Back in March I wrote about 4 wardrobe basics every woman should have. A black dress, a pair of straight leg jeans, a decent winter coat and a good leather bag. All well and good, but I think we all know that those 4 items alone don’t make a decent wardrobe.

As Summer approaches that winter coat is less of an issue, but the black dress, jeans and leather bag are all still pretty much wardrobe staples. So here’s 4 summer wardrobe basics it’s worth investing a bit more of your time, effort and possibly cash, in, to take things into the summer months

  • A Summer Sun Dress

Your LBD still works for summer, but another invaluable addition to your summer wardrobe is a good summer sun dress. The style of this dress will depend on your shape, but generally it’s good to go a natural fabric, a lighter colour or a print. This is the dress you can sling on with flip flops when it’s sweltering hot or add a pair of heels to take to a wedding or garden party. I actually have 3 of these, a more casual rip curl halter neck, a 50s style Nautical striped cotton dress and a shorter bold floral dress.

If you’re busty go for a wrap dress, or a dress with a faux wrap front, make sure the straps are wide enough to hide your bra and likewise that it’s high cut enough at the front. Try Bravissimo for dresses specifically for women with large busts.

Small frames should keep prints small and delicate so as not to be overpowered by them but taller and bigger framed women can get away with the really bold prints.

Vintage and second hand shops are a great place to pick up cute little sun dresses that won’t be the same as everyone elses, or you could always design your own online.

Pick a dress that’s good quality and it should last you several years of summer sun and holidays.

  • A Wrap or Shawl

This is probably one of the most essential items I have for summer. I have several of “pashmina” type shawls in a variety of colours. They look smart enough for an evening cover up at a wedding or other event, but fold up small enough to be stashed away in you bag during the day to be used as an impromptu picnic mat, protection from sun burn, emergency umbrella or even just to keep the chill off.

Considering the uses that I put it to this is something I wouldn’t actually spend a huge amount of money on, but I would make sure it’s right, a decent size and a colour I will get a lot of use out of. Black is a bit dark for summer and cream gets marked quickly but neutral shades of beige and brown are on trend for this summer and versatile.

Ebay is always a good place to look for these second hand. If you want to buy new Fairer Planet have a terracotta shawl for a reasonable £11.99. Vintage Crochet shawls are another great thing to look for, perfect for a summer cover up.


Terracotta fair trade shawl from Fairer Planet

  • The Smart Tank or Vest Top

I think that for summer a jersey vest or tank is something it’s worth making sure you buy properly. For years I bought 3 for a tenner offers and super cheap vest tops, which without fail turned into shapeless, baggy, unflattering dish rags before the end of August  so this is something that I really thinks it’s actually worth making an effort with. Start with the basic colours like black, white and brown and add others as you can afford them. Pretty patterned prints look great with jeans or linen trousers while black and white are perfect underneath over low cut tops, or tucked into a high waist mini for evening. Adili have a range of styles of vests, camis and tanks in organic and fair trade fabrics

Things to check when shopping for summer vests:

Length – Does it cover your waistband? Mostly you’ll want something about hip length so it doesn’t ride up and flash more tummy than you planned and you can wear it tucked it to high waist or untucked with hipsters.

Fabric – How thin is the fabric? How much Lycra does it contain? Is it going to go baggy after 5 minutes and lost it’s shape? If you’re looking for a more ethical purchase look for organic cotton jersey or bamboo fibres.

Style – As with anything the same style won’t suit everyone. Flat chested women look great in slash necklines or spaghetti straps, but if you’re busty you’re better off with a V neck or a scoop, but make sure the straps are sturdy enough to wear a bra with.


People Tree Organic Cotton Cami

  • Wide Leg Trousers

Usually in linen or cotton, wide leg trousers are a summer wardrobe essential. Cool for work when it’s too hot for your plain black boot cuts, or perfect for throwing on over a bikini while on holiday or just kicking about in the garden.

This is something I don’t have at the moment. I fancy a high waisted 30s or 40s style pair, but my limited budget means I’m still hunting for the perfect pair! Quality and price can be a factor in buying a pair of flattering trousers so it’s worth shopping around.

Darker colours like khaki or brown are more practical, but white and cream look amazing during the summer. I think neutral beiges and tan colours are a good compromise, not as quick to mark as white but still fresh and summery.

Super wide leg trousers have a more hippy chic vibe, but something more structured looks smart and vintagey.

Tammam have a pair of bamboo fabric wide leg trousers on sale at The Natural Store for just £37.50 or for a slightly more casual style Amana ‘Manar’ Trousers are available in grey organic cotton for £66, also on sale.

Tammam Cream Bamboo Trousers from The Natural Store

Tammam Cream Bamboo Trousers from The Natural Store

Photos courtesy of Darwin Bell, mistercullen,Faithful Chant, kaileyenn, Vincent Boiteau