There’s a reason why the world seems to come alive when summer finally hits. Longer days in the sunshine, sunkissed skin and the vibrancy of nature’s spectrum of greens, reds, yellows and blues are all reminders of the joy of summertime. It’s time to close your closet door on your winter coats and swap them out for breezy, beautiful pieces that gracefully embody the season’s greetings. Hello bright colors, flowy skirts and statement sunnies.
From family outings at the county fair to countryside wine tastings with the girls, your summer schedule is filled with plenty of things to see, do and to try. Saddle your busy schedule up with a wardrobe that elegantly accommodates all of the fun in the sun decorating your calendar. No matter the occasion, we’ve got all of your cute summer outfit ideas covered.
Whether you’re revamping your wardrobe or curating pieces from your already-expansive collection of clothing, having a lineup of warm-weather essentials is the first step toward building cute summer outfits. We’ve narrowed down our summertime must-haves to four key elements: the sundress, skirt, camisole and shoes. With the perfect combination of materials, accents, patterns and fit, your unique style will come to life in each of these pieces.
Nothing says summer quite like a sundress. Sundresses are the most effortless pieces of clothing, and they look just as amazing as they feel. Whether you’re aiming for a romantic and refined look or a classy and casual look, the sundress delivers. Designed to keep you cool (and looking it, too) in the heat, this breezy piece is light, breathable and charming.
Make it Yours: Shapes
- Tea: Characterized by its cap sleeves and flowy structure, the tea dress often features a tie-sash or buttons that cinch at the waist.
- Shift: Even 50 years after their heyday, the boxy shift dress is still one of the most popular dress styles today. This pretty number drops straight down from the shoulder to achieve that lovely loose fit.
- Skater: A modern and mini take on an A-line dress, the skater dress features a flared out skirt and a body-hugging waistline.
- Smock: Most notably distinguished for its oversized fullness, the smock dress usually features tiered layers and voluminous puff sleeves.
Any reason to break out a cute skirt is a good one in our book. No matter what length or shape you prefer, the lightness of a skirt is perfect for the heat of summer. From a cute mini skirt to a flowy long maxi, the options are endless.
Make it Yours: Patterns & Prints
- Animal: Leopard, zebra, snake and cow prints are sure to make a splash.
- Stripes: Vertical, horizontal, thin, or thick—stripes add some dimension to any summer ensemble.
- Floral: A fun way to wear the season’s latest buds and blooms, floral prints come in a spectrum of colors and elaborate shapes.
- Paisley: Most recognizable for its use of the Persian boteh, paisley prints are lavish ornamental designs that use bright and bold colors.
The classic camisole pairs well with just about anything you throw on. From your favorite pair of skinny jeans to that vintage peasant skirt you’ve been wanting to wear, a flattering camisole serves as the ultimate finishing touch. Whether you’re layering it on top of a plain white tee or baring all in a backless number, this sleeveless summer must-have is perfect for soaking up the sun.
Make it Yours: Necklines
- Square: Highlighting your shoulders and décolletage, the square neckline runs straight across the bustline. The straps or cap sleeves tie it all together for a complete “square” look.
- Surplice: Often mistaken for a simple v-neck, the surplice neckline is constructed by two pieces of fabric converging at the bust.
- Cowl: Featuring a design that natural drapes and folds along the bust, cowl necklines add depth to your silhouette.
- Halter: Drawing the eye upward, the halter neckline gathers at the neck and flatters the shoulders.
Longer hours spent in the sunshine means longer hours spent on your feet. Make sure your feet are constantly prepared for your day’s agenda by finishing off your cute summer outfits with a pair of comfortable shoes. No sore soles, no problem.
Make it Yours: Silhouettes
- Flats: The types of flats for women have multiplied since the earliest days of the ballet flat. Today’s ballet flat features pointed-toe silhouettes in addition to the classic round-toe shape.
- Sneakers: Slip-on sneakers may be the most casual option on our list, but make no mistake, they can be easily dressed up or down. A pair of neutral-toned slip-on sneakers go a long way in a pair of jeans or in a classy sundress.
- Loafers: When it comes to comfort, you need coverage. Loafers are the best of both worlds, combining plenty of cushioned support with fashionable appeal.
What to Wear to the Beach
The look: Whether you’re preparing for beachside brunch mimosas or laying your towel down on the warm sand, tackling the ideal beach day outfit means embracing light, airy materials.
The summer outfit idea: A blue and white striped romper with flowy short sleeves and a tie-sash waist is both fashionable and functional. Top it off with a pair of flat sandals and you’ve got a complete outfit.
The accessories: A large straw tote bag and a pair of geometric sunglasses are the ultimate dynamic duo that serves up storage space and necessary UV protection.
What to Wear to a BBQ
The look: Summertime BBQ kickbacks are the world’s greatest excuse for gathering up all of your friends and family members. And since these gatherings are usually casual and lowkey, your outfit should embody understated relaxed chic.
The summer outfit idea: A pair of light-wash denim boyfriend jeans paired with a black ribbed square neck camisole is simple yet refined at the same time. Dress your toes up in a pair of tan slip-on sneakers to nail the casual-chic look.
The accessories: A colorful pair of tassel earrings and a cute hair tie seamlessly ties everything together.
What to Wear to a Zoo
The look: Even though you’re not on a wild safari ride through the African savannah, a day at the zoo can be its own adventure. Scouring the grounds to see everything from the giraffes to the gorillas takes plenty of foot mileage and hours in the beaming sun. Comfort will be key to your day’s success, so your zoo day look should be light and flowy.
The summer outfit idea: A jade green linen smock sundress is a classy choice. Pair these with some leopard print pointed flats—we promise your toes will thank you when hour five of animal-watching rolls around.
The accessories: A straw sunhat gives you some much-needed shade. Keep your hands free for the petting zoo with a bold colored crossbody bag that fits all of your tiny essentials. Lastly, don’t forget a pair of matching colored sunglasses for that finishing touch.
What to Wear to an Amusement Park
The look: Amusements parks are fun-filled adventures no matter how young or old you are. From the swirling roller coasters to the tasty fried desserts, a day at the amusement park requires a low-profile yet cute summer outfit that focuses on functionality.
The summer outfit idea: A pair of medium wash denim shorts and a matching denim jacket make for a stylish two-piece ensemble. A cream-colored zipper polo with a colorful collar and a pair of lace-up white trainers ties it all together.
The accessories: Aside from a trusty crossbody bag, all other accessories should be left at home. The risk of losing your favorite ring or dangly earrings to a 100-foot roller coaster isn’t a risk worth taking.