Save vs. Splurge: Here’s Where to Invest In Your Summer Wardrobe

After officially unthawing from winter and spending several months tromping through the mud, rain, and—if you’re lucky—occasional snowfall of spring, the start of summer is a truly glorious occurrence. With its arrival, the warm-weather season brings the promise of golden-hour gatherings with friends, freshly grown foods, beach days, iced coffees, and—let us not disregard—the very real, very fierce urge to replace everything in our wardrobes. 

Shorts replace jeans. Leather and nylon are swapped out for raffia and linen. Boots and loafers make way for sandals and ballet flats. As your local weather forecast and social calendar open their metaphorical arms wide for new beginnings, so does your closet. And what would a new beginning for your closet be without an actual new (ie: purchased) piece or two to throw into your collection? 

If you’re guilty of wanting—or successfully following through with shopping—an entire new wardrobe come Memorial Day, don’t feel bad. You’re far from alone. The onset of the summer season is so exciting, it’s tough to hold oneself back. But as you begin adding summer-y item after summer-y item to cart, prepping for all the season has ahead, take a moment to pause and consider which pieces can be chosen from affordable options and which are worth the splurge. 

If you’re unsure which articles fall under these two distinctly different buckets, here are 12 recommendations to get you started.

Save: Graphic Tees

Graphic tees are back with a vengeance and are a familiar casual top we all have a tendency to reach for repeatedly. They’re a comfortable option that just feels right on those hot summer days spent near the court, beach, or park. As you’re rounding out your summer tops, grab a few affordable options, confidently knowing that a lower cost won’t affect how often you wear them. 

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Splurge: Denim Shorts

Personally? I wear denim shorts a solid five out of seven days of the week during the summer. Even the days I rock a dress to work, there’s a very good chance I’m slipping into shorts when it’s time to call it quits—and I’m sure I’m not alone. Because they’re an item that receive a lot of wear-traffic, investing in a pair that makes you feel confident and won’t stretch or sag with wear is vital.

Save: Skirts

Between colors, patterns, and hemlines, skirt styles are always in flux. In other words: They’re not the kind of item you want to break your bank on when you have a designated seasonal budget to work with. Whether it be a longer, midi-length skirt for the office or a sporty tennis skort for romping around town on the weekends, it’s not difficult to nab some stylish, wear-constantly skirts at an affordable price point.

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Source: @mariellehaon
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Splurge: Sandals

Sandal styles have a way of remaining largely consistent year to year. Sure, trending styles vary slightly but—IMHO—when it comes to sandals, people have a tendency to reach for what they love. Spend a little extra on quality sandals that will hold up against continuous wear, provide extra comfort, and spark joy every time you pull them off the shoe rack.

Save: Swimwear

OK—This might be a very hot take, but I truly believe you do not (I repeat: do not) have to spend a fortune on swimwear. Here’s why: Growing up, I was a competitive swimmer. I used to spend a solid 10 hours a week in a chlorinated pool. And I very distinctly remember a $20 suit lasting me through all my high school years. 

Let’s be honest: Most of us aren’t buying swimwear to put it through rigorous swimming. (And if you are, I’m going to say you’re probably the exception and would encourage you to ignore this advice). If your goal is to pick up a cute suit for lounging on the beach, do yourself a favor and save yourself some cash in this shopping pursuit.

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Splurge: Summer Bags

Before I continue, know this: You can 100% choose to save on summertime bags. But—personally—I would argue that bags are a splurge category. There is something really joy-giving about investing in a quality bag you can grab for on a daily basis. And if you love it, you’ll use it for many summers to come. 

Versatile, seasonally-inspired raffia bags and baskets throw French girl vibes and never go out of style. Beaded bags and bags of a vibrant hue also remain fan favorites year after year.

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Source: @theluxilook

Save: Cover-Ups

A solid swim cover-up is one of those items you want in your closet, but not one you have to spend a ton of money on to get the job done. If you’re on the hunt for areas of fashionable cost-cutting, don’t give choosing an affordable cover-up a second thought.

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Splurge: Linen Pants

If you’re seeking the aesthetic and comfort of linen pants, do yourself a favor and spend a little extra cash on this article of clothing. Trust me when I say pinching pennies is the quickest way to ensure you’ll never wear them. Why? Because cheap linen pants tend to not hold up well and wrinkle like it’s their job. 

When shopping for a quality pair, consider linen trousers, which are especially chic and can keep you cool on those need-to-dress-for-the-office workdays. Pull-on varieties are stylish in a laid back manner and can be the base for many a casual summer outfit. So work up your nerve, take the plunge, and feel good knowing your closet will thank you for this investment.

Save: Sunglasses

While there’s certainly something to be said of an investment pair of shades, sunglasses are definitely an accessory you can cut cost corners on for the sake of your greater wardrobe budget. A bonus to saving on sunnies is that you can throw them in your beach bag without worrying too much about them.

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Source: @chrissyford

Splurge: Dresses

Whether it be a wear-every-week-to-the-office shift dress or a frock bought with an upcoming trip in mind, spending a little more on your summer dresses is an effective way to fall in love with your summer wardrobe and romanticize your outfits throughout the season. Arguably the most magical clothing category, I promise you’ll never regret splurging on a dress you truly love.

Save: Summer Tops

Picnics, concerts, nights out on the town—what would summer be without a trusty collection of playful summer tops? Pieces boasting seasonal features like open backs, ties, and spaghetti straps have a way of allowing us to fully embrace all that is good and beautiful about summer. With so many flirty tops ringing in at a comfortable price point, pick up a handful free of guilt.

Splurge: Sneakers

From trainers to trendy, colorful kicks, sneakers are an item that are always worth the spend. Court-style shoes pair particularly well with a number of different outfits—from shorts, to dresses, skirts, and beyond.  

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