the best summer denim (for grown-ups)

Now that it’s June, I think it’s finally safe to talk summer style, don’t you? I get all weird and conservative in the summer – I just can’t abide all the spaghetti straps, micro-shorts and midriff-bearing tendencies that warm weather seems to elicit. I’m an adult, damn it, and it’s time to start covering up. So, for me, I’ll ignore the climbing mercury and stick with my usual uniform of denim, (short) sleeves and (very light) jackets…okay, and the occasional dress.

But I’m not a total stick in the mud – I’m definitely in favor of a change in fabrics, textures and colors this time of year. Because really, even though I don’t necessarily want to wear shorts and minis all season, I think dark-wash denim is equally absurd in mid-July. So, what’s a stylish girl to do but add a few completely necessary summer denim staples to her arsenal? 

Distressed boyfriend jeans are the easiest answer, of course. Divine with summer’s lighter tees and tops, and perfect with sandals. But they’re a tricky business once you’ve passed your teens. Too relaxed, and you look like a schlub; too distressed, and you look like you’re trying to impersonate an Olsen twin. After months of looking, I found a winner. It’s the Emma from Mavi, which I love in the Blue Rustic or Nolita Blue washes. These are fantastic for a few reasons: first, the fit is just right – relaxed, but just curve-hugging enough, and not too low-rise. And the distressing is there, but it’s restrained – you can’t see skin, which I think is key for those of us in our adult years. Also, I have a mental block about paying a lot for jeans with holes in them (for which I can thank my grandfather). These are right around $100, which is perfect.

Summer denim, via shopping's my cardio

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You’re going to want a classic skinny too, of course. Something to pair with a relaxed linen button-down, or a bright patterned tunic. My go-to this summer is the Ellsworth from MiH, an ankle-grazing option that hugs every curve, and sucks in your tummy with a high rise that makes those tunics fall so much more smoothly. I love these in a bright-ish, faded wash like Sugarblue – it’s light, but done so artfully that your hips still look good (a real trick with faded denim).

Summer Denim, via shopping's my cardio

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But then, sometimes I want to channel my inner Rachel Zoe, and put on a fantastic flared jean with a perfect pair of wedges, and really make a statement. I am a creature of habit, and my love for MiH’s Marrakesh flare is undying. Much as I love a really light wash for summer, it’s a tricky business for those of us with actual human physiques. If you go just a hair darker, you’ll come to something like their Candy or Sweet Indigo washes – both have that sun-drenched, worn-in look, but also manage to whittle inches off your derriére.

Summer Denim, via shopping's my cardio

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So, there you have it – my top three denim staples for summer. Did I miss any of your favorites?

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3 comments on “the best summer denim (for grown-ups)

  1. Milena

    I love denim year round; however, I have found that the flared denim cut is almost impossible to work with unless you have more of a boyish frame.

  2. shoppingsmycardio Post author

    Milena, you’re missing out! I have curves coming out my eyeballs, and I love a flare – the volume in the leg does a fantastic job of balancing out hips. I do think they’re tricky for petites, but if you’re taller than 5’5″, give them another go! Try with a top that’s long enough to cover your tummy and loose enough to just graze your hips without hugging, and add a heel or a wedge, which helps to trick the eye into stretching those curves a bit.

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