Jessica Bialkowskistyle

My Summer Wardrobe Essentials

Jessica Bialkowskistyle
My Summer Wardrobe Essentials
My Summer Wardrobe Essentials

There have been a lot of changes in my life this year that have had an impact on what I’ve been wearing, but ultimately I’m feeling far more inspired style-wise than I have been in years. I wrote about being in a style rut and not having a suitable work wardrobe for the job I was in, but now that I’ve moved countries and am working in an industry that doesn’t have a dress code, it’s a completely different story. I know it's a bit late for S/S content since we’re definitely in autumn now, but I thought it would still be fun to do a recap of what I was into during the warmer weather, and I know this will still be relevant for anyone in the southern hemisphere as it warms up for you guys (jealous!). 

My Summer Wardrobe Essentials

My rut had been making me really unhappy, so when I decided to take the time to address it, originally I was mainly focusing on developing a separate, work-appropriate sense of style and splitting my wardrobe between work and weekends.

Now that I don’t have to do that, I’ve put all those ideas on the shelf in case I need to go back to them in the future, but during that process I couldn’t help but find myself really inspired to try some new things across my weekend wardrobe too (which is now my full-time wardrobe – yay!).

I’ve been really into reading and watching style content and have loved some of the spring/summer trends that came in this year and couldn't help but pick up a few new things. Because I was moving countries I knew I could only bring so many clothes with me, so I took the opportunity to drastically cull my wardrobe more than I ever have in the past.

Outside of coats and occasion-wear which I was happy to leave behind with my parents, I was pretty ruthless. I figured if I didn’t love it enough to bring it with me and wear it right now, then I wasn’t going to wear it whenever I end up moving back to Sydney, so I let it go. 

Needless to say, I started out with a pretty limited wardrobe immediately following the move (my boyfriend and I only brought four suitcases between us). But the last thing I wanted was to spend a bunch of money only to feel like I had nothing to wear. I've also written previously about curating my wardrobe and wanting to only own clothes that I love, so although I was definitely keeping my eye out for new things, I also made sure that I really considered my purchases instead of just buying the first thing I saw.

My Summer Wardrobe Essentials

For me a really helpful way to think about style has been to consider my “uniforms” or my go to looks and silhouettes. For example, the combination of a skater skirt + any kind of top + ballet flats has been a style uniform for me for years and years, while someone else may rely heavily on a jeans + t-shirt + trainers combination.

When a new trend comes along that we want to incorporate into our wardrobe, for example a particular pattern, most of us will buy something that is already within our comfort zone in terms of our uniforms/the shapes we wear, but it will be a piece that incorporates that trend, like a skater skirt or a top in that pattern. 

Of course silhouettes can also be trendy, but for the sake a cohesive post, I’m going to split this up into Trends, which for me means the details of the clothing, and Uniforms, meaning the silhouettes and shapes that I’ve been wearing.

This summer I feel like I’ve really gotten out of my comfort zone and have adopted some new uniforms that I would never have worn before because I assumed they were unflattering or just not for me. Of course I still wore some of the same silhouettes as before, but I've been experimenting and I thought this would be a fun way to look at how I’ve been building my wardrobe.  

My Summer Wardrobe Essentials

Trends

One of the biggest trends that has come around lately is gingham. I’ve loved gingham for years and already had a lot in my wardrobe, so it’s not exactly new for me, and it’s definitely not the kind of thing I’m going to grow out of in 6 months.

When something you already love becomes a trend, one good thing about it is that you have a lot to choose from, so you can wait for something perfect to come along rather than buying the only thing you’ve seen because you don't come across it very often.

As much as I was tempted by all the cute gingham things I saw, I was definitely running the risk of doubling up, so I only bought two gingham pieces this summer and I love both of them, as well as all the gingham that I already owned and wore all the time. 

Red has been another one I’ve seen popping up a lot, which also suits me just fine. I’m not trying to be all like ~I’m so ahead of the curve~ but red has always been a staple colour in my wardrobe. And as I said, when something you love becomes trendy it’s a good opportunity to add some really perfect items to your wardrobe that you’ll be able to wear for years. 

My Summer Wardrobe Essentials

Another trend that I absolutely love is embroidery, whether that’s intricate floral embroidery or a little slogan on the side of a t-shirt. I looked everywhere for embroidered clothes that suited what I was after because I think it’s such a pretty detail and I was really keen to work it into my wardrobe.

Along with embroidery I have absolutely loved all things frilly and ruffley. I definitely tend to have a traditionally feminine sense of style, and I wear dresses and skirts over pants about 360 days of the year (or at least I did when I was in Sydney where that was feasible during winter). So I’ve loved all the ruffles, frills and and bell sleeves I’ve been seeing everywhere and have picked up a few things that incorporate these details. 

There have definitely been a lot more trends that have been popular lately, but I think the key to creating a timeless wardrobe is to only incorporate the trends that really compliment your existing personal style, that way you don’t grow out of them in a season or two or find yourself with a bunch of single items that don't compliment each other.

Uniforms

So while none of the trends I’ve been into have been a drastic departure from my usual tastes, I have definitely been branching out when it comes to my uniforms. Instead of relying on the skater shape that I’ve been wearing since forever, I tried a few new things and couldn’t be more pleased with them. 

My Summer Wardrobe Essentials
My Summer Wardrobe Essentials

Smock Dresses

No matter how pretty they are, in the past I have always steered clear of smock dresses thinking they were made for super thin Chanel models who can wear anything and make it look good. I have a DD-cup chest, so I assumed any kind of smock dress would look like a potato sack on me.

But last year when I was visiting one of my best friends in Melbourne (who at the time was living with Tenneil) along with another friend, we stopped into this little shop and a navy smock dress with embroidered detailing and fluted sleeves caught my eye.

I remember trying it on and not being sure if I could pull it off, but I took a chance and bought it and was so glad I did. They’re SO comfortable and as long as they’re the right length and have nice details they look super cute, even on my curvy-ass self.

Since then I also picked up a red gingham one from Zara (similar, similar) with fluted sleeves, which incorporates most of my fave trends in one, as well as a super pretty embroidered one that I love, which is also from Zara (similar).

I've had a rule in place when it comes to dresses for several years now, which is that if it's not perfect and amazing and I'm not in love with it, then I won't buy it. Because dresses tend to be the bulk of an outfit (as opposed to separates that you can dress up or down in different ways)  the styling options are more limited.

So if a dress is okay but not amazing, then I'm only going to feel okay but not amazing when wearing it, and I know from past experience that I'll always reach for clothes that I love over the ones that I think are boring but are "good to have". For me they don't tend to be good to have as I just ignore them, so I stopped buying them. All 3 of my smock dresses are 100% cotton and are really lightweight and comfortable to wear in the heat since they hardly touch your body at all. All summer I would throw them on with a pair of black slides or my white converse and call it a day. I honestly don't know how I lived through so many Sydney summers without them.

My Summer Wardrobe Essentials

A-Line Skirts

Before this year you would have had to pry my skater skirts from my cold dead hands, but eventually I wanted to try something new and picked up two denim a-line skirts from ASOS in blue and black, and now I wear them constantly. There are a lot of a-line skirts that I don’t think suit my body shape very well, but wrap-around ones like these actually do, and I feel really comfortable in them. Although this isn’t a massive departure from my existing uniform of top + skirt, the slightly different silhouette is really easy to pair with items that I found difficult to wear with skater skirts in the past. Things like half-tucked looser tops or cropped jumpers that I probably wouldn’t have worn with a skater skirt for fear of looking too swamped in material pair perfectly with an a-line skirt, so I’ve been loving the versatility these provide. 

My Summer Wardrobe Essentials
My Summer Wardrobe Essentials

Embroidered Tops

I had plenty of summer appropriate tops already so I knew I didn’t need much, but there were a couple of things I saw that I couldn’t resist buying. I really don’t wear t-shirts much, but I loooove t-shirts with something cute embroidered on the side. Although these have been all over the place I feel like so many of the slogans are really cringey and aren’t something I would wear, so it was still really hard to track down something I liked. I picked up this black one from Sportsgirl before I left Australia and I’ve been wearing it loads along with a couple I already had in my wardrobe. 

I also bought this beautiful black & white gingham blouse from ASOS which has cute little ruffle details and embroidered roses, giving it a bit of a cowgirl vibe, which is totally my aesthetic. I know it's pretty niche, but this is the kind of thing that’s perfectly suited to my style but would have been really hard to track down if gingham and embroidery hadn’t both become trendy at the same time. 

Slide Shoes 

I don’t know if this really counts as a silhouette, but in terms of shoes it’s definitely a new style I tried and loved. I’ve never been into sandals and don’t own any (though the black Saltwater sandals (AU) have been in the back of my mind for a few years) because I always just relied on ballet flats. But I hate it when your feet get sweaty in summer, or if you do a lot of walking and end up with blisters, so I picked up a cheap pair of plain black slides with thick crossover straps to see if I ended up wearing them. Despite the fact that my boyfriend thinks they’re ugly I wore them non-stop over summer because they’re just so easy to throw on, there’s no risk of blisters and your feet don’t sweat! I’m a total convert and will probably invest in a better pair next year, or maybe just get those Saltwater sandals.

My Summer Wardrobe Essentials

Pinafores / Slip Dresses

I’m no stranger to pinafores, I have blue and black denim ones that have been in my wardrobe for years. They’re super versatile and are a total staple for me, but both of the ones I owned already were in a skater style with a button at the waist and a flared skirt, and I wanted to try out the whole slip dress + plain t-shirt thing.

So I picked up this black denim one from ASOS which is kind of a combination of a pinafore and a smock dress because it’s loose and super comfortable, but it’s also made for layering a top underneath. I’ve loved throwing this on with a plain black or white t-shirt on a hot day, and as it gets colder I'm planning on wearing it with tight knits and turtlenecks underneath too.

My Summer Wardrobe Essentials