Summer outfits have a big job. They need to be casual, comfortable, chic, and easy. When the sun’s shining, I don’t want to spend 20 minutes trying to match tops and bottoms.
Unfortunately, if I don’t have the right pieces on hand, I’ll default to running shorts and workout tops. And that’s fine, sometimes. But there are occasions which demand a little more attention and a lot more style. On those days, I appreciate having a selection of mix-n-match summer pieces that’ll support multiple outfits.
To that end, I’ve been shopping for the ultimate summer capsule wardrobe. Here’s a recap of what I’ve found: 10 affordable garments that’ll create 25 summer outfits in total. Each piece is priced around $20, and every one is available on Amazon. If your budget allows for a total overhaul of your summer wardrobe, you could get them all for about $200.
10 essential pieces for chic summer outfits
Here’s a quick review of my process, in case you’d like to do your own shopping. I started with a list of pieces that would provide a good range of summer looks. My picks are:
- Standard casual t-shirt for versatility
- Upgraded t-shirt: also versatile, with a touch more style
- Shell top: more polished than a t-shirt and wearable in the fall under layers
- Button down top with long sleeves: Long sleeves for summer?!? Yes. Because you can roll up those sleeves, tuck, or tie. You can also wear it unbuttoned as a swim coverup.
- Pretty blouse: adds a feminine touch to any bottom piece
- Chino shorts: casual, but structured
- Tie-waist shorts: less structured than chinos, for your relaxed days
- Pull-on pencil skirt: stylish but not fussy
- Side slit skirt: shows some leg but you can still wear it with a t-shirt
- A-line midi skirt: wear with anything and always flattering
I intentionally curated variation in color, pattern, and texture, while sticking with silhouettes that are flattering to most body types. Depending on your appetite for color, you can pair every top with every bottom in this collection.
1. Casual t-shirt
Amazon Essentials v-neck t-shirt retails for $13. This is a wardrobe workhorse that you’re sure to wear on repeat all summer long.
2. Upgraded t-shirt
Keehightor’s top fits like a t-shirt but has extra style by way of a subtle sleeve ruffle. The top is perfect for those days that demand and polished at the same time. The price point is $14.
3. Shell top
Newchoice’s casual v-neck top is a versatile piece you could use year-round. Pair it with skirts and shorts when it’s hot. Then switch to leggings or jeans when temperatures dip. The top is available in more than 12 colors and patterns, and retails for $22 (on sale).
4. Button down
The long-sleeved, button down is an unexpected hero piece for summer. Wear it unbuttoned over a tank, roll up those sleeves, tie it in front instead of tucking it in…the options go on and on. This one’s available in seven colors, though I do love the bright yellow. The price is right, too, at $17.
5. Pretty blouse
Color and texture packaged into a casual style make for a fabulous summer piece — as demonstrated by Auhoot’s swiss dot chiffon blouse. Make it yours for $22.
6. Chino shorts
These chino shorts by Hybrid & Company are structured enough to pair with a blouse, and casual enough to go with t-shirts. The price point is an easy $23.
7. Tie-waist shorts
CILKOO’s casual pocketed short is proof you can be casual and chic at the same time. The olive green color is so versatile, too. The shorts are priced at $26 — well worth it, considering how many times you’ll wear them.
8. Pull-on pencil skirt
A pull-on, form-fitting pencil skirt for $19? Yes, please. You can wear this UrbanCoco skirt so many places — it’s truly a day-to-night garment.
9. Patterned skirt
The pattern on Floern’s side slit skirt gives your summer wardrobe a little punch without compromising versatility. Still, if black-and-white isn’t vibrant enough, shop the skirt’s other 50-plus color and pattern options. They all carry the same price point of $26.
10. Midi skirt with buttons
Azue’s midi skirt has a high waist, front pockets, and a very flattering shape. The light blue color goes with anything (well, except maybe more light blue) and the skirt is casual enough to anchor with your favorite sneakers. Pick one up for $19.
The summer outfits
All these tops and bottoms are interchangeable so you can create outfits with the right level of formality. For your most casual days, pair the basic t-shirt with the tie-waist shorts. When you want to dress up more, tuck the shell top into the patterned skirt. The middle ground is the upgraded t-shirt, anchored by the button-front midi.
All in, these 10 pieces give you 25 summer outfits to play with. You can make more by working in, or leaving out, your favorite accessories. Swap in sandals for sneakers or vice versa. Add a hair or neck scarf. Try a bracelet or an anklet. Even small adjustments can be impactful — which means you’re less likely to get bored with your summer collection.