When a large part of your job is essentially shopping online and hunting for the best, trendiest and cutest clothes, jewelry and accessories, it can prove extremely difficult to stick to a budget. As a fashion editor, I frequently find myself adding way more to my digital shopping carts than I could ever actually afford. But this summer I’m committed to setting a shopping budget at $250 and actually sticking to it.

This involves much more planning and thinking honestly about the things I need (versus the things I simply want), but that’s just a part of the fun. Some pieces on this list were easy to settle on—like a bright new bikini—while others were harder to pick, like whittling down which of the 40 summer frocks I’ve been lusting after are worth investing in. I knew I’d also want to throw in some trendy accessories, and that a new pair of sandals (to replace my crusty old pairs not worn since 2019) was imperative.

After all that hemming and hawing, I managed to come up with an eight-piece summer shopping list that checks all those boxes. And even includes a few fun surprises. Here’s everything that made the cut.

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Nordstrom

1. Open Edit Otto Slide Sandals

Last year I skipped out on buying any new shoes—where was I wearing them anyway?—so this year I wanted to be sure to pick up a pair that I could wear just about anywhere. This sleek design is from Nordstrom’s newest in-house brand and is made using recycled materials. I fully plan to sport them everywhere, from the grocery store to my cousin’s wedding reception.

Buy it ($40)

ASOS

2. New Look Tie-Neck Poplin Smock Minidress

Once summer temperatures in New York hit their peak around late July and early August, I exclusively wear flowy tent dresses. I prefer a shorter hem to ensure my legs are getting ample airflow and bright colors or prints, like this stunner featuring dainty daisies in vibrant hues, to add some cheer to an otherwise shapeless style.

Buy it ($39)

Available in sizes 0 to 14

Amazon

3. JW Pei ‘90s Shoulder Bag

I’m very into the return of this classic ’90s handbag silhouette, and this particular JW Pei design has been popping up all over my Instagram feed for almost a full year now. Considering its affordable price tag, I’m not sure what I’ve been waiting for but now is the time to finally go for it and buy one of my very own. Now I just have to decide which of the eight color options to go with, although I’m leaning toward this pretty pistachio green.

$37; $29 at Amazon

Madewell

4. Madewell Drawstring Pull-On Paperbag Shorts

Shopping for shorts that are comfortable, fit well and are age appropriate is a constant struggle, but this pair from Madewell somehow does in all three. And I was elated to find they’re currently on sale for 35 percent off, freeing up more of my budget to splurge on something else.

Buy it ($70; $45)

Available in sizes XXS to XXL

Nordstrom

5. BP Layered Chain Necklace

Mixed media and camp-inspired jewelry is majorly trending this summer. And while I love all the colorful beaded pieces I’ve been seeing, I think I’ll get more use out of something with a more grown-up vibe, like this gold chain and faux pearl number.

Buy it ($15)

American Eagle Outfitters

6. AE Tie-Strap Smocked Cami

Shirred fabric, like the bodice of this floral tank, is wonderfully forgiving and great for creating a smooth silhouette. To be honest, I already own a top that looks remarkably like this, but I wear that one all the time and think a second similar style is definitely worth investing in. I also love that the straps are wide enough to accommodate a regular bra.

Buy it ($35)

Available in sizes XXS to XXL

Cupshe

7. Cupshe Yellow And Blue Leaves Print Bikini

I have a real soft spot for fun swimwear, but even though my budget is pretty tight I wanted to pick up something to wear on my first post-quarantine beach adventure. Enter Cupshe, a super-affordable swimwear brand that makes some of Amazon’s best-selling bathing suits. I love that this one comes as a mixed set so I can wear both pieces with other solids and patterns from my swimwear drawer.

Buy it ($25)

Available in sizes XS to XXL

H&M

8. H&M Jersey Dress

It’s always a good plan to have a simple, neutral-hued go-to dress you can just toss on any time you’re too hot busy to be bothered with pulling together a more complicated ensemble. This H&M frock is made from breathable jersey and can be easily dressed up for dinner with my partner or days back in the office.

Buy it ($25)

Available in sizes XS to XXL

TOTAL: $253

OK, so technically I went $3 over budget, but that just means I’ll buy one fewer cup of coffee this week to even things out. All in all, I’m pretty excited about the mix of versatile pieces and stand-outs I came up with, and I can’t wait to start pairing them with those most-loved summer items I already own.

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