Summer Wardrobe Essentials

Summer Wardrobe Essentials

The first day of summer is officially tomorrow, but most of us have been experiencing summer temperatures for weeks already, so today I’m updating my list of summer wardrobe essentials for anyone still working out their summer closet.


While the spring-to-summer transition is much more subtle than winter-to-spring or summer-to-fall, I still like to reassess and freshen up my wardrobe for the summer season. I also rearrange my closet and bring the lighter items that I’m wearing more to the front and move the darker/heavier items to the back.

2024 Summer Wardrobe Essentials

Every woman is different so these “essentials” are really more like suggestions. As I always say, take into consideration your job, lifestyle, and budget when making your list. I have a very casual lifestyle so that’s reflected in this list. If you need work wear for a professional environment, your list may look a little different, but this should still be a good starting point.

#1. White Jeans

1 1

PAIGE Anessa (29) // PAIGE Claudine (29)

White jeans are one of the mainstays of my summer wardrobe. They make a crisp statement and pair well with everything from neutrals to pastels to brights. I like to have several different silhouettes that I can rotate, depending on my mood and the overall look I’m going for when I’m pulling an outfit together.

Current favorites are the PAIGE Claudine, an ankle flare jean with raw hems and a high-rise waist; the Good American Good Straight, a straight leg style with raw hems and a high-rise waist; and the PAIGE Nellie, a wide leg crop style with trouser style hems. And this year, I’ve also added an ecru pair to my lineup, since off-white denim is trending. The PAIGE Anessa is a wide leg crop style with raw hems and a high-rise waist, and the utility pockets are a fun trendy detail.

For more budget-friendly options, I recommend looking at the Gap Factory Mid Rise Kick Fit Jeans, the Gap Factory High Rise Wide-Leg Utility Crop Jeans, and the LOFT High Rise Kick Crop Jeans. Also, the KUT from the Kloth Catherine is a nice straight crop style.

Shop White Denim for Summer:

#2. Denim and Non-Denim Shorts

1 1

KUT from the Kloth Jane (8) // Sanctuary Renegade Shorts (29)

I spend most of my summer days at home, so I don’t need work wear, and it gets pretty hot here in Philadelphia in the summer months. All that to say, I wear shorts almost every day at some point, so I like to have a mix of denim and non-denim options.

For jean shorts, the KUT from the Kloth Jane is my favorite style. They’re cut closer to the leg than most, which is what I prefer for my body type, and they have the perfect 4″ inseam. I have them in the white and a mid-wash blue denim. I also like this 5″ rolled cuff style at Gap Factory, and for a more splurge-worthy pair, I love the AG Becke (more sizes here) with the 5 1/2″ inseam and raw hems.

My favorite non-denim shorts are the Sanctuary Renegade Shorts with rolled hems and front patch pockets in a versatile olive green, and the Faherty Stretch Terry Shorts with a high waist and on-trend patch pockets in a chic washed black.

STYLE TIP: Every woman has a different “sweet spot” for shorts inseam length. If you aren’t sure about yours, take pictures in different styles and compare. You may also like my post, Dos and Don’ts for Wearing Shorts.

Shop Shorts for Summer:

#3. A Good White Tee

1 1

Splendid Faye V-Neck Tee (M) // FRAME Le Mid-Rise V-Neck T-Shirt (XS)

A good white tee is foundational to my summer wardrobe. I often wear them alone with jeans or a colored bottom, and they layer well under jackets and cardigans. For that reason, I’m willing to spend a little more on my white t-shirts, but you can also find good budget-friendly options if that’s your preference.

Choose a tee that fits well and a neckline that flatters you. A v-neck is pretty much universally flattering, and my personal preference, but you can always do a scoop neck or a crewneck if that works better for you. I love the FRAME Le Mid-Rise V-Neck T-Shirt and the ATM Schoolboy V-Neck Tee for splurge-worthy options. Both have unique details that make them more interesting than a basic tee, and the quality of fabric and fit are superb.

A good mid-price option is the Splendid Faye V-Neck Tee; it’s more fitted and is my favorite for layering. Good budget-friendly options are the Madewell Whisper Cotton V-Neck Pocket Tee, the Gap Factory Relaxed Linen-Blend Scoopneck T-Shirt, and the Nordstrom V-Neck Cotton T-Shirt.

Shop White T-Shirts for Summer:

#4. Linen Pants

1 1

KUT from the Kloth Topaz Crop Wide Leg Linen Blend Pants (also at Zappos) (6) // Gap Factory Linen-Blend Wide-Leg Cargo Pants (S)

This is a new category I’m adding this year because linen pants are so popular right now, and they’re such a good alternative to shorts and jeans for the summer heat. I prefer styles that button and zip, as opposed to the more traditional pull-on styles, but fortunately there are a lot of both options out right now.

My current favorites are the KUT from the Kloth Topaz, which are a wide-leg crop, and the KUT from the Kloth Meg, a full-length wide-leg style.

Shop Linen Pants for Summer:

#5. Skirts & Skorts

1 1

KUT from the Kloth Bristol Utility Skirt (8) // Evereve Yara Midi Skirt (S)

Casual skirts are another nice alternative to shorts and jeans in the summertime, and these days anything goes — from midi and maxi skirts to mini and knee-length skirts.

I’ve been embracing the denim skirts lately. They’re a great way to level up a basic white tee, or you can pair them with an elevated top or summer sweater. I love the KUT from the Kloth Bristol Utility Skirt, with a 17″ length that hits a couple inches above the knee; the denim is super lightweight and soft and comfortable. I also really like the Rails Highland, a midi length style with a subtle A-line silhouette.

Bias cut midi skirts in summery prints are also trending right now, and I recently added the Evereve Yara Midi Skirt to my summer wardrobe. I also included a couple of skorts in my recommendations below.

Shop Skirts & Skorts for Summer:

#6. Dresses

1 1

Gap Factory Foreversoft Sarong Mini Dress (M) // Frank & Eileen Rory Maxi Shirtdress c/o (S)

Dresses are great for the summer months because they’re “one and done,” and they can keep you cooler than pants and shorts. I don’t wear a lot of dresses for everyday casual wear, but I try to have a several summer dresses in varying levels of formality for special events that might crop up.

A current favorite is the Gap Factory Foreversoft Sarong Mini Dress, pictured above. I love how the sarong tie waist gives the classic t-shirt dress a little more pizzazz, and it’s super flattering, too. I also love the Tommy Bahama Palma A Dora Sleeveless Sheath Dress in a breezy linen fabric and the LOFT Chambray Linen Pocket Shift Dress.

A more splurge-worthy style that I recently added to my summer wardrobe is the Frank & Eileen Rory Maxi Shirtdress. It has a long and lean silhouette that elongates your torso and feels light and airy, and I love the hand-distressed shirttail hem and bust flattering button placement. Also, the Ming Wang Sleeveless Scoop Neck Side Slit Tank Bodycon Dress is a gorgeous and chic all-occasion dress that’s super flattering and easy to dress up or down.

Shop Summer Dresses:

#7. Sandals

1 1

Open Edit Tawney Sandal (8) // Birkenstock Madrid (39)

When it comes to footwear, sandals are pretty much synonymous with summer, so if course they deserve a place in this list. I recommend neutral sandals for your basic wardrobe essentials because they’re so versatile, but once you get your basics situated, you can branch out with some fun colors.

As far as trending styles, slides are having a moment, as are thong styles. Kitten heels are popular for dressier styles, and comfort sandals with molded footbeds are also trending, which is awesome because you can have your cake and eat it too! Comfort sandals that aren’t frumpy is my love language.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: Spring 2024 Sandal Edit and The Best Comfort Sandals That Aren’t Frumpy

#8. Elevated Tops

1 1

bobi Utility Tee (M) // Splendid St. Tropez Linen Blend Top (S)

This is another new addition to my summer wardrobe essentials list because we are seeing more polished looks trending this season. In fact, I’ve heard it said that ultra casual looks are becoming the new frumpy.

I’m not so sure I’d go that far… It is possible to do super casual looks in a chic and modern way, but I agree that more polished looks are where the fashion scene is headed right now. Linen pants are replacing denim and joggers, and elevated tops and blouses are replacing plain tees and tanks.

For that reason, I’ve been intentionally adding more elevated and beyond-basic tops to my summer wardrobe this year. Current favorites are the Splendid St. Tropez Linen Blend Top with the airy ladder stitching, the bobi Utility Tee in the soft olive knit fabric, and this Madewell Boxy Cap-Sleeve Shirt in a crisp white linen. I’m also a huge fan of sweater tanks and short sleeve sweaters for leveling up my denim and shorts.

Shop Elevated Tops for Summer:

#9. Summer Handbag

1 1

Rebecca Minkoff Medium Edie Convertible Crossbody Bag // NAGHEDI Nomad Hobo in Cashmere

When reassessing your summer wardrobe, don’t forget your handbag. You can have on the cutest summer outfit and totally ruin it by carrying a heavy, dark leather bag. Handbag trends right now are all about the light neutrals and natural fabrics.

I love my Rebecca Minkoff raffia shoulder bag with gold hardware for dressier looks, and my NAGHEDI Nomad Hobo in the woven neoprene fabric is great for everyday. Last year, I splurged on this Dragon Diffusion woven leather tote that is absolutely gorgeous, and it goes with almost everything, but it’s hard to find. They’re all handmade so they go in and out of stock frequently.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: 2024 Summer Handbag Edit

Shop Summer Handbags:

#10. Sunglasses

1 1

DIFF Bella 54 mm Polarized Sunglasses // Tom Ford Selby 55mm Square Sunglasses

Everyone needs a chic pair of sunglasses. Not only do they protect your eyes from the sun, they also make a fashion statement, and you can find a great pair at any price point.

The Tom Ford Selby is the newest addition to my sunglasses collection, and they’re gorgeous. For a more budget-friendly but still good quality pair of sunglasses, I’m a huge fan of DIFF. I have the Bella and the Ruby.

#11. Bathing Suit + Coverup

1 1

Marine Layer Open Stitch Cover Up (M) (budget option) // Sea Level Cross Front One Piece Swimsuit (8) // Sea Level Stripe Mesh Swim Cover Up (M)

Oh, yes, the dreaded bathing suit. If you’re anything like me, you’ll be spending a lot of time at the pool this summer, and having a well-fitting bathing suit is a must. Check out my 2024 Swimsuit Guide for lots of options, and also these stylish swim cover-ups under $100.

Shop Swimsuits & Cover Ups:

To Sum It Up!

This list of summer wardrobe essentials isn’t exhaustive, but it should get you started.

If you’re still noticing “holes” in your summer wardrobe (pieces you need to complete an outfit), start keeping list so you can be more intentional when you go shopping, and you’ll know what you need.

I hope this post helps as you form a foundation for your summer wardrobe. I’d love to hear what pieces you consider to be summer wardrobe essentials.



No comments yet. Why don’t you start the discussion?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *