My Spring wardrobe essentials (for how we’re living now…)

Susan B's spring wardrobe essentials

Today I’m joining my friend Jennifer of A Well Styled Life to talk about our Spring Wardrobe Essentials. We may be shaking ourselves off and getting back out into the world again, but comfort is still a top priority. This spring, I’m into styles that incorporate comfort and functionality with a bit more verve.

This post was published at an earlier date and has since been updated. I’ve left previous comments in place.

Spring wardrobe essentials for polished casual style

Even at home or just running errands, I like to be put-together. It helps me to feel “present and accounted for.” But with travel and social life picking up, I’m also ready to dial up my casual looks. Here are the wardrobe essentials I’ll be leaning into this spring.

Slim straight-leg, medium-wash jeans

I know, I know. But in Southern California, jeans are something of a uniform, and I find them easy to style. I’ve edged away from the lightest washes and back into medium-to-dark washes, as those feel more polished.

“Slim” leg doesn’t mean a true skinny though. I like to opt for a bit of ease in the leg. Here are a few more options:

Lightweight & layering sweaters

We’ll still be enjoying Sweater Weather™ here (at least intermittently) for several weeks, so sweaters that can layer under jackets or add color to an outfit are the ones I’ll be reaching for most often.

Striped tops

Yes, I’m still addicted. 😆 But a striped tee really provides a lot of visual bang for the buck…it looks great layered underneath a sweater or jacket, or adds interest when worn on its own.

Versatile trousers

While I can’t imagine a wardrobe without jeans, over the past few months I’ve been adding some non-denim pants into the rotation. Styles that are comfortable, and can dress up or down get top marks.

Lightweight jackets

We live in a coastal climate, which means that even if days are warm, mornings and evenings tend to be chilly. In addition to keeping me warm, a lightweight jacket adds structure and polish.

Oxfords & slip-ons

I’ll admit, I’m somewhat burned out on classic sneakers, and have been wearing either oxfords or a slip-on sneaker style instead. Woven raffia or perforated finishes allow feet to breathe when it warms up. ✨


We’ve already had some days that are warm enough for sandals. For everyday casual (around the house and walking the dog), I’m still a fan of Birkenstock Arizona sandals. A comfortable walking sandal with a slight wedge is my mid-level option, and to zhush up for going out, I love some bright or embellished slides with a low block heel.

Sun protection

I know I probably should wear hats more often, but I tend to feel silly in most of them. But I never leave the house without sunscreen!

And I always wear sunglasses!

Please go visit Jennifer. I can’t wait to see what her Spring essentials are!

So tell me, what are your wardrobe essentials this Spring?

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  1. I agree with your observation that putting some thought into daily dress gives a bit of a lift. It does to me.
    This spring, I am giving more thought into colors and styles that suit my summer coloring and short waisted, apple shape. I am also conscious of how the manufacturing of clothing affects our environment, so look for brands and items that are earth friendly. All considered, I am buying less but really enjoying my purchases.
    My spring essentials include:
    1. Long cardigans in linen or cotton blends. I purchased an Eileen Fisher beauty on sale last summer, and soon get my reward to wear it. I purchased the Nic and Zoe swingy cardigan in raspberry you recommended recently and love it!
    2. V necks suit me better than crew necks. For some reason, they seem to be harder to find in my cool colors. I am trying a new brand for me, Tradlands, with this emerald green cardigan that’s to arrive today.
    3. Wide led pants are a great shape for me. Finally, it’s my season! I am trying out a pair of NYDJ wide legs in a vintage rinse. So far, they are my spring winners. I also bought a pair of Eileen Fisher wide leg jeans in a cream color to try.
    3. Shoes are my splurge. I have wide feet and bunions, so they are a challenge. If they don’t hurt, I buy! My go to’s are two pairs of Vince sneakers in white and black, two pairs of Arche sandals in taupe and blue, and a pair of Paul Green flats.
    Happy spring all! Brighter days are ahead.

  2. I love bandanas in the summer. These small little scarves can be tied i your hair, worn around the neck or tied on a purse, especially a straw purse. I’m loving that little gold scarf with the orange stripe sweater. That’s my favorite of these outfits. It’s time to break out the white jeans here on the Coast, I’ve been opening all my doors for weeks now. Spring has sprung here. The birds are all over my woods in the back.

    1. I like bandanas too. I look at my scarf drawer, which has plenty of perfect silk scarves, but it’s the cotton ones that go with my more casual WFH life.

      1. Rose, I’m with you on the cotton bandannas for a casual WFH life. Also nice for me if I want to go out for a walk—they’re just enough for a little flair as well as a way to keep my neck warm in any breezes!

  3. Susan, just love your outfits in this post. You and your new colour family have a great relationship!
    My wardrobe essentials this spring-anything but black, winter person that I am! I’ve switched to wearing bright pinks, Breton stripes, lighter greys and white/ivory tops with navy, grey & taupe on the bottom.
    I know you miss Paris, so you might find this article fun to read…
    A request…could you supply the links to your recent Zoom sessions with make-up artist Brian? Merci!

  4. Just love how you put together outfits. Exactly how I want to dress! I’m putting away heavy sweaters right now and hoping I have some of these spring essentials!

  5. My new “essential” is slip-on sneakers, and don’t know how I managed without them. I have worn them almost every day since I got them. I can’t believe I didn’t figure this out earlier. (The key was finding a shoe brand that fits my feet like a glove – Dansko. I can order their shoes online and know that they will fit.)

  6. Hi Susan. Saw that one of your recommendations was the J Crew Margot crewneck sweater. Crewnecks do not look great on me so I ordered the Margot cardigan and wear it like the model. A couple of buttons undone, and no tee underneath, and voila, looks like a v neck. If you haven’t tried the cardigans I highly suggest them. I ordered three in flax, navy and the turquoise. I’ve tried the Vince slip on sneakers but they don’t offer enough support for my high arched foot. I’ve found some great ones at, believe it or not, Dr. Scholls on the Zappos website called The Original Collection. Remember when we all had to have the Dr. Scholl’s sandals with the wooden sole and the buckle in the 70’s? Loved the red!

    1. Vionic slip on sneakers have good arch supports. I too have high arches and the Vionic ones are great. I have them in black and white. FitFlop slip-on sneakers are good too.

  7. Susan, there’s barely a post from you (since I discovered your blog a few weeks ago) in which I don’t like any of your wardrobe. It’s all clothing I would wear. even casual, it looks elegant and finished. Whilst you talk about Spring, here in Australia (and I’m at 40 degrees latitudeTasmania – REALLY south) we’re going into Autumn but the clothing is much the same. Our autumns are mild and we get by with exactly what you’re wearing for spring, so the mix fits perfectly. And thanks to your blog, I’ve found a perfect pale blue striped Breton at Nordstrom!
    Thank you again.

  8. Susan, I like your idea of a “polished casual” capsule wardrobe, and I’m combining that idea with your recent post on shopping your own closet. Sometimes things that get put away for a season get forgotten—out of sight, out of mind? Rediscovering before buying new. I tend to live in jeans too, so my spring essentials include lighter colored jeans, striped and other colored tees, scarves, and light jackets. Just about everything you showed in this post. Thanks for the great ideas!

  9. All your outfits are spot on. On colour, on fit and on style. They really suit you.
    Like you, I love to wear jeans, but there is another side to me that wants skirts and dresses. So I make it a point not to wear jeans all the time, but it is hard haha.

  10. We are on the exact same page here! I’m really loving your shoes!! I think I need those leopard mules!

    1. Hi Pauline, not any particular brand so much as fabric composition. Styles in fabric blends that incorporate some lycra, tencel, or even polyester will be lighter than 100% cotton fabrics.

    2. Yes, to lightweight jeans! I only wear side-zip or pull-on pants now since I hate the look of that extra bulk in the front with a front zip, and it’s just uncomfortable for me, too. So finding lightweight jeans that fit that criteria is hard. My best so far is the J.Jill Pure Jill 5-Pocket Knit Pull-On Jeans, but they are out of stock in regular and petite sizes currently. They do stretch out a bit too much, but otherwise are great. Hopefully, J.Jill will bring them back.

  11. I bought that yellow and white striped tee but haven’t worn it yet. Now it’s 25% off! Oh well, I bought it in solid pink too. I’ve been looking for more color this spring.

    I’ve lost track of how many years I’ve read your blog–closing in on 15 at least. I had the luck to meet you in person in Los Gatos years ago, when Tish Jett was in town.

    Just want to tell you thanks for all the good advice and instructions on putting items together. It’s been fun to watch your color adventures, especially at this time when we’re mostly stuck at home.

  12. I agree with your comment about the sneakers. I tend to look like an Aged Care Worker when wearing them as they remind me too much of early days as a Ward Sister when white lace up shoes were the thing. I tend to wear lace up Oxfords from an Aussie brand called Rollie. They are super light, comfortable and weigh hardly anything when packing them for travel. I do like your move to non jeans – the look is very polished

  13. I have many many pair of keds double decker slip ons! They have many colors and patterns and great sales. I have bunions and problem feet and find them to work for me.

  14. I think all your choices are great. A very well-curated wardrobe. From necklace to shoes. Love the gold necklace you are wearing with the blush pink Eileen Fisher sweater.