How to Wear Vanity Fair’s “Key Summer Pieces” — On a Budget

High fashion, low prices.

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Vanity Fair just released a list of “warm-weather essentials.” They’re stylish, chic, luxurious, and… crazy expensive. With the cheapest item (a pair of earrings) clocking in at $80 and the most expensive (an Hermès surfboard, no less) bearing the exclusive price upon request, this list did not seem geared towards college women. Or any woman on a budget.

But if these pieces are crucial to a summer wardrobe, they shouldn’t be reserved for those with a certain caché; with the right dupes, we can ALL wear them. So: I listed some of the best (IMO) pieces of the list, made them affordable, and showed you how to style them. Because fashion (even high fashion) can and should be accessible.

{RELATED POST: Summer Essentials: 15 Items You Absolutely Need for Summer 2021}

Here’s how to wear Vanity Fair’s key summer pieces on a college budget:

The Red Summer Dress

This is the kind of red dress, with a romantic billowing skirt in a smoldering summer color, that turns actresses into movie stars. The price? $2,190. What a bummer.

The Budget-Friendly Option

red dress, gold earrings, red lipstick, lace up sandals

Products: Dress – Urban Outfitters, Earrings – Nordstrom Rack, Sandals – Zappos, Lipstick – QVC

If you can’t afford Oscar de La Renta, never fear: there are plenty of dupes for this dress out there, like this beachy take from Urban Outfitters. I paired it with red lipstick (to complete your screen siren look), plus romantic lace-up espadrilles and gold earrings (which were also on the Vanity Fair list). Perfect for dreamy summer nights, family barbecues, and everything in between.

The Printed Bikini

A cute ruffled bikini, with a retro high waist and whimsical print, should be in every girl’s wardrobe. This one, while adorable, is $426. Fortunately, we can score the Bond girl look for less.

The Budget-Friendly Option

pink sunglasses, crystal earrings, sunscreen, pink flip flops, palm tree print bikini

Products: Bikini – Asos, Sunglasses – Joe’s Jeans, Earrings – Wolf and Badger, Sunscreen – SpaceNK, Flip Flops – Zappos

Palm leaves are the ultimate summer print, so add them to your glamorous high-waisted bikini. Pink sunglasses are both a practical accessory and a fashion statement. Ditto for the pink flip flops. Layer on some sunscreen and add these crystal earrings, another pick from the Vanity Fair list.

The Striped Shirt

Frame Striped Shirt

This is NOT the kind of button-down you wear to a business function. This is a beach-ready coverup or a summery go-to top. So you can buy a casual, loose-fitting, easy-going, lazy-day, unfussy, striped button-down for $269. OR…

The Budget-Friendly Option

striped top, sunglasses, bronzer, lace-up shorts, sandals

Products: Top – Lord and Taylor, Shorts – Macy’s, Sandals – Nordstrom Rack, Bronzer – QVC, Sunglasses – TOMS

..You can try our trendy version, which emphasizes your shoulders (and costs less than a quarter of the price). The look is casual glam, which sounds oxymoronic, but that’s summer style: looking fabulous every hour of the day in the most comfortable clothing you can find. The lace-up shorts add a casual vibe to the shirt, which, if not styled properly, can be mistaken for your office attire. Sandals and sunglasses add a glam touch. Sweep on some bronzer for a sunny glow.

What Do You Think?

Would you grab any of these pieces? What are your summer essentials? Let us know in the comments!

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