Spring/Summer Core Closet Checklist

Spring is rumored to be right around the corner although this week saw sub-zero temps throughout much of the country, including here in CLE! Any-hoo, I thought now would be a good time to talk core closet essentials for the upcoming Spring/Summer seasons. Again, you don’t need EVERYTHING listed below but working towards collecting these core pieces will end up making getting dressed each day much easier in the long run.

And note that you’ll still use some of your Fall/Winter pieces into Spring/Summer (download that checklist here); namely the medium blue jeans, jean jacket, nude pumps, etc. Good core closet essentials flow seamlessly from one season to the next!

Spring/Summer Core Closet Checklist | Wardrobe Essentials for Spring | Wardrobe Basics for Spring | Wardrobe Essentials for Summer | Wardrobe Basics for Summer

Note: This post may contain affiliate links.  For full disclosure policy, click here.

Spring/Summer Style Notes

Because these items are basics, the selection is far and wide! Below each category I’ve highlighted a few favorite brands or pieces (many come in plus sizes as well). To do your own, more exhaustive search, try ShopStyle. Just type in what you’re looking for “cream silk-cotton v-neck sweater” and a range of options will come up.


  • When shopping stripes, make sure the stripe coordinates with your main dark base color. For example, don’t get a navy/white striped top if your dark trousers and shorts are black.
  • When it comes to the sleeveless cami or shell pieces, I personally tend to prefer a slightly wider strap. It’s easier to accommodate a bra and they just look a bit better on my fairly broad shoulders.
  • For the most versatile tees, look for ones without pockets – they are easier to dress up or down. V-necks tend to be more flattering on most people than crew necks, unless you have very sloped/small shoulders.
  • Great spring/summer sweater fabrics include: cotton, silk/cotton blends and linen.


  • Consider the dark shorts in a mid-thigh or longer length and in a fairly crisp/polished fabric. They’re a great night time staple in the summer and easy to dress up with a heeled sandal.
  • For skirts, look for classic a-line cuts to be most versatile. Pencil skirts will work if that is more your style. Choose a fabric that is lighter in weight than your winter version: cotton, linen, silk. Midi skirts on still on trend. I think something a few inches above the knee to a few below is most versatile.
  • Avoid boxy tee dresses in lieu of ones with a slight a-line or swing shape. A darker solid is always very versatile but a stripe in this category isn’t a bad choice either.
  • Shirt dresses come in both shift and belted waist styles. Personally, I prefer light colors for shirt dresses. You can also wear them open as a duster or vest with trousers.
  • Chambray looks a bit more casual, denim a bit dressier. Go with whichever dress you feel will get you more mileage based on your lifestyle.


  • It’s no secret that the Adidas Stan Smith all-white shoe is my go-to for a versatile tennis shoe. Leather is a better investment than canvas and much easier to keep clean.
  • Lifestyle really comes in to play when choosing a dark flat. My top picks include a loafer or loafer mule – most useful if you wear a lot of business casual clothes. A pointed flat for a nice blend between business casual/girly casual. And for stay at home moms or those that are able to spend most day s in very casual dress, perhaps a dark espadrille.
  • If you added black pumps for fall/winter, now is a good time to consider adding a nude pump to your wardrobe.
  • A lightweight wrap is a useful layer for cooler evenings or when in AC.
  • If you’re going to purchase only one hat, a neutral straw with a small to moderate brim will be most versatile. Bonus points if you can find one (or add) adjustable ribbon band (think bands in black, white, etc.)


  • As previously mentioned, a denim jean jacket transitions nicely into spring/summer. If you live in an especially hot climate, you may want to consider a white version of a denim jacket for the warmer months.
  • While my own current trench is black, in hindsight, I’d recommend a tan/taupe/khaki model as being a bit more versatile.
  • I recommend a utility jacket in a moderate to dark tone for optimal contrast and again, if you live in an especially hot locale, a vest version might be a better purchase.

Core Closet Shopping Review:

Shopping Tips

  • Core closet essentials are where you want to spend your money.  Buy the best you can afford, with one exception: white tees.  I find that white tees grey, yellow or get spills on them so quickly that it’s better to find a good, less expensive model and replace them more often.
  • Look for classic cuts that suit your body type.  For jeans, skinny or straight legs will have the most longevity.  A-line and pencil skirts are great staple cuts.  For dresses, look to sheath, shift, a-lines or fit and flare styles for versatility.
  • Shop core closet pieces in neutral colors.  Light, medium or dark tones are specified  in the checklist for adequate balance but choose the neutrals you most find yourself drawn to.  Some look great in white, others are better or in ivory or a pale grey.  The same goes for the dark neutrals of black, navy or charcoal greys.
  • Versatility is the keyword when shopping core closet essentials so try to avoid trendy details: ruffles, tie fronts, obvious buttons, etc. Add those kind of things as seasonal trends once you already have a strong core wardrobe established.

Stores for Core Closet Essentials

  • Budget:
    • Old Navy
    • Target
    • UNIQLO
  • Moderate:
    • Banana Republic
    • Brass
    • Everlane
    • J. Crew
  • Investment:
    • Cuyana
    • Eileen Fisher
    • Theory
    • Vince

For more on building a great wardrobe, check out these posts.

Next week we’ll be talking about spring color trends!  Until then, keep cultivating a simple, stylish and satisfying life.  As always, thanks so much for stopping by – I so appreciate the support!

Author: Betsy Ramsey

Betsy Ramsey is the author of Natty Gal. Born and raised in Northeast Ohio, she now lives there with her husband and Bichon-Frise, Dolce. A mindful fashion & capsule wardrobe enthusiast, she travels extensively, visiting 56 countries to date. Betsy is committed to helping others live their most fulfilling life!

2 thoughts on “Spring/Summer Core Closet Checklist”

  1. Hey there Betsy ! What do you recommend wearing to the island of Belize for vacation?! I really struggle with overpacking !

    1. Hi Susie! My understanding is that Belize is super-casual, even at restaurants/bars in the evenings. I’m planning on a couple short and sports/wicking tees for day (when not in a swimsuit). For evenings, just a casual sundress or two or skirt/top combo but not much on the dressy side unless I bring something to shoot for the blog. Ha! I’ve got the cutest little beach-to-bistro skirt that I’m dying to show you guys and will be doing IG stories on from Belize!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.