Top 10 summer essentials your closet needs

Summer essentials are the items you wear over and over again. The basics that you need to pull together fabulous looks all summer long.

Photo courtesy of Anthropologie

These items are the backbone of your closet and your capsule wardrobe if you dress from one. Once these are in place you simply add in accessories, layers, bold colors, and patterns to make these items look different each time you wear them.

These clothing items are the foundation for your summer capsule wardrobe.

What do you need in the summer?

Short answer, not much.

But it’s fun to have an expansive summer wardrobe. You can achieve this with some careful planning. We don’t need more clothes, just the right ones.

I have a list of 10 essential summer clothing items that I always have in my closet. With these in place, your wardrobe will be in tip-top shape. These are the basics, your true summer essentials.

White t-shirt as summer essential

If you’ve been around here for a while, you know I’m a big fan of white t-shirts. I always have a crew neck and v-neck and refresh them often because white can get beat up. These are great because they go with everything, don’t show when you’re sweating and nothing is better than white to stay cool.


Sandals let your feet breathe, keep you cool and offer another chance to share your style. In a neutral color, these can be worn on repeat all summer (and into the fall) long. I’m in a real comfort sandal mode these days. Call it aging feet, but they just feel better and I’m more likely to reach for them. My Sarah Jessica Parker wanna-be days are waaay over. So no more heels for me right now. Maybe one day that will change, time will tell. But a great pair of flat summer sandals can take you all the places you need to be this season.

White dress summer essential

If a white t-shirt is cool, then a white dress must be cooler, right? Not sure, but a crisp white dress is such a fresh summer look. You can change it up with shoes and jewelry, it is truly a clean slate that will keep you cool and stylish.

Black dress

I know black isn’t a color you think of when staying cool. But black is so easy to wear. It hides a multitude of sins, spills, and various issues and it’s an easy neutral that is sleek and sophisticated. These options are in light silhouettes to make up for the dark hot color.

Cute summer tote

You need an easy-breezy bag to pair with all of these clothing essentials. Here are a few suggestions for you. Plenty of room for your swimsuit and a towel in each of these, because you never know when a pool party might break out. I ❤️ pool parties.

The anti-short summer option

A skirt is a great option if shorts aren’t your thing. They don’t pinch and grab, air flows freely, and they are so comfy. Just make sure you get an elastic waistband or one that isn’t tight. This can kill all the good that a skirt has to offer. You can go short or long, but for the heat, I suggest a flowy silhouette over a tight or fitted one.

A hat is the most important summer essential

I was in Palm Springs recently, and it was hot. I threw on a hat with almost every outfit I wore and it felt cooler. It also pulled together my look and hid my unstyled hair. It was a total win. Add a hat to your summer outfits, not only for the shade and sun protection but for the style.

White pants are essential for summer wear

Again with the cool white, this time in the shape of loose flowy pants. An alternative to a skirt, easy to wear and always in style during the hot months of summer. Throw on a t-shirt, light sweater if you’re at the beach, whatever works. These are so versatile and comfy.


A great way to add a pop of color, elevate your style and protect your eyes from UV rays is to throw on a pair of sunglasses. I love wearing them in colors, but a neutral pair in the right bold shape can be a statement as well. These can take you from the pool to dinner keeping you stylish and safe.

green sunglasses are a great summer essential
Quay square shades
camel colored cat eye shaped sunglasses are a summer essential
Le Specs Air Heart
blush colored square shaped sunglasses for a great summer essential
Blush square shaped sunnies

The ever-controversial summer essential—shorts

You either love them or you hate them, but they are a big part of summer. My sister and I always have this debate. I’m team dress, she’s team shorts and you know what, we still love each other and get along. I even bought a new pair of shorts this summer, we’ll see how that goes. But these neutral pairs are great staples if shorts are your jam. I always go for a loose leg, fuller cut through the booty and hips, and at least a 5” inseam. I find these the most flattering and comfortable to wear.

Create your own summer essentials list. You can use this to start but take out what you don’t like, and add what you do.

I’m sure you have many of these items in your closet, the basics for the foundation of your summer capsule. Go dig them out, and put them in a special place in your closet. We can take these and build out a colorful, vibrant, stylish summer capsule wardrobe. Summer essentials are the first step to doing this, now you’re equipped to get started.



I show women over 50 how to get noticed, stay relevant, and be connected through their wardrobe. Getting dressed is something you have to do each day, why not make it fun.



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