Summer Essentials Fashion

Benjamin Franklin said only two things in life are certain-death and taxes-but we know that there is one other immovable, and infinitely chicer, constant: the need for a spankin' new wardrobe each season. We know the concept of revamping one's closet each quarter can be overwhelming, and that summer doesn't always get a fair shake. We're not judging you; if push comes to shove, it's definitely more important to save your brainpower for planning your fall wardrobe. But that doesn't mean you should go through the warmest months looking unchic, which is why we at Who What Wear headquarters have been working on your behalf. That's right, we've taken it upon ourselves to provide you, dearest readers, with a seasonal cheat sheet, so that you never have to find yourself at a dreaded sartorial loss. Whether you plan on spending your days languidly lounging poolside, partying it up at the beach, or just trying to stay cool in the city, we've whittled down your must-haves to a few simple categories that will keep you looking assuredly fashionable wherever your travels may take you. Because while frame shapes, denim hues, and bikini trends may ebb and flow with fashion's tide, your need for a sizzling summer wardrobe is one element that will never change.

1. Panama Hat
Whether you're out and about running errands or kicked back at the beach, protecting your face from those UV rays is an absolute must. While we know you'll have slathered on the SPF before you even reach the shore, opt for extra (and smart!) protection in the form of some dapper headwear like Madewell's Panama Hat ($58). The straw chapeau is a savvy buy on a number of levels-but we're just obsessed with how cute it looks! It's an excellent piece for topping off your cutoffs-based ensembles and will work to temper the sweetness of your sundresses all summer long.

2. Skater Dress
When it comes to warm-weather dressing, a sweet little frock is the perfect centrepiece around which to build your wardrobe. We're particularly drawn to the skater-style silhouette that has been on our radar since we saw such fashionable ladies like Julia Restoin Roitfeld and Chloe Sevigny trying out this flirty fashion this spring. Understated and chic, the KNT by Kova & T Pleated Mary Dress ($98)-which is from Kova & T's diffusion line for Urban Outfitters-has its own je ne sais quoi that conjures up images of A.P.C. storefronts and Parisian girls in vintage Isabel Marant. It's practically perfect: the shape is absolutely adorable, the pleating is a really lovely touch, and the charcoal shade allows you to personalise it however you choose! We recommend throwing it in your suitcase and pairing it with flats and a straw hat for sightseeing, and then opting for wedges and delicate earrings to take your look from day to night.

3. Army-Inspired Shoes
Initially sparked by some of our favourite spring collections, such as Balmain and Louis Vuitton, we've taken our love for military-inspired pieces from the flak jacket to our feet with Twelfth St. by Cynthia Vincent Colby Suede Flat Sandals with Bows ($220)! Army green or camo-patterned sandals are a simple and subtle way to incorporate this mega-runway trend into your closet. Additionally, they will look great with khaki shorts for a day of sightseeing, or you could use them to toughen up your sweet little sundresses for barbecue attire. While we are seriously smitten with the Twelfth St. by Cynthia Vincent pair, Nine West's Chewy Sandals ($68.95) are an equally posh pick. However, if you're looking to step it up a notch (or, lace it up a few!), opt for Guiseppe Zanotti's Lace Up Open Toe Booties ($875)-an intriguing and directional choice to pair with a floral frock for a daytime wedding or shower.

4. Canvas Tote
Balenciaga has long been known for their It-bags, so when it came time for us to select a tip-top tote, we turned our gaze Ghesquiere-wise. We adore the idea of a canvas carry-all for summer, while the black leather trim and buckle detailing makes the Large Sunday Tote ($1345, 310.276.4400) simultaneously edgy and luxe. Most importantly, its spacious shape insures that you can pack it in with everything you need-your beauty essentials and your sporty swimwear-so you can be ready to dive right into any warm-weather adventure in a pinch. However, if you're not ready to make such a serious investment, we are also longtime fans of the classic L.L. Bean Boat and Tote Bag ($24.95). This summer, we're snatching one up in Daylily, an orange hue that's sure to accent all our neutral basics or provide a complementary pop of colour to our tribal prints.

5. Sporty Bikini
When it comes to investing in new swimwear this summer, we're personally looking to the athletic aesthetic seen this season at Alexander Wang and Balenciaga. While the designers showcased distinctly different collections, Wang and Ghesquiere each channeled a sporty vibe we find bump, set, spike-worthy for our bikini-clad bods. Accordingly, we've chosen this Shimmi Chloe Bikini ($175, 323.913.3040), which has some serious Wang-style sweatpant chic appeal. Not ready to invest? Try Topshop's Sporty Zip Bikini ($55), which echoes the panels and zippers seen chez Balenciaga. Both suits are en vogue if you plan on chaise-lounging it and they're also quite practical should you indulge in some outdoor sports!

6. High-Rise Cutoffs
We're always excited to see fresh interpretations of our closet staples, which is why we were thrilled to spot Citizens of Humanity's Lola High-Rise Denim Shorts ($150). The brand gave a summer mainstay, jean cutoffs, a small but spot-on makeover via a snazzy new high-waisted fit. The revamped style is seriously flattering-they will make your legs look like they go for days-plus the colour stays true to this season's mid-blue hues first spotted on the Chloe and Stella McCartney S/S 10 runways. Need another great shorts option to pair with a tucked in blouse or cropped printed tee? We also can suggest Current/Elliott's The High Waisted Cutoff Shorts ($185), which are the perfect replacement for the famed baggy boyfriend shorts of last year. Of course, if you're still hankering for something a little more laid back, perhaps for those beach days when it's just a bikini and go, we recommend Urban Renewal's Cutoff Denim Shorts ($28)-a vintage classic that will always hold a coveted place in our warm-weather wardrobes.

7. Crocheted Cover-Up
When we first spotted crochet spinning its fashionable web in the form of casual dresses favoured by the likes of stylesetter Kate Bosworth, we knew it was just gaining seasonal momentum. An inherently casual and appropriately diaphanous knit, this fabric is ideal for your beach or poolside cover-up, and when paired with a tribal print bikini, it easily channels the globetrotting sensibilities seen at both the Missoni and Issey Miyake S/S 10 runways. Eternal Sunshine Creations' Banana Leaf Cover Up ($195), which is available in both white and black, made it to the top of our list, but Topshop's Crochet Vest Cover Up ($55) is also another great option. Either style will provide the perfect finish to your festive poolside look-we promise!

8. Chic Sunglasses
The easiest way to infuse your summer wear with a super charged dose of cool is with a pair of killer sunglasses. While there are many chic shapes to choose from, like cat-eyes and flat tops and standard Ray-Bans (oh my!), we like Karen Walker's Pilgrim Sunglasses ($170). A cult favourite for several seasons, these sunglasses have a vintage vibe we love, but they remain decidedly modern thanks to some seriously oversized frames. However, if you're feeling a little more adventurous with your eyewear, opt for Super's Future Flat Top Black Gold Revo Sunglasses ($178)-which have a similar shape as the Karen Walker version but with gold coloured lenses.-Liza Kaplan