In the summer, you are on the go. You want cool and easy pieces that will take you from a walk with friends, to harvesting lettuce in your garden, to hopping in the car for the family road trip. I’ve assembled 12 lucky pieces for your summer adventures.
This year, my summer wardrobe is primarily light blue, red and white, with basics in black, navy and tan. Every item can be worn with every other item. Everything can be washed, or stand up to a dip in the river. Enjoy!
Number 1 – A sport weight dress
This is one of my favorite all time dresses. I found it second hand in both blue and black. The halter looks dressy, while the fabric keeps it casual. There are a hundred sport weight dresses to choose from. My advice is to choose one in a solid color and isn’t too tight. Any fabric with shine will draw the eye in, so adding a loud pattern can be a bit much. A solid color will create a long, lean line.
Number 2 – An easy jersey dress
Jersey dresses are one of the best parts of summer. Soft, fun and easy to care for, you really can wear your jersey dress anywhere. Because jersey is matte, you can indulge your love of prints (last summer my jersey dress had sailboats all over it!) You can find great styles at all price points, but remember that jersey will eventually pill. Like long summer nights, the jersey dress is a fleeting pleasure. Find yours, wear it all summer long, and say goodbye when it starts to pill.
Number 3 – Perfect tanks and tees
Finding the perfect t-shirt is a pain. It’s the type of shopping we all put off, but having the perfect t-shirt is the biggest win in an effortless summer wardrobe. (I have been road testing t-shirts for 6 months leading up to this post – not my idea of fun) This summer, I found Maison Jules fit me nicely, and I liked the lightweight fabric. But what works for me will not necessarily work for you. You’ll need to hoof it around town to find your t-shirt, and it will be so worth it when you do.
Number 4 – A Chambray shirt
The chambray shirt is actually a year-round Mud and Grace essential. Button it up, leave it open, tie a knot in front, you name it, the chambray is a true workhorse. This one is made of Tencel, a buttery soft fabric that doesn’t wrinkle and washes well.
Number 5 – A wear-it-with-anything sweatshirt
This sweatshirt can take a beating. In fact, looking at this picture you’re probably thinking, “Obviously, it already has…” This cozy piece will keep me toasty around the campfire, and warm on a chilly morning at home. Essential. If you want to look a little more chic, and your climate gets quite cool at night, substitute a fisherman knit sweater. Personally, I want to be able to spill hot cocoa on my warmth layer.
Number 6 – A sport weight skirt with shorts inset
I love this skirt so much that my personal view of the apocalypse would be a world in which I had to get dressed without it. The Mud and Grace response to the ubiquitous pencil skirt, this piece is endlessly flattering, but you can move in it. I have worn this to every imaginable event, and get compliments every time I slip it on.
Number 7 – linen shorts
Something about well-made linen shorts just epitomizes a relaxed, stylish summer. The banded waist on these keeps them causal and simple to style. I love them for running around town, and having friends over.
Number 8 – Hiking shorts
Some summer days, you’re just going to get dirty. If you’re lucky, that will be most of them. These shorts fit loosely (I abhor stiff, tight hiking shorts!) They are not so “hiker chick” that I can’t wear them around town without looking like I just escaped from a Pam Huston essay (Not that that would be a bad look. I should be so lucky. But you know what I mean.) Extensive testing has revealed that they dry very quickly after jumping into a river.
Number 9 – Cut-off shorts
Because it’s summer. Be sure to sew down the cuffs so you’re not spending your whole summer rolling up your shorts.
Number 10 – Go everywhere sandals
The are tough enough to wear into a lake. They are comfortable enough for a long day of walking. They are nice enough to wear with anything else in the essential summer wardrobe. Yes, there will be times when you want to wear a pair of heals with one of the dresses, or a cute pair of sneakers with shorts or a skirt, but nice, wearable sandals will get you a lot of mileage. This year I was lucky enough to find a great pair second hand. In the past I have spent more money on nice sandals than on the rest of my summer clothes combined. Because if your feet hurt, you’re not going to be any fun at all.
Number 11 – Trail running shoes
These are the perfect outdoor adventure shoe. You can hike, run, kick around town, and they pack up pretty small. Unless you are doing a major backpacking trip, most of us don’t need full-on hiking boots for ordinary hiking needs. These give you plenty of traction on a hike, but don’t weigh you down. Plus, you can start trail running!
Number 12 – The hat-o-your-choice
You need a hat. Get the hat you want. Pay full price and love the fact that you don’t have sun blazing into your eyes. Always wanted to try a cowboy hat? Do it, you’ll look great. Like the floppy suede hats the girls working at Buffalo Exchange are always wearing? Buy one. I danced around this Patagonia snap-back trucker for months. Then I bought it. When I can keep it off my daughter’s head, I wear it all the time.
These are the big 12 pieces of summer. You’ll have your own favorite pieces to work in as well. Other good bets for summer are a swim suit you love so much you can’t wait to go swimming (It does exist) Simple pieces of inexpensive jewelry (I have a piece of heart-shaped Tigers Eye strung on silk) sports bras to wear with everything (I like Reebok) and classic sunglasses (It’s hard to beat an old pair of Ray-Ban Wayfarers)
Do you have a summer essential that would inspire Mud and Grace readers? Send in a picture of yourself wearing your summer favorites and look for it in Inspiration.