These 10 Under-$40 Basics Have So Much Replay Value—Here's the Evidence

Here at Who What Wear, we're pretty much experts when it comes to finding the best basics. Whether you're working with limitless funds or are on the opposite side of the spectrum and have a strict budget, we know exactly where to shop to find staples of every variety. This time, we're delving into cost-friendly pieces that also happen to be extremely versatile—the biggest win-win situation if you ask me.

These are more than plain pieces simply meant to be a square one for more fashionably complex looks. The basics I'm showcasing offer up a little more punch. They're good to go on their own or work as a starting point to let your styling imagination run wild.

If you've been watching your monthly spending as I have, you can breathe a sigh of relief. Everything below will only set you back about $40 or less. As you prep your summer wardrobe, all the pieces here, especially the breezy summer dresses and matching shorts sets, are solid contenders to build out an easy curated wardrobe.

1. Lounge Shorts Sets

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Tired of your sweatsuits yet? Since we're still wearing ours on repeat, meet the summer version: the lounge shorts set. Of course, you don't have to just wear these with sneakers—style them with boots or strappy sandals for an elevated twist.

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It's time to give your basic tank top a rest and embrace its snazzier one-shoulder relative. It still has all of the layering power of a regular tank but offers up a little more pizazz when worn by itself.

3. Dramatic Minidresses

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Although there are a lot of summer dress trends floating in the fashion sphere right now, the voluminous minidress may be the one to embrace if you're into easy, no-brainer styling. Pro-tip: The shorter length allows it to be worn as a tunic when temperatures start to drop. Our style suggestion? A pair of bright party pants.

4. Trendy Summer Knits

When you need something a little more substantial than a T-shirt, try a lightweight knit. It's a little more polished, but the biggest relief is that you don't have to stress as much about finding the right bra. This one from Who What Wear's summer collection features a trendy ruffle sleeve that feels more intentional.

5. Bermuda Shorts

I know, I know—Bermuda shorts aren't for everyone, but as a professed shorts hater myself, these are leagues above what you're used to. The voluminous shape and longer length are flattering on a diverse range of body types, and they definitely feel more grown-up than a pair of denim cutoffs.

6. Matching Sets

It's the season of the matching set, and let us celebrate by bringing you one of the cutest we've come across thus far. To get more use of it, style the pieces as separates.

7. Not-So-Basic Shirts

On the subject of trendy basics, we're very much into this blouse. With a smocked pouf sleeve, it's a little more eye-catching than a plain white tee. Layer it underneath a vest or wear it with shorts, and you have an elevated summer look.

8. Sleeveless Cardigans

The grandpa cardigan reigned as an It staple beloved by fashion people, so it makes sense that its sleeveless counterpart would also make the rounds. It's a nice reprieve when you're tired of traditional T-shirts or skimpy tops yet still want to look extremely put-together. 

9. Loose Midi Dresses

Without fail, by the end of summer, my midi dresses are, by far, my most-worn items. Even as a fashion editor, I appreciate when an outfit basically styles itself, and in this case, all you need are a few simple accessories (I advocate for hoops) and a cool pair of sneakers or sandals.

10. High-Waisted Trousers 

Nope, high-waisted pants aren't going anywhere, and we can't stop wearing this cropped paperbag version that feels super sophisticated. 

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