It’s summertime, it’s warm, and everything seems a little easier – or does it? If your kids are out of school, you may be chauffeuring more than usual or dealing with cranky teens staring at their phones all day. If work is your focus, the office may be emptier with everyone on vacation – but then you’re also covering for colleagues’ time off. So, the last thing you want to do is spend more time getting dressed. And if layered looks are your happy place, you may need to put a little more thought into summer-friendly outfits for work, date nights or just your days off.
What’s the one thing that you need in your closet to get you through summer in style? A blank slate dress! If you haven’t heard this term (maybe because I made it up), a ‘blank slate dress’ is any simple, solid dress that forms the foundation for a variety of outfits. You can dress it up for the office, make it fun for going out or grab it for weekend running around. If you don’t believe me, see how I outfitted one blank slate dress 3 ways - and I’m almost positive that a blank slate dress will become your go-to this season.
AT THE OFFICE
If your office dress code is on the spectrum of business casual to anything goes, you have a range of options at your fingertips – but in the summer, it may get a little tricky. Many of your tops might be too beachy or bare, your summer skirts may be too short, or you could be navigating sweltering heat vs. freezing air conditioning. So, a blank slate dress is the perfect starting point for what to wear to work.
There’s no need to make it complicated. Throw a cropped white blazer over your blank slate dress (click here to read why I love a white blazer in summer), add neutral accessories and toss in a little animal print, and you’re ready for most any day at the office.
STYLE TIP: A blank slate dress is a true wardrobe workhorse, and that’s why it’s in my top 10 of styles you need in your wardrobe (read the other 9 styles here). But the versatility of an individual dress relies, in part, on the fabric. The dress pictured here is a mid-weight knit – so it easily transitions from business casual to social summer evenings to weekend wandering. But if your needs are more business professional to cocktail, you’ll want something a little elevated, like silk or stretch twill or lightweight wool.
ON DATE NIGHT
Date night outfits usually rank pretty high among my clients’ priorities – and if your kids are home for the summer, you might want a weekly summer date night, too. And even though you don’t have to get dressed up, it’s a great excuse to wear something other than your denim cutoffs and a white t-shirt. But you can keep it low key (yet still fun) with a blank slate dress.
A summer date night look with a blank slate dress is as simple as 1, 2, 3. Add 1 colored cardigan (to stave off evening or AC chill), 2 open toe booties (or wedges or fancy flats) and 3 natural-toned accessories (earrings, bracelet and bag) and enjoy an evening with no children in sight.
STYLE TIP: The dress I chose for these outfits is a neutral (yes, olive is a neutral), but you can just as easily select a blank slate dress in a bold or impactful color. The true chameleon quality of the dress isn’t based on its specific hue – it’s more about how it works with the layering pieces and accessories in your closet. (Check out 2 outfits I created with a red blank slate dress here.) So, if you’re more comfortable in a neutral, stay within your comfort zone. But if love a hit of color, just go for it!
FOR WEEKEND ERRANDS
Many of my clients prefer a casual dress for summer weekends to shorts or lightweight separates. It’s easy breezy both from how it feels to the effort you’re putting into your look – a dress is almost a ‘one and done’ outfit. And when you have a knit dress that’s far from fussy, it’s ideal for running around on your days off. Grab your favorite sandals, a carry-everything tote and sunglasses and do what you need to do.
STYLE TIP: Depending on the weight of the fabric, a blank slate dress isn’t a summer-only staple. It can span the seasons all the way through fall! Wear the same dress that you enjoyed with sandals in July through September with a denim jacket, closed toe booties and bare legs – and then add a leather moto jacket, tights and boots come October/November. Then read this for other styles that you can transition from summer to fall.
Are you ready to add a blank slate dress to your summer wardrobe? Or do you already have one in your closet? Let me know in the comments! And if you want more summer style tips, follow me on Instagram and Facebook for daily style advice and a little behind the scenes of how I work with clients.
Dress and cardigan by Banana Republic. White cropped jacket by Theory. Glasses by Warby Parker. All other accessories from Nordstrom.