The Summer Staples List

via We Heart It

This is long. You have been warned.

I get questions and comments every now about how to build a solid seasonal wardrobe on a budget. And by budget, I don’t mean the overwrought hipster fashion blogger idea of budget which translates too, “Spend $1000 on a Chanel Skirt – it’s an investment piece. Then buy your tops at J.Crew!”

No. A REAL budget.

Like, “You could quite possibly find this item on the ‘75% off’ clearance rack” way of dressing oneself.

Over the years, I’ve devised a shopping process that works for me. My budget used to be a bit tighter when I was single, but I’ve got a little more leeway now that there are two incomes contributing to the bank account. Still though, those years in my early twenties were the mother of invention. I learned to buy things cheap and style them to appear more expensively.

I think it would actually surprise most people to find out how easy it is to create several different looks from just a few key pieces. If I had to create a must-buy list, it might look a little something like this:

White Jeans

I love a pair of crisp white skinny jeans for spring/summer. White jeans can be dressed up with a charmeuse top and chunky jewelry, or down with a chambray shirt and minimal accessories. Remember to: 
  1. Buy white jeans with minimal pocket fabric. White jeans aren’t too forgiving on the figure anyway, so you’ll want to minimize any extra fabric bunching up around the hips, which tends to happen when you buy jeans with deep pockets.
  2. Wear minimal underwear. Yes, ladies – this may require purchasing non-granny underoos. There’s nothing more disturbing that seeing a girl in a cute pair of white jeans, then seeing her ginormous panty line.  Or her bright pink boy short undies. Please keep ‘em nude or tan. I like the V. S. V-String and the V.S. Cheekies. They’re comfy and go all invisible underneath white jeans.

These are great.  

And so are these.

Denim or Chambray Shirt

via christineexox.tumblr.com

 This is one of the most versatile items a girl can own. Again, you can dress them up or down; with chunky jewelry or nothing at all. I like pairing my denim shirt with a bright skirt and nude heels for work. 

This one is adorbs.
Buy it here.

Fun Sundresses

I think every woman needs a handful of sundresses in her closet. I like Tobi, Sosie and Francesca’s for affordable frocks. Pair a sundress with a blazer and heels for an office appropriate look or as is for night. 

From Tobi

Also from Tobi, here.
Everly Riley Tank Dress, here.
From Sosie

Cream or Off-White Blazer

My favorite blazer came from Urban Outfitters. It’s off-white and I wear it at least once a week. It was a bit of an investment, but it has more than paid for itself in the past two years. Look for ¾ sleeves (the most slimming sleeve length for women) and tailoring along the smallest part of the waist. 

From Urban Outfitters, buy it here.

Nude and or Brown Heels

This is kind of a no-brainer. Nude heels are a must for us gals. They elongate the leg and pretty much go with everything. Brown strappy sandal heels are great, too. My favorite pair came from Aldo last summer, but I also love these:
From Target, y'all!

Denim Cut-Offs

These can be so adorable when worn correctly. The key is to pair them with flowy tops. Remember to show off only one part of your body. Showing skin on both the top and bottom can get a little hootchie-mama-esque.

I honestly recommend searching secondhand stores and thrift shops. That's where I got my favorites, which are a pair of cut-off Levi 501s that I bought at Cheap Thrills in Fay'ville last winter. 

If you don't have any thrift stores in your city, Old Navy has a super-cute pair.

Found at Old Navy

Tunic Style Tops

I love the simple tunic tops in sheer fabric. White is absolutely essential. Pale yellow is also really “in” for this spring.

Buy it here

Found here at Victoria's Secret

A Swimsuit that Makes the Boys Go “Woah”

I love a classic bikini. Give me a cute halter style bikini top and some low-rise bottoms and I’m good to go. I also like to buy tops and bottoms in lots of colors to mix and match for a color blocked look.

Not sure I made anyone go "woah", but the suit is comfy and cute!

I bought the one above at Target last week. You can buy the top here and the bottom here . You can also bet your britches that swimsuit pics will NOT be coming on a regular basis. Adriana Lima, I am not.

One piece gals can appreciate the cute fifties-inspired pin-up styles that are sweeping the stores lately. I love presh one pieces on V. Secret right now, especially the red number by Carmen Marc Valvo….rawr!

A Statement Necklace

I'm not sure statement necklaces apply to only one season, but summer allows you to go a little crazier with the neck candy. I love this necklace (seen below) from BaubleBar is so adorable and would look amazing with that chambray shirt you're going to buy ; )


So tell – what makes the cut when it comes to buying summer essentials? Any tips for budget shopping that you’ve integrated into your buying routine?

Be blessed, lovelies- 


  1. These are great! When stores email coupons (or coupon codes) I wait until the items I want are on sale and then use the coupons. That way I'm getting an additional discount. This is how I got a dress, 2 shirts and a pair of shoes for less than $20. ;)

    Old Navy, NY&Co and Gap are pretty consistent with emailing coupons.

  2. I definitely have that Carmen Marc Valvo retro one piece and completely LOVE it. It was definitely an investment, but it makes me feel comfy and sexy, and it's made SO well! I've had it for 2 years now and wish I had another color! :)

    Loved this little summer fashion guide! :) Must check out BaubleBar ASAP!

  3. okay first of all you look amazing in a bikini! And I am scared of white jeans, I don't know why? I feel like they would make me look even fatter....maybe it's just me and my complex! But you look great in everything!

  4. I don't think I could pull off white jeans, but I love the ones you posted. I found a pair of denim cutoffs at Forever21 last weekend -- they are super cute and were only $12. Yeah! Where is Cheap Thrills located??

  5. great tips for a summer wardrobe - I have all of these things and still never feel like I have anything to wear which means I really need to start shopping my closet more often!!!


  6. Love this! And agree with everything on it 100%. I think you should do a 'staple' post for every season!:)

  7. A great list, Leslie!
    I love the nacklace you chose. :)

  8. I love this list. I heard you mention in a previous post that you were going to get spray tan. I look deathly pale and looking in the NWA... do you have a recommendation???


  9. White skinnies and chambray are on my must have list too! Love both and could wear them every day.

  10. Those ON shorts are really cute. Might have to get a pair (then work out like crazy so my thighs don't look horrific in them!).

    Go you for posting a pic of yourself in a bikini too! You look great!

  11. This is a great post! Is it completely and totally sad that I don't own anything on this list except for the bikini! :/ I can definitely see some things on this list that I like. Actually, basically everything. I think the denim shirt and the white jeans are at the top of my list (although, it's hot now..so I'm not sure how much use I'm going to get out of the jeans). Hope you have a great day.

    I'm hosting a giveaway for a $50 shabby apple giveaway. I hope you'll enter!


  12. What a great list of summer staples! Might just have to pick up the Forever 21 jeans, for only $15.50 it might be the perfect way to try the white jean trend!

  13. Love your staples - all quickly becoming mine as well! Broke down, swallowed the self-consciousness and bought a pair of white jeans... and now I want to live in them.

    Just bought a chambray shirt and as obsessed as I am with it, I'd love more styling tips for it!

  14. Loved the bathing suit pic! You have a great body, embrace it instead of saying you are no Adriana Lima. Believe it or not, you are actually one of those girls who could gain weight and still look great. Just my 2 cents for whatever they are worth.

  15. My name is Aleesha. I left the unknown comment. Sorry I thought there would be a place to leave my name.

  16. I love all of these ideas for summer fashion. The only addition I would add are my Emi-Jay hair-ties/bracelets and the EOS lemon drop lip balm. I don't go anywhere with out a fun, Emi-Jay hair-tie - when I get hot, it's perfect for twisting my hair up or back. And the EOS lemon drop lip balm is perfect for summer, since it has spf 15 - we've got to show our lips some love too!

  17. Aleesha you are so sweet! Thank you honey! You made this girl's day ; )

  18. this is such a great list! i'm inspired to finally go buy myself a chambray shirt! {maybe some other things too!} :)

  19. Girl, if I had your body I'd be totally putting up bathing suit shots! Rock it girl :)

    I am on the hunt for sun dresses. I only own two that I like, that aren't too dressy. My key is finding them casual enough to wear everyday but can be dressed up as you suggested for more occasions. I also sort of want to find some I think I can blend into fall w/ cardis and jackets.

    I'm on a tight budget so I might only be able to find 2 or 3, but that will still be plenty. Thank you for all these tips. I won't be wearing white jeans anytime soon, BUT I am smitten with the two shirts in the image you showed, A is a cutie!

  20. I really love this list. I seriously just updated my running list of things I want to shop for (doesn't everyone have one??) on my i phone notes. I'm glad to say that I have some of them already.

  21. LOVE this list! i LIVE in dresses all summer. don't know if you have Ross or Marshall's by you, but i always find a TON of awesome dresses there on the cheap! and since we're "confessing", (which we're not, but whatever. read this on friday- ha!) i bought THE CUTEST one-piece that looks exactly like the one you posted on *quiet voice* walmart.com. they have it in a bunch of different colors including polka dots and *AHEM* leopard print! i have 3 of them. and YES, DANGIT! i bought it AT WALMART ONLINE!!!! ;)

  22. great list... im currently drafting a post with my summer favorite pieces as well... i totally agree about white skinnies and a chambray shirt!!

  23. I love this post! Can you please do one of these for each season? I love that you are real about the clothes. I like to dress in cute outfits but want to find deals.

    I'm in the same boat about the clothes fund. Now being newly married, there is more flexibility than when I was in college, so I'm loving being able to buy cute outfits but still trying not to go over the top.

    I love your picks!


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