How to make your summer outfits interesting - une femme d'un certain âge

12 easy pieces to add interest to your summer outfits

Neutral summer outfit with striped pants, espadrilles and color block bag.

How to make simple summer outfits more interesting

For those of us whose preferred looks are layer-based, summer style can be challenging. When it’s too warm to layer, how do we make our outfits more interesting? One option is to include a patterned piece in the mix. (Or more, if pattern mixing is your thing.)

Above: necklace | tee | hat | sunglasses | pants | shoes | bag

While there’s no shortage of patterned pieces available now, they’re often accompanied by an overabundance of ruffles and/or volume. It’s still Instagram’s world; we just live in it. 😆 If that’s your style, enjoy! But I’ve been on the lookout for some options for the rest of us; here are a few I’ve turned up recently.

For this edit, I tried to stick to pieces with sleeves, and in non-synthetic, breathable fabrics.

Patterned Tops

Scotch & Soda airplane print shirt.

I love a whimsical print! This organic cotton poplin top has a stand collar and full raglan sleeves. You can unbutton to create a v-neck. Sizes X-Small to X-Large.

Boden lemon embroidered linen shirt.

This linen shirt in a classic shape is embroidered all over with lemons. Available in Regular, Petite, and Long lengths. Sizes

Amour Vert silk square neck top in navy dot pattern

This washable silk blouse has a relaxed cut for more air circulation (but drapes nicely so it won’t overwhelm) and is sustainably produced.

Chico's v-neck linen tunic in black-white stripe

If you love the feel of linen but not the wrinkles, try a linen knit. This v-neck striped linen tunic top is available in Misses and Petite sizes 00(0/2) to 4(20/22).

Caslon striped linen blazer.

Ok, so I’m cheating a little because this is a blazer (aka a “layer”), but it looks like a perfect summer-weight linen-blend blazer to throw on over a tank/tee for the office or other air-conditioned spaces. I have this color on order; it’s also available in blue and white. Missses / Petite.

Patterned dresses

Many of you have mentioned that you love the ease of dresses. Pattern adds visual interest to your summer dress outfits, and makes them look more “finished.”

Boden jersey shirt dress in dark green dot print.

Can’t help myself, I love dots. 😁 This jersey shirt dress is available in several other colors and patterns too. Regular, Petite, and Long sizes offered, though some color/size combos no longer available.

How to make summer outfits interesting...add pattern. Boden jersey t-shirt dress in navy with paisley.

A t-shirt dress can be an easy one-and-done summer option. The print elevates this one in 100% cotton jersey (other colors/prints available). Regular, Petite, Tall sizes available.

Chico's tropical toile print shirt dress black & white.

A fun twist on toile…this one’s a tropical theme. This black and white shirt dress is 100% cotton, offered in sizes 00(0-2) to 4(20-22). I spy pockets too!

Patterned bottoms

Madewell emmett full length wide leg pants.

For those who prefer a longer trouser, these cotton pants in a windowpane print can go from the office to weekend. Sizes 23-32

J.Crew slim cotton pants in navy-white gingham.

Gotta love gingham for summer. These cotton trousers have some stretch, and are offered in navy/white and green/white. Classic, Petite & Tall are offered (though some colors/sizes no longer available).

Chico's blue leaf print skort.

Many of you have mentioned that you are fans of the skort. This one is offered in several colors/patterns, and has UPF 50+ sun protection too. Sizes 000 (0) to 4 (20/22).

Boden paisley print pull on pants.

Ok, so let’s call it a baker’s dozen…because I wanted to show you this paisley too. These cotton-blend pants are a pull-on style, and offered in a few additional colors and patterns. Regular and Petite sizes offered.

How do you make your simple summer outfits more interesting?

Stay in touch.

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  1. Robyn
    June 21, 2021 / 2:47 am

    Hi Susan, I was wondering if you had tried Alex Mills? If so how is the sizing? I’ve been interested in some of the clothing but havens ordered anything. Thanks

    • Robyn
      June 21, 2021 / 2:48 am

      oops haven’t

      • Karen
        June 21, 2021 / 4:06 am

        Not Susan, but I’ve tried tops from the brand. I found the sizing TTS. I should add, i found the sizing similar to Vince, and other brands similar to that.

        • Robyn
          June 22, 2021 / 2:39 am

          Thank you!

    • Susan Blakey
      June 21, 2021 / 9:18 am

      I’ve only tried on a couple of pieces, but would concur with Karen that the sizing is similar to Vince or EF.

  2. Gayle Murphy
    June 21, 2021 / 5:20 am

    I love how this whole collection is interesting, as you put it, but not by being gaudy or brash or loud. It is sophisticated but not stuffy. Lovely really.

    • Susan Blakey
      June 21, 2021 / 9:18 am

      Thanks, Gayle!

  3. June 21, 2021 / 6:31 am

    Love, love, love your choices. The outfit, with all its components, is summer perfect. xxx

    • Susan Blakey
      June 21, 2021 / 9:18 am

      Thanks so much, Tish!!

  4. Eve
    June 21, 2021 / 8:45 am

    You always deliver. I love this mini capsule. I have some of the pieces but I need a top. I just find it hard finding the right shade of beige or tan I want at my budget level. The colors are just not as refined at a lower price.

  5. Eva Popovich
    June 21, 2021 / 9:15 am

    Did I miss info about the striped pants shown in the first picture?
    Everything here looks very nice, and very true to your style. Thank you!
    Taking my first flight today since Covid, to meet up in Florida with my daughter and granddaughter for ac3 generations road trip to Savannah, Durham NC and the Poconos (PA) to drop granddaughter off at performance arts camp. Then back via Charleston.

    • Susan Blakey
      June 21, 2021 / 9:17 am

      Hi Eva, thanks! I included a link to the pants above, here you go:

  6. SuD
    June 22, 2021 / 4:38 am

    Love your recommendations, especially the Boden shirt, and I’m happy I recently retrieved my b & w patterned cotton pants from my donation pile. Though I like collarless and mandarin style collars on others, they sit a little too high for my broad shoulders so I usually pass on that style.

  7. Lagatta de Montréal
    June 27, 2021 / 10:35 am

    I like this vintage boho top which channels St-Germain-des-Prés and Greenwich Village in their heydays. I’d order the petite as I can’t stand long tunics. Also the vintage forest green dress (I dislike pastels). Chicos doesn’t exist in Canada, but I see a little flag indicating that there is easy shipping up here.

    Do you like prana? Yes, a lot of active wear, but they also do travel clothing that is rather less casual. I believe they are based in California. I’m wearing a prana skirt that has survived several journeys in excellent shape. I lot of their dresses and skirts are too short for my taste (and age, yes) but this one is knee-length and a pleasant bluish grey.

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