How to Put Together the Perfect “Dressy” Summer Outfit

Yes, summer can be all about T-shirts and denim shorts, but what about when you need to wear a dressy summer outfit for a specific occasion or just because you want to wear something different?

Today I want to share the 3 simple steps to putting together the perfect dressy summer outfit!

If you need to put together a casual summer outfit make sure to take a look at, An Easy Formula for Creating Perfect Casual Summer Outfits.

Summer Style

Summer brings with it an entirely different clothing style than any other season. The colors tend to be lighter and brighter, with fun prints. Fabrics lean toward silk, light cotton, denim, chiffon, linen, chambray, and jersey. And styles are more casual and free spirited. You won’t find a lot of clothing with stiff edges or dark hues during the summer months.

This is where you begin when putting together your perfect dressy summer outfit. Because summer style is casual yet fun, and we want to translate that to our outfit.

3 Steps to a Stylish Dressy Summer Outfit

This is how I go about putting together outfits. I go through 3 simple steps; not just for my summer outfits but any outfit for any season or occasion. These are the main steps to guide your choices. There will be times when an outfit has more to it, but I still follow these guidelines and adjust as needed.

1. Select the Main Focus Piece

This is step number one in putting together your perfect summer outfit. Since we’re covering dressy, not casual, in this post, I’m going to use dressy items in my example.

This focus piece is what you want to be the main item in your outfit. I always like to start with an item of clothing. I feel this makes the entire process much easier than starting with a pair of shoes or a pair of earrings then building on that. (On rare occasions I do start with an accessory, but my rule of thumb is to start with a piece of clothing.)

In this example, the central piece in the outfit is a blue printed dress. I knew I wanted to wear this dress, so that’s the first thing I pulled from my closet. Since the goal is to put together a dressy summer outfit, I selected a dress rather than shorts or jeans.

Your focus item could also be a gorgeous skirt or pretty blouse. Most of the time, but not always, I have the focus item be the largest piece. The dress in my outfit is the largest item I’m wearing. It’s only natural that the item covering the largest amount of your body is going to draw the most attention.

Once you have the focus piece, let’s move on to step 2.

2. Add or Layer Matching Clothing

So you’ve selected your main item, you now need to consider what other clothing items need to be matched with it to complete the outfit (minus shoes and accessories).

If you’re wearing a dress like I am, you could be done and move on to step three. I wanted to add another layer of clothing for two reasons: I wanted to wear a sweater or jacket in case I got cold, and I wanted to bring some structure to this very flowy dress.

I added a light-wash denim jacket to this dressy summer outfit. I loved how the colors blended so well together, and the contrast between the thick fabric of the denim and light silk dress is very appealing.

If you selected a skirt as your main focus piece, then you need to find a shirt to complete the outfit. Make sure the colors match or complement each other and the blouse plays with the summer style of light or bright colors and summer fabrics. You still want the skirt to be the main focus, so don’t overpower it by selecting a shirt that detracts from it. You want the skirt and shirt to be complementary.

3. Add Accessories and Shoes!

This may be your favorite step or the one that you wanted to start with. But once you have your focus piece, adding accessories and selecting which shoes you want to wear is so much easier.

In my outfit example, I selected a pair of wedges to pair with the dress. Since this outfit is on the dressier side, I skipped flat sandals and sneakers and went with something with a heel. Since it’s summer, I didn’t want a stiletto or anything with a pointy toe or skinny high heel. I opted for a pair of brown wedges because they are the perfect summer heel.

Make sure to select a pair of shoes that matches your outfit and the feel you’re going for. You might opt for sandals with a slight heel or wedges like I’m wearing.

For accessories, I piled on bright-colored bracelets. They have a very summer vibe and go with the style of outfit I’m wearing. Since many of the bracelets are thin, I was able to wear several of them together. I also mixed different styles of bracelets; beaded, fabric, bangles, and cuffs. This brings interest to the entire look instead of all of them being the same.

Last, I added a mini-crossbody handbag in a coordinating color. The hardware on the handbag is gold which matches my jewelry, and the leather is a dark blue which matches my blue color scheme.

I hope these 3 simple steps help you put together a stylish summer outfit!

If you need more ideas for cute summer outfits makes sure to view my summer outfits category that has tons of outfits for your inspiration!

Stay Stylish,

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Outfit Details

Dress from Michael Stars // Wedges from Sole Society // Denim Jacket from JCrew // Mini Crossbody from ZAC Zac Posen