7 Summer Wardrobe Essentials

Wardrobe essentials are the grounding pieces we build our wardrobe around. They’re the workhorses we reach for again and again to anchor our outfits. Each woman has unique essentials and they will change over time.

My style is ever evolving so my wardrobe changes with it. Today I’m sharing the seven pieces that have stood the test of time and are my summer wardrobe essentials.

Great Fitting White Jeans

A great pair of white jeans might seem like an oxymoron but they do exist for every woman’s shape and size. Here are some tips to help you find yours. White pants or chinos may be more your style and are just as fresh for summer.

Lightweight Cardigan

Cardigans are a wardrobe staple for me year round. During the summer the knit gets lighter weight, and there are often no buttons. They’re perfect to pop over a summer dress or sleeveless tank on cool evenings or when air conditioners are cranked up. They cover your upper arms without all the bulk and weight of a jacket. I’m fond linen duster length cardigans which cover a summer dress or tank top and jeans.

Linen Cardigans


A good pair of sunglasses is important all year, but essential during the summer. We spend more time outdoors and the sun is stronger this time of year so it’s essential to protect your eyes.UV rays can lead to macular degeneration which is a leading cause of vision loss for older women. Here’s a guide to help you choose a flattering shape for your face. Look for polarized and/or dark lenses which offer more relief from squinting.

Denim Jacket

I love to toss a denim jacket over just about anything and summer is no exception. White denim looks crisp over everything. Colored ones are a fresh addition to your neutral basics. Picture a yellow denim jacket topping a striped cotton dress and flat sandals for a casual day around town.

Crisp White Shirt

A crisp white shirt is indispensable in many women’s wardrobe and summertime is no different. Try it worn open over a tank top and shorts. Roll the sleeves and wear it over a pair of chinos or cotton pants. Tie at the waist over your favorite maxi dress. Tunic length white shirts even double as a bathing suit coverup. I love to pop the collar on my white shirts, here’s how. I don’t detest ironing but prefer no-iron white shirts because they stay crisper looking throughout the day. Some of my favorites are here, here and here.

Summer Sandals

When the weather heats up there’s nothing cooler than sandals. A well-rounded summer wardrobe should include comfy flats with varying levels of formality which take you from the pool to a summer wedding. A nude or metallic summer sandal is the most versatile no matter it’s style. Espadrille sandals are a fun option as are the new sport sandal. Here’s how to wear them without looking bulky.

Summer Dress

Wearing dresses means there's no need to coordinate your top and bottom, bypasses that trouble spot, your middle, and adds instant polish.

A casual summer dress makes getting dressed fast and easy. They’re a one and done option that bypasses the troublesome tummy section and feel cool on hot summer days. Many are sleeveless and if this bothers you, add a cardigan. I prefer short sleeved dresses but when it’s blistering hot, I don’t care who sees my upper arms, I just want to be comfy.

What are some of your summer essentials?

This post may contain affiliate links which won’t change your price but will share some commission.
This post may contain affiliate links which won’t change your price but will share some commission.


    July 26, 2020 / 12:37 pm

    I am 54 and just in plus sizes. I agree with everything you wear. Here in Arizona we have 110 degree weather in the summer. So hot!!

  2. Robin S Monkman
    April 4, 2020 / 7:49 am

    Okay, where do you live that you wear cardigans, jackets and long heavy jeans in the summer? I live in Florida and most of these suggestions are not very useful.

    • Jennifer
      April 4, 2020 / 8:41 am

      I live in California and travel closer to the coast during the summer

    • Karen Coia
      May 20, 2020 / 4:19 pm

      I live in northern NY near the Canadian border. Great suggestions for me. Thanks.

    • Carolyn Jouret
      June 29, 2020 / 3:38 pm

      Robin S Monkman , your question is the same as mine, and I wish a couple of fashion bloggers would answer it. I, too, live in Florida, and get excited when I see an article about summer clothes. Then I read it and look at the cute outfits with snug white denim jeans, long sleeves, lovely scarves and almost any kind of jackets. Too hot! I hope an expert will try to make suggestions that we can use.

      • CPeebs
        July 4, 2020 / 7:18 am


        Agreed! Jeans and cardigans in the summer?

        Gauze pull on pants are a great hot & humid summer options. I’m over 50 & do not do well in shorts so this is a great option to jeans. Loose gauze, light weight cotton, linen/cotton blends are great summer fabrics.

        I’ve found lightweight pants at Old Navy and Target. Another shop is Zara, a bit eccentric but if you take the time there can be some great uniques options offered at this store.

        Good luck!

  3. Jeanmarie
    March 7, 2020 / 5:02 pm

    Wondering what material to look for in a lightweight summer white shirt. Don’t normally wear button down shirts they always feel constructing or without movement!

    • Jennifer
      March 7, 2020 / 9:51 pm

      Look for knit cotton or cotton with spandex so it stretches for you

  4. mary
    February 12, 2020 / 5:56 am

    Lovely outfits but i live in Georgia and it gets in the upper 90’s. We don’t wear a lot of sweaters and jackets here especially when your over 50. I have to have very cool outfits without layers, long sleeves, and long pants. My knees, thighs, and upper arms should never see the light of day. i am a plus size women as are many women over 50. i have found that wearing A- line skirts and a cotton knit shirt with statement jewelry that accents my face along with sandals or Converse tennis shoes, in a interesting color, work well for me. I always have a jacket handy to slip on in air conditioned building. Can you give us southern women more options? thanks

  5. Ellie
    June 16, 2019 / 3:45 pm

    Love your hair. What is the cut? I would like to know what to tell my hairdresser. Do you use a curling iron. How do you style it? Thanks

    • June 16, 2019 / 9:26 pm

      I have a disconnected cut Ellie. Remember the days when mullets were popular? That’s sort of what I have. Layers on top than do not connect to the bob at the bottom. My hair is very thin so I need all the volume I can get.

  6. Susan Dana
    June 7, 2019 / 7:13 am

    Good that you showed sandals with back straps, instead of slides or mules which can be lethal to wearers. Falls are something we all need to work to avoid, and wearing shoes that provide support, coverage and stay on the feet are crucial for safety and stability. From an aesthetic point of view, my heels are not the most attractive part of my feet, so I’d just as soon cover them up as well as be safe.

  7. Juliet
    June 4, 2019 / 6:51 am

    I’m loving these long, light weight cardigans, too! And you’re right, as the days warm up, sleeveless please! 😉

  8. Cindy
    June 3, 2019 / 3:42 pm

    You look fabulous in all of these outfits! I love the cardigan over the summer dress. What brand is the cardigan?

    • June 4, 2019 / 4:38 am

      The brand is “Jennifer”. I knit this cardigan several years ago.

  9. Maggie Morris
    June 3, 2019 / 11:05 am

    Great post! I love your style and everything looks terrific on you! Love the colorful dress.

  10. Terry
    June 3, 2019 / 10:23 am

    I live in Southern California and find that I can’t wear jeans, cardigans, jackets or even snug tee shirts in the 6 months of summer/fall heat. My summer essentials are loose maxi dresses and skirts, kimono toppers, loose cotton voile blouses and wide leg linen pants. It’s pretty and comfortable.

    • June 4, 2019 / 4:39 am

      Those all sound perfect. When our temps are through the roof I reach for loose line too.

    • Kay
      June 4, 2019 / 8:10 pm

      You and me both, Terry, although I’m wondering when it will get hot again here.

  11. June 3, 2019 / 10:07 am

    Yes to all of the above, I agree with everything you said and the choices you’ve shown. I like the colorful summer dress, but I rarely wear dresses. White jeans are so versatile and I wear then year round. Although I love the look of a crisp white blouse, I don’t wear many pure white tops. I need more color near my face, so there’s usually a colorful tank or necklace involved. Any time I wear pure white and there is food nearby, I feel like a stain magnet. Summer sandals are a must, especially when I live in SoCal and wear sandals almost year round. Multiple pairs and a variety of styles and colors keep me and my feet happy.

    • June 4, 2019 / 4:40 am

      Lol, white is a stain magnet for me too Norma. I love maxi dresses and have my eye out for some new ones this year.

  12. Rose Brock
    June 3, 2019 / 7:03 am

    Love all your outfits. All your essentials are perfect for summer!

  13. Mary
    June 3, 2019 / 5:47 am

    Very nice outfits Jennifer. I especially like the colorful dress in the last photo. Is the fabric cotton or scuba? Can you share the brand, please.

    • June 4, 2019 / 4:41 am

      The fabric is cotton. It’s many years old from Trina Turk.

  14. Connie
    June 3, 2019 / 5:35 am

    Dear Jennifer, Love your dressing style.Thanks a lot for your help.Much Love from Athens,Greece.Connie

  15. Holly
    June 3, 2019 / 5:24 am

    Love your hair……also I like all the clothes in this post! The white jeans in first pic look amazingly on you.
    How’s your house coming along….looking forward to seeing pics!!

    All the best

    • June 4, 2019 / 4:43 am

      Thanks! Nothing happening with the house until we get home next week from our riverboat cruise.

  16. June 3, 2019 / 4:57 am

    Great outfits; all of them! Like your hairstyle too!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of any images or written material is strictly prohibited without express and written permission from this blog's author and owner. A Well Styled Life® a registered trademark.
| powered by chloédigital