‘Hey team Eliza,
I haven’t really bought anything new this season as I’m on a tight budget, but I really need a few heatwave-friendly pieces that will make my old summer wardrobe feel new. I wear a uniform to work so I don’t need anything office-appropriate, but I’d love some cute buys I can wear out and on the weekends, as long as they don’t break the bank.’
This is the story of my life, Olivia. A budget might feel restrictive, but don’t underestimate the high street, especially when it comes to a great summer dress! Look on the bright side: since summer pieces are lighter in fabric, your money really does go further in comparison to winter when you might struggle to get a properly warm coat for less than £40.
I don’t know about you, but even if I wasn’t on a budget, I wouldn’t be splashing out on a whole new summer wardrobe each year anyway. All you need is a fashion-forward piece or two, and a refresh of your basics to feel excited about your summer looks again, and £75 is more than enough.
These are the pieces you need:
I’ve been living in shirt-and-racerback-vest combos over the heatwave and I highly recommend. A loose light shirt over a fitted vest doesn’t feel too revealing or too cumbersome, and is a modern minimal look that even Kendall Jenner and Rosie Huntington-Whitely turn to so you’ll be in stylish company.
I’d wear a plain vest over a bright shirt, or a pastel vest over a classic blue or white shirt for an interesting pairing, and always wear with tailored shorts or trousers for an elevated look. Zara, Bershka and H&M do the best of both: ribbed vests shouldn’t set you back more than £8, but a good linen shirt from each of those brands will come in under £20.
For a summer evening look, I’m really into strappy tops or corset-esque crops: they look great with jeans (a failsafe combo, IMO) and heeled mules.
Shorts are really having a moment this season, so if you want to look on-trend while still sporting a practical, summery look, they’re the way to go. H&M’s linen pair come in two colours and look much more expensive than they are.
This skirt might have made you raise an eyebrow but bear with me. Getting through the warm weather in style means floaty, figure-skimming fabrics will be your best friend, and a slinky bias-cut skirt ticks the box. Wear it with a simple T-shirt, or the vest and shirt combo above for a modern look. It’s easy to dress up for night, too, and versatile buys are exactly what you need to invest in if you can only splash on a few things.
Linen trousers in a wide cut are what you should be aiming for on the hottest days, as they’ll protect you from the sun while keeping you cool, thanks to the modest cut and natural fabric.
Footwear is the easiest way to update an older a look, and there are three key styles this summer that you can choose from. Handily, you don’t need to tick the workwear box so you can really have fun here.
I love Marks & Spencers’ flatform fliflops which are a dupe for a pricey pair by Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen’s designer label, The Row, and they’d look great with straight leg jeans and a simple white T-shirt.
A pair of smart slides will take you to brunch, a picnic and to evening drinks, and a black pair with a chic square toe, like this H&M style, always ticks that box.
Sporty sandals with chunky velcro straps and comfy flatform give Dad On Holiday vibes which is a big trend for the new season. This Charles & Keith pair are at the top of your budget, but I couldn’t leave them out, and you’ll wear them for summers to come.
Given a dress is an all-in-one look, splashing out on a great dress is easily justified. There are two ways you could go here for a new season-ready look. The first, is with a bold colour-block maxi number which needs little accessorising and will look great with a tan. Pair it with strappy sandals, and it works from day to night.
The second is with a pared-back print. Think pretty paisley, a teeny floral or a tonal animal print, all of which I recommend you pair with those smart slides, above. H&M and Zara have nailed the pared-back print area, and as these make less of a statement, you can wear them again and again over the heatwave.