Your summer plans may have changed, but you can still dress up for the little things.

By InStyle Staff
Updated May 27, 2020 @ 5:45 pm
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Sure, our summer 2020 plans might look a tad different this year, but the sun is still shining, the temperature's still rising, and our bodies are still sweating whenever we step out in pants and sweaters. It's time to embrace that warm weather wardrobe, but, of course, not all plans call for the same ol' sundress blanket dress.

If you're someone who gets stumped when picking out the perfect outfit for a small family barbecue, a date night, or the return to your (freezing) office, same. So, this time around, we've thought things through ahead of time, searching for inspiration for what to wear for every summer occasion.

If you're excited to change out of that sweet tie-dye set (if only momentarily), try recreating one of these looks instead.

The Occasion: Backyard Barbecue

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What: A classic gingham dress and an easy pair of slip-on shoes.

Why It Works: You want to look nice, but not too dressed up, so a breezy, everyday sundress is the perfect choice. Then, you can quickly amp it up with accessories — layered necklaces, hoops, a summer scarf, etc. — and throw on shoes you can slip off before dipping your toes in the pool.

Shop a Similar Dress: New York & Company Gingham Smocked Off-The-Shoulder Dress ($56;

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What: A graphic T-shirt, cropped wide-leg pants, and a belt.

Why It Works: Not every summer outfit needs to include a dress or a pair of short shorts, and not every summer day is 95 degrees. If you're looking for something longer or warmer, yet still airy and seasonal, try a wide-leg cropped pair of white pants. Your favorite graphic tee will also be fine for a casual backyard hang.

Shop a Similar Pair of Pants: Faithfull the Brand Lena Belted Linen Wide-Leg Pants ($219;

The Occasion: Beach Day

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What: A ribbed tank dress and a pair of statement sandals.

Why It Works: This versatile dress style is easy to pull on over your bikini, but at the same time, works for whatever you have planned after, too. Go ahead and skip the flip flops, opting for chunky sandals that will really pop against such a simple piece. Think Tevas or Birkenstocks, both of which are celeb-approved.

Shop a Similar Dress: SuperdownMilana Knit Mini Dress ($64;

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What: An oversized sweatshirt, a satin skirt, and a pair of sandals.

Why It Works: While it may be hot during the day, nights on the boardwalk can be kind of chilly. Be prepared with an oversized sweater, but get your cute-outfit fix with a printed slip skirt. Strappy sandals will pull it all together, and a vibrant color will really pop against an otherwise subtle look.

Shop a Similar Skirt: Realisation Par The Naomi Skirt in Wild Things ($180;

The Occasion: Leisurely Walk

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What: A white T-shirt, jean shorts, a crossbody bag, and a bucket hat.

Why It Works: It's a no-fuss and timeless combo, and it's possible you already have these pieces readily available. A hands-free bag can hold all the essentials, while your hat will protect your face from the sun. Bonus: this outfit will pair well with pretty much any type of shoe, whether you're into flip flops or sneakers.

Shop Similar Shorts: DL1961 Clara Bermuda Shorts ($149;

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What: A loose, puff-sleeve dress, sneakers, and a pair of sunglasses.

Why It Works: A lightweight cotton dress is something cool and quick to pull on before heading out the door, but the puff sleeves will make it seem more fashion-forward. Also, if you plan on taking a longer walk, sneakers are the smarter shoe choice — and don't forget your sunglasses!

Shop Similar Sneakers: New Balance 990v5 ($175​​​​​;

The Occasion: Dressed Up Date Night

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What: A bright tank dress, drop earrings, and metallic shoes.

Why It Works: Effortless, eye-catching, sexy — this look has all the elements to help you steal the spotlight. If you're not into heels, metallic sandals are a fancy yet comfy alternative, and a pair of drop earrings will add some sparkle to top it all off.

Shop a Similar Dress: ASOS Design Halter Neck Pleated Maxi Dress ($60;

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What: A coordinating shorts set and statement heels.

Why It Works: We've relied on monochromatic outfits when we're in a jam, but aside from being easy, matching sets also come across as elevatedn and will likely work for whatever is on the schedule. Punch things up with feathered or jewel embellished heels, or pile on the accessories to give things a personal twist.

Shop a Similar Set: Free People Easy Livin Set ($88;

The Occasion: Office Work Day

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What: A short-sleeved button-down, beige slacks, and heels.

Why It Works: It's 'polished and professional' business attire, and the pants will keep you warm if the AC is up high. At the same time, it won't leave you sweating once you wander outside during your break.

Shop Similar Pants: ReformationMason Pant ($178;

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What: A white button-down, a khaki midi skirt, and a strappy pair of sandals.

Why It Works: White button-downs are a work staple, and a neutral midi skirt is that happy medium between trendy and adhering to dress codes. You can also swap out your sandals for heels if needed. The choice is yours.

Shop a Similar Skirt: Old Navy Tie-Belt Utility Midi Skirt for Women ($35;