9 Sophisticated Trends That Will Have You Dripping in Elegance This Summer

Sophisticated Fashion Trends
(Image credit: Who What Wear UK)

"How do I look more sophisticated?" is something my friend asked me in our WhatsApp group this week. "Everyone's talking about classic style and 'Old Money'". She's not wrong. In place of the hyper minimalism which dominated for years, fashion has taken a very elegant turn, and it's all I ever see on my social media feeds. Turns out, this isn't just the algorithm serving me what it thinks I will like, but even my friends, all of whom have very varied styles, seem to be receiving the same prompts. "I really don't think you can dress like that on a budget," says another pal. At this point, I have to wonder baiting me, for I've spent the last few months documenting not only how to dress more elegantly but also, proving that you needn't break the bank to do so. In fact, you might not even need to spend any money at all.

I decided to take a fresh look at the sophisticated fashion trends I keep seeing over and over again this summer and, genuinely, I'd say most of them already live in your wardrobe. If not, they should be easy to procure regardless of what your budget may be. Deciding to go one step further than simply share this information with my friends, I've charted nine pieces you need to achieve peak elegance, with shopping options to suit all price points. Are you ready to be called graceful or classy? Because that's what people will call you when you wear any of the below.

1. Draped Tops

Sophisticated Fashion Trends: @emmanuellek_ wears a draped off-the-shoulder top tucked into cream wide-leg trousers

(Image credit: @emmanuellek_)

Style Notes: There's something about the surplus fabric that makes draped tops (and dresses for that matter) feel especially premium. Right now, I'm seeing lots of stylish people wearing off-the-shoulder draped tops, tucking them into tailored and wide-leg trousers for further elegant kudos.

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2. Big Bags

Sophisticated Fashion Trends: @modedamour wears an all-black outfit and carries an oversized tote bag from The Row

(Image credit: @modedamour)

Style Notes: Instead of stuffing your smaller handbags with all of your essentials, throwing them into a larger tote can look much chicer (and, by proxy, more sophisticated). Mary-Kate Olsen is a fan of carrying huge totes to effortlessly counter her more formal attire—try it and I challenge you not to feel immensely cool in the process.

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3. Full Skirts

Sophisticated Fashion Trends: @ingridedvinsen wears a full white skirt with a white vest top and black knit

(Image credit: @ingridedvinsen)

Style Notes: While miniskirts can absolutely look sophisticated (it all comes down to the styling), there's something inherently polished about the full midis and maxis that are doing the rounds this summer. Pair with a simple top and throw a knit around your shoulders for a look that feels very Hamptons.

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4. Low-Heel Mules

Sophisticated Fashion Trends: @deborabrosa wears a blue linen shirt, white shorts and black low-heeled mules

(Image credit: @deborabrosa)

Style Notes: Lots of sophisticated trends herald from the past, and one retro shoe that goes hand in hand with the aesthetic is the heeled mule. Popular in the '50s, this footwear trend is seeping with classic connotations. Try pairing yours with simple shift dresses for evenings out, or tailored shorts and a shirt for elevated daytime attire.

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5. Capri Pants

Sophisticated Fashion Trends: @sylviemus_ wears black capri pants with a black blazer and mules

(Image credit: @sylviemus_)

Style Notes: Although they feel especially current right now, there's something very classic-feeling about capri pants. Perhaps it's how they work seamlessly with other elegant pieces—pair with a tailored blazer and a chic handbag and your outfit will look extremely high end (even if it isn't).

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6. Lightweight Scarves

Sophisticated Fashion Trends: @iliridakrasniqi  wears a printed chiffon scarf with a white strapless top

(Image credit: @iliridakrasniqi)

Style Notes: There's just something about a soft, lightweight scarf that feels so elevated, especially when it's worn loosely around the neck with a simple top or dress. Try pairing it with anything you'd ordinarily wear a statement necklace with and I promise you'll instantly look more sophisticated.

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7. Simple Shirting

Sophisticated Fashion Trends: @michellelin.lin wears a blue linen shirt, black vest and beige trousers

(Image credit: @michellelin.lin)

Style Notes: Shop the Trend: It sounds very obvious but switching out your usual T-shirt or vest in favour of a shirt will make any outfit you wear look and feel more polished. Another pro tip is to use a billowing style as a chic coverup on balmy days.

8. Slip Dresses

Sophisticated Fashion Trends: @abimavel wears a peach ombré silk dress

(Image credit: @abimavel)

Style Notes: While I will always be here for a statement, head-turning dress, when it comes to looking sophisticated, choosing something more understated can work out in your favour. That said, you needn't stick to an LBD—why not try a silky slip dress in your favourite colour?

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9. Minimal Jewellery

Sophisticated Fashion Trends: @sylviemus_ wears a simple gold bangle with a cream silk skirt

(Image credit: @sylviemus_)

Style Notes: Don't get me wrong—I have a big soft spot for sparkly things—but, if you want to look classy, the phrase "less is more" springs to mind. In place of bold bling, try layering in some simple pieces that work in harmony with the rest of your look, as opposed to commanding all of the attention.

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Maxine Eggenberger
Deputy Editor

Maxine Eggenberger is Who What Wear UK’s deputy editor and has over thirteen years of experience in fashion journalism. She been creating engaging and elevated style content specifically for Who What Wear UK since 2018, covering runway reports, emerging trends, long-form features, self-styled shopping stories and columns, including her edit of the best new-in buys. She ensures the highest editorial standards are met across the site, leads the editorial team in their SEO strategy and keyword planning, works closely with the beauty team on content initiatives, represents the brand at industry events, and regularly contributes to social media, including her own Who What Wear UK TikTok franchise, French Style Fridays. Previously, Maxine appeared on ITV's This Morning in her own fashion segment and has interviewed countless celebrities—everyone from Victoria Beckham to Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o.

Prior to Who What Wear UK, Maxine’s career began when, after completing her first-ever internship at Look magazine, she was offered a position on the brand's fashion desk. She accepted, leaving university a year early in the process. Her passion and natural talent for writing and styling meant she swiftly rose through the ranks to become the title's fashion news and commercial content editor, with a stint as InStyle.co.uk’s fashion and beauty writer along the way. She later served as Look’s acting Editor in Chief, overseeing both print and digital, before embarking on a successful freelance career, working with Grazia, The Pool, and Marie Claire amongst others.

Maxine is based remotely from her countryside home near Edinburgh where she spends her downtime renovating her house, walking her dogs, hosting friends and trying to master the art of making Old Fashioned cocktails.