20 Summer Wardrobe Essentials No One Will Believe Are Under $200

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As the temps get hotter and the days get longer, my excitement for peak summer is at an all-time high. Beach days and backyard nights are top of mind, and naturally I’m already dreaming about what I’ll wear to everything on my calendar. While not every season calls for a completely new closet (check out my summer capsule wardrobe), a refresh is always fun. I love shaking things up with summer wardrobe essentials that bridge the gap between timeless and trendy. And no, you don’t have to completely shell out for a fresh look. From sundresses to pearls, we’ve handpicked 20 summer wardrobe essentials to bring new life to your closet this season—all for under $200. 

Under $200 Summer Wardrobe Essentials

Whether your summer is full of traveling to new destinations, lounging on the beach, or just enjoying being home, our curation of summer wardrobe essentials has something for everyone—and pieces that do everything, too. You’ll find silk pants that transition from travel to play, sundresses that go from brunch to drinks, and shoes to match it all. Whether your wardrobe needs a complete overhaul or just a few new finds, dive into our complete list of summer wardrobe essentials below.

If you’re going to buy one thing from this list of summer wardrobe essentials, let it be this chunky pearl necklace from ALV Jewels. It automatically elevates the simplest of outfits and adds a seasonal touch to a basic look. I’ve been wearing this necklace nonstop with everything from white t-shirts to sundresses to bikinis, and it’s my most-asked-about item. 

I never feel fully dressed these days without this COS Raffia Bag. I love dressing it up and down depending on where I’m heading, as it goes with everything in my closet. It comes with me to the beach, to the farmer’s market, out to dinner, and everywhere in between. Big enough to fit a book but small enough not to eat my lipgloss, this truly is the perfect summer bag. 

A must-have in my summer capsule wardrobe, these Reformation linen pants are the best on the market. They are lightweight and breezy, while not being too sheer, and look great with sweaters, button downs, and bikini tops. I also love that they have an adjustable tie waist so I can wear them high-waisted or lower on my hips depending on which look I’m going for. My mom and I both bought a pair of these pants and agree that they’re summer wardrobe essentials for any age. 

After losing one-too-many pairs of sunglasses last year, I decided that I simply can’t afford to spend more than $100 on sunglasses. Luckily, that does not mean I have to skimp on style because these Le Spec sunnies garner more compliments than my designer pairs. They’ve been dubbed the sisterhood of the traveling sunglasses by my friend group because they quite literally look good on everyone. This chic oval shape comes in plenty of colors, from red to tortoise, so everyone can have their pick.

It’s officially white denim season for those who follow the ‘in between Memorial Day and Labor Day’ rule. Though I love a winter white and wear white denim year round, my favorite way to wear white denim in the summer is white denim overalls. A good pair of white overalls, vintage or new, styled with a white tank or tee and a pair of sandals is my go-to effortless outfit during the warmer months. It’s also a great travel outfit, and the overalls double as a beach coverup to throw on over a swimsuit while on vacation.

Summer is one of my favorite seasons for fashion because you can blame your casual dressing on the heat. A t-shirt and shorts is perfectly acceptable when it’s upwards of 80 degrees outside, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have a little fun with it. A graphic tee is always an easy way to add some spice to an outfit and all things fruit-focused are having a moment in 2024. I recently bought this tee from H&M in a size large for an oversized fit and I can already tell it will be one of my most-worn tops of the summer. I styled this shirt with silk pants over the weekend, but am excited to get creative and dress it up with mini skirts and down with denim.

Call me crazy, but there are just certain settings where I feel too exposed in an open-toed pair of sandals. I’ve always battled with risking full-foot exposure in sandals and looking too sporty in sneakers, until I got a pair of woven ballet flats. They are the perfect, summery, close-toed shoes that seem to complete just about every outfit I put on, quickly making their way onto my shortlist of summer wardrobe essentials.

Don’t underestimate the power of a good pair of earrings. A white t-shirt and jeans can be transformed by a fun, seasonal pair of earrings and these shell huggies are my number one pick. These are obviously a great vacation accessory, but I also love wearing them to the office and out to dinner to bring the summertime vibes with me all season, no matter where I am. I also appreciate that these have a full hoop, so I don’t have to deal with the uncomfortable peg on the back of my ear. 

This DISSH linen vest has been a summer wardrobe essential of mine for going on two years now. I purchased this vest in white for Memorial Day Weekend 2023, and have since bought it in black and worn both upwards of 50 times. It’s the perfect summer top, as it’s as breathable and cool as any tank top, but is much more elevated and chic. As someone who is wary of deep v-necks, I find the scoop neck incredibly flattering and comfortable. I style this vest alone as a top with jeans or its matching linen skirt, and over swimsuits with linen shorts. There are so many ways to style this top that it becomes difficult not to reach for it every single day. 

The perfect partner to my ride-or-die linen vest, this maxi skirt is a must for anyone investing in summer wardrobe essentials. It looks great worn as a set, but I also style this skirt with a white tee or tank and a sweater over my shoulders for a classic, coastal summer look. The linen is breezy, the silhouette is flattering, and, for all of those concerned about Australian sizing, the shipping is pretty quick and the returns couldn’t be easier!

I love it when a nostalgic trend comes back into style, and Havaianas flip flops are the shoe of the summer (once again). Strategic collaborations with brands like Farm Rio and Maison Kitsuné brought new life to the classic flip flop brand—plus some major social media buzz. At such an affordable price point and with hundreds of prints and colors to pick from, these are the perfect beach shoes for everyone in the family. Bonus points for laying flat and taking up little-to-no room in a suitcase!

Whether you’re motivated by sun protection or fashion, a woven hat is always a good idea for sunny summer days. I love this raffia bucket hat from Target because it has the perfect brim—it covers my entire face—but isn’t too big to wear while laying out. It’s lightweight, affordable, and makes every outfit automatically look and feel more styled. What more could a girl want?

A part of what might be one of this year’s most anticipated fashion collabs, this Gap x DÔEN sundress is the epitome of a summer wardrobe essential. Simple but not basic, and trendy but still timeless, this dress can be styled with just about everything in your closet. It can be dressed up with a pair of heels or down with a pair of sandals, and still look chic barefoot! Plus, everyone will be envious you managed to score such a coveted piece. 

Although not a piece of clothing, I couldn’t write a list of summer wardrobe essentials without including Supergoop! Glowscreen. This product is my number one essential year round, but it really shines in the summertime when I’m not wearing as much makeup. Obviously it provides SPF, but the Glowscreen gives my skin the perfect hint of color and a glow that is to die for. I like to think of it as the finishing touch to any effortless, summer look. 

I’m a sucker for added detail and consider the concept itself a summer wardrobe essential. I love adding pops of color and seasonal touches to my outfits, and nothing screams summer like lemons. I plan on tying this scarf just about everywhere I can this summer—from my hair to my purse to my neck. 

I live in this crewneck during those “in-between” moments of summer—post-ocean dip but pre-aperitivos, first thing in the morning but before getting dressed, etc. The towel terry material is so soft and cozy, while still being beachy and cool enough for a summer night. Cute styled as a cover-up, with jeans, or lounging around the house, consider this your one-and-done sweatshirt for summer. It’s also unisex, so watch out because it might become one of your S.O.’s summer wardrobe essentials, too. 

Canadian tuxedos were all the rage last fall and winter, and the denim craze is here to stay throughout summer. In most parts of the world, jeans and a denim jacket isn’t a practical summer outfit, so this Reformation dress is the perfect way to stay on trend in the heat. I’d style this dress with a simple pair of sandals and a raffia bag, or high socks with sneakers and a vintage baseball cap. Whatever accessories you choose to add (even if it’s none), this dress is a summer wardrobe essential all on its own. 

I’m actively wearing these pants as I am writing this, so believe me when I say I feel like I’m in pajamas but look like I’m dressed to the nines. DONNI has officially cracked the code when it comes to looking chic while feeling cozy, and I recommend investing in these pants to wear to the office, on a plane, at home, and everywhere in between. At the moment, I’m styling these pants with a tee and an oversized sweater, but they’ll look just as great with a going-out top and a pair of heels later. 

I live in cardigans during the fall and winter and am obsessing over this summer substitute from Madewell. I’m also into stripes at the moment and love the nautical, coastal-grandmother vibes of the navy and white. I’m adding this to my cart and plan to style it with the Reformation linen pants and the DISSH linen skirt linked above. 

No roundup of summer wardrobe essentials is complete without a solid, oversized white button-down. This can be worn under white overalls, over a sundress, tucked into jeans, with a swimsuit—the list goes on. I love spicing up a button-down with fun pearls and earrings to bring pops of color to the white shirt, but honestly, sometimes less is more and a pair of gold hoops does the job. You really can’t go wrong, so just have some fun with it. 

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