Do you feel like the weather’s too hot this summer to wear anything but a simple tee and shorts every day?
Are you bored of your summer look but melt at the thought of adding any layers? (Our kids are little heaters already as it is!)
Today I’m showing you the best summer outfit tips for how to dress for hot weather as a busy mom.
This is a long and loaded post so be sure to use the pin button on the screen to save it for reference throughout the summer!
Below I will walk you through:
- Part 1: Stylish Clothing Essentials for Summer – What lightweight clothes and accessories you need to keep you cool (but stylish) in hot weather.
- Part 2: Fashion Hacks to Create Stylish Summer Outfits Without Adding Layers – All the dressing tricks you can use to look put together, cute, and fresh even on the hottest days.
- Part 3: A Visual Flow Chart on What to Wear in Summer – A nicely organized infographic that breaks down all the possible outfits you could create from denim shorts to dresses and rompers!
Part 1: The Essential Clothing Basics You Need to Dress for Hot Weather
Here is a list of the basic essential pieces you need for creating cute but casual outfits for hot weather:
- T-shirts & tanks (neutral, solid color, pattern)
- Shorts & Skirts
- Rompers, Jumpsuits & Shorteralls
- Light completer pieces (optional)
- Baseball cap & stylish sun hat
- Colorful but lightweight jewelry (earrings, bracelets, necklaces)
- Cute hair accessories (hairbands, bandanas, scrunchies)
- Belts- Neutral, Colorful, and/or Pattern
You can get a printable checklist that includes these items with this freebie:
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Now let me break down each of these recommended summer essentials!
I’ll also link to some options on Amazon with 4-5 star ratings.
Summer Wardrobe Essential #1 – T-shirts & Tanks
Consider finding shirts with details like crocheted or lace trims, tassels, or pattern mixing (stripes & floral or stripes/polka dot).
Solid colors tops can also still have fun details, like sleeves or pockets with different textured elements or trims.
If you are using the Year-Round Outfit Guide (if you’re not, you should!😉) your white fashion tee can have color elements. My white fashion tee has fun colored tassels around the hem!
Summer Fashion Tip: Try to find tee shirts and tanks that don’t require a cami underneath. That will help you avoid any extra layers you don’t want in the heat. The lighter the color, the less heat it attracts too.
Summer Fashion Tip #2: Get a nude/skin-tone bra for the summer to avoid having to wear a cami. Skin-tone bras with some padding (look for t-shirt bras) often allow you to wear even white tees without another layer.
Summer Wardrobe Essential #2 – Shorts & Skirts
Denim isn’t your only option for wearing shorts in the summer. Add fun solid colors and/or a print (like polka dots or stripes or floral) to your wardrobe to mix things up.
My Year-Round Outfit Guide suggests both solid color shorts and printed shorts along with a neutral pair (like white) and a denim pair.
You can also try a trendier style, like the paper bag waist, which comes up high and often ties with a bow in front. I’ve seen lots of shorts and skirts in this style. All you’d need to go with those is a simple tee and some sandals and you’d be set (and so stylish!).
Summer Fashion Tip: Every year Old Navy offers a huge array of shorts in multiple lengths (3.5″ insteam, 5″ inseam, and 7″ insteam). This is fantastic option for those who are having a hard time finding shorts you feel comfortable wearing.
Summer Wardrobe Essential #3 – Dresses
What to wear on a hot day that isn’t shorts? Dresses!
Both fit & flare and swing dress styles are more fitted at the top and flowier at the bottom, making them cool & comfortable to wear.
Again, don’t limit yourself to just a solid, but also get a patterned or fun color. With minimal effort you can look completely put together and trendy!
Summer Fashion Tip: If you are worried about wearing a dress around your kids and your skirt being pulled or yanked up, try a midi or maxi option. The skirt will still allow for air movement, but there’s less chance of something going wrong 😉 You can also wear biker shorts underneath. I simply take an old pair of leggings and cut them to the length I want.
Summer Wardrobe Essential #4 – Rompers, Jumpsuits & Shorteralls
As a general rule, these options are pretty trendy, but if you’re comfortable with that, they are definitely fun for something different.
Keep in mind that with overalls (shorteralls) you’d end up having to layer a tee or tank underneath, but if that doesn’t bother you, go for it. Or maybe save them for the slightly cooler days.
Rompers and jumpsuits can be found in so many materials, patterns and colors right now.
If you are looking for something that is lightweight, minimal effort (no matching necessary!), and no risk of your skirt flying up (or kids flashing you to the world 😉), a romper is what you need!
Summer Fashion Tip: Natural fibers breathe best. So if you live in a particularly warm area or get overheated easily, look for clothing pieces that are mostly made up of natural fibers like cotton, bamboo and linen.
Summer Wardrobe Essential #5 – Sandals
You could be wearing the most uninteresting pieces on top, but put on some fun statement sandals and you’re MADE the outfit with your shoes.
My Year-Round Outfit Guide includes both basic and trendy sandals for this reason!
I recommend starting with a basic neutral like a thong or slide sandal in black, white or cognac leather.
Then your next pair can have some color, pattern or bling!
You could also go trendy with extra straps like a gladiator or lace up sandal.
Summer Wardrobe Essential #6 – Light Completer Pieces
This is more of an optional item rather than essential.
If you live in extremely hot weather than you won’t really wear any completer pieces unless you’ll be in air conditioning most of the day.
Some summer-friendly completer pieces would be denim vests, light airy vests and kimonos (these are like sheer open cardigans).
Summer Wardrobe Essential #7 – Accessories!
Lots to cover here so I’ll make a list:
- Baseball cap & stylish sun hat: These are not only fashion statements, they are practical too! Keep that sun off your delicate face and neck while elevating your outfit with a cute “trucker” baseball cap, fedora, or straw hat. Some Amazon options linked below.
- Colorful but lightweight jewelry (earrings, bracelets, necklaces): Colorful jewelry is SO. MUCH. FUN! Some Amazon options linked below. I love the tassel trend and light leather earrings for lightweight style that doesn’t make you any hotter. My go-to earrings are big pearl studs and go-to necklace is a minimalist necklace. If you have a grabby baby, go for just sturdy bangle bracelets, stud earrings or silicon teething necklaces. Some Amazon options linked below.
- Cute hair accessories (hairbands, bandanas, scrunchies): Hairbands can be sporty, girly, or more mature looking. Bandanas are young and fresh if that’s your personality And scrunchies… well they’re back. I personally haven’t allowed them back into my bathroom drawer since I feel like I finally purged the last ones from my drawer ten years ago. BUT, they are back and HOT. So if you like em go for it!
- Sunglasses: Aviators are a fool-proof way to look stylish but shield those eyes in the summer. Pop them up on your head when not in use and sunglasses really elevate your outfit.
- Belts- Neutral, Colorful, and/or Pattern: Start with a neutral leather belt, then add a colorful belt from your color palette. And finally, a belt with leopard, floral or polka dot print gives you lots of FUN variation with your looks. Add these to a denim shorts outfit and tuck in your tee partially in the front to show off your fun belt!
I’ll link some Amazon options for all of these below.
Part 2: 13+ Summer Fashion Tips (Hacks) for How to Create Cute Summer Outfits Without Adding Layers
Now let’s talk about how to put these summer essentials together into cute & casual outfits.
The goal of this section is to teach you easy fashion tips that you can apply when dressing for hot weather.
By applying these hacks you’ll know how to look good in summer without simply adding layers.
Although one tip IS about adding a light layer, the rest are about how to use accessories, textures, colors, and combinations to create cute summer outfits.
Key point to note: The secret to looking put together in the summer is going simple. Your outfit is brought alive by the little things, which I cover in the fashion tips below!
Tip #1 – Use Pops of Color
Grab a pair of colorful shorts from Old Navy or a fun necklace to add to your outfit.
It brings it alive!
Tip #2 – Find Pieces with Special Statement Details
Basic neutral tees, shorts, and dresses are important.
But after your basic essentials are covered, look for tops with cute details!
I loved this maternity striped tank because of the crochet trim at the bottom.
Related reading: See how I styled this blue and white striped shirt in each season of the year
The tank below also caught my eye because of the lace on the shoulders and sleeves.
Just a few pretty details like that on your tops, shorts, skirts, or dresses will MAKE an outfit!
This sheer lace top layered over a cami adds so much chicness to simple denim shorts.
Tip #3 – Wear Trendy Sandals
Most likely you’re usually slipping into flip flops on your way out the door. Try changing it up with some interesting sandals like lace up or gladiator sandals. Even T-sandals can dress your outfit up a bit, while being just as comfortable (if not more so) than flip-flops.
These cool sandal styles can really turn your simple outfit into a fashion statement with very little effort!
Ok so this dress is already so much fun but add some trendy gladiator sandals and it just got spicey!
Tip #4 – Do a Cute Summer Hairstyle
If you really don’t want to add anything to your outfit, just change up the way you do your hair! Try a side fishtail braid, a french twist, a messy bun with a head band, or a french braid + pony tail.
If you have bangs, try side-sweeping them, twisting them back or braiding them along your forehead.
Below are a few hair styles I’ve shared on Instagram.
Summer Fashion Tip: If you haven’t already, go check out the 30+ wet hairstyles round-up post I did earlier this year. It will give you all the inspiration you need for taking your post-pool or freshly showered hair and creating some fun, easy styles with it! Who needs the extra heat of a blow dryer or straightener?!
Tip #5 – Use Hair Accessories
Bandanas, silk-like scarves, and scrunchies are popular trends this summer and there are a couple of cute ways you can incorporate them into your summer outfits.
Try tying a bandana or scarf around your head, then gathering your hair into a high messy bun. Here are a few more ways to wear a bandana in your hair.
Another easy option is a scrunchie! Scrunchies are especially popular this year and bonus, they are easy and gentle on your hair! Try a lower, loose pony or a high bun for a fun summer hairstyle.
Tip #6 – Wear Fun Jewelry
Try dressing up your simple summer outfits with some statement jewelry. Think dangling earrings, a large wrist clasp or a chunky necklace.
You can easily combine this with any of the other ideas for extra ooh la la!
If statement pieces aren’t your style, minimalist styles are also super popular and don’t add hardly any extra weight or feeling of “wearing more” than necessary. Just a simple necklace can go a long way with looking put together.
If necklaces feel like they’d get in the way, try some light but colorful bangles or a clasp.
These leather drop earrings are light but adorable:
Tip #7 – Add a Belt
A thin or braided belt can be added below the bust on many kinds of tops. Very simple tees may look silly with a belt added so you’ll want to try it on shirts with some detail or pattern on them.
This option is especially great for you pregnant ladies! You can pull it off on a simple tank or tee because as I like to say “a baby bump is the cutest accessory.” The belt compliments a bump and instantly dresses a simple tee up a notch. See example here.
Of course you can also use a belt in your belt loops and then do a half or full tuck.
Try getting a belt in a fun, bright color or even a print like floral or leopard. This can take any neutral or simple summer outfit and make it pop!
Belts can also help add definition to a shapeless dress.
Tip #8 – Add a Summer Hat
Ok, so you’ll probably only use this one when you’re going out. I’d personally feel silly rocking a fedora while washing dishes. But hey, stranger things have been done by desperate mamas.
There are several cute hats you can wear to add some interest to your casual summer outfit besides fedoras: floppy hats, cowboy hats, and of course the classic baseball cap!
Not only do hats add some visual interest to your outfit, but they also provide your face some shade, which is always helpful to keeping cool in the summer heat.
Tip # 8 – Try a Partial Tuck or Tie a Knot
This is yet another great way to style your chic, casual summer outfits.
Try both partial and full tucks of your tee into your shorts. When you do, add a belt to the shorts so that it looks cohesive.
You can also try tying the front of your boyfriend tees or button-downs if you’re wearing high-waisted shorts. A tie is a super cute way of creating shape with a drapier top!
My favorite of these is the partial front tuck because you pull up after tucking to leave it loose enough not to feel like your waist size is on display.
Tie your slouchy or too-big shirts at the front for instant definition.
So much better than just hanging out.
Tip # 9 – Layer with a Vest
I know, I know, you don’t want to add layers. But on those cooler days in the midst of the heat you might be grateful for an option that feels totally different and fresh.
A crochet vest goes with EVERYTHING without adding any weight. It also easily transitions into many fall outfits.
Another trending vest that will stick around for a while is the utility or military vest. This one could potentially add some warmth… kind of depends on the kind you have. Utility vests can easily transition through ALL four seasons, so it’s a smart buy and a suggested piece in most capsule wardrobes.
A third versatile option is the denim vest. This is classic whether in white, light wash or dark wash. It will also transition seamlessly through all four seasons!
Tip # 10 – Add a Chic Kimono
A kimono is usually found in a light, flowy fabric and is perfect for layering over a fitted tank top or tee. This can instantly create a more feminine and soft sillouette and ups the dressy factor.
Try looking for one in a floral print or even a solid brighter color to really add some pop!
Tip #11 – Wear Sunglasses as an Accessory
It can be really fun to see all the new combinations you come up with to keep your style fun and fresh! … while keeping YOU fresh. 😉
As you can see from my shorts + tee outfits on Instagram just using a few of these variations can help keep things fresh. I didn’t even use any hats, big jewelry, or strappy sandals in these pictures.
Just pop them on to your head when not wearing them… even if you’re just home! You’ll feel so summery and put together 😉
Tip #12 – Use Fun Patterns
All you need is one of your pieces in a fun pattern that reflects your style and your outfit goes from boring to chic!
Don’t forget that you can bring pattern in with a belt or shoes too.
Tip #13 – Focus on fit
Honestly, it’s not just about the fun patterns, colors or accessories.
You can have all of that but if your clothes don’t fit you well you’ll still feel frumpy.
So make sure that you’re buying clothes in your size. Don’t try to hide under pieces that are too big for you.
With the perfect fit anything looks 100% better.
Phew! Got through those!
I hope those “secrets” to putting together cute summer outfits gets your imagination going.
See how you can apply one or two of these tips AT THE SAME TIME in an outfit to create epic looks that you’ll feel amazing (and fresh) in!
Part 3: Visual Flow Chart on What to Wear in Summer
Use the infographic below to learn which clothes keep you cool in hot weather and how to combine them to look GOOD in summer–no matter how hot it is!
That wraps up this guide for how to dress for hot weather!
Try mixing it up with a few of these ideas at a time:
- new hair style + a belt
- awesome sandals + a vest
- bandana + a partial shirt tuck
- a kimono + colorful necklace
- tuck or tied shirt + a hat
- on and on it goes!
But, please don’t get too overwhelmed with all the options or feel pressured to always be creating perfect outfits.
Summertime is all about the simple pleasures in life so remember that simple is GOOD. So go enjoy that sunshine with your kids and feel good about whatever you are wearing!
Mamas, I want you to feel confident and empowered! Not only to love what you wear, but to know that dressing better can encouarge your friends and family as well as yourself.
Have fun trying these ideas out for the remainder of the glorious summer!
Other related reads on the blog:
- How to Not Look Like a Frumpy Mom (spring/summer edition)
- 4 Easy Mom Outfits to Wear with a Fedora
- 8 Ways To Wear A Blue & White Striped Shirt For Any Time Of Year
- 68+ Cute Maternity Outfits (from the Spring/Summer Pregnancy Capsule)
- Basic Spring/Summer Capsule Wardrobe (86+ Outfits) for Stay-at-Home Moms
- Style Trends for Spring/Summer That Moms Can Actually Wear
- 5 Essentials to Look and Feel Beautiful this Spring/Summer
- 7 Easiest Summer Outfits for Moms (+ accompanying hair styles)
- 6 Frump-Free Mom Outfits To Beat The Summer Heat
Related Items in the Frump Fighters Shop:
- The What to Wear 12-Month Outfits Calendar Printable
- The Stay-at-Home Moms’ Spring/Summer Outfit Guide
- The Stay-at-Home Moms’ Year-Round Outfit Guide