Spring/Summer Fashion

2021 Spring Wardrobe Essentials

We had a little taste of spring yesterday, and I’m getting excited for 23 Days of Spring Fashion, which starts on Monday! Meanwhile, I’ve updated my Spring Wardrobe Essentials. I republish this post every year around this time, and while it doesn’t change a lot from year to year, I like to update it with current links and fresh thoughts.

You can also check out my posts on Spring Shoe Trends and Spring Handbag Trends.

For this post, we are focusing on classic wardrobe pieces that provide a good foundation for a workable spring wardrobe. As always, you should take into account your personal style as well as your lifestyle and wardrobe needs when reading a list like this. My wardrobe essentials may not be the same as yours, but this should be a good starting point for most of us.

2021 Spring Wardrobe Essentials

1. Layering Tees

Z Supply Lipa Mini Leopard Tee

Layering tees provide the foundation for most of my spring outfits. They pair well with all types of pants, and skirts as well, although I rarely wear skirts these days. I like to layer my t-shirts under utility jackets or moto jackets when I wear jeans, and under denim jackets when I wear khakis or cargo pants. It’s nice to have a variety of prints and solids, and graphic tees are fun to have as well.

2. Blouses/Shells

Ann Taylor Shirred Tie Neck Top

I don’t need work wear, so I don’t wear many blouses and button-downs in the fall and winter, but I do like to have some in my wardrobe for spring to pair with jeans and pants for church and going-out looks. These will take the place of all the sweaters I wear in fall and winter. They also layer nicely under lightweight jackets. Color is a big trend this spring, especially pink!

3. Lightweight Jackets

Everlane The Chore Jacket

Lightweight jackets make the perfect topper for your t-shirts and blouses. Some jackets will act as part of your outfit, like a denim or utility jacket, and others are worn as outerwear, such as a trench or raincoat. Chances are, you will want a few of each.

I have a classic trench that I wear with church outfits and other “business casual” attire on chilly spring days, but I’m more likely to grab my rain jacket for daily wear since most of my outfits are very casual. If my outfit includes a denim jacket or a utility/moto/bomber jacket, then I don’t usually wear anything on top.

This year, the “chore jacket” is the new utility jacket, although I’m still seeing utility and military-inspired jackets out there too. The shirt jacket, or “shacket” is big right now as well. And denim jackets are still in style, but oversized styles are more if the moment. As always, wear what looks best on you and works best with your wardrobe.

4. Spring Sweaters & Cardigans

BR Relaxed Crew Neck Sweater

When March rolls around, even if it’s still cold, I start putting away my wool and cashmere sweaters and wearing more lightweight knits. I also find myself wearing more cardigans this time of year. They can often be a substitute for a lightweight jacket, and I don’t have the outerwear issue to deal with when the weather gets warmer.

This year, the cropped v-neck cardigan is a big trend. You can wear them buttoned up with pants or a skirt, much as you would a pullover, or unbuttoned over a tank or blouse. I’m also seeing a lot of “sweater tees” right now. (That’s just a fancy term for a short-sleeved sweater.)

5. Cropped Jeans & Pants

Madewell Stovepipe Jeans

I love to wear jeans all year-round, but I wear more of the cropped styles in the spring and summer. They’re also very on-trend at the moment, although full-length pants and jeans are as well. The full-length styles tend to be more relaxed, and even skinny jeans are getting a slightly wider leg opening.

I also love to wear white jeans in the springtime, and I’ve got a few pairs of those in addition to my blue jeans and black jeans. It’s also nice to give the jeans a break sometimes, and utility pants in shades of army green and other neutrals are a great alternative.

6. Transition Shoes / Loafers, etc.

Sam Edelman Loraine Loafer

When it’s not warm enough for open sandals but you’re tired of wearing boots, mules and loafers are a great footwear option for spring. As pant styles evolve, so does footwear, and menswear-inspired styles are definitely trending right now. I’m not seeing many ballet flats, pointy-toe flats, or mocs at the moment.

I personally love a loafer mule, but I know a lot of ladies either can’t wear them or simply don’t like them. Clogs are also making a comeback, as are lug-sole loafers and oxfords.

7. Fashion Sneakers

Madewell The Court Sneaker

Fashion sneakers are here to stay for a while, and I’m accumulating quite a collection! I really enjoy these for casual looks with cropped jeans and t-shirts or lightweight sweaters. They’re practical as well as stylish.

The clean white leather sneakers are trending, and the skate sneaker and court sneakers are still hot, but I’m also starting to see a lot of colorful, retro styles coming back on the scene. There are lots of choices, depending on your personal style and comfort level.

8. Spring Dresses

Allison Joy Halter Dress

A lot of women say they live in dresses in the spring in summer. I don’t wear a lot of dresses, but I like to have a few options on hand for events that may crop up.

This spring, florals are having a moment, and I’m seeing lots of flowy styles with ruffles and embellishments. Midi-length styles and long, voluminous looks are in. Think 1960s house dress. Yeah, I don’t get it either. Personally, I will always go for a classic sheath. At the end of the day, you have to wear what works for you.

I’m also seeing some nice casual knit options, but these can be hard to pull off for certain body types because they don’t provide much structure. Evereve has a nice selection of those.

9. Everyday Handbag

Kurt Geiger Violet Tote

Since I already did a big spring handbag roundup, I won’t go into a lot of detail here, but handbags this year are large and in charge. I’m seeing a lot of slouchy, soft leather and hobo style bags, but even the satchels and totes are softer and less structured.

I personally love a taupe color for spring and summer, but white is very popular right now, as is color. And I still carry my black bags in the summer months, when they complement my outfit.

I was tempted to add joggers to this list, but I just couldn’t. That said, I will definitely be wearing mine from time to time with casual t-shirts, my denim jacket, and fashion sneakers.

You can fill in with some trendier styles and statement pieces, but these wardrobe staples should provide a good foundation for your spring wardrobe. And don’t miss my Spring Trends Report for the styles and colors that are trending this season!

Stay In Touch!

If you liked this post, be sure you’re signed up for my email newsletter. In addition to my most recent blog posts, you’ll receive exclusive content like special sales, my newest favorite finds, and an occasional peek behind the scenes — all delivered right to your inbox.

This post contains affiliate links. When you shop through my links, it helps support my business (at no additional cost to you) so thank you!

Shop the Post
Z Supply
Join the Conversation

21 thoughts on “2021 Spring Wardrobe Essentials

  1. I am excited about Spring fashion. Is it just me, or does it seem like cold weather has been with us longer than usual? We are having wonderful warm (40’s and 50’s in Indiana is warm for February!) and sunny weather this week, which is so refreshing after all the snow and cold! I received the Madewell stovepipe jeans this week. I was a little nervous to try them on since you advised to size down one, and I do trust you, but… I tried them on, fell in love and wore them all day. Now I am more excited about the straight cut jeans! I just can’t wear the big, baggy leg. I am so glad I listened to you, as usual!

    1. So glad you love them! And I dunno… this time of year I always expect it to be cold. I don’t have high hopes for much until April, and even then, I get disappointed. That said, I DREAD shooting spring looks in this weather. I wish I liked indoor pix half as much. I want to do them all inside, but I don’t ever love the indoor ones.

  2. I’m not a cardigan gal. I’ve tried but I always feel shlumpy in them. The new cropped ones intrigue me, though. I may order a couple from Nordstrom to try. I wish my Nordstrom was closer so I could try things on. I’ve been wearing my straight-leg ankle jeans and am beginning to really like them, though struggling a bit with winter shoes. Yesterday it was sunny and 60 degrees in DE and I wore them with white sneakers and felt very fashion-forward picking up at Sam’s club! lol.
    Something I noticed on your new website, Jo-Lynne, (which I love!) is that if I google you and go to the page where the recent post is, there is no date on the latest post. (Unless I’m missing it somewhere.). I’ve been behind on reading so I didn’t know which post this was until I went to the post. Along the same vein, I read on my laptop and the date at the top of the daily post is very gray, making it tricky to see. The dates were prominent previously. Maybe this isn’t an issue with most readers though.

  3. Jo-Lynne, I know you were asking for comments on the new website. I did notice that when I search the blog for old posts on a certain topic – when it brings them up, it doesn’t show the date of them…so it’s hard to know which ones are more recent than others. For example, I finally got on the IF bandwagon a week ago…and I was very excited to go back and re-read your posts about it…I found them…but it wasn’t initially obvious which ones were from when. Make sense? Also…I think others have commented that you don’t see other comments, unless you click to post a comment. The new site looks lovely though…I know these things are all a work in progress!

  4. I’m not hating the less-skinny jeans and pants, but I am baffled by how long they are supposed to be! I recently got some pants from Loft and they are the strangest length – too long to be cropped but short enough that they don’t quite hit the top of my shoe (I’m 5’3” so not tall but not that short). I would love to see a post on how to wear fuller pants with different types of shoes and boots.

    I have to admit that the length of the Loft pants gave me flashbacks to the 1980s-90s business casual look when pants always looked a little too short and were worn with really ugly loafers. I feel like pants should either be slightly above the ankle or long enough to “break” on the top of the shoe.

    1. Yep, same. The in-between length is what looks like “floods” to me. I like the cropped look, and I’ve always appreciated a full-length pair of jeans or pants b/c they’re so elongating.

  5. Your spring trend post ENCOURAGEd me to go out and try some things on. Covid weight is real! I came home with a pair of, I guess you call them stovepipe jeans – thin through the leg but not skinny, not straight leg. Anyhow, very flattering. Still haven’t found the perfect pair of strAight leg crop, yet. I also bought a short sLeeve sweater top. So cute!
    I’m still on the search for the perFect bag that will go with everything.
    Love the look of your new blog! I hope you get the minor kinks out soon, have a wonderful day!

  6. Love some of the new trends, especially florals! So so pretty and happy! I have some GAP cash to use this weekend, so heading over there to look at some denim and tops. Went to Nordstrom’s yesterday and found that pink and cream striped Caslon hoodie. I went up one size, and it was perfect! Can’t wait to wear that with light cropped denim. Just wanted you to know I used your Nordstom link to buy some UGG shoes for the hubby! Hope he loves them!!!! (once I get on the site from your link, anything I purchase, you get credit for, right??) Enjoy the sunshine today!

  7. I think adding joggers is appropriate. 🙂 I’m anxious for nice enough weather to wear mine with white t shirt, denim jacket….. new Vince one I ordered but haven’t worn yet…. you told me about it and white sneakers…. my first pair but haven’t worn yet as weather still too messy in NW Oregon. It doesn’t take much these days to get excited. Lol Can’t wait for the Spring series you two are starting. I love the series you both do. Great Spring essential list. I’m short on jackets. Not sure color to get. I’m never happy when I get a color. Probably looking for cute tan one. Thanks for all the hard work you do to help distract from these days we still are in.

  8. PS. That’s a good question one lady asked. If we go to a link on your site like Nordtrom and order something that isn’t something you have shown do you still get credit? Also for example I might buy a pair of jeans you posted but add a top from same store I see on store site I like and buy both items. Do you get credit for second item too? Want to help you out all I can.

  9. Great post! Thank you for all of the research and work that you did to put together this post for us. Right now, I don’t think that I NEED to add anything to my closet for spring and summer, but until I get my clothes out of the attic, I won’t know for sure. I hope that you had a great day!

  10. Thank you very much for the Informative postS Regarding spring trends. I APPRECIATE All the HARD work and long hours involved in researching the INFORMATION you post.
    I look foward to reading your daily emails, your coffee talk and instagram stories.

  11. Hi Jo-Lynne,

    I know you are working on comments with the new site, but will there be a place to see other people’s comments as before? I always enjoyed reading those!
    Thanks – I always look forward to your posts!

    1. Yes, although you should be able to see them now. I just tested – and I don’t like how after you post a comment, it takes you to the top of the blog post. Grrrr… I will add that to my list of things for them to adjust. It should take you back to the comment section, to your comment or the top of the comment section, although I just went over and commented on one of Cyndi’s, and hers does what mine does. I will see if they can fix that. All that said, you should still be able to see the other comments — it just means scrolling down again and clicking “Leave A Comment” again to display the comment section. They are working on fixing that, so it is always visible at the end of a post. HOPEFULLY today that will be done. I am sorry it is taking so long. I’m frustrated but I know they’re working on a log of blogs at once, and I’m trying to be patient. 🙂

Want More?