Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.
When summer finally rolls around, the last thing I want to do is make decisions. I want to grab my wallet, my phone, and maybe a fresh nectarine, and just GO, whether that’s to the beach or to happy hour around the corner.
Nowhere in that scenario is there room for painful deliberation over what to wear or, even worse, what to buy. That’s why I like to fall back on my (extremely) tried-and-true basics, like these chub-rub-conquering Jockey bike shorts, which I order two at a time so that I don’t have to think about them again until the leaves start to fall. Here are the essentials my coworkers rely on, so you have that much more time to make the most of summer.
I'm headed to the desert this summer, so I needed really breathable dresses that wouldn't stick to my body. I bought two of these slip dresses from Aritzia, and I would have bought it in more colors if I wasn't trying to save money for my vacation. —Tiffany Yannetta, shopping director
I still buy black Toms two or three at a time (or four or six at a time, depending on how you look at it). They're fine, but really it's because I'm too lazy to 1) buckle and/or strap into a shoe of any kind, and 2) look for a new slip-on shoe. When May rolls around, I usually try to convince myself I'm going to buy something newer or cuter or more interesting, but by June 1st, when I'm still walking around in last year's old falling-apart Toms, I just accept defeat and grab a couple of pairs to ruin over the course of summer. —Meredith Haggerty, senior editor
As someone with incredibly sensitive skin — we're talking I-can't-rest-my-chin-in-my-hand-without-breaking-out sensitive — it's tough to find an everyday facial sunscreen that works. Last year, though, my dermatologist introduced me to Elta MD — and it's honestly a game changer. It doesn't smell or feel like your usual sunscreen, doesn't leave any white cast whatsoever, and it's lightly hydrating, which means I can skip my usual moisturizer (in the summertime, at least). It comes in a tinted variety too, but I like to mix the regular kind with my favorite concealer on the back of my hand to make my own custom SPF 46 tinted moisturizer. —Elana Fishman, entertainment editor
I buy a lot of swimwear from Forever 21 because I don't really need much support on top, so this is one place I can really cheap out. This season, I bought this bathing suit in two colors. —Tiffany
For the last few years, my summer wardrobe has been heavy on black tees — specifically comfy ones that are loose enough to not touch my body because New York is swampy and terrible for all of July and August, and oftentimes June and September too, if we're lucky. I'm still on my Reformation kick, and because the $28 T-shirts I bought last year have holes in them now, I bought a collection of new ones: the flax oversized (size down!), the flax relaxed (size up!), and the new and very, very soft plush relaxed (SO SOFT). — Julia Rubin, executive editor
I always keep one Evian mineral water spray in my purse and one in my beach bag. I hate feeling hot, and this is always an instant refresh to cool you down and make you momentarily forget you're in a humid summer hellhole. Been using these things for 15 (or maybe more) years now. —Jackie Goldstein, director of editorial operations
I bought one of these bralettes from Urban Outfitters on sale with store credit for $9.99, and I liked it so much I went back and bought two more at full price (now I have it in olive green, cobalt blue, and black).
It’s great because it’s extremely comfortable, but also because in person, it kind of looks like a bathing suit — like, I would literally wear it to the beach with bikini bottoms and not feel inappropriate. The front looks like a triangle top and the back has both regular straps and cross straps, which looks cute under a sheer shirt or casual tank top on the weekend. The same brand also makes a long line version and a metallic version, which I haven’t tried, but I’m sure they’re just as comfy. —Cory Baldwin, shopping editor
It is my very firm belief that you should never spend more than about $30 on a plain white T-shirt. Why? White tees are what I like to call "the napkins of the wardrobe," meaning that whatever tasty snack, iced coffee, or alcoholic beverage you enjoy throughout the day will likely wind up all over it at some point during the season. Also, let's face it, pit stains happens — and while there are ways to combat those yellow splotches, who has the time when there are beach days and barbecues to get to?
I like to stock up on summer T-shirts at Brandy Melville (yep, the same place that makes my all-time favorite turtleneck), because they're soft AF and incredibly budget friendly; I think the most I've ever spent on one was $18, which means all's not lost when a dollop of mustard meanders from my soft pretzel to my shirtfront. There are two drawbacks, however: Brandy's one-size-fits-all sizing (which I hope changes soon), and the fact that shopping at the teen standby will probably make you feel super-duper old. Whatever, worth it. —Elana