6 Elevated Staples That Will Make All Your Summer Outfits Look Polished

Looking polished is a goal for most of us, I would imagine, whatever our personal style. How realistic that may be with our busy lives is another matter, but we can at least aim to look like we have it all together by wearing a chic outfit, right? Of course, it is possible to build a wardrobe of expensive-looking pieces on a budget (you only have to check out my weekly high-street column to know that). But it’s also true that some wardrobe classics are absolutely worth investing in, especially to get better-quality and more premium fabrics that will undoubtedly last a lot longer in your wardrobe. 

The key is, of course, identifying which items are actually worth spending a bit more on—you know, the ones that will then elevate the rest of your wardrobe and make all those high-street basics look even better. After all, if you’re parting with your hard-earned cash, you want to do it wisely and get it right. So with summer well and truly on its way, I’ve put my decade of fashion-industry experience to good use and thought long and hard about which warm-weather pieces I believe are truly the best ones to invest in for the months and years ahead. 


(Image credit: @chrissyford)

Chrissy Rutherford wears a statement Zimmermann dress.

The list below consists of classic anti-trend items you’ll no doubt get endless wear out of, especially since these are items that either make an instant outfit or go with everything else you own. Think classic white sundresses, handwoven bags and beautifully made leather sandals. And whether you spend the summer in the city or are planning on jetting to far-off climes, they’ll see you through heatwaves and beach days alike. 

This edit of core staples is anything but boring and basically forms a mini summer capsule. Add them all to your wardrobe, and you’re set for looking impeccably polished all season, or you could add just one or two to your existing collection, and they would have just as much worth. Yes, there are some designer purchases in there, but there are also some elevated options from your favourite more affordable brands too. 

Keep scrolling, then, to see and shop the six summer fashion trends that are truly worth investing in. I have a feeling you’re going to love these pieces as much as I do.

1. White Dresses 


(Image credit: @waityouneedthis)

Nothing beats the feeling of wearing a fresh white dress in summer, and because this wardrobe piece is so simple, it benefits from elevated details that often come with investment styles, whether that's ruching, cut-outs or lace. A white dress is also a forever piece you'll come back to again and again, so plenty of wear is guaranteed. 


2. Printed Shirts 


(Image credit: @lucywilliams02)

Beautiful printed shirts are one of those things that can't really be replicated on the high street. They may not be the first thing you think of for a summer capsule, but in my opinion, they're the ultimate versatile piece. They'll keep you cool for the office or a day of sightseeing around Europe, but you can also throw them on unbuttoned over a bikini for a day-to-night beach piece that feels really special. 


3. Woven Bags


(Image credit: @bettinalooney)

A basket bag is a basket bag, right? Well, you could argue that, and there's definitely something charming about picking up a simple, affordable one at an Ibizan market. But investing a bit more in a woven summer handbag not only ensures you get those luxury details that elevate your outfits, like logos or buttery leather handles, but also means you can choose an artisanal handwoven item that will last a lot longer than a plastic high-street version. 


4. Leather Sandals


(Image credit: @smythsisters)

Invest in beautiful, classic leather sandals, and you'll get so much more wear out of them and even pull them out year after year. 


5. Printed Dresses


(Image credit: @styleidealist)

On the high street, prints can often look quite generic and cheap, often not matching up on the seams (a key detail to look out for in an expensive-looking finish). The same prints can even pop up across different retailers and then age quite quickly since they're so recognisable, which takes away that special feeling that's key to enjoying your items for a long time. Opt instead for pieces from independent brands like Matteau or Rixo that often create their own print, and you'll cherish them all the more. 


6. Relaxed Tailored Trousers


(Image credit: @emmarosestyle)

Trousers might seem like a summer no-go, but pick the right light, breathable material, and they can be such an easy way to make your warm-weather outfits look chic. I personally plan on wearing them all summer with a simple ribbed vest tucked in. 


Up Next: The 9 Most Expensive-Looking Pieces on the High Street This Week

Emily Dawes
Affiliate Editor

Emily Dawes is the very definition of a fashion multi hyphenate. An editor, stylist and writer with over eleven years’ worth of experience in the industry, Emily is known for her impeccable taste, elegant outfit choices and being able to spot the next big thing in fashion from a mile off. Our readers loyally trust her advice and shopping suggestions; so much so she began her own column documenting the most expensive-looking pieces on the high street, which has become a top-performing piece of content for the Who What Wear brand.

Emily has worked for Who What Wear UK since 2020 in a myriad as roles, spanning from contributing editor and branded content editor. Now, she holds the position of affiliate editor and is responsible for the brand’s overall affiliate strategy, ideation and content execution. Working closely with Who What Wear UK’s affiliate manager, Emily has been instrumental in securing and nourishing brand partnerships, surpassing her goals as standard. Leading the team in tentpole shopping moments including Black Friday and Peak Trading, with Emily’s guidance and leadership, team Who What Wear is in a stronger affiliate position than ever before.

Prior to joining the Who What Wear team, Emily served as YOU Magazine’s acting fashion editor where she managed the fashion team and oversaw all fashion content output for the fast-paced weekly title. Emily is a stylist in her own right, having worked with a slew of VIP clients including writer and television personality, Elizabeth Day, as well as styling and art directing several celebrity cover shoots for glossy print publication, Grazia. Her adept fashion knowledge means brands regularly sought out to work with her as a consultant: previously she has developed marketing and content plans for brands for Cocoon and Edge of Ember. Before entering the industry, Emily obtained a Bachelor of Arts in English and American Studies with International Study from Nottingham University. Fun fact: Emily spent a year studying in America which saw her join a sorority during her time there.

When she’s not working or tracking down the chicest, new-in items to share with our audience, you’ll find Emily bestowing her East London home with her stylish flair, reading everything from the classics to cowboy romance novels and escaping to the country with husband, baby boy and dog, Roo, whenever she can.

Emily is currently on maternity leave.