Summer Style: Dressing Up a $5 Tee

Top: H&M Cotton Tee - currently in stores (similar, similar) // 
Skirt: J.Crew Factory Striped Cotton-Linen Midi Skirt - low stock (similar, similar) //
Belt: Ann Taylor Patent Leather Skinny Belt - old (similar, similar) //
Shoes: Ivanka Trump Floral Slingback Pumps - old (similar) //
Bag: BP Scalloped Tote - available in black (similar, similar) //
Scarf:  LOFT Silk Scarf - old (similar, similar) // 
Necklace: Kate Spade Park Floral Collar Necklace - old (similar) //
Earrings: LOFT Pearl Stud Earrings - old (similar)

Sometimes simple is best.
 On days when temperatures are hovering in the 90s and you're desperately trying not to melt into a puddle the moment you step outside, cool and fuss-free outfits are a must. But that doesn't mean you should throw all fashion principles to the wind and look like you've just rolled out of bed. You still want to look and feel put-together because 1) it's true that you feel your best when you look your best, and 2) you're all too aware of the contemptible Murphy's Law that says you're bound to run into someone you know when you least expect it! 

So, for me, whether it's a day at the office, a day of errands, or just a casual weekend lunch date with friends, wearing something simple, lightweight, and pretty in Summer is the way to go. And it doesn't get much simpler than a tee-and-skirt combo. 

For today's look, I'm showing you how to dress up a simple, $5 cotton tee. This is a quick and easy Summer look I love that's both lightweight and pretty, and even better -- super affordable!

Finding the perfect cotton tee that fits well and that's inexpensive is really not as elusive as it sounds. Over the years, I've found some great, affordable tees from retailers like J.Crew/J.Crew Factory, Ann Taylor, LOFT, Old Navy, Target, and even some from more trendy-fashion retailers like Forever 21, Charlotte Russe, and H&M.  In fact, the tee I'm wearing for this look is actually from the latter. At a mere $5, you can afford to stock up on several of these tees to keep on rotation in your wardrobe!

 I recently picked up this blush/dusty-rose color, a classic white/navy-striped color, and a few others in solid, neutral colors like white, heather-grey, and navy. The quality is good and the cotton is fairly opaque, though the lighter colors will require you to wear a light or nude-colored bra for more modesty. Fit-wise, they run small, which is typical for H&M's sizing given that it's a European brand, so you may wish to size up 1 - 2 sizes depending on your fit preference. I like mine semi-fitted, so I typically wear a size XS to S in these tees. Keep in mind, too, that the cotton will shrink after machine washing/drying, so sizing up is recommended if you're in-between sizes or want a looser fit.

Style Tip 1: Pair Your Tee with a Patterned Skirt
What's better than breathable cotton in Summer? More cotton! I'm pairing my blush tee with this cotton-linen midi flare skirt from J.Crew Factory. It's one of my favorite recent purchases, which I was happy to score on sale for less than $30, and has already seen plenty of use. I love that it's light and airy for hot days and also fuss-free with its pull-on styling and stretchy, elastic waist. The varied blue and white stripes are also crisp and classic, making it easy to style with a simple tee as I'm doing here, or a basic tank or a dressier blouse. And this skirt has pockets, which usually seals the deal for me! 

Fit-wise, it runs fairly true-to-size. I'm wearing size 00, which runs a little wide on me in the waist, but is still do-able. The length hits right at the knees and is lovely and ladylike. This skirt is still available online, albeit in very limited sizes, and is currently on sale for $49.99 (no coded needed.) If your size is sold out, this skirt is very similar and is on sale for only $8!  This skirt is another noteworthy option and comes in both regular and petite sizing!
 The tee and skirt are already great foundation pieces on their own, but I wanted to dress them up a bit for a soft, feminine look. This is where the accessories come in -- they can make such an impact on even the most basic outfit!

Style Tip 2: Add A Skinny Belt
To dress up the elastic waistband of the skirt, I opted for a skinny, patent leather belt in a neutral, nude color. Adding a skinny belt to your skirt gives it a more polished, finished look, and it's a look I repeat often in both my workwear and everyday-wear. With this particular skirt, the belt also does double-duty in helping to cinch the waist of the skirt more for a closer fit.

Style Tip 3: Add a Pair of Colorful Pumps
To play off the colors of the tee and skirt, I chose watercolor-floral slingback pumps in pretty pastel colors. I love that the print is colorful and adds another layer of print and visual interest to the outfit, yet is still understated. The color palette is also cohesive, drawing from the hushed pastel tones of the tee and skirt.

Style Tip 4: Add a Bag with Fun Details
Bags with fun details add an element of whimsy and interest to any basic outfit. Cue this adorable tote! The perforated scallops along the top of this ivory tote are such a pretty detail and add a little extra flair to the outfit without detracting from the other pieces.

Style Tip 5: Tie A Patterned/Colorful Scarf to Your Bag
I repeated the above concept in Style Tip 3 for the silk scarf tied around my bag. The scarf adds a pretty pop of color against the ivory canvas of the bag, keeping all of the colors in the same wheelhouse, and also plays off the blush interior peeking out through the perforated scallops of the bag. 

Style Tip 6: Add A Statement Necklace
Adding a statement necklace is one of the easiest ways to dress up a basic tee. A larger, ornate necklace can definitely go a long way in achieving a more dramatic look. Whichever piece you choose, remember to keep it balanced with the rest of your look. If you already have several accessories you've incorporated into your outfit, you'll want to take a simpler approach with your jewelry. Try a smaller collar necklace like the one I chose for this look. This floral pearl collar necklace from Kate Spade is not loud or flashy; instead, it finishes the look and keeps it ladylike and demure, which is exactly what I was trying to achieve.

And there you have it: a quick and easy Summer outfit that's pretty, practical, and affordable!

Below is a quick recap of my easy style tips.
I hope you found these tips helpful!

How do you like to dress up your favorite wardrobe basics?

As always, thanks so much for reading!

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