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How to Dress up Cutely this Summer

The temperatures rise, the sun beats down and everything suddenly seems a lot more fun – yes, it’s definitely time to break out those cute summer outfits! There’s nothing that says “laid-back” and “casual” quite like lightweight summer garments. It’s as easy to be glamorous as it is to relax in your shorts and tanks.

Summer Outfit Options

Depending on what you have lined up, you may not always be able to get away with throwing a t-shirt on with a denim mini skirt or pairing a tank top with those ultra-short shorts. With various occasions and events in mind, these options make it easy to break down your wardrobe into manageable, cute and comfortable outfits.


The office is sweltering, you’re ready to faint, and the weatherman promises that tomorrow will be even hotter. You won’t lose your cool though. Skip stifling suits if you can and try any of these chic, adorable daytime pieces:

  • J Crew Skirt

    J Crew Skirt

    Pencil skirts are your best friends. Professional and smart, they pair beautifully with light, airy blouses or a camisole and tissue-weight cardigan. J.Crew’s No. 2 Pencil Skirt in cotton twill ($110, sizes 000-16) comes in a lightweight cotton fabric perfect for warmer weather.

  • Camisoles are ideal layering pieces. You’ll slip them on beneath your light cardigans during the day, then show them off in the evening. Worn with skirts or pants, they instantly add polish to your look. If your camisole is slightly longer wear a slim belt around your waist to keep it cinched during the day. Uniqlo’s AIRism Bra Camisole ($24.90, XS-XXL) is a great option for an inner layer — it’s made from a sweat-wicking and lightweight fabric, and even comes with a built-in bra for ultimate comfort.
  • Kelsie Tie-Waist Shirtdress

    Kelsie Tie-Waist Shirtdress

    Shirtdresses and tank dresses are genius nine-to-five options. The former looks smart without any extra details (but feel free to wear a belt if you’d like a bit more shape), while the latter looks sweet with a necklace and a blazer or light cardigan. This Kelsie Tie-Waist Shirtdress from NYDJ ($168, sizes 2-16) comes in a summery cobalt blue and is fully lined, making it a summer office classic.

  • Avoid pantyhose when you’re wearing dresses or skirts to the office. Through traditionalists may blanch at the idea of going barelegged, there’s nothing wrong with wearing simple pumps or flats without hose during the summer. Just make sure your outfit is corporate-friendly. These Emelia Side-Dip Cut Out Flats from Payless ($20, sizes 5-16), for example, are both summery and work-appropriate. The covered ballet flat makes them suitable for work, while the white color, perforated leather, and cap toe make them summery and fun.


Whether you’re on a lunch date, walking around the park or doing some shopping in an air-conditioned mall, you’ll feel best in something weightless and airy.

  • Madewell Silk Overlay Cami Dress

    Madewell Silk Overlay Cami Dress

    Sundresses are versatile and easy to wear almost anywhere. Floral prints in light colors are charming with a pair of flats in a neutral shade. Madewell is a great place for casual sundresses made with higher quality fabrics — this Silk Overlay Cami Mini Dress in a cheery botanical print ($155, sizes 00 to 14) is made from 100% silk, fully lined, and the pattern takes you from brunch to beach and every summer activity in between.

  • Linen pants are ideal if you prefer to keep your legs covered. They’re so insubstantial you may be startled at first, but you’ll love walking around in them. Pair with a fitted tank to provide balance; most linen pants have a loose, “floaty” fit. Slip into a pair of light wedges or flip-flops with heels to finish the look. These linen-blend pants from H&M ($34.95, sizes 2-14), are a great casual option.


Dates definitely fall into the “play” category, but they stand alone because they usually demand a slightly more well planned ensemble.

  • Nothing says “cute” better than a flirty little summer dress. Try a bold colored halter style with a pair of wedges for an extremely feminine look, or opt for a strapless cotton style and toss a light wrap or cardigan over your shoulders should you need some extra warmth. Add some jewelry for a sparkling finishing touch. This Old Navy Strapless Eyelet Dress ($37, sizes 0-20) is an adorable option, and the eyelet fabric exemplifies summer.
  • Miraclesuit Floral Wrap Dress

    Miraclesuit Floral Wrap Dress

    Wrap dresses are another summer staple that translate well from work to play. They’re especially smart to wear on dates, though. They’re figure flattering, are available in an array of styles and colors and look wonderful paired with minimal accessories and heels. This pretty Miraclesuit Short-Sleeved Floral Wrap Dress ($79, sizes 4-16) is perfect even for women concerned about weight around the tummy. It comes with all-over body control, which keeps the silhouette slim.

Where to Shop

These retailers are the go-to spots when you’re interested in updating your summer wardrobe with a few new outfits.

  • Old Navy: Reasonable prices and cute dresses can be found here. They also run great sales throughout the season, and have started offering some accessories, like bags and shoes.
  • Forever 21: You’ll probably be able to find a few short, flirty numbers to get you through the summer here. They are great for trendy, casual pieces that you don’t mind only lasting a season or two.
  • Gap: The Gap always has great classic pieces for every season. Check here for some of the dresses you hope to transition into fall and winter with.
  • Kohl’s: The styles here typically walk the line between classic and trendy. Kohl’s tends to have amazing sales, so keep your eyes open.
  • Target: What you find here will probably be fairly trendy, but not so much that you can’t enjoy wearing these dresses in other seasons or other years. It will be easy to shop for accessories at the same time you buy your dresses.
  • BCBG: If you need something that’s a cross between cute and classy, feminine yet dressy (and not too girlish), check BCBG. They are also a good destination for dresses for more formal occasions, like weddings.

Build a Summer Wardrobe

Chances are your wardrobe is already loaded with summery essentials. Between t-shirts, tank tops, shorts, bikinis, one-piece swimsuits, sundresses, mini skirts and sandals, you’ve got your summer clothing agenda covered. The trick to building a functional wardrobe though, is to collect pieces that work in harmony with one another. Mingling with your trendy pieces should be a few classics that you turn to year after year. Pair them with one another and you’re bound to come up with more than a few cute summer outfits to see you through the season.

Since summer presents so many social opportunities, you need a variety of outfits to suit each unique occasion. From a business-casual lunch in an outdoor setting to a low-key poolside barbecue to a stroll about town with the girls, each demands a respective outfit that will keep you looking appropriate and perhaps even more importantly, feeling cool and comfortable.

Take Your Cue

Of course, ideas for cute summer outfits are absolutely everywhere. You need only flip through a magazine, watch a television show, browse the Internet or walk through a mall to find inspiration. Be creative. If you like a few of the trendy dress styles, purchase them at a store that offers reasonable prices like Old Navy or Target. That way you won’t feel guilty if you fall out of love by the time next summer rolls around. Build the rest of your wardrobe on smart staples that you’ll wear summer after summer. Don’t be afraid to spend a bit more on a dress that appears to be a worthwhile investment – if it’s well made and makes you look and feel like a million bucks, it’s worth it!

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