Travel + Leisure / Tyler Roeland
When I’m at home in Paris, I’m usually dreaming of summer travel. As a travel journalist who is on the road nearly three weeks out of the month, summer is my favorite season to pack for — whether I’m island-hopping around Europe or crossing more capital cities off my list. This is when my wardrobe is at its most versatile — and my suitcase is at its lightest. Give me all the linen, breezy dresses, and sandals! And it’s no surprise that I take my biggest style cues from my own town.
Sure, Paris is a fashion capital, but here’s a secret: stylish French girls never pay full price for clothing. They wait for the annual soldes (sales) to come around in late June to snag items they’ve been eyeing all season. I’ve applied a similar mentality to my own online shopping, scouring Amazon and snatching up my favorites once they’re marked down. If you find the right pieces, no one will ever guess that gorgeous dress that looks like a Missoni was only $20 or those sleek sandal slides were an Aldo score (why pay hundreds when quality and style can come at a fraction of the price?).
Follow the “less-is-more” philosophy with a few staple pieces that can quickly become statements — with the right accessories. This is a trick I learned from my fashion closet intern days at magazines in New York, when editors would find simple basics from Zara and H&M and completely transform the look with killer heels or an outrageous belt from a sample sale. With just a dozen pieces, you can have enough looks to last you weeks on vacation, and your friends will keep asking, “How did you fit everything in that carry-on?” Fellow travelers, here is the secret to a spectacular summer wardrobe — and the best part is everything is already on sale now ahead of Amazon Prime Day this July 11 and 12.
Two-Piece Skirt and Crop Top Set
On a recent trip to Bali, I went to Myrah Peñaloza’s linen shop and went wild. I came out with an entirely new wardrobe of linen. In the month since, I’ve worn my black, two-piece linen set to tea houses and ceremonies in Kyoto, shopping in Monaco, and dinner on the beach in Ibiza for summer solstice at Six Senses. This set from Amazon is similar in style but marked down to a fraction of the price for Prime Day.
The smocked, one-shoulder crop top is fitted without feeling too clingy or tight and shows just enough skin while still looking elegant. The ankle-length skirt — which most shoppers raved “fits perfectly” — has pockets, a flattering design detail that’s also functional. What I love about a set is that it’s a two-for-one deal that pairs great together but can also be mixed and matched with other pieces in your wardrobe. I wear one-shoulder crop tops like this with loose-fit jeans, flowy linen shorts, or tailored pants with a pair of wedges. The skirt is an easy one to pack and pair with one-piece bikinis or bandeau tops, silk camisoles, and ribbed crop tank tops. This set is hand-washable, too, so you can wash and hang it in your Airbnb and it’ll quickly dry, so you can continue to wear it throughout your trip.
To buy: amazon.com, $46 (originally $59)
Slip-on Canvas Sneakers
Sneakers have become the trendiest piece of footwear in French fashion, but they don’t need to be designer to make a statement. A similar look to brands like Keds and Superga, these low-top, slide-on sneakers are stylish enough to pair with a wrap dress, skirt, or chic patterned shorts, but they’re also super comfortable, thanks to the built-in cushioning (which is easy to wash).
I’ll often wear sneakers like these on a plane or train in the summer, so I can save room in my suitcase. Great for strolling through cities or more active excursions like hiking or biking, these will quickly become your favorite pair of footwear. In summer, you’ll find me in either these or Havaianas flip-flops, making more space in my carry-on for clothing and beauty products.
To buy: amazon.com, $30 (originally $40)
Wide Leg Linen Palazzo Pants
A breezy travel pant you can sport to the beach, city, and beyond is an essential in the summer, and this pair at Amazon fits the bill with its wide leg cotton linen blend that’s perfect for toasty temps. Just take it from one shopper who called them the “best summer pants” and said “I’ll want to live in these all summer long.” Best of all, they’re a great deal at more than 20 percent off right now.
To buy: amazon.com, $26 (originally $33)
Vintage Crochet Knit Tank
In the summer, French fashion tends to trend toward ’70s boho or coastal cowboy — both styles I really love. And while tassels, fringe, and studded hardware add edge to an ensemble, I gravitate toward basics that can be dressed up or down with accessories instead. This vintage-inspired knit vest is the perfect example of a summer staple you’ll find me in. Soft and breathable, the open front and V-neck design are flattering on a variety of body types (and look great with layered necklaces), and it can be worn solo, over a bikini top, or under a sweater. A quick and easy piece to throw on, this is one I’ll wear while sailing in Sweden this summer or with a pair of jean shorts around Paris when it’s so hot, any other top would stick to my skin.
To buy: amazon.com, $20 with on-site coupon (originally $22)
Weekender Tote Bag
For weekend trips or quick getaways, I try to pack as light as possible, so I don’t need more than a tote. This comes in especially handy when you’re taking trains in Europe and have limited luggage storage space. Similar to this Tumi Voyageur I’m a huge fan of, Baggallini Avenue’s tote top handle bag is lightweight and can double as an everyday purse or weekend bag. It also has a few key features making it particularly great for travel, like the padded laptop pouch, zipper-secured pockets (great to prevent against theft!), and sleeve that slips over the handle of a suitcase. It’s water-resistant and machine-washable, plus the shoulder strap is adjustable and removable, so you can customize and wear the bag in a variety of ways.
As one shopper raved, “This bag got me through the airport, three days in Rome, seven days on a cruise, three days in Barcelona…it was stuffed to the max, waterproof for two full days in the rain, looked stylish, and I carried it all day long.” I can’t think of any higher praise for a product.
To buy: amazon.com, $98 (originally $130)
High-Waisted Ruffle V-Neck Bikini
This is another set that is great to mix and match; wear the ruffled triangle top with a pair of high-waisted cream linen pants or denim cut-off shorts and pair the ’50s-style bottom with a bandeau top or cropped tee. I love this style of bikini top, since the straps are adjustable and the pads can be taken out, so you can really customize it to your body type. The charms on the ties add a stylish touch, and the cut-out sides on the high-waisted bottom give enough flair without being too revealing (if you happen to be traveling with family or in more conservative settings).
Like the little black dress, a black bikini is as versatile a wardrobe staple — and as necessary. One shopper said she’s 53 and liked the high waist because it’s “sexy and classy at the same time!” On sale now for $30, this is one of the best bargains I’ve seen so far for summer.
To buy: amazon.com, $30 (originally $33)
Tie-Dye Bikini Coverup
An oversized coverup often becomes my daily go-to when I’m on the coast in summer, since I can wear it everywhere from the beach over a bikini to yoga over workout clothes or with a pair of denim or linen shorts to lunch. It’s also great to throw on while lounging around your Airbnb or hotel room. This lightweight tie-dye option will keep you cool (and looking stylish!) even on the hottest of days. The side split gives it a breezy feel and adds to the boho-chic look. One shopper said it’s “easy to iron if you want to dress it up for a business casual look, and it’s also great for the pool.” I tend to incorporate summer staples into my year-round wardrobe, and I can see this one going great with leather pants and chunky heels in Paris in fall or spring.
To buy: amazon.com, $23 with on-site coupon (originally $33)
My packing list usually starts with sunglasses — and it doesn’t matter if I’m packing for Miami or the South of France. But the destination does make a difference in the style of sunnies I’m sporting. This rounded pair from Toms is versatile enough for both cities like Berlin and Paris, as well as somewhere coastal, like Split in Croatia. The style is flattering on most face shapes, and the sunflower yellow matches dark and light colors, plus any type of print. They give me 1960s France vibes, so they’re a natural with anything linen or striped for a beach getaway in Cannes or Saint-Tropez.
The signature Toms stripes on either side add a subtle, stylish detail, and the UV protection coating on the lenses ensures your eyes will be as shielded as your sunscreen-slathered skin. Plus, they’re on sale now for just under $60, so you’re getting style and quality for a pretty good price.
To buy: amazon.com, $59 (originally $68)
Comfy Slide Sandals
Finding comfortable yet stylish sandals that I can walk on cobblestones for hours and wear out to dinner is probably one of the biggest fashion challenges I have. Whenever I’m packing, I line up my wedges and cute kitten heels, only to put them back on the shoe rack in favor of a tried-and-true sandal slide.
After trapezing around Europe for a summer, I’m usually due a new pair the following season, and I’m crossing my fingers that this one from Aldo will be my go-to this year. Shoppers said they are a “good deal for the price” and “fit perfectly — they’re super cute and comfortable.” The gold bucket adds an elevated touch, so these can easily sub for heels in summer and still look put together with a long silk maxi gown or colorful cocktail dress. They’re also lightweight and thin enough to pack in a tote, especially useful if you don’t have time in between sightseeing or activities to head back to the hotel to change.
To buy: amazon.com, $54 (originally $60)
Knit Bodycon Maxi Dress
While traveling, I rarely have time to change throughout the day or access to an iron or steamer, so I like dresses that won’t wrinkle and can get me from the beach to a bar or dinner. This bodycon maxi dress is retro but doesn’t feel dated. As one shopper raved, “It truly reminds me of something that you would find at Anthropologie — but for a fraction of the price.” I completely agree. The swirl pattern and forgiving knit are the perfect combination for a look that feels equal parts ’90s throwback and bohemian chic. You can dress it up with a stack of gold bangles and statement earrings, wear it to the beach over a bikini with flip-flops, or throw on a boyfriend-style denim jacket or chunky knit on cooler evenings.
To buy: amazon.com, $22 (originally $34)
Retro Rattan Straw Beach Tote
Part of the trick to packing light is choosing pieces that are versatile. This is especially the case with bulkier items like bags and shoes. This sold-out tote from Anne Klein gives vintage vibes with its round top handle and perforated pattern. But what’s great is that it’s stylish and functional, since it has a convertible crossbody strap that can be adjusted with multiple holes, plus secured zipper and snap sections. Wear it to the beach, out around town, to dinner, or as your personal item on a plane. Add a pop of color by tying a floral scarf around the handle, which can double as a headband at the beach.
Similar in style, this crossbody travel beach bag is on sale now and comes in a variety of colors, from lilac to apricot. The drawstring keeps all your items securely in place inside, and the removable shoulder strap makes it comfortable to wear while running through an airport or shopping in town. As one shopper said, it’s “a good size, durable, cute, and matched everything I brought — a must-need summer bag.”
To buy: amazon.com, $30 (originally $32)
Wide Brim Panama Fedora
When it comes to accessories, hats are one of my weaknesses. I love how a subtle change in shape or length of a brim can change the look entirely. Large, floppy wide-brimmed straw hats are great for the beach, but difficult to wear around a city. This fedora-style sun hat is the perfect compromise. The paper straw is lightweight and flexible, but the braiding guarantees it won’t lose its shape. It’s practical, since the lanyard will keep it from flying off on a windy day or on a boat, and it offers UPF 50+ sun protection, so you can wear it on light hikes or on city tours and be shielded from the sun without looking like a tourist.
To buy: amazon.com, $28 (originally $37)
Portable Handheld Fan
Don’t roll your eyes at this one just yet. It’s not even July and Europe is boiling. But the sea breeze in Santorini! Dips in the water in Sicily! Sure, islands offer some sort of respite from the heat, but when you’re in your Airbnb that doesn’t have air-conditioning or sitting on a café terrace any time after 9 a.m., you’ll be glad you packed this rechargeable fan, which is small enough to put in a pocket or purse. I’ll admit, I always thought these were for tourists at Disney, but one summer in Paris, when a heat wave pushed temperatures to a Dubai-like 110 degrees Fahrenheit, I saw a friend pull one out at a picnic in the Tuileries Garden. I had never been more envious of an accessory in my life.
Lasting up to 14 hours, this handheld fan will get you through a day of sightseeing and only needs two or three hours to fully charge via USB — so you can use a wall charger, laptop, or power bank. Even better, the fan doubles as a power bank itself, so you can charge your phone with it, too. Right now, it’s 42 percent off — this is really a no-brainer.
To buy: amazon.com, $14 (originally $25)
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