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As far as seasonal wardrobes go, summer isn’t my favorite one to shop for. I have nothing against warm weather — in fact, I favor summer nights over almost anything — but there’s no shame in saying that shopping for tank tops or sweat-wicking bike shorts is far less exciting than finding the absolute perfect leather jacket or knee-high boots.
Still, until a couple of years ago, I was doing summer shopping all wrong: Instead of looking specifically for items that I’d be excited to wear, I relied on the garments that I usually wore underneath sweaters or jackets the rest of the year. Once I started treating summer shopping as a proper excuse to spend money on items that make me look forward to getting dressed, I was able to build a warm-weather wardrobe full of must-have basics that I’ve not once regretted buying. The satisfaction of finding the perfect cropped tank to wear with my favorite low-waisted jeans — or the cardigan that I’ve somehow worn for four days straight — is surprisingly high.
That’s all to say: Never underestimate the power of a truly fantastic high-cut bodysuit or a poplin button-down that doesn’t make you feel like you’re picking through spring’s rejects. Ahead are 15 summer basics that I always stock up on for summer.
A white button-down is a summer savior: It not only makes any outfit look significantly more put together, but it also acts as a great swim cover-up or jacket for summer beach days that turn into summer beach nights.
Babaton Finley Sweater, $110
I used to think cardigans were the antithesis of style, but modern, tight-knit ribbed styles look fresh when buttoned at the top and worn with trousers.
I tend to reach for a cropped tank nine times out of 10, but this full-length racerback style pairs perfectly with low-waisted trousers and skirts.
(This is the tank I reach for nine times out of 10.) It washes well, won’t stretch out and is form-fitting enough to wear without a bra.
Medina Tropic Top, $196
I love to sub in a bathing suit top as an actual top when it’s appropriate — which, for me, is just about anywhere but work.
DRESSES + BOTTOMS
DL1961 Emilie Short, $129
I’ve outgrown most distressed short styles, but this white pair from DL1961 veers sophisticated when worn with a white button-down.
Mango Wide-Leg Pleated Trousers, $79.99
A summer suit should be light, airy and ideally worn with just a bathing suit top if you ask me.
A simple cut-out dress like this knit style is a summer 2022 must-have.
Mango Lyocell Fitted Dress, $69.99
Is there anything that signals the start of summer more than a white dress?
There’s nothing chicer than a simple, strappy sandal. A neutral one like this style from OAK + FORT will instantly elevate any outfit.
Banana Republic Modern Straw Tote, $39.99 (Orig. $79.99)
I’m not a huge proponent of straw bags, but this black iteration feels unexpected enough for the beach — but simple enough for everyday wear, too.
These platform sandals offer a great alternative to slides, which can often seem too casual.
I’m not sure why we don’t talk about underwear as a summer essential: Breathable cotton underwear tops my list for summer must-haves, and this SKIMS style is majorly comfortable.
Alo Thrill-Seeker Bodysuit, $69 (Orig. $98)
A high-cut, square-neck bodysuit feels modern in a way that not many summer pieces do. I wear mine with everything from sweats to jeans.
Vehla Felix Sunglasses, $160
Sunglasses are the one accessory I don’t mind going trend-first with. This chic pair from Vehla feels distinctly modern.
If you enjoyed this story, check out these spring/summer 2022 shoe trends that Lauren Caruso can’t wait to try ASAP!