Better Than Basics week is here! This week is dedicated to helping you dress well for summer in outfits that are BETTER than just basics.
Need some help with your summer outfits?
I’m so excited to share the BETTER THAN BASICS series with you this week!
One of the biggest challenges I hear from you is that your outfits are too boring or too simple, so this guide is to give you ideas of how to mix basics clothing items and better than basic clothing items together to make GREAT outfits.
Since it’s the summer of 2021, I wanted to put together 21 summer outfits, and challenge you to put together 21 great outfits this summer. I’ll be issuing a formal challenge on Instagram later this week, so stay tuned for that!
What to expect the rest of the Better Than Basics week
Throughout the rest of this week I’ll be sharing lots of shopping ideas with better than basic pieces so you can add a few to your closet for summer.
But today, I want to show you my 21 outfits and break them down to show you why they’re better.
Copy or be inspired by these outfits
These outfits are meant to be inspiration. Not every outfit may work for you or your style – that’s ok! Try copying some, or using some just as inspiration for pieces in your closet. Or use them as a base and then adjust things to fit your style.
You’ll see mixes of classic pieces, modern pieces, better than basic pieces, and simple pieces. In order to make a great outfit, you should have at least one better than basic piece in your outfit.
I could show you about 10 variations for each of these outfits, swapping out the shoes, accessories, jeans, etc, but I wanted to make as many different summer outfits as I could in these 21 outfits. So don’t forget to play around with them and do variations to make lots and lots of outfits.
Let’s break it down for each outfit.
21 Better Than Basic Summer Outfits for Summer 2021
GRAPHIC T-SHIRT | CHAMBRAY SKIRT | WHITE SNEAKERS | GOLD EARRINGS
This is a super simple and easy outfit – a fun graphic tee, and a skirt.
This is an upgraded version of your basic jean shorts and tee. The graphic tee adds some personality, and the skirt adds some femininity.
You could absolutely do sandals instead of sneakers, but make your shoes purposeful. And then finish the outfit with a little jewelry – I chose gold hoop earrings.
WHITE V-NECK | YELLOW PANTS (SIMILAR HERE) | SIMILAR EARRINGS | SIMILAR EMBELLISHED SANDALS
A pair of statement pants is a fun better than basic piece you could add to your closet this summer. These ones are so fantastic — lightweight and comfortable!
Since the pants are such a statement, you want to keep the rest of your outfit a little more simple.
A white tee is perfect for that, but a waist knot or a full tuck is essential to create some shape against the wide pants.
A few accessories, like some neutral statement earrings and embellished sandals are perfect because they bring a little jazz to the outfit that might otherwise feel TOO simple with just solid white on top and solid yellow on bottom.
WHITE BUTTON-UP | JEANS | EARRINGS | SIMILAR RAINBOW SANDALS | BACKPACK BAG (La Mere Petite)
A classic white button up is a perfect summer shirt. But it can also be super simple, boring, and even a little bit masculine.
You could swap the jeans for shorts or a skirt, but better than basic accessories are really what make this outfit shine.
The rainbow sandals are perfect for adding a pop of personality, and then feminine bag and statement earrings help the outfit feel feminine and complete.
SIMILAR PINK DRESS HERE and HERE | BELT BAG | WHITE SNEAKERS | TILE BRACELETS
A t-shirt dress is a great summer outfit option. It’s comfortable and easy to wear. But also it can be super boring and not very flattering.
Choosing one in a fun color definitely helps it be better than basics.
But also adding a belt bag makes the outfit feel a little more fun and special. Alternatively, you could choose just a regular belt.
Sandals could definitely be worn instead of sneakers, but I think the sneakers feel a little unexpected and modern, which makes the outfit feel better than basics to me.
GRAPHIC T-SHIRT | WHITE JEANS | BASEBALL HAT | CROSSBODY BAG (Audrey Slim Crossbody) | BLACK SANDALS
Here’s that better than basic graphic tee! Instead of reaching for your plain t-shirt this summer (which, you know I love — there’s definitely a place for that too), choose something with a fun print or design on it.
A pair of white jeans is an essential and super classic. But a pair of embellished sandals makes the outfit go from simple to show-stopping.
A few accessories, like a hat and a class leather bag, make this outfit feel finished.
OLIVE TOP | WHITE JEANS | EARRINGS | WHITE SANDALS (code MERRICK40 gets you 40% off anything)
An embellished top like this is definitely a better than basics kind of top. With tops like this, that have lots of details, it’s best to keep the rest of the outfit simple.
White jeans and white leather sandals are both classic and also classy, and match the dressiness level of the top.
A pair of flower earrings finishes the outfit, but of course you could just do some simple metallic earrings instead!
MAXI DRESS | CHAMBRAY SHIRT | SIMILAR SNEAKERS | SUNGLASSES | LEATHER CROSSBODY BAG | BRACELETS
This is another t-shirt dress, just in a longer length.
Again, it gives you very little shape, so a shirt tied around your waist is a good solution to add a casual feel AND define your waist.
You could definitely do sandals with this outfit, but sneakers add a cool-girl vibe that I love, so I chose those.
Classic accessories, like gold hoop earrings and a leather crossbody bag complete the outfit.
WHITE V-NECK | GINGHAM SKIRT | EMBELLISHED SANDALS | EARRINGS | CROSSBODY BAG
This gingham tiered skirt is absolutely a better than basics piece. You could wear lots of different tops with it, but for a more casual (but still great) summer outfit, a white knotted tee is a perfect choice.
A pair of embellished sandals keeps the outfit feeling a little more dressy, and gold earrings and a leather bag add a classic touch.
SIMILAR WHITE PEASANT TOP | JEANS | TOTE BAG | EARRINGS | SIMILAR NECKLACES | SANDALS
Another great white top that can be worn a ton of ways. The little details on the sleeves and neckline make it absolutely better than basic.
I kept this outfit classic with some light wash jeans and classic white leather sandals.
But since the rest of the outfit is so simple, I added some fun jewelry to add some sparkle and personality.
STRIPED DRESS | WHITE SNEAKERS | CROSSBODY BAG (Audrey Slim Crossbody) | EARRINGS
I think your closet needs a few super good summer dresses. I’ll be sharing some great ones on the blog in a few days.
Some of them should be basic and solid colored, but having one or two with prints on it is a great idea and makes it feel better than basic.
I love a dress with sneakers, so even though you could absolutely do sandals with this dress, I did sneakers for more of a modern and better than basic look.
Of course don’t forget a bit of jewelry to help the outfit feel finished!
GRAPHIC T-SHIRT | SIMILAR WHITE EYELET SKIRT | EARRINGS | LEATHER SANDALS
You keep seeing fun t-shirts popping up here! Don’t forget, you can still make these outfits with basic, solid colored tees! I just want you to see less basic options.
This white eyelet skirt is perfect for summer, and definitely a better than basic skirt. I also love mixing a feminine skirt and a masculine top together!
Can you mix black and brown together in an outfit? Heck yes. Try it – it creates a really great better than basic outfit.
POLKA DOT SHIRT | SIMILAR BERMUDA SHORTS | PURSE (Naomi Crossbody) | SANDALS | EARRINGS
A pair of bermuda shorts can be tough to style and feel masculine, so really amp them up with some better than basic pieces.
This polka dot blouse is cute and feminine, and the boxy fit balances the fitted style of the shorts really well.
Then a pair of embellished, neutral sandals makes the outfit feel fun and feminine.
Even with better than basic shoes and top, you can still add simple, classic accessories, like a leather bag and gold earrings.
SIMILAR WHITE EYELET TOP | SIMILAR BERMUDA SHORTS | SIMILAR BASEBALL HAT | WHITE SNEAKERS | PINK BACKPACK (La Mere Petite) | GOLD BEAD BRACELETS
Another pair of bermuda shorts! You’ll see that I did a similar kind of styling trick here, with lots of feminine pieces.
The eyelet details on the top make the outfit feel much more special than just a basic tee would do.
And a pair of fun, modern sneakers and a suede hat makes the outfit feel cool.
Don’t forget the accessories! Gold earrings and bracelets feel classic and feminine.
BLUE TIERED DRESS | BASEBALL HAT | SIMILAR SNEAKERS
A flowy dress like this can be perfect for summer, and I love it with a pair of sneakers for a cool look.
Normally I really recommend belting a shapeless dress like this, but with the casual sneakers and baseball cap, the flowy dress feels right.
STRIPED T-SHIRT | SIMILAR OLIVE JOGGERS | EMBELLISHED SANDALS | GOLD HOOP EARRINGS
A pair of satin joggers is definitely better than basic. I love a good pair of joggers, but these ones are a bit of a showstopper.
Since they’re pretty bold, I paired them with a classic striped tee (a must-have basic), and then finished the outfit with some classic gold jewelry and embellished sandals.
You could do more classic sandals, but since these embellished sandals are clear, they feel more subtle.
YELLOW FLUTTER SLEEVE TOP | WHITE WIDE LEG PANTS | EARRINGS | BRAIDED HEELS
A bright yellow top is definitely a better than basic kind of top. But since it’s solid colored and has minimal details, it’s easier to pair with something else better than basic, like these cropped wide leg pants (which are also very classic).
Again, since the pieces are solid and not embellished, you can add a little more detail and interest with your accessories. I chose a large statement earring and some neutral but fun woven heeled sandals.
SIMILAR WHITE CROCHETED TOP | WHITE WIDE LEG PANTS | EARRINGS | PURSE (Naomi Crossbody) | SIMILAR SANDALS
This short sleeve sweater top is one of my all time favorite tops, and is definitely better than basic.
I paired it with classic, white, wide leg pants, which are better than basic, but also very classic.
Also, the combination of cream and white in an outfit is so good, and looks amazing with brown leather, so I added the bag and shoes to complete the outfit.
NAVY JUMPSUIT | PINK BASEBALL HAT | WHITE SNEAKERS | PINK BACKPACK (La Mere Petite)
I found this jumpsuit a few weeks ago, and it’s the perfect one-piece better than basic outfit.
The fact that it’s a jumpsuit makes it better than basic, but it’s still pretty plain, so some accessories are definitely needed to help the outfit feel better thanb asic.
A pair of white modern sneakers is a great shoe choice (but you could absolutely do sandals).
The outfit still felt too simple, so I added a pink hat and a pink backpack for a pop of color and some femininity.
PINK LOUNGE SET (code MERRICK5 gets you $5 off) | BASEBALL HAT | WHITE SNEAKERS | CROSSBODY BAG (Aurey Slim Crossbody)
Matching sets are more typically for the colder months, but this one is lightweight and comfortable and the color is great for summer. Plus the cropped leg length makes it more bearable in the heat.
BUT this kind of outfit can definitely look like pajamas if you don’t style it well!
You want REAL shoes. A pair of modern sneakers is perfect.
You want JEWELRY. This helps the outfit feel not like pajamas.
Keep your accessories classic. Leather, gold…all good choices.
PINK BASEBALL HAT | GREY DRESS | RAINBOW SANDALS | TOTE BAG
This gray dress from my clothing collection is perfect for summer, and super comfortable. It’s a little bit basic, so you need better than basics to help it feel complete.
A pair of colorful sandals is perfect for a pop of fun.
Of course a baseball hat is great for adding femininity (and covering up dirty hair), and classic gold earrings and a leather bag keep the outfit with the rainbow shoes from feeling too trendy.
WHITE T-SHIRT | RED LEGGINGS | CHAMBRAY SHIRT | SIMILAR SNEAKERS | BASEBALL HAT | BLACK BACKPACK
I get tons of questions about wearing leggings during the summer. So I wanted to come up with a fun outfit idea with leggings!
I always wear my black leggings, but these bright red leggings are definitely better than basic and are lightweight and bright enough for summer.
But again, you need to make the outfit feel purposeful. A shirt around the waist, a pair of modern sneakers, and a baseball cap are perfect to take a basics legging and t-shirt outfit to a better than basics outfit!
If you want to see all of these in action, here you go:
Tomorrow I’ll be sharing 21 better than basic top ideas – don’t miss it!
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