23 Essentials For The Best Summer, Ever

With every new season comes a new uniform. Fall requires oversized sweaters; winter demands the chicest, most durable snow boots money can buy; spring wants us in a colorful new dress, and summer — well, summer’s a tough one. Ever-increasing temperatures makes skin-to-fabric contact less and less bearable, but a schedule packed with summer Fridays, outdoor parties, and vacations means that your outfits are getting more eyeballs than ever. So the summer uniform has to embody that elusive combination of coolness (stylish and lightweight), functionality, and adventure-friendly.

Bearing all of these requirements in mind, we set out to create an exhaustive list of every wardrobe building block you’re going to need this summer. From the compliment-grabbing crossbody bags to the dress for every wedding to the sandal that’s going to enhance your outfit without eating your feet alive, we’ve isolated the 23 pieces that are going to your make your June-through-August dressing experience a painless one, so that you can focus on scheduling happy hours, booking that beach house for the weekend, and perfecting your guacamole recipe.

At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. If you buy something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn commission.

<h3>The Eyelet Top</h3><p>The cotton lace top is a serious workhorse. It will fly at the office, make you feel cute on a Saturday, and can even go to the engagement party when paired with a dressy pant or skirt. This particular blouse comes in <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Romwe-Womens-Sleeveless-Ruffle-Embroidery/dp/B07RYRQ3QM/ref=sr_1_5?" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:pink" class="link ">pink</a> and <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Romwe-Womens-Sleeveless-Ruffle-Embroidery/dp/B07RRTPV4Z/ref=sr_1_5?" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:mustard" class="link ">mustard</a>, and the classic white version is available in sizes XS - 3X.</p><br><br><strong>Romwe</strong> Sleeveless Ruffle Stand Collar Blouse, $17.69, available at <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Romwe-Womens-Sleeveless-Ruffle-Embroidery/dp/B07SGQPC4W/ref=sr_1_5?" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Amazon" class="link ">Amazon</a>

The Eyelet Top

The cotton lace top is a serious workhorse. It will fly at the office, make you feel cute on a Saturday, and can even go to the engagement party when paired with a dressy pant or skirt. This particular blouse comes in pink and mustard, and the classic white version is available in sizes XS - 3X.



Romwe Sleeveless Ruffle Stand Collar Blouse, $17.69, available at Amazon
<h3>The Maillot That Makes The Outfit</h3><p>Don’t underestimate the power of a one-piece that makes a strong statement. This deceptively simple swimsuit packs a colorful, cheeky punch, and is revealing in all the right places.</p><br><br><strong>Summersalt</strong> The Deep Dive, $95, available at <a href="https://www.summersalt.com/products/the-deep-dive" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Summersalt" class="link ">Summersalt</a>

The Maillot That Makes The Outfit

Don’t underestimate the power of a one-piece that makes a strong statement. This deceptively simple swimsuit packs a colorful, cheeky punch, and is revealing in all the right places.



Summersalt The Deep Dive, $95, available at Summersalt
<h3><strong>The Easy Slip-Ons</strong></h3><p>The question isn’t “Will you wear slip-on canvas shoes this summer?” but rather, “Which canvas slip-ons will you choose to accompany every outfit, from jean ‘n’ tees to sundresses?” We vote for a on-trend tie-dye print — the light colors are perfect for print-mixing.</p><br><br><strong>Keds</strong> Double Decker Tie Dye, $44.95, available at <a href="https://www.keds.com/en/double-decker-tie-dye/33366W.html?dwvar_33366W_color=WF60056" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Keds.com" class="link ">Keds.com</a>

The Easy Slip-Ons

The question isn’t “Will you wear slip-on canvas shoes this summer?” but rather, “Which canvas slip-ons will you choose to accompany every outfit, from jean ‘n’ tees to sundresses?” We vote for a on-trend tie-dye print — the light colors are perfect for print-mixing.



Keds Double Decker Tie Dye, $44.95, available at Keds.com
<h3><strong>The LDD (Little Denim Dress)</strong></h3><p>When you just can’t bear the thought of putting on jeans <em>again,</em> opt for a dress. (Made of jeans, of course.)</p><br><br><strong>BDG</strong> Denim Button-Down Babydoll Midi Dress, $19.99, available at <a href="https://www.urbanoutfitters.com/shop/bdg-matilda-denim-button-down-babydoll-midi-dress?" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Urban Outfitters" class="link ">Urban Outfitters</a>

The LDD (Little Denim Dress)

When you just can’t bear the thought of putting on jeans again, opt for a dress. (Made of jeans, of course.)



BDG Denim Button-Down Babydoll Midi Dress, $19.99, available at Urban Outfitters
<h3><strong>The Packable Beach Bag</strong></h3><p>We couldn't live without our carry-all tote bags, especially during the summer. Stow your sunglasses, your book, a park blanket, and whatever other warm-weather essentials you need in this trusty companion.</p><br><br><strong>Baggu</strong> Big Baggu, $16, available at <a href="https://www.bando.com/products/big-baggu-cornflower-stripe" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Bando" class="link ">Bando</a>

The Packable Beach Bag

We couldn't live without our carry-all tote bags, especially during the summer. Stow your sunglasses, your book, a park blanket, and whatever other warm-weather essentials you need in this trusty companion.



Baggu Big Baggu, $16, available at Bando
<h3><strong>The Tailored Fashion Shorts</strong></h3><p>When you need short pants that still give off a dressed-up vibe, the fashion short is your friend. Dress them up with heels, à la Asos, or pair them with your slip-ons (see slide no. 2) for a sportier look. They’re the perfect solution to your denim cut-off fatigue.</p><br><br><strong>Stradivarius</strong> Longline Belted Shorts, $30, available at <a href="https://us.asos.com/stradivarius/stradivarius-longline-belted-shorts-in-yellow/prd/12033746?" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:ASOS" class="link ">ASOS</a>

The Tailored Fashion Shorts

When you need short pants that still give off a dressed-up vibe, the fashion short is your friend. Dress them up with heels, à la Asos, or pair them with your slip-ons (see slide no. 2) for a sportier look. They’re the perfect solution to your denim cut-off fatigue.



Stradivarius Longline Belted Shorts, $30, available at ASOS
<h3>The Paper-Thin Vintage Tee</h3><p>Nothing says “I woke up like this ... and came to your barbeque” like a perfectly broken-in vintage t-shirt. This piece will add a dose of edge to your jeans-and-t-shirts looks, function as the coolest beach cover-up, and will look smashing in your best high-low going out look.</p><br><br><strong>Unbranded</strong> “My Cat Walks All Over Me” Vintage T-Shirt, $21.5, available at <a href="https://www.etsy.com/listing/499486900/my-cat-walks-all-over-me-yellow-t-shirt?" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Etsy" class="link ">Etsy</a>

The Paper-Thin Vintage Tee

Nothing says “I woke up like this ... and came to your barbeque” like a perfectly broken-in vintage t-shirt. This piece will add a dose of edge to your jeans-and-t-shirts looks, function as the coolest beach cover-up, and will look smashing in your best high-low going out look.



Unbranded “My Cat Walks All Over Me” Vintage T-Shirt, $21.5, available at Etsy
<h3><strong>The Weekender</strong></h3><p>If our calculations are correct, you’ll use this luggage roughly 12 - 15 times this summer. <em>If</em> you’re lucky. Invest in a bag that will smartly stash a host of travel essentials — like this durable, high-capacity duffle with a zippered lower compartment for stashing shoes and packing cubes.</p><br><br><strong>Lo & Sons</strong> Catalina Deluxe Canvas Weekender, $128, available at <a href="https://www.loandsons.com/products/catalina-deluxe-washed-canvas-rose" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Lo & Sons" class="link ">Lo & Sons</a>

The Weekender

If our calculations are correct, you’ll use this luggage roughly 12 - 15 times this summer. If you’re lucky. Invest in a bag that will smartly stash a host of travel essentials — like this durable, high-capacity duffle with a zippered lower compartment for stashing shoes and packing cubes.



Lo & Sons Catalina Deluxe Canvas Weekender, $128, available at Lo & Sons
<h3>Bikini Top Or Crop Top?</h3><p>Stretch your swim looks by choosing a bikini top that will do double-duty as a crop-top with high-waisted pants and skirts.</p><br><br><strong>COS</strong> Asymmetrical Bikini Top, $23, available at <a href="https://www.cosstores.com/en_usd/women/sale/swimwear/product.asymmetrical-bikini-top-pink.0606577001.html" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:COS" class="link ">COS</a>

Bikini Top Or Crop Top?

Stretch your swim looks by choosing a bikini top that will do double-duty as a crop-top with high-waisted pants and skirts.



COS Asymmetrical Bikini Top, $23, available at COS
<h3><strong>A Go-To Guest Dress</strong></h3><p>Because you’ll need to stun at approximately 12 weddings, graduation parties, and meet-the-parents meals this summer, your wardrobe requires a breezy number you can wear over and over again that will keep you looking elegant and feeling cool.</p><br><br><strong>Mango</strong> Linen Wrap Dress, $59.99, available at <a href="https://shop.mango.com/us/women/dresses-midi/linen-wrap-dress_41019068.html?" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Mango" class="link ">Mango</a>

A Go-To Guest Dress

Because you’ll need to stun at approximately 12 weddings, graduation parties, and meet-the-parents meals this summer, your wardrobe requires a breezy number you can wear over and over again that will keep you looking elegant and feeling cool.



Mango Linen Wrap Dress, $59.99, available at Mango
<h3><strong>The Party Top</strong></h3><p>A peplum waist and sneaky cut-outs make this poplin blouse extra-festive — a good option for non-fancy, but still elevated, events. (We love that this top shows a little skin without showing any bra.)</p><br><br><strong>Pixie Market</strong> Max Shirt, $62, available at <a href="https://www.pixiemarket.com/collections/tops/products/max-shirt-15-off" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Pixie Market" class="link ">Pixie Market</a>

The Party Top

A peplum waist and sneaky cut-outs make this poplin blouse extra-festive — a good option for non-fancy, but still elevated, events. (We love that this top shows a little skin without showing any bra.)



Pixie Market Max Shirt, $62, available at Pixie Market
<h3><strong>The Sailor Jean</strong></h3><p>You’ll basically be living in these all summer long, so invest in a crisp, dark-wash pair that will break in as you pursue vacation nirvana. The high-waisted, cropped-flare feels fresh after several seasons of baggy boyfriend silhouettes.</p><br><br><strong>Rolla's</strong> Sailor Jeans, $99, available at <a href="https://www.shopbop.com/sailor-jean-rollas/vp/v=1/1549241262.htm?" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shopbop" class="link ">Shopbop</a>

The Sailor Jean

You’ll basically be living in these all summer long, so invest in a crisp, dark-wash pair that will break in as you pursue vacation nirvana. The high-waisted, cropped-flare feels fresh after several seasons of baggy boyfriend silhouettes.



Rolla's Sailor Jeans, $99, available at Shopbop
<h3><strong>The Double-Duty Coverup</strong></h3><p>This cover-up will have you lounging between dips in serious style. And with a dress this chic, if you need to throw on some heels and head right to dinner, no one will be any the wiser that you just spend a day in the sand.</p><br><br><strong>FP Beach</strong> Starlight Maxi Dress, $88, available at <a href="https://www.freepeople.com/shop/starlight-maxi-dress2/?" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Free People" class="link ">Free People</a>

The Double-Duty Coverup

This cover-up will have you lounging between dips in serious style. And with a dress this chic, if you need to throw on some heels and head right to dinner, no one will be any the wiser that you just spend a day in the sand.



FP Beach Starlight Maxi Dress, $88, available at Free People
<h3><strong>The Office Layer</strong></h3><p>Corporate buildings seem to have one rule in the summertime: keep everyone on their toes with extra-frigid AC. You’ll need a cute topper that will keep you warm when the indoor and outdoor temps differ by a good 20 degrees. This waist-skimming cardi is available in sizes XS - 3X, and comes in two very tempting colors: sensible navy and on-trend <a href="https://www.anthropologie.com/shop/banlieue-peplum-cardigan?category=SEARCHRESULTS&color=071" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:goldenrod" class="link ">goldenrod</a>.</p><br><br><strong>Anthropologie</strong> Banlieue Peplum Cardigan, $49.95, available at <a href="https://www.anthropologie.com/shop/banlieue-peplum-cardigan?" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Anthropologie" class="link ">Anthropologie</a>

The Office Layer

Corporate buildings seem to have one rule in the summertime: keep everyone on their toes with extra-frigid AC. You’ll need a cute topper that will keep you warm when the indoor and outdoor temps differ by a good 20 degrees. This waist-skimming cardi is available in sizes XS - 3X, and comes in two very tempting colors: sensible navy and on-trend goldenrod.



Anthropologie Banlieue Peplum Cardigan, $49.95, available at Anthropologie
<h3>These (Cute) Sandals Were Made For Walking</h3><p>Wimpy, unsupportive sandals need not apply this summer. There are plenty of open-toed options out there that check the boxes of both form and function.</p><br><br><strong>Opening Ceremony x Birkenstock </strong> Patent Zurich Sandal, $165, available at <a href="https://www.openingceremony.com/mens/opening-ceremony-x-birkenstock/fluro-patent-zurich-ST215548.html" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Opening Ceremony" class="link ">Opening Ceremony</a>

These (Cute) Sandals Were Made For Walking

Wimpy, unsupportive sandals need not apply this summer. There are plenty of open-toed options out there that check the boxes of both form and function.



Opening Ceremony x Birkenstock Patent Zurich Sandal, $165, available at Opening Ceremony
<h3>Flip-Flops</h3><p>The internet flew into quite a tizzy last fall when the <a href="https://www.dazeddigital.com/fashion/article/41149/1/mary-kate-and-ashley-olsen-the-row-flip-flops-fashion-week-wall-street-journal" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Olsen twins “resurrected” flip-flops" class="link ">Olsen twins “resurrected” flip-flops</a> — footwear that is, for many of us, a distant dorm-room memory. A year later, we’re still in a tizzy.</p><br><br><strong>Havaianas</strong> Havaianas Top Flip Flops, $18, available at <a href="https://www.zappos.com/p/havaianas-top-flip-flops-ruby-red/product/7579772/color/6181" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Zappos" class="link ">Zappos</a>

Flip-Flops

The internet flew into quite a tizzy last fall when the Olsen twins “resurrected” flip-flops — footwear that is, for many of us, a distant dorm-room memory. A year later, we’re still in a tizzy.



Havaianas Havaianas Top Flip Flops, $18, available at Zappos
<h3><strong>The Splurge-Worthy Sunglasses</strong></h3><p>We all know the merits of a cheap-and-cheerful pair of shades, but it also feels really good to invest in some super-special, statement-making eyewear. You’re going to wear them all summer anyway, so why not shell out for a pair that’s going to enhance every outfit?</p><br><br><strong>Sienna Alexander</strong> Jackie Split Sunglasses, $195, available at <a href="https://antidote.us/collections/mh/products/jackie-split" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Antidote+" class="link ">Antidote+</a>

The Splurge-Worthy Sunglasses

We all know the merits of a cheap-and-cheerful pair of shades, but it also feels really good to invest in some super-special, statement-making eyewear. You’re going to wear them all summer anyway, so why not shell out for a pair that’s going to enhance every outfit?



Sienna Alexander Jackie Split Sunglasses, $195, available at Antidote+
<h3><strong>The Summer Crossbody</strong></h3><p>Keys, wallet, phone, sunglasses — that’s it! Nothing’s going to weigh you down this summer as you gallivant around your city pursuing adventure. Keep a lightweight crossbody by your side to stash <em>only</em> the essentials.</p><br><br><strong>Charles & Keith</strong> Mini Duffle Crossbody, $59, available at <a href="https://www.charleskeith.com/us/bags/bags-all/crossbody-bag/mini-duffle-crossbody-bag-mustard-ck2-80780899.html" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Charles & Keith" class="link ">Charles & Keith</a>

The Summer Crossbody

Keys, wallet, phone, sunglasses — that’s it! Nothing’s going to weigh you down this summer as you gallivant around your city pursuing adventure. Keep a lightweight crossbody by your side to stash only the essentials.



Charles & Keith Mini Duffle Crossbody, $59, available at Charles & Keith
<h3><strong>The Light Erranding Bag</strong></h3><p>You know the drill — you wake up, step out for coffee, and end up at the farmers market. On the way home, you can’t help but browse the $1 rack sitting outside the bookstore... and then you pop into your favorite vintage boutique on the way home. Suddenly, you’ve been out for three hours and have a serious haul to unpack when you get home. A cross-body shopper will be your friend as you engage in these-warm weather wanderings.</p><br><br><strong>Nisolo</strong> Simone Crossbody Shopper, $158, available at <a href="https://nisolo.com/collections/womens-bags/products/womens-leather-crossbody-bucket-bag-natural-vachetta" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Nisolo" class="link ">Nisolo</a>

The Light Erranding Bag

You know the drill — you wake up, step out for coffee, and end up at the farmers market. On the way home, you can’t help but browse the $1 rack sitting outside the bookstore... and then you pop into your favorite vintage boutique on the way home. Suddenly, you’ve been out for three hours and have a serious haul to unpack when you get home. A cross-body shopper will be your friend as you engage in these-warm weather wanderings.



Nisolo Simone Crossbody Shopper, $158, available at Nisolo
<h3>The Party Pants</h3><p>Let your pant freak flag fly with a loud and proud pair of trousers that will function as a jean alternative.</p><br><br><strong>NEED</strong> Karina Carpenter Jean, $150, available at <a href="https://needsupply.com/womens/new/karina-carpenter-jean-1.html" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Need Supply" class="link ">Need Supply</a>

The Party Pants

Let your pant freak flag fly with a loud and proud pair of trousers that will function as a jean alternative.



NEED Karina Carpenter Jean, $150, available at Need Supply
<h3>A Straw <s>Hat</s> Visor</h3><p>We all know you need a thing made out of straw — with a brim — to protect your dermis from UV rays during those long park and beach days. Sure, you <em>could</em> pull out your trusty old straw hat, but why not mix it up this year try a visor? This simple Etsy version compresses into a neat little roll so you can pop it into your suitcase without fear of permanent disfiguration.</p><br><br><strong>Designs by Kekugi</strong> Packable Straw Visor, $32.4, available at <a href="https://www.etsy.com/listing/540734747/beach-hat-sun-visor-hat-straw-hat-sun?" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Etsy" class="link ">Etsy</a>

A Straw Hat Visor

We all know you need a thing made out of straw — with a brim — to protect your dermis from UV rays during those long park and beach days. Sure, you could pull out your trusty old straw hat, but why not mix it up this year try a visor? This simple Etsy version compresses into a neat little roll so you can pop it into your suitcase without fear of permanent disfiguration.



Designs by Kekugi Packable Straw Visor, $32.4, available at Etsy
<h3><strong>The Everday Cool Dress</strong></h3><p>Arm yourself with a dressier frock that will keep you cool as you hob-nob at casual weddings and backyard parties all summer long.</p><br><br><strong>& Other Stories</strong> Smocked Midi Dress, $119, available at <a href="https://www.stories.com/en_usd/clothing/dresses/product.smocked-midi-dress-beige.0792307002.html" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:& Other Stories" class="link ">& Other Stories</a>

The Everday Cool Dress

Arm yourself with a dressier frock that will keep you cool as you hob-nob at casual weddings and backyard parties all summer long.



& Other Stories Smocked Midi Dress, $119, available at & Other Stories
<h3>The Beach Jacket</h3><p>There’s only one place a jacket belongs during the months of June, July, and August: at the beach, after dark, preferably in front of a fire. (Bonus points if you manage to get any burnt-marshmallow or chocolate on it — we encourage wearing your s’mores battle scars with pride.)</p><br><br><strong>Free People</strong> Dolman Quilted Knit Jacket, $198, available at <a href="https://www.freepeople.com/shop/dolman-quilted-knit-jacket/?" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Free People" class="link ">Free People</a>

The Beach Jacket

There’s only one place a jacket belongs during the months of June, July, and August: at the beach, after dark, preferably in front of a fire. (Bonus points if you manage to get any burnt-marshmallow or chocolate on it — we encourage wearing your s’mores battle scars with pride.)



Free People Dolman Quilted Knit Jacket, $198, available at Free People

Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?

The 17 Best Finds From Net-A-Porter's Massive Summer Sale

These Are The 20 Styles That Are Selling Most On ASOS

12 Of The Cutest Plus Size Sundresses Under $50