As the weather warms up, it’s time to start thinking about your summer wardrobe and the key pieces you’ll need to stay cool and stylish this season. These summer wardrobe essentials can be seamlessly integrated into your existing wardrobe and offer chic ways to update your look. If you invest in a few smart pieces and incorporate them into your closet, you’ll feel polished both at work and at play.
Here are five fashion-forward yet timeless summer wardrobe essentials that are anything but basic.
1. Fun Floral Dresses
Nothing says summer like a new floral sundress. Whether in a pretty pastel shade or a monochromatic color palette, a silky or floaty frock is the ultimate summer staple. Depending on what assets you want to highlight, you can opt for A-line, halter neck, fit and flare, or shift styles in a lightweight material. It can be dressed up at work or for an elegant event with sandals and a blazer, cardigan, or shawl. For date night, dinner with friends, or a weekend outing, make it more casual with a jean jacket, leather jacket, or cardigan with flats, wedges, or mules.
2. Pastel Tailored Pants
These foundational wardrobe pieces are year-round essentials when worn with the right top. Tailored trousers in a straight leg or slim fit (pleated or unpleated—choose what’s right for you) that hit just at or above the ankle are great for summer in black, beige, and white. Experiment with baby blue, peach, pale pink, and violet (even for the office), and pair them with a white blouse or button-down for a professional look. A smart wedge sandal or flat is good for work settings, but you can dress them up or down with mules, strappy sandals, or sneakers. When it comes to weekend wear, these truly versatile pants work well with simple T-shirts and tanks.
3. Floral Blouses
A sleeveless floral blouse is always a good choice to freshen up a business or casual ensemble. Worn with a crisp pair of tailored trousers or a pencil skirt, this top is work-appropriate and can be worn more casually with jeans (blue, black, or white) to brunch on the weekends. Whether in a bright color, muted hue, or black and white, a fresh flowery blouse is very summer-friendly. A lightweight cardigan sweater is a good addition for cold offices and chilly nights.
4. Tailored Shorts
The new suiting must-have for summer is tailored, Bermuda-length shorts. They are appropriate for the office (no denim or short shorts, please) when in a muted, pastel, or neutral hue and paired with a button-down shirt, silk blouse, and complementary blazer or structured cardigan. You can experiment with lengths, widths, and pleats to find the combination that’s right for your body type, but generally, tailored, unpleated silhouettes are the most flattering. Cotton, denim, and jersey fabrics are best suited for weekend wear (with a tank or T-shirt), but for work, opt for a blend, linen, or structured fabric that feels more polished. A print like plaid, polka dots, windowpane, or stripes are good office options—keep the animal prints, florals, and mixed prints for your days off.
5. Light Knits and Cover-Ups
Whether you’re seeking extra warmth in an overly air-conditioned office or a cover-up for a chilly night out, a nice neutral or floral cardigan is always good to have on hand. A lightweight material like a cotton, silk, or rayon/nylon blend breathes easily and will complement many looks, including a dress, pant or skirt suit, or casual ensemble.
Featured in this article:
Slim Crop Pants, $79
Woven-Front Cardigan, $79