Just last week, I was contacted by Raise.com to participate in its summer campaign project, so here goes!
You might ask, what exactly is Raise.com? If you’ve heard of Chicago-based CouponTrade, then you may consider Raise.com its younger sibling – a younger sibling that has raised $18.1 million in funding thus far – with a focus in the gift card business. As one of the fastest growing startup companies in the Chicago region, Raise.com is an online peer-to-peer platform where consumers can easily procure discounted gift cards and sell their existing gift cards for cash (it’s even OK if the balance has been partially used!). Participating retailers range from Walmart and Whole Foods to Louis Vuitton and Neiman Marcus. Because no sales tax and shipping/processing fees are involved, the site has gained much popularity with shoppers and is on the fast track to growing its base.
To read more on how the whole process works, see here.
To start buying gift cards, see BUY GIFT CARDS.
To start selling gift cards, see SELL BACK.
This particular campaign, titled Summer Beach Wear, involves curating my fashion top essentials for the summer. Summer is not only a great season for outdoor recreation like picnics, beach life, festivals, and concerts, but it is also the perfect time to showcase your personal style (and legs!) with fun, colorful outfits. Below, I’ve broken down my must-haves into categories, but before we plunge into that, let’s do a quick recap-compilation of my favorite summer looks on the blog so far from these past couple of months:
First row, L to R: Dreamer | Sporty Girl | Downtown Girl
Second row, L to R: A Bit of Black & | Simply Orange | Summery Casual
Third row, L to R: The Soft Bomber | Two Becomes One | Ladylike on a Summer Evening
Fourth row, L to R: Ultramarine | The ‘It’ Skirt | All Meshed Up
I’ve never been crazy about summer (I prefer the cooler weather because I’m obsessed with boots and sweaters), but I’ve learned to embrace the hot, sticky season and appreciate the opportunity it gives me to experiment with light, breathable fabrics. Read on to see my summer must-haves as well as some of my choice items for each category, and keep in mind that these are just guidelines – as well as a peek into my never-ending wish list! And, of course, don’t forget to check out Raise.com next time you’re shopping for your summer essentials (or if you’re the overachieving kind and want to start stocking up for the fall/winter season) – you just might find some amazing money-saving deals!
1. Victoria’s Secret PINK Zip-Front Bandeau Top (similar here, here and here)
2. Triangl ‘California’ in Coral
3. Victoria’s Secret PINK Body Wrap Swim Top
4. Vitamin A ‘Neutra’ Bikini Top
5. Topshop Notched Bandeau Bikini Top
6. Topshop Textured Stripe Plunge Bikini Top
7. Victoria’s Secret PINK Longline Push-up Top (similar here and here)
8. Express Monokini Swimsuit
It’s no longer only about the bikini. Instead, intricate cut-outs and – my favorite – monokini one-pieces are taking over the scene! Black will always be classy and flattering, but summer is the best time to experiment with fun, bright colors. Don’t be afraid to buy multiple swimsuits, and don’t forget that it’s perfectly alright to mix and match; you want to feel good in what you wear, and confidence is key so go ahead and try on different styles to your heart’s content to see what works for you. By the way, now would be a good time to stock up on swimsuits for the next year; so many are on sale due to retailers turning over their inventory to match with the upcoming season change.
1. Forever 21 Feather Print Scarf
2. CRAP Eyewear ‘The Diamond Brunch’ 55mm Sunglasses
3. New Era 9Fifty Snapback in Digi Fleur Print
4. Armani Exchange ‘Transparent Glam’ 53mm Sunglasses
5. Forever 21 Desert Cool Straw Fedora
6. BP. Heart Shaped 58mm Sunglasses
7. Forever 21 Knotted Rose Headwrap
8. J. Crew Panama Hat
9. Steve Madden 50mm Animal Print Oval Sunglasses
10. Forever 21 Classic Wool Floppy Hat
Again, summer is the perfect season to experiment with fun styles. You can never go wrong with colorful patterns, especially if it’s floral! Sunglasses are great to play with during the summer days; they become part of your outfit in addition to protecting your eyes from UV rays. Likewise, headwear is important to help shield your face from the blazing sun, so snapbacks and big hats are optimal choices. During the hotter portion of summer, go with straw fedoras and panama hats as the material will allow your head to stay cool. Wool tends to trap heat, but wool floppy hats are immensely stylish and make a great summer-to-fall transition so it wouldn’t hurt to keep one of those in your closet as well.
1. Zara Top with Contrasting Color
2. Popeye Crew Neck Tee
3. Zara Printed Top with Bow at Back
4. Zara Sleeveless Top with Edging
5. Nasty Gal Crossed Out Crop Top
6. Zara Strappy Top with Contrast Piping
7. Zara Contrast Edge Top
8. Splendid ‘Indigo Dye’ Stripe Crop Tee
9. Zara Basic Denim Shirt
10. Zara Combined Hem Top
The best tops for the summer, in no particular order: 1) flowy, loose tanks; 2) soft graphic tees; 3) subtle crop tops; 4) chambray shirt. The common denominator these different styles have is that they’re all loose-fitting! Clingy, tight clothes are perhaps summer weather’s worst friend.
1. Forever 21 Feeling Floral Skater Skirt
2. Express High-Waist Full Midi Skirt
3. Genetic Denim Crush Stevie Denim Shorts
4. Express Knit Waistband Floral Skort
5. ASOS Denim Boyfriend Shorts in Rip & Repair Vintage Wash
6. Boohoo Robyn Large Floral Print Full Skater Skirt
7. Forever 21 Cloud Wash Denim Cutoffs
It might be natural to think “the shorter, the better” in reference to bottoms during hot days, but I’m way too modest to bare my cheeks to the world. Instead, when it comes to shorts, I go for those with inseams 3″ and longer. For summer, it’s ideal to have multiple styles of shorts in stock – I’m partial to denim shorts that sport cut-offs, cuffed hems, or the relaxed boyfriend silhouette. Skirts are always a safe bet, and you can have so much fun with them with the various lengths, styles, and colors. And if you want something that’s the best of both worlds, try out skorts! They have the flirty look of a skirt but the comfort of shorts (you can sit however unladylike you wish without worrying about accidentally flashing someone).
1. Sparkle & Fade Dress Deep V Trapeze Dress
2. Native Rose Lace Swing Dress with Low Back
3. River Island Double Layer Slip Dress
4. Nasty Gal ‘All Eyes on Me’ Dress
5. Asos Swing Dress with Strap Back
6. Missguided Mikita Long Sleeve Swing Dress
7. American Eagle Crossback Kate Dress
8. Traffic People Singing In The Sun Angelina Dress
9. AX Paris Paisley Swing Dress
10. Crosby Dress
Sometimes, it gets so unbearably hot and humid that I just want to be wearing nothing. But because nudism is not exactly conventional (and to be honest, even if I was offered $1,000 to step out in public naked, I would turn that down and run away), a barely-there dress is the second best option. I’m talking about lightweight, breathable dresses that don’t cling to your skin and cover up all the right body parts. Bonus points are awarded if the dress can be somehow appropriately styled during the subsequent fall and winter seasons.
1. Via Spiga ‘Fabrizie’ Suede Sandal
2. TOMS ‘Classic – Passport Stamps’ Slip-On
3. Steve Madden ‘Stecy’ Sandal
4. Biala ‘Maris’ Sandal
5. Nine West ‘Bridgider’ Cage Sandal
6. Joie ‘Kidmore’ Sneaker
7. Naturalizer ‘Paola’ Buckle Flat
8. Steve Madden ‘Immence’ Suede Sandal
9. Kendall & Kylie Madden Girl ‘Raaven’ Wedge
10. Louise et Cie ‘Olivia 2’ Sandal
11. Converse Chuck Taylor High Top Sneaker
The wrong shoe can completely bring down an outfit’s rating. I personally dislike flip flops, open-toe sandals (Birkenstocks included, sorry), and basically any shoe that shows too much foot, but unfortunately that’s the culture here in Southern California. I don’t conform, however, even though I do own one pair of sandal, but even that doesn’t show much toe at all (mine looks similar to the Biala ‘Maris’ Sandal above). Instead, I turn to sneakers and heeled sandals during these hot days, depending on the vibe I’m going for with my outfits. Caged booties, thankfully, are a huge summer trend and they transition so easily to the upcoming seasons.
1. Kate Spade ‘Cedar Street – Maise’ Satchel
2. Ted Baker London ‘Large Bow Jewel Icon’ Tote
3. Ivanka Trump ‘Blair’ Shopper
4. Rebecca Minkoff ‘Mini MAC’ Convertible Crossbody Bag
5. Topshop ‘Mini Tara’ Satchel
6. Wildfox Floral Print Logo Tote
7. Vince Camuto ‘Janet’ Crossbody
8. Zara Leather Bucket Bag
9. Rebecca Minkoff ‘Small Amorous’ Satchel
Just like with sunglasses and shoes, I see handbags as a part of an outfit. I don’t know about you, but I can’t just use any bag for any outfit; they have to complement each other! Summer is the time for fun colors, so I like to have one bag especially reserved for these hot days, but because I like to recycle the things in my closet continuously during the four seasons of the year, I prefer to stick with neutral-tones. Totes are great for carrying lots of items if you’re headed outdoors (beach, picnics, festivals, etc); satchels are the perfect companion on work days; crossbodies are girl’s best friend on casual outings.
SUPPORTIVE ATHLETIC GEAR
1. Victoria’s Secret VSX Open Back Tank
2. Victoria’s Secret VSX All-Sport Gym Bag
3. Knockout by Victoria’s Secret Front Close Sports Bra
4. The Standout by Victoria’s Secret Sport Bra
5. Nike ‘Free Flyknit 4.0’ Running Shoe
6. Victoria’s Secret VSX Water Bottle
7. Victoria’s Secret VSX Knockout Jacket
8. Incredible by Victoria’s Secret Sports Bra
9. Knockout by Victoria’s Secret Crop
As much as I hate to exert any sort of strenuous movements during the hot season, working to keep in shape is still a must. You can’t just work out for that beach body right before summer starts and not continue with it; looking good on the outside is as important as staying healthy on the inside. As with my undergarments, I’m quite partial to Victoria’s Secret when it comes to work-out apparel, mainly because the retailer really knows how to create sports bras that wholly support your movement while still helping you look your best. Most importantly, one mustn’t forget to stay hydrated! Water is quite possibly the cheapest yet most essential thing to have on hand this season (or any season, for that matter)!