My summer soundtrack is punctuated with peppy, poppy tunes, from Stevie Wonder to The Romantics to, uh, Ke$ha. But what really epitomizes summer for me is the languid, lingering haunt of “Summertime,” from Gershwin’s 1935 opera, Porgy and Bess. (Thanks to my elementary-school music teacher, Ms. Thompson, for playing it for me the first time.) Everything about that song makes me want to lounge barefoot outside with a frosty mug of lemonade and watch the world go by.
Summer puts me in a profoundly more relaxed mood. With the sun as my personal Xanax, my style gets more casual. I become more hesitant to splurge for summer pieces. (Never mind that incredible hot-orange-and-pink Tibi halter dress I saw online a couple days ago; I must put it out of my mind.) My biggest purchases this year, I confess, have been a $40 Michael Kors T-shirt maxi dress from Marshall’s and a striped maxi skirt from Target for $18. Long skirts, spaghetti straps, seersucker, jersey: these are the staples of my summer wardrobe.
Especially by the time August hits, I’m less inclined to primp in front of the mirror, too. My makeup routine gets pared back to the basics of tinted moisturizer, mascara, liner, and a bright lipstick. And let’s take a moment to pay homage to topknots and messy, bobby-pinned twists—hairdos that look chic even when the mercury clears 90 degrees.
And then there are the summer sales: summer closeout, final clearance, early fall-fashion sales. There are estate sales and garage sales and thrifting opportunities galore. Summer is a deal-lover’s fever dream.
I bring this all up because it’s important to me that everyone feel stylish—and good about themselves—no matter what budget they’re working with (i.e. Tibi halter dress vs. Target maxi skirt). Check out my cheapie favorites below. Think back to the days when school let out for the summer; when the season stretched along, elastic, to the tempo of “Summertime,” with an undercurrent that anything was possible.
That juxtaposition is what summer style is all about. My goal this year is to beat the heat—and my budget.
High-quality lavender oil, sea salt, no artificial colors or preservatives. Leaves you super soft and smooth, just like a day at the spa. $5 @ Trader Joe’s.
Lots of designers are cranking out cute (but pricey) bobby pins. These bold sorbet pins are a steal and do the trick for flyaways. $3 @ Target.
No parabens, sulfates or animal testing, plus the lotions are essential-oil scented, biodegradable, and come in recycled packaging. $4 @ Whole Foods.
I’d put L’Oreal’s Voluminous to the DiorShow test any day. $6 @ Target.