Modest Summer Lookbook: Outfit Ideas & Tips for Summer 2023
Hey there, friends! Who’s ready for summer?
If you said “ME!” then you’re in the right place.
Spring is a great time to sort through clothes, pass on items you no longer wear, and add new pieces to your wardrobe. But with a change in seasons come several challenges. Here are two examples:
- It can be easy to over-buy new pieces and end up with a lot of clothing you won’t wear.
- It can be challenging to dress modestly while staying cool.
Thankfully, the solution to both these problems is the same: create a thoughtful summer wardrobe.
In this blog, we’ve created a modest summer lookbook using some of our exclusive designs to help inspire you to design your own summer outfits. We hope this serves as a guide to rediscovering pieces in your closet and adding strategic new ones that will keep you cool, modest, and beautiful this summer.
Outfit inspiration is just around the corner!
14 Looks for Summer
Let’s start out with 14 summer outfits! These looks are curated around seven common summer activities. We’ll offer two outfit takes for each activity.
1 - Day Trip
Who doesn’t love a little summer day trip? Day trips are a delightful summer activity from adventuring in a nearby city to exploring a national park to perusing museums. What you want to wear will definitely vary based on your plans. But generally, you’ll want to be comfortable for the drive and still look put together when you arrive. To achieve this, choose a comfortable fabric (think knit, linen, cotton, denim etc.) in a flexible design that can be dressed up or down as desired.
Outfit 1: Linen & Demin
For an elevated casual look, pair the linen blend Emma top (did we mention it’s fully lined?) with the Hilda denim skirt in a medium vintage wash. Dress up this look with mules or sandals, or keep it casual with a pair of sneakers.
Outfit 2: Classic Black Dress
With a looser design and made from cotton stretch fabric, the Moriah dress will keep you feeling comfortable and looking beautiful all day.
2 - Worship Service
For many people of faith, Church is a vital part of their faith expression and relationship with God. Some people love to dress up on Sunday morning, while others like to keep it casual.
Outfit 1: Dressy + Relaxed
Midi skirts are generally considered to be less formal than full-length skirts. The Ramona midi dress in tan builds on this concept to create a more relaxed take on a Sunday morning outfit. The Ramona is also available in steel blue and black.
Outfit 2: The Perfect Dressy Dress
A long chiffon dress is the perfect choice for those who love to dress up. The Naomi in Lavender Fog is just that. Available in an additional four other colors, this dress is an effortless outfit.
3 - Concert/Theater
Attending a concert or watching a play is a great activity to do with friends or your significant other. Some communities offer free concerts and theater in the local parks during the summer. Be sure to check with your local parks department or other community centers to see if this is available in your area.
Outfit 1: Shakespeare in the Park
Light-colored clothing is optimal for outdoor events since it reflects rather than absorbs sunlight. Classic and comfortable, the Sara skirt in ivory is a good choice for looking dressed up and feeling comfortable at outdoor concerts and theater this summer. Pair with a flowy top, straw hat, and mules to complete the look.
Outfit 2: Summertime Concert
A modestly fitted yet comfy dress is an effortless choice for a summertime concert. Our Spencer in Navy is an excellent example. It's easy to dress up or down based on the concert you’re attending, and you’ll look put-together either way. Add a pair of heels for a classical concert or other more formal events. Choose a cute pair of sneakers or comfortable sandals for a more active concert where you’ll be doing a lot of standing!
4 - At Home
Days at home are as important as days out and about. A great way to feel inspired about your day at home is to choose a cute, comfortable outfit.
Outfit 1: The Perfect Everyday Dress
Quality knit dresses are perfect for those of us who live life on the go (looking at you, full-time mama). With a convenient pull-on style and an elastic waistband, the Hannah is perfect for the requirements of everyday life. This dress is now available in ivory and black for more styling possibilities!
Outfit 2: Simple & Classic
A simple tee + comfy skirt combo doesn’t need to look frumpy! For example, pair our Lauren skirt in sage with a black tee for a simple, put-together look.
5 - At the Office
The office is a good place to incorporate dark colors during the summer since you’re working indoors. Dark colors can also appear more professional.
Outfit 1: Feminine Professional
Pair a dark pencil skirt with a blouse for a tailored, professional look. While the Anna skirt is black in this example, it is paired with a loose-fitting blouse that mitigates overheating.
Outfit 2: Relaxed Professional
If you like to keep it comfy, choose a knit skirt and pair it with a top that has ¾ length sleeves. This creates a more professional look, even with knit fabrics. Plus, the ribbing in the skirt adds a lovely texture to the outfit.
6 - Evening in the Park
A quintessential summer activity is an evening spent in the park with friends. Whether you love playing sports, picnicking, or relaxing under a tree with a good book, time in the park is time well spent. Since you’re spending time outside, you’ll want to choose an outfit that is lightweight and breathable.
Outfit 1: A Picnic with Friends
Nothing says fancy summertime picnic quite like a linen-blend skirt and a white top. The Winslet in deep olive is the blending of practicality and beauty. It features functional front pockets, an adjustable waistband, built-in lining, and modest side slits for a dash of interest.
Outfit 2: Summertime Sports
A skort is a modest option for all sport-loving ladies. Our Modest Athletic Skort is perfect for activities like hiking, playing sports, and more. If you don’t already own one, browse our variety of designs and colors to find the one that best suits your style.
7 - Shopping
A summer shopping trip with friends can be a wonderful activity. Not to mention the fun and interest of visiting a local farmers market! Whether it's for fun or out of necessity, shopping is a part of all of our lives. When deciding what to wear for a shopping trip, choose an outfit that’s comfortable but still looks put together. Knit dresses are one great way to incorporate this.
Outfit 1: Market Day
Pair a breezy tee with the Lauren in light mocha for a comfortable market day shopping trip or a shopping day with friends.
Outfit 2: Grocery Run
A dress is an effortless way to look put-together, even on a grocery run. The Kate in deep blue is made from a soft knit with button and waist details. The functional buttons also make this an ideal pick for expecting and nursing mamas.
Summer Outfit Tips
We’ll wrap up this lookbook with a few helpful tips for dressing modestly in the summer.
Choose Light Colors
If you want to stay cooler, gravitate toward lighter colors when choosing your summer wardrobe. Since light colors reflect rather than absorb sunlight, they automatically help you maintain a more comfortable temperature.
This is something we know somewhat instinctively and have probably heard before. But it's a helpful reminder when shopping for new summer clothes – especially if you’re someone who loves those dark colors!
Instead of getting a “little black dress” for this summer, consider a “little white dress”. If you’re a denim-loving girl, consider investing in some light-wash or white denim.
Of course, this doesn't mean you can’t or shouldn’t wear black and other dark colors. But you’ll want to put some thought into the fit and fabric of a dark-colored piece if you’re planning to spend significant time outdoors on a warm day. Take, for example, our Moriah dress. While this dress is black, it's made of a primarily cotton blend and has a loose-fitting design that makes it breathable and comfortable.
We’ll dive more deeply into fabrics and fit in the next two sections.
Gravitate Toward Natural Fabrics
Natural fabrics like linen, cotton, and hemp allow your skin to breathe much better than synthetic fabrics. This makes natural fabrics (and natural fabric blends) an excellent choice for the warmer months.
Two of the most commonly expressed concerns with natural fabrics are their cost and their tendency to wrinkle. So, let’s take a quick look at both of those issues!
First, while natural fabrics do tend to be more of an investment, they aren’t necessarily so. Especially as natural fabrics gain popularity, they have become more accessible and less expensive. Fabric blends (e.g., linen+cotton, linen+rayon) also tend to cost less, and if they are mostly natural fabric, they still are very breathable.
Fabric blends are also a solution to the second concern - wrinkles. While wrinkles caused by normal wear are socially acceptable, not everyone feels comfortable when their clothing is wrinkly. If this describes you, never fear! Fabric blends allow you to get the benefits of natural fabric without as many wrinkles. Two examples of natural fabric blends are our Emma top (55% Linen, 42% Cotton, 3% Spandex) and our Aspen top (55% Linen, 45% Cotton). Just to be clear, a natural fabric blend won’t eliminate wrinkles entirely. But, when woven correctly, it will cut back on how quickly and easily fabric wrinkles.
Choose Looser Fits
Another way to stay cooler in the heat is to choose looser-fitting clothing. This allows more airflow and lets your skin breathe. If you’re someone who loves wearing those classy dark colors even in the summer, looser fits can also compensate for the added heat that comes with wearing darker colors.
If you’re someone who feels uncomfortable in loose designs, consider adding a belt to define your waist or pairing a flowing skirt with a more fitted top or vice versa. This allows you to get the benefits of loose styles while maintaining a more silhouetted figure.
One final tip for a summer fit: Unless they have a high cotton content, avoid wearing stretchy fabrics on warm days. Stretchy fabrics tend to make you sweat more and also stick to your body more quickly, which can conflict with modesty commitments.
Add a Lightweight Cardigan
Having a few lightweight cardigans is a valuable staple in a summer wardrobe. This is true for at least three reasons.
First, depending on wear you live summer nights can get a little chilly. It's nice to have an additional layer to add a bit of warmth without becoming stifling. An additional layer on a rainy summer day can also provide that touch of extra protection you need.
Second, a cardigan can serve as an additional modesty layer. We all care about modesty here, but we can still have slightly different understandings of what it looks like for us, and that's ok. A lightweight cardigan allows you to maintain your expression of modesty while shopping more widely than you’d be able to otherwise.
For example, a cardigan can cover an outfit you feel is a bit snug otherwise. It can also serve as sleeves for a sleeveless dress or top.
Third, a second layer can add a touch of sophistication and thoughtfulness. Adding a second layer adds depth to an outfit and tends to make it appear more intentional and classy. Of course, this depends somewhat on the cardigan you are choosing. A safe, easy way to achieve this classy look is to choose simple, solid-colored cardigan.
Add Straw Accessories
A great tip for making any outfit look more summery is adding straw accessories. This includes accessories like bags, hats, and jewelry. It can also include shoes or sandals with straw heels or accents.
Here’s a quick example of how this might work.
Our Spencer dress in navy works well for any season. But add some straw bangles, a straw bag or hat, and a pair of sandals, and this dress becomes a decided summer look.
Invest in Lined Clothing
Extensive layering is the bane of staying cool in the summertime. That’s why it's worth investing in some already-lined dresses, skirts, and shirts. This is especially useful when the fabric is thin or tends to be see-through. For example, white linen is perfect for summer but can be quite transparent. But add a lightweight, opaque lining, and you have the coverage you need without the extra warmth.
Lined clothing points toward thoughtfulness in the piece’s design and can also be an indicator of greater item quality.
Keeping cool and staying modest this summer is possible! We hope you found this lookbook helpful and that it has inspired you to build (or continue building) your own thoughtful, modest wardrobe.
Most importantly, we hope that you find items you love and ones that reflect the fact that you are truly beautiful, valued, and loved. We aim to provide a place where women are understood and valued by creating a community of women that want to invite, encourage, uplift, and empower those around us.
At the Main Street Exchange, we endeavor to provide beautiful, modest clothing for the everyday woman. We do this by offering skirts, dresses, clothing for mamas, and so much more!
To browse our current collections, visit our website or our in-store location in Gordonville, PA.
The Main Street Exchange.