-of-famer, the white jean is THE hot-weather go-to. So super-chic and reminiscent of Jackie and Valentino traipsing around the South of France…umm, did we say chic?  

AE Skinny Jean, $39.99, available at American EagleMother Looking IN Broken Mirror, $147.99, available at Need Supply.


8. The Structured Shopper — Total no-brainer, easy, practical, goes with everything, and FITS everything. Just take it everywhere and enjoy a hands-free summer in the chicest possible way.  

Marni Shopper, $630, available at MarniScotch & Soda Raffia Shopper, $110, available at Scotch & Soda.


9. The Summer Knit — For chilly office environments or balmy nights by the bonfire, a lightweight knit that feels summery will help you stay warm without looking like you dug out last December's holiday sweater. 

A.P.C. Leopard Print Raglan Sweatshirt, $135, available at A.P.C.Massimo Dutti Open Work Sweater, $69.50, available at Massimo Dutti.


10. The Casual Friday Short — Let's face it, micro-shorts just aren't everyone's bag, which is why we're so psyched the longer Bermuda version is summer's best defense against high heat while delivering a longer, leaner silhouette…yes, these are sort of culottes, but we say GO FOR IT.  

Robert Cavalli Floral Print Crepe Bermuda Shorts, $259, available at The OutnetZara Pleated Culottes, $59.90, available at Zara.


11. The Flowy Top — Heavy-duty humidity totally stinks, but that's never a reason to forgo a beautiful blouse, even if it is hot as hell. Thanks to the arrival of the sexy, summer-perfect drapey top, you'll be able to keep your cool all day long, no matter what you pair it with.  

Pixie Market Marrakesh Silk Blouse, $86, available at Pixie MarketParker Silk Flowy Top, $198, available at Neiman Marcus.


12. The Draped Trouser — This drama-packed pant has a recurring role in our Essentials stories, and this summer is no different. Our favorite versions of the moment boast fun, far-out prints, and easy workday-to-weekend potential…just the way we like it.    

LOFT Marisa Drapey Pants, $64.99, available at LOFTWes Gordon Swan Print Pant, $626, available at Kirna Zabete.


13. The Pointed-Toe Flat — In the battle of rounds versus points, summer's got the latter in spades. Sling-back or strappy, this new shoe is a little more grown-up and smarter than your average ballet flat, but just as practical.   

Candela Jon Snow, $185, available at CandelaReport Shelli Slingback Skimmer, $65, available at Urban Outfitters.


14. The Sophisticated Swimsuit — Whether you're a two-piece girl or a one-piece gal, this season's sophisticated swimsuit is a sleek essential for beach-going, terrace-lounging, you name it. Post dip, try it under a long maxi-skirt for a casual summer dinner. We like! 

Zimmermann Wanderlust 1pc, $310, available at ZimmermannLolli Peplum One Piece Swimsuit, $100, available at Urban Outfitters.


15. The Bateau Top — No question, a simple, striped T-shirt is summer's secret weapon, and if yours from last year is a little worse for wear, this is a great chance to upgrade, tout suite.  

Jack Wills Alburgh Breton Tee, $49.50, available at Jack WillsBy Malene Birger Sailor Striped Knit Top, $117, available at Saks.


16. The Kimono Jacket — For a coverup that's part Don Ho and part Nicole Richie, the kimono jacket is casual enough to wrap up your shorts-and-tee outfit, but chic enough to keep your LBD-clad self warm during chilly rooftop soirées. 

Biba Kimono Jacket, $105, available at House of FraserNasty Gal Posy Kimono Jacket, $72, available at Nasty Gal.


17. The Flat Neutral Sandal — A super-flat, super-simple sandal is indispensable for those mornings where you want to be a little kinder to your feet. And you'd be surprised…these sandals will literally go with everything.

H&M Sandals, $24.95, available at H&MSaint Laurent Strappy Flat Leather Sandals, $895, available at Bergdorf Goodman.


18. The Striped Pant — Don't be scared — just because Beetlejuice rocked them, doesn't mean that you've got to do it that way, too. In fact, we love how easy it is to style a vertical-striped pant. Just throw on a pair of flats, an easy tee, and you're good to go! 

3.1 Phillip Lim Straight Leg Floral Print Trouser, $586.85, available at FarfetchBy Zoe Striped Lorens Pant, $202.50, available at Madewell.


19. Embellished Hoop Earrings — You've been wearing plain hoop earrings with your cutoffs and tanks since you were allowed to get your ears pierced ages ago…so step it up a bit this season with an embellished pair. From organic-looking fauna to delightfully kitschy charms, these hoops are definitely not your starter set from the mall. 

Pamela Love Large Thorn Hoop Earrings, $130, available at Opening CeremonyBoohoo Lara Star Hoop Earrings, $10, available at Boohoo.


20. The Printed Sunglasses — You're basically an expert on wearing prints-on-prints by now. The last frontier? Your sunglasses. Mosaic tiles, sketchy hashmarks, or an all-over floral will let you extend your expertise to your sunnies game this summer. 

Quay Retro Sunglasses, $38, available at NordstromWunderkind Mosaic Print Sunglasses, $310, available at Avenue 32.


21. The Relaxed-Fit Jean — Sure, they're slightly slouchy, but there's no reason that the relaxed-fit jean should ever be considered schlubby. We love wearing ours in the summer with soft shirts and strappy heeled sandals. 

Rag & bone Boyfriend Jean, $220, available at La GarçonneLevi's Cropped Selvedge Boyfriend Jeans, $46.99, available at Piperlime.


22. The Dainty Bracelet — The dainty bracelet is the sophisticated older sister of last year's friendship bracelet. Smaller, simpler, and a tad more special-feeling, this season's bracelet is calling for an "arm tête–à–tête" instead of a full-on party. 

Tassia Canellis Gri Gri Fluorescent Yarn Bracelet, $38, available at Steven AlanMeredith Hahn Jemima Bracelet, $62, available at Meredith Hahn.


23. The Ankle-Strap Heel — You know that sunny days and warm weather just makes you want to walk everywhere, even when you're dressed to the nines. An ankle-strap sandal with a heel is our go-to fancy shoe during the summer not only for its good looks, but also for its practicality. 

Alexander Wang Anjelica, $438, available at Alexander WangJeffrey Campbell Encase Sandal, $67, available at Need Supply Co.


24. The Embellished Belt — Perfect for cinching skirts, topping off high-waisted shorts, or streamlining dresses, the embellished belt lets you go easy on the rest of your accessorizing that day. 

Matthew WIlliamson Embellished Suede Belt, $330, available at Net-A-PorterAnthropologie The Glitz Belt, $$48, available at Anthropologie.


25. The Panama Hat — A wide-brimmed Panama hat really can't be beat for blocking out the sun, and making you look like Jane Birkin (what — that's not everyone's summertime goal?). 

Acne Aldo Panama Hat, $320, available at MyTheresaBDG Straw Panama Hat, $29, available at Urban Outfitters.


26. The Grecian Headband — Worn low on your hairline or high up, the traditional way, the Grecian headband helps keep your sweaty locks in place, but somehow transforms your bedhead into an intentional "effortless" 'do. We love wearing ours with a super-casual outfit as an unexpected pop of bling. 

Jennifer Behr Rope Hitch Metallic Headband, $130, available at Net-A-PorterBCBG Chain Elastic Headband, $58, available at BCBG.


27. The White Sneaker — It's impossible to keep these bad boys pristine, but that's exactly the point. A scuffed-up, dirty white sneaker is synonymous with summer for us. 

Chuck Taylor Washed Twill, $55, available at ConverseGivenchy Leather High Top Sneakers, $734, available at MyTheresa.


28. The Choker — Wear it on top of all those shoulder baring halter neck styles you've been collecting or against bare skin in a more décolletage-revealing top. But make sure your modern choker is on the more substantial side — we want to channel the '90s, not resurrect it, after all! 

New Look Gold Egyptian Gem Disc Necklace, $25, available at New LookAurélie Bidermann Santa Fe Necklace, $750, available at Net-A-Porter.


29. The Adult Crossbody — A structured, sleek crossbody bag with grown-up hardware is imperative for hot nights in the city (or hotter days shlepping it across town). But, that doesn't mean you have to go ho-hum with the colors. Rainbow hues work best with this shape! 

Zara City Bag with Metallic Foldover Flaps, $79.90, available at ZaraKenzo Pouch, $759, available at Opening Ceremony.


30. The Overall — If there's ever been a time to get behind the overall, it's now. With a slimmer shape, a more lightweight denim, and smarter styling tips (like, don't wear them with your light-up Rainbow Brite L.A. Gears this time around), these overalls are definitely not the OshKoshes you remember. Wear them with towering heels, slim-fit tops, and a bright lip. 

Citizens of Humanity Quincy Distressed Stretch Denim Overalls, $297, available at Net-A-PorterNasty Gal Lazy Afternoon Overalls, $88, available at Nasty Gal.

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