My Most Worn Summer Wardrobe Staples

Someone asked me for a list of good summer investment pieces, and that got me to thinking about my most worn summer wardrobe items and which ones are worth investing in, so I came up with this list!

For wintertime, I think we all know what those are. A great-fitting pair of jeans, quality sweaters, footwear, maybe a versatile blazer or moto jacket… But summertime tends to be more casual, and for many areas of the continent, it’s a much shorter season.

For those reasons, most of us probably don’t spend as much on our spring/summer clothing as we do on fall/winter clothing, but that doesn’t mean there are no summer wardrobe items worth investing in.

7 Summer Wardrobe Pieces Worth Investing In

These are the summer wardrobe items I wear the most, and basically the top 7 pieces I would recommend investing in, if they fit your life and style.

#1. Versatile Knit Dress

black dress (size XS) // (similar denim jacket // braided slides (8) // navy dress (XS) // sneakers (39) // pink dress (sold out) // wedge sandals (sold out) //black dress (XS) // braided slides (8)

I never considered this an investment piece until I fell in love with the Eileen Fisher dress in hibiscus (pictured above) at the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale a few years ago. It was a lot to pay for a casual dress, but I loved the high quality and forgiving fit, so I brought it home with me.

As it turns out, it’s one of the best wardrobe investments I’ve ever made. I’ve worn this dress more times than I can count over the past few summers, and it still looks like new. On a cost per wear basis, it’s pennies at this point.

It’s no longer available, but you might like this Eileen Fisher tank dress that is currently on sale. I purchased it in black a few months ago because I’ve been wanting an alternative to the hibiscus one. And if you want another option, there’s a similar style in this year’s Nordstrom Anniversary Sale (the blue one pictured above).

SIZING NOTE: Size down in Eileen Fisher dresses. I wear an XS in all three of the above.

#2. White Jeans

Frame Le High Straight in Blanc (size 28) // Mother Insider (size 29) // Mother Hustler (size 29) // Good American Good Straight (size 6)

Denim is one of those clothing categories that I can really see and feel the difference in a quality garment, and if you’re patient, you can usually find premium denim on sale. Speaking of which, the Good American Good Straight is 25% off at Nordstrom right now!

Because denim styles have changed a lot in the past year or so, most of my white jeans are fairly new, but I wear all of them regularly. I rounded up all of my white denim favorites and some other recommendations below.

#3. Neutral Handbag

Louis Vuitton Graceful PM

A quality bag has a way of elevating even the most budget-friendly outfit, so I think it’s worth investing in — especially if you’re one to carry your handbag every day. Because I carry mine so often and for so many years, the cost per wear works itself out in the long run.

The Louis Vuitton pictured above was a birthday present in the summer of 2019, and it’s the summer bag in my closet that I use the most, but there are plenty of quality handbags in a more accessible price range. I linked up my personal favorites along with some other recommendations below, and I included some that are deeply discounted at Nordstrom Rack.

#4. Denim Shorts

7FAM Midroll Destroy Cuffed Denim Shorts (29) // cable sweater (S) // Dolce Vita Izabel Studded Slides (8)

This is an area where some ladies don’t care to spend, I guess because it seems silly to invest in casual wear? I’m not sure, because I don’t see how it’s any different than investing in a pair of good jeans.

I wear denim shorts almost every day during the summer, so I often buy premium denim brands for my shorts as well. They always feel so much better on, and they fit better too. The pair I’m wearing above has been on constant repeat this summer, and they are so soft and comfortable.

If you like premium denim and don’t want to spend a lot, keep an eye on Saks OFF 5TH and other off-price retailers. My current favorites and some similar options are linked below.

#5. White T-Shirt

  ATM Slub Jersey Schoolboy V-Neck Tee (M) // Mother Hustler (28) // rag & bone sunnies

I know, I know… but hear me out. A good quality white tee is so versatile and works as a stand-alone top or as a base layer under all types of cardigans and jackets.

Yes, white t-shirts get pit stains and wear out faster than say, a sweater. But even if I have to replace it when the next season rolls around, I will still get a decent cost per wear out of a higher end tee, and they just look and feel so much better than their cheaper counterparts.

That’s not to say I don’t think there’s a purpose for cheaper t-shirts. In fact, I keep a few of those around as well, but if I’m going to make a list of investment-worthy summer wardrobe items, this ATM tee must be on the list.

See more about why I like it so much in this post. And for more white t-shirt recommendations at all price points, see my post White T-Shirts: Save or Splurge.

#6. Leather Sandals

Tory Burch Miller Sandals (size 8; Makeup)

I can’t even remember how long I’ve had my Miller Sandals, but if I could have only one pair of leather sandals in my closet, it would be these. They’re so easily dressed up or down, they’re comfortable (for a flat sandal), and they hold up to just about anything.

The patent leather is definitely more durable than the soft leather (I have both Tan Patent and Makeup) but both pairs have withstood all kinds of abuse and still look great. The price has gone up over the years (they used to be under $200, at least) but I’d still replace mine in a hot minute if I lost them.

All that said, you don’t have to pay upwards of $200 for quality leather sandals, so I linked up some of my other favorites below.

#7. Classy Swimsuit

Bleu Rod Beattie Ring Me Up Halter Swimsuit (8) // Anthropologie Printed Beach Wrap // Dolce Vita Leanna (8)

I’ve always invested in quality swimwear because the materials are thicker and more supportive, which means the suit is more flattering and holds up better over time.

I usually keep my swimsuits for several years, but because of my breast reduction surgery last month, I’ve bought all new ones this summer. Some of my favorite brands that I believe are worth the investment are Bleu Rod Beattie, Tommy Bahama, La Blanca, and Sea Level.

Also pictured is this gorgeous beach wrap from Anthro. I love how it levels up a poolside look and keeps it classy.

Speaking of keeping it classy, I really should have added quality sunglasses to this list.

I definitely consider them a summer wardrobe item worth investing in, although of course you can wear sunglasses all year ’round. Here are a few of my favorites.

I realize we are all different and have different priorities when it comes to this type of list, so I’d love to hear yours!

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22 Responses

  1. Just a quick note on keeping your white Tee’s pit stain free…Men’s Degree Motionsense Ultraclear Black & White keeps all my white tees looking brand new. It says Anti Yellow Stains on the lid and it’s true.

    1. Probably the Mother Dazzler. I think they’re most versatile. https://shopstyle.it/l/bJhqP

      The GA are good too but they’re higher rise and very snug – they’re supposed to be, and that is what makes them so good at sculpting and holding in all the fluff, but I find the Dazzler more comfortable so I reach for them more. The Insider and Hustler are cute, but more trendy and harder to style with the flare leg.

  2. Loved the post and agree on denim shorts! I’d add striped tees and polo dresses. Can’t leave without striped shirts!

  3. You nailed it on the head. I’m still trying to scale my closet down. I have way too much I just don’t grab. If I purge I have to get rid of the bag right away or I start to pull things back out. 🙂 lol I keep such good care of my clothes they look new, so I hate to get rid of them, just incase I’ll want it.

  4. I have light blue eyes and wear contacts, so I definitely consider sunglasses an all-year staple and necessity! I have a small face so I have a hard time wearing some styles. What would you recommend? I’m a fan of aviators and I feel like that style will always be “in”. Do you agree?.

  5. Quick question….to clarify you find the patent Millers more durable? I would have thought the regular leather would be. Thinking of getting some and would love to confirm. Thanks!

    1. Yes, the latent leather is more durable than the soft leather. It doesn’t stain or get scuffed at all. Mine are like 10 years old and look almost new. I’ve worn them to the beach and pool many times.

  6. Hi Jo-Lynne,

    I was wondering about the Bleu Rod Beattie swimsuit sizing. I’m long wasted. Nordstrom has sold out of the black one; however, the https://bleurodbeattie.com website has size 8. I’m 5’5″, 128lbs, size medium in Tommy Bahama tankini (old), 34C, size 4 in clothing, 27/28 denim, small tops.🤷‍♀️

      1. Oops, I meant what size in the swimsuit you’re wearing…You posted a size 8 and I was wondering if it would work for me? I’m long wasted.

        1. I’m sorry. I forgot the sizing was numbers. I would guess a 4 or 6. I have a Tommy bahama that’s a small so you maybe able to do a 4.

          1. No worries. I’d never even heard of the swimsuit brand until you posted it. I’ll order direct from the company since Nordstrom sold out. Thank you.🌷

  7. I love this post!!I can never see myself spending a lot of money on certain items so this post gives me an option for what I am willing to spend. Thanks for showing us both options!!

  8. I was excited to get the Eileen Fisher dress. I know that you mentioned that the V neck was a little shallow. I agree. I was surprised that the length seems about an inch longer than last season’s version. For some reason, those two things combined are making me question whether it is aging me. (same age as you) Your picture showing them side by side highlights the differences as well. I really want to love it, but I feel like these two details are making me question keeping it. However, my age is only getting older, and I could have it for years. ha ha

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