Summer brings with it the urge to experiment with creative looks and the latest exciting trends, but any warm-weather wardrobe worth its salt includes certain foundational fashion items that you know you’ll wear year after year. That said, if your assortment of basics is feeling a little, well, basic, you might consider updating to more current riffs on the tried-and-true standards. New design details can refresh even the most foundational styles, making them feel novel without sacrificing any of the versatility or wearability. When it comes to the wardrobe essentials for summer 2019, the market is rife with options that tick all the boxes.
Your average floral print midi dress, for instance, gets an of-the-moment update with the added element of some smocking or a romantic puff sleeve. In place of short denim cut-offs, a pair of jean Bermuda shorts would be a more updated alternative. This summer is also seeing plain white tank tops encroach where plain white T-shirts once reigned supreme. In place of your go-to tee, try a sleek, sleeveless tank or a modern design, perhaps with asymmetrical straps. And when it comes to your sandals, the more minimalist the better; think delicate straps, low heels, simple silhouettes. Continue on for a definitive list of 2019 updates for your go-to summer basics.
Long Denim Shorts
Jean shorts have always been a go-to summer staple, but in place of your usual teeny denim cut-offs, the new versions everyone is wearing come to around the knee, give or take a couple inches. This makes them far more versatile.
Sleek White Tank
Not that you should get rid of your favorite white tee anytime soon, but for now perhaps you could temporarily retire it in favor of a cool tank top. Choose one that feels more luxury with a streamlined fit and modern updates, such as an asymmetrical straps or a one-shoulder cut.
Minimalist Strappy Sandals
Right now, the fashion world's favorite sandal features delicate, flossy straps and a low kitten heel. It's simple but still elegant and can be worn with everything from denim to cocktail dresses. Don't bother with pumps or towering stilettos — if you only buy one heeled shoe for summer, make it this.
Slip Dress Or Skirt
A slinky slip is one of the most relevant and essential items for summer — a mainstay in the sartorial arsenal of practically every influencer, editor and It-girl on Instagram. Whether in dress or skirt form, printed or solid, dressed up or down, it's a piece you'll turn to time and time again.
Sometimes it’s just too hot to schlep around a massive purse. A mini bag will fit the essentials without weighing you down. The latest petite bags embrace a ‘90s aesthetic, and come in fresh colorways and textures.
Puff sleeves have become the trend du jour, to the extent that owning at least one voluminous-shouldered piece is practically mandatory. Go for a flirty balloon-sleeve blouse if you want something you can really put to work during warmer months, but that won't become instantly unwearable the moment autumn arrives.
When the midsummer sun blazes down from above, you reach for a hat to shade and protect your skin. While past seasons have been all about dad-style baseball caps or floppy straw hats, this summer it’s all about the bucket hat.
Comfortable, walkable shoes are a non-negotiable. Get a pair that’s minimalist and refined, with a slim, flat sole and simple strap(s) just across the widest part of your foot. Keep an eye out for versions with design elements, like a croc-embossed leather or square-shaped toe, which make this no-frills shoe feel more of-the-moment.
Smocked Floral Midi Dress
This season, the classic floral midi dress is getting a much-needed refresh. It’s hard for a blossom-print style to feel novel, but the recent crop of girlish smocked styles has people actually getting excited about floral dresses again.
For days when the agenda will take you straight from the beach to dinner and beyond, you need a swimsuit that can rise to the occasion. A modern, sleek maillot is an easy base to dress up, while a suit with extra details along the neckline (hardware, ruffles, etc.) is stylized enough as it is that no one would guess it’s meant for water wear.
Heavy pants or jeans are the last thing you want to put on when the weather is hot and sticky. Airy, relaxed trousers in a linen or silk — or other breezy, breathable fabric — are your best bet when it comes to keeping cool and looking chic. Wear them with the aforementioned sleek tank and flat slides.
Instead of the usual matching set, a lightweight, loose-fitting shorts or skirt suit has become the unofficial summer uniform of the stylish working woman. Choose a combo in a neutral hue for a more conservative, classic look, or brightly colored separates for a more vibrant, fun vibe. Getting dressed for the office every morning when the forecast says 90 degrees will be much less of a struggle.
A woven straw tote is MVP-status from May through September since it's as perfect for a day by the shore as an afternoon spent shopping in the city. Right now, everyone is obsessed with Loewe’s basket bag, but the key thing is just to find one that’s a bit more refined and elevated in its design. Think more beach chic than beach bum.
Little White Dress
Crisp, white clothing and summertime go hand in hand — and perhaps none so perfectly as the little white dress. This season's lineup of LWDs brings oversized silhouettes and feminine details like puff sleeves, ruffled hems, and eyelet or lace textiles to the forefront of the category.
The story on shorts is decidedly long this year. Trouser shorts with high-rise waists and knee-length inseams feel more sophisticated than their abbreviated counterparts, while being wearable for both refined and casual occasions. Try a tailored short when you want to look polished and a relaxed, blousy style when the mood is more off-duty.