Summer Basics on the Cheap

It is DEFINITELY summer here in New Mexico. I’m in shorts today. I have had moments where I’m covered in sweat, wanting to die. I even got my first minor sunburn. Also I want to shop for new clothes! I hate a lot of my wardrobe. Unfortunately, summer is really hard on clothes, with all the sun, water and sweat, so there are some things you need to buy over and over again. So, if it is only going to last for a season, why not buy it cheap? Here’s my list of summer basics you can buy without breaking the bank.

Cotton Dresses
I’m talking CRISP cotton, cool and breathable. Crisp white, vivid solid colors, or demure florals are all classic choices. If you’re not a regular dress wearer, you might think of this as “dressing up”, but it’s time for a paradigm shift. Think of it as looking good while feeling good. I crave my cotton dresses for their coolness and easy wear during the summer.

Cotton Tops
Noticing a trend here? Cotton is perfect for summer, as is linen, and bamboo. Natural fibers are best. Polyester will have you sweating like a whore in church. White tees are a summer MUST. Old Navy’s tees are so cheap that you shouldn’t have qualms about buying a new one. And last summer’s white tees will not cut it. Sorry. People will see those yellowed sweat stains under your arms. Same goes for your ribbed tank (a.k.a. the wifebeater–I call it that because I’m KLASSY). Don’t take your soiled, limp, wifebeater out in public. Save it for sleeping, if you must, but buy a nice new one to wear around.

Summer is a great time to let your inner hippie chick/bohemian out. Sometimes it’s nice to have a cool, flowing top that the breeze can pass through. A thin cotton top with or without embroidery is cool and comfortable.


It’s time for new jeans! Jeans for summer should be worn with care; you don’t want to pick jeans that are too thick or uncomfortable. I love a retro-style crop jean with a cuff; it’s like being an extra in Grease. Or Grease II. I am also loving a brightly colored jean, like these mint green ones.

You may notice that the evil jeans are in this collection. The SKINNY JEAN. I am giving in for the summer. I am letting down my restrictions for skinny jeans. I won’t be wearing them, but I figure, as long as you’re honest with yourself, you can make that decision for yourself. If you have a muffin top or a camel toe, please say no to the skinny jean. If you look and feel awesome, you have my blessing.

Maxi Dresses
There is an end in sight for maxi dresses. I feel like their moment is drawing to a close, to be replaced with something not as good, like jumpsuits. I will mourn when that day comes, but in the meantime, buy those suckers! They are SOOOO comfy. I love mine. It’s the easiest thing to slip on a maxi in the morning; it almost feels like being in pajamas all day. Plus the maxi area means you can have bold patterns, like tribal patterns, which are very “in” right now.

Going-Out Tops
One great thing about the summer is the desire of people to be with others. There are more invitations for dinners on the patio, get-togethers, and dates. After my LA trip last summer, I decided what I was really missing for all the evenings socializing was a really great top. A top is versatile; it can be worn with jeans or a skirt for different looks. This is the time for your unnatural fibers. And maybe some sequins. Asymmetry is so right now.

Beach and Pool
It is time for water sports! Since I moved to New Mexico, I’ve kind of been obsessed with finding the right bathing suit. I would almost rather not have any, but I love to swim, so it’s a necessity. The joke is I’d rather be seen in a burkini.


But my philosophy is that if I have to wear a swimsuit, it should be fun, colorful, and I should actually be able to swim in it. There are a lot of cute bathing suits that are just for sitting in the sun. I can never resist the pull of the pool, though, so those retro velvet suits would not be practical for me. I usually do invest in suits because I like some serious architectural work to be going on inside my suits; I highly recommend Lands’ End for a good suit. Flip flops are a MUST. I buy them every year; I like Old Navy’s metallics, because they are so soft and squishy underfoot, unlike the foam ones, which can aggravate. Also, a sarong is a wonderful thing. You can use it as a wrap skirt, a cover-up, a beach blanket, or a shelter from the sun. I have about five sarongs.

So, those are my summer basics. And they are ALL under $50, most under $30. What are your summer basics? What are your summer investments that you would be willing to spend a bit more on?


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