If you’re spending summer in the city (even on a short trip) you don’t want to be weighed down with a ton of layers — or luggage! And you really don’t want to be trying on a million outfits when you could be hitting the streets or relaxing on a rooftop patio with a drink in your hand.
The photos in this story are provided by Brea Boutique in Mandan, North Dakota.
You need a few stylish basics that can go from day to night, mix and match pieces that serve more than one purpose and comfortable footwear for walking. Everything goes with everything, each piece can be worn more than one way and it all fits inside one small weekend bag, with a little room for a few new pieces you find during your travels.
Here’s what I’ll be wearing on my city getaways this summer. Let me know what you’re wearing (and where you’re going!) at the bottom of the post.
A Day to Night Dress
A floaty, strappy summer dress is a go-to piece for day or night. A great dress works as a statement piece when worn alone, or as a layering piece when worn with other items on this list. Try it with booties during the day or dress it up with jewelry, an updo and a bold lipstick for dinner or a show.
Since a dress is a statement piece with lots of layering possibilities, you can have a little fun with pattern and color and let the dress set your color palette. Personally, I like to pack one or two neutral colors and a fun pattern and/or accent color to make everything pop.
When you’re going to be walking a lot (indoors or outside) good, comfortable shoes should be the building block of your wardrobe. A pair of low platform or wedge heel ankle booties can be as comfortable as sneakers and score you way more style points. I love a summary pair with cutouts that offer a little more visual interest — and increased air circulation for hot days.
If you’re going somewhere with a lot of other people (like a street fair, farmers market or outdoor concert) boots offer extra protection for your toes. (Getting stomped on sandals on is anything but pleasant.)
White denim looks crisp and put together, even when you’ve just unrolled it from your suitcase. (The pair I linked to above are my go-to brand. They’re wrinkle-proof, virtually indestructible and worth every penny.) It’s an easy update to your denim wardrobe and the crisp, clean look even appeals to those who don’t usually like jeans.
Skinny jeans are a handy shape for traveling because you can layer them under a dress for an additional cool-weather look. But wide-leg flares, cropped jeans or gauchos can be fun to play around with, too. Just choose the style that looks best with your body type.
A Lightweight Wrap or Cardigan
Summer nights can still get cool and overzealous air conditioning can be positively arctic, so it’s always smart to have a lightweight laying piece you can throw on in a pinch. The best options are thin so they can roll up small and fit inside your purse or look nice tied around your waist.
Designers are consistently showing crocheted and lace cardigans, kimonos and wraps, which means that this is a summer in the city trend that will stick around for awhile. (You can also repurpose the cover-up you’ve been using at the pool or the beach if has some pretty details to highlight.) These wraps are delicate and pretty and won’t look too heavy when worn with a filmy dress or flirty skirt. But they’re still an extra layer if you need them.
If your travel plans involve strolling the boardwalk or lounging in the park, you need a footwear option that won’t leave your heels stuck in the sand or grass. And it’s nice to have something to pop on when you want to leave the hotel room for a minute.
Flats are versatile and comfortable footwear options in their own right, especially if you don’t like or can’t wear heels. Retailers are finally expanding beyond the classic ballet flat and giving shoppers a wide range of styles to choose from.
A Versatile Skirt
I live in skirts in the summer. I really only wear shorts when I’m going to be hiking or canoeing or something similarly outdoorsy. Skirts are just as comfortable as shorts, but they make you look like you made a bit of extra effort.
Denim skirts (especially 70s influenced styles like this one) are everywhere this season, and they’re a great gateway piece for avowed tomboys and women who are nervous about wearing skirts. It’s impossible to look like you’re trying too hard in denim.
Tissue Thin T-Shirts
Two or three thin, layering Ts open up a world of wardrobe possibilities. T-shirts are casual with jeans, but get dressed up in a hurry when you tuck them into a cute skirt or throw one over a patterned dress for a new look. Add an elaborate hairstyle and jewelry and it can work for a night out.
It’s smart to pack at least one solid colored shirt in whatever neutrals you’ve chosen for your wardrobe’s color scheme, but brightly colored or patterned shirts can be a lot of fun, too. And don’t be afraid to really play with pattern. As long as the patterns have a color in common, they’ll work together.
Something pretty and glittery is an excellent way to jazz up a simple T-shirt or make a dress really sparkle for a special event. And the best part is, you can bring a lot of options since jewelry takes up next to no room in your suitcase. Just don’t bring anything too valuable — you don’t want to make yourself a target or risk losing something irreplaceable.
I really like delicate jewelry (especially necklaces) for summer. It doesn’t heat up in the sun like big statement necklaces can and it looks beautiful alone or layered.
It’s easy to build a versatile and complete summer wardrobe from the pieces here, whether you’re traveling or not. It’s also fun to inject a little more color into your warm-weather wardrobe. You don’t need to pack a lot of garments to have a lot of options.
How about you? What are you buying this season? What’s your favorite place to spend summer in the city? What’s your ultimate summer travel outfit or accessory? Do you have any packing tips to share? What cities will you travel to this summer? Which cities are on your bucket list?
This post contains affiliate links. This means I may receive a small commission if you purchase something through my website. As always, I only recommend products I think you’ll like and use, as I do.
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