15 Must-Have Summer Essentials, According To Fashion Insiders

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Every season, a new selection of soon-to-be bestsellers hits our favorite fashion retailers. With so many summer 2023 trends and products to keep up with, it’s hard to know what to “add to cart.” In our New Arrivals series, we consult the buyers, editors, and fashion insiders at our go-to shopping destinations to find out their best bets for the season’s wardrobe essentials.

Following summer solstice, it’s time to bring out the fashion heavy-hitters of the warm-weather season. To help chose the best of the best from a long lineup of vacation-worthy trends, we turned to experts behind some of retail’s biggest names.

Quiet luxury has been top of mind these past few months, and we’ll only see it continue to gain momentum heading into warmer months,” says Kate Bellman, Nordstrom’s women’s managing fashion editor. “The summer uniform, particularly as many continue to head back into the office, is reflective of pared-down styling through clean, streamlined silhouettes and sophisticated neutrals. Focus on refined tailoring and timeless pieces that will build the ultimate wardrobe not only for the summer season but years to come.”

In addition to elevated basics, a romantic mood will permeate the hottest months of the year. “This summer focuses on sheer fabrics, faded florals and aged leathers, juxtaposing the idea of soft femininity with a touch of grunge and vintage,” says Brigitte Chartrand, VP of womenswear buying for Ssense. “Incorporate this trend into your summer wardrobe with sheer florals from Dries Van Noten and long dresses from Acne Studios styled with vintage pieces from the local flea market.”

In terms of accessories, ballet flats will continue to go the distance, with new iterations moving into focus. “Whether crystal-embellished, in breezy mesh or soft satin, ultra-flat slipper-like styles are dominating the footwear space,” says Celenie Seidel, senior womenswear lead at Farfetch. The trusty tote bag isn’t going anywhere either. “The carry-all tote is a summer essential. The ease and versatility of this [silhouette] makes it the perfect bag for work or play,” says Roopal Patel, SVP, fashion director at Saks Fifth Avenue.

Ahead, more summer essentials that fashion experts are adding to their shopping carts and closets this season.

Crochet

“Come summer, I always reach for crochet pieces in my closet. This time around though, I am loving the use of the material in an unexpected way — an inset on a bikini, as part of a blazer or even woven into a button-down. This styling feels new, refreshing, and elevated.” — Arielle Siboni, ready-to-wear fashion director at Bloomingdale’s

Tote Bag

“Everyone needs a chic carry-all tote that can easily take them from the beach to the barbecue. Something that’s practical but also elevates your outfit,” says Caroline Maguire, Shopbop’s Fashion Director.

Metallic Moment

Metallics are no longer just reserved for evening or partywear. This season, in particular, we have seen designers incorporate it into their beachwear. Think: metallic bikinis, knit coverups, and pareos that can actually be worn on or off the beach.” — Tiffany Hsu, vice president of fashion buying at MyTheresa

Barely There Sandals

“Barely-there flat sandals are one of the biggest trends we are seeing coming through in footwear this summer season. They are the perfect option for customers who are looking for a chic, flat sandal to dress up an evening look.” — Liane Wiggins, Head of Womenswear at MatchesFashion

Court Look

“Whether it is the court sneak or the sport skirt, picking up something to support pickleball, America’s fastest growing sport, is a must-have this summer!” — Holly Thrasher, Chief Merchandising Officer at Anthropologie Apparel & Weddings

Jeans & Denim Maxi Skirts

Denim is a key trend we are continuing to see from all designers and taking over the runway. We love the denim maxi skirt trend. Cargo [styles] continue to evolve. We are also really excited by the Y2K sexy evolution, with Diesel’s devoré sheer-effect skirt and jeans and Mugler’s spiral contrast detail, particularly great for summer in their micro mini shorts. Ecru and white denim are also fresh for summer.” — Holly Tenser, buying manager for ready-to-wear at Browns

Oval Sunglasses

“The ultra-’90s oval eyewear shape is due to have a big revival. The nostalgic look feels perfectly timed for a carefree summer, throwing back to simpler times.” — Celenie Seidel, Senior Womenswear Lead at Farfetch

Dreamy Romance

“As the temps continue to rise, we look to embrace the typical lightness of summer dressing, and this season we’re romanticizing our wardrobes. Unlike the big volume of seasons past, this summer’s take on romance is lightweight, languid and ethereal. Artful manipulation, such as shirring, pleating and ruching, bring a modern vibe and fresh take on feminine frills.” — Kate Bellman, Women’s Managing Fashion Editor at Nordstrom

Summer Cocktail Dress

“Summer is officially here and rooftop parties, beach trips and garden parties are back in full swing. It’s all about the perfect summer cocktail dress for warm-weather events. I love this sunshine yellow mini dress from Jacquemus. It feels like summertime — carefree and effortless.” — Roopal Patel, SVP, Fashion Director at Saks Fifth Avenue

Quiet Luxury

“This summer is all about ‘elevated essentialism,’ sometimes better known as off-duty chic. What I love is that it gives off this overarching feeling of subtle luxury worn by industry insiders. Think: easy, understated, and elegantly simple pieces with a focus on technical execution and design.” — Brigitte Chartrand, VP of Womenswear Buying at Ssense

Mesh Shoes

“Mesh shoes are summer’s breakout trend and are as cool as they are functional. I love them in a ballet flat or a mule and have been personally wearing an embellished pair to dress up jeans and a white tee.” — Arielle Siboni, ready-to-wear fashion director at Bloomingdale’s

City Shorts & Culottes

“Pant lengths have gotten shorter, and shorts have become longer. There are so many fun options of a longer length city short or the gaucho crop.” — Holly Thrasher, Chief Merchandising Officer at Anthropologie Apparel & Weddings

Midriff-Revealing Fashion

“This summer, we are seeing a strong return to the midriff. Cropped tanks and tees, cut-out swimsuits which double up as the perfect bodysuit, cropped fluffy knits, twisted summer shirting, and cropped suiting styled perfectly with super high-rise denim.” — Holly Tenser, buying manager for ready-to-wear at Browns

Raffia

“Raffia should definitely be on your radar this summer. I love artfully crafted accessories with dimension and the craftsmanship that goes into raffia pieces really tends to stand out.” — Tiffany Hsu, vice president of fashion buying at MyTheresa

Sarong

“Sarongs are definitely having a moment, and we particularly love them styled with matching swimwear. They are easy to wear and are such a flattering option for the beach.” — Liane Wiggins, Head of Womenswear at MatchesFashion

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