Temperatures are high, plans are on the calendar, and al fresco is the only way we’re eating. Life feels like, well, life again, and summer 2021 is already starting out to be one of the best we can remember—which means that our summer clothes are more important than ever.
As a fashion editor, I can honestly say that I’ve never been more excited to get dressed than I’ve been the past couple of months. All of my existing pieces are suddenly feeling brand new, and the pieces I picked up are giving me a completely fresh lease on summer dressing. Chicago has been warm for about six weeks now, which means that my summer wardrobe has been in full rotation for over a month—and let’s just say I’ve been noticing some patterns.
Summer outfits are meant to be easy, and my latest go-tos have been channeling exactly that. I’ve been reaching for and mixing and matching the same few pieces for all different occasions, and I have officially fallen in love with summer 2021. Of everything in my wardrobe, these are the 10 pieces that are packing the most punch for me (and that I’m doing more loads of laundry for just to be able to keep putting on). My favorite thing to be right now? An outfit repeater.
After owning my previous Birkenstocks for over six years, this summer was finally the one when I invested in a new pair. The second I saw these big-buckle ones in this gorgeous, rich brown color, I knew that they were my replacement of choice. No matter who you are, there's always a place for a comfortable, easy-to-throw-on shoe in your closet, and these are the perfect option. I put these on every single day and get more use of them than any other shoe. I also find that they feel more put-together than my classic Birks because of the gold hardware.
I'll be honest: Prior to this summer, I hadn't reached for a white button-up in at least a year. I never feel very inspired by them in the fall or winter, but there's just something about summer that makes white button-ups so attractive. I love tossing it on over everything: my bathing suit for a beach day, a tank top with jean shorts on a chilly night—you name it! It just feels absolutely right. There's nothing a white button-up doesn't look good tossed over, and it's the perfect transition to easing back into wearing real clothes.
I'm very into the longer, looser denim shorts that are trending this year, but with certain tops (think: more oversized ones) I feel like it can go from chic and baggy to looking like my clothes are wearing me, not vice versa. When I want denim shorts that are a bit more fitted, these are my go-to. The elastic waistband makes them ultra-comfortable, and the length is short without being too short (your butt cheeks aren't going to pop out for the world to see). These are hands-down my most comfortable shorts, which means I'm reaching for them all the time—even on my work-from-home days.
A good tank is a predictable summer staple, but this one's feminine neckline has made it my winner of the year. It feels feminine and gives me a little more "style" on days when I'm just looking to throw on a tank, jean shorts, and head out the door. It's a perfect elevated summer basic, and I've found myself reaching for it a couple of times a week over the past month.
When summer rolls around here in Chicago, days are filled with a lot more walking, which means that sometimes, I need a sandal that I know I can walk around in all day with no problem. These are some of the most comfortable sandals I have ever owned. The leather is super soft, and they stay on my feet perfectly without feeling like I'm slipping and sliding out of them. The simple design means they pair well with anything, from dresses to jeans and a tee. These have earned a spot on the mat by my front door for the summer (which is saying a lot, since only three of my shoes get that spot at at time).
Tennis skirts and polos and preppy pieces you used to only see at the country club are in this summer, and this little top has given me a way to incorporate it into my day-to-day wardrobe without thinking about it. I've been reaching for this over my plain white tees and love the subtle, preppy look it gives me. The ribbed, cropped design also means it'll be flattering in a way that a classic polo probably wouldn't be. I actually even ordered this in another color because I've been wearing it to death so far this year.
The perfect way to style this is as a direct swap for your go-to white tee. Instead of reaching for that, pair it with anything you'd ordinarily pair with a plain T-shirt, giving your look a subtle, trendy touch.
Summer allows us to have fun with our wardrobes in a way that other seasons don't allow, and a couple of statement accessories always make their way to my go-to pieces every summer. I'm absolutely obsessed with these cheeky cherry earrings this year—they make any basic outfit feel a little more fun but are understated enough that I feel like I can wear them any day without feeling too done-up. Even with the most basic of outfits, they're an easy way to make yourself feel like you put on a full, planned-out outfit.
Not sure how to wear these? Think of them as the cherry on top of your most basic outfit (pun intended). A white tee, your favorite denim, and any shoes your heart desires make the perfect base for these to top off.
This necklace is a bit of an investment, and I debated it for months before I finally went for it. I love that it's a bit chunkier and packs a bigger punch than most of my necklaces. I ultimately decided to get it because I knew I'd get a ton of use out of it—and I wasn't wrong. I wear this necklace at least a few times a week, and it does all the talking for my outfits. It almost gives a puka-shell effect but in more of an Audrey Hepburn way. This is in the running for my favorite purchase of the entire year, and I won't be abandoning it any time soon.
While I love wearing this on its own with just about everything I wear, it also looks great layered with my other gold chains for a little something extra.
My calendar is finally filled with brunches and patio nights again, and there's truly nothing summer offers that's better than an easy dress you can rely on. This one incorporates the season's cutout trend in the most flattering of ways and is an incredible piece to throw on when you're heading out. It really has the ability to be both dressed up and dressed down, and I've found myself turning to it constantly.
While this looks like it might be a little revealing, when it's on, I don't feel that way at all. I've found it's a great alternative to the flowy, white dresses I usually gravitate toward and pairs perfectly with a basic pair of sandals (like the ones I mentioned above!).
I wanted a pair of trendy sunglasses to incorporate into my rotation this summer, and once I saw these, I couldn't get my mind off of them. I finally ordered them and couldn't be more impressed with the quality. They're mid-priced but feel just as high-quality as my more expensive pairs. The shape gives a very vintage and '90s look and just has a cool-girl effect that makes them a true 2021 staple.