What's your surprising summer MVP?

I know that summer has just begun for most of us, but this subject is on my mind because recently, we had a hot day and I pulled out my own surprising most valuable player -- which is 3 years old and still going strong. 

What makes it a "surprising" MVP? 

  • It comes from the Loft -- who'd have thought it would still be going strong after 3 years? I literally put this thing into my cart because it was on sale and I had a credit from some t-shirts that had developed holes on their first wear. I had ZERO expectations. Loft, you proved me wrong. 
  • Made of thin cotton voile -- not exactly the most durable fabric, in theory. 
  • Bought on a whim for a specific purpose (trip to hot, hot China in July). Never imagined it would become a workhorse later. 

What makes it a most valuable player? Well, it goes with everything! 

Something about this style (bat sleeves, curved hem, a bit shorter than many tops) makes it highly versatile -- I wear it tucked and untucked, with medium and high rises. It works with a tube skirt, skinny jeans, culottes, wide crops, shorts -- really, pretty much every bottom.

I can layer a cami under it for greater warmth or modesty. (It is quite sheer, but the pattern hides a nude bra enough for me.) I can also layer a sweater or jacket over it for warmth. 

The blue and white is my signature, gingham is a favourite pattern of mine, and the pattern seems a good scale for me. 

It often does not require ironing -- the wrinkles fall out when I hang it up straight out of the wash. It dries really quickly if I have to hand wash. 

It packs up into nothing. 

What's your surprising MVP, if you have one, and why? And, pray tell, how the heck can we learn to identify these items before wasting our money on other, less worthy contenders! 

This post is also published in the youlookfab forum. You can read and reply to it in either place. All replies will appear in both places.


  • Chris987 replied 3 years ago

    I don't have a surprise MVP, but I do have a shirt very similar to yours  that I don't seem to wear much. I bought it late last winter and it just have not reached for it much. The styling of mine is more classic, straight hem, the checks are a tiny bit bigger I think, and the navy is almost black....but you've given me some ideas for how to style it! So thanks!

  • Sterling replied 3 years ago

    Don't know yet.  Hope it is going to be one of my 30 x 30 challenge items.  

  • Suz replied 3 years ago

    Sterling, I hope so, too! 

    Chris, that is interesting. I admit, I'm a gingham fan. I have a few more classic gingham shirts as well and a tuxedo shirt. I wear them all frequently, but this one is the hot weather star. I don't consider it interchangeable with the others at all. I consider it more of a "blouse" than a shirt, despite the pattern. 

  • Joyce B replied 3 years ago

    That is such a versatile top! I love all your outfits but my favorite is number 1, you look fabulous in your cropped wide leg pants.

  • Xtabay replied 3 years ago

    Hi Suz!  Your shirt is gorgeous, and a truly serendipitous find.  Perfect!

    My MVPs are not very exciting, and not what you'd call haute couture, but the Uniqlo Airism tees and cropped pants I took along on my recent vacation were lifesavers.  Cool, comfortable, and packed/washed/dried like a dream.  I like the material, it's drapey and has a nice hand.  I've continued to wear the pieces since I got back.  I predict they'll be in shreds by September!

  • replied 3 years ago

    I've always liked that top on you, and I can see why it's an MVP. I can't say I have anything I can identify as a major player yet, as summer seems to be an elusive thing so far.  It's been hovering in the low-mid teens for a good week, and even bare legs feel chilly.  

  • Summer replied 3 years ago

    Don't you just love it when that happens?   I can see why your little gingham shirt is such a favourite.  It looks lovely in all the outfits you've shown here.

    My last MVP was a bargain from the grocery store - a gauzy longline cardigan which worked with just about everything in my wardrobe, and for  all but the dressiest of occasions. Sadly, I had to put it to rest last year after countless wearings, but it certainly earned its keep, and always made me feel great.

  • Joy replied 3 years ago

    An inexpensive pair of no-name jeans from Marshals have become my go-today. I released the hem and let it fray. It is a midrise on me and very comfortable. The cropped length keeps me cool but I'd long enough to allow sitting on hot car seats or fallen logs. The pants are slim enough and high enough to allow almost any top. I should have duplicated.
    Who knows what will turn out to be a loved MVP and what will mostly live on a hangar. I will watch this thread.
    Your top is fab. It is similar to a sale rack top I bought in a tomato red and black plaid. It is not in my 30x30 but should be ideal for warm late summer/early autumn days. Now I can't wait to wear it.

  • Ryce replied 3 years ago

    Hands down, my white jeans.  They were actually in my holding zone, because I didn't like the fit last year, but for some reason this year they seem to fit like they were tailored for me.  No idea why - the post-menopausal body is a strange beast!
    I started wearing them again in January for a trip to warmer climes, and due to some very strange weather this year, have just kept wearing them from then until now.  

  • Suz replied 3 years ago

    Ryce, isn't that weird about fit? I've had exactly the same experience with some items. You look amazing in your white jeans. 

    Joy, those jeans sound perfect. I don't know why it is, but somehow when the MVP is a bargain it feels especially wonderful! 

    Summer, I mourn your cardigan with you. I had to pass on my light grey long cardigan this year and am hoping I'll get a replacement. 

    Lisa, the weather has been awful here for the most part, too, although the last few days have been an improvement. 

    Xtbay, those Uniglo pieces sound wonderful. Uniglo has been a great place for essentials for quite a few of us; I wish I lived closer to one (they don't deliver in Canada). But even my few visits have netted a few gems. 

    Joyce, thank you! These are the Rayners. I really love them! 

  • The Cat replied 3 years ago

    Your gingham blouse looks great, Suz, and thanks for inspirational styling.

    My surprising summer MVP is a big, loose, fingertip long cotton shirt. It is embroidered, white on white. Extremely comfortable, but looks elegant worn over practically anything. I got it a couple of years ago, from a friend who thought it was too big for her. It wrinkles little and dries quickly. I could LIVE in that shirt all summer.

  • Emily K replied 3 years ago

    Darn--this is going to be a frustrating thread as, almost by definition, these favorite items will be long out-of-stock :-(  Wishing I'd find a shirt that is as great for me as yours has been for you.  :-)  You look fab in every photo.

  • tulle replied 3 years ago

    Good question . . . Last year I bought a Kain top on sale online that functions very much like your gingham voile.  Mine is made of off-white cotton gauze, with pale gray watercolor brushstrokes across the front.  It's slightly cropped, boxy, with short, loose sleeves.  Something about the lightness of the fabric makes it oddly flattering, and naturally very cool and comfortable to wear in hot weather.  It works well with this year's cropped wide pants and last year's gray jeans.  It can be washed in a hotel sink at night and be ready to wear the next day, and like your fav, it folds up like an airmail letter.  I haven't been able to find another like it, so I may need to buy some cotton gauze and sew some replacements before I wear this one out!

  • Style Fan replied 3 years ago

    That is a great top Suz.  I can see why it is a MVP.  We had our gas fireplace on this afternoon during lunch so I am still waiting for summer.  It is the end of June!
    I have worn my Sanctuary Peace Trooper pants quite a lot since I bought them earlier this month.  I had a pair of plain green ones a few years ago and wore them constantly but they went missing.  I do not know how that happened.  I expect they will be a MVP this summer.

  • Suz replied 3 years ago

    Style Fan, those look wonderful on you!! And let us hope that warmer weather is on its way. We have only had a few hot days so far...

    Tulle, I love the sounds of that top of yours! Beautiful colours...

    EmilyK, yes, that is a pain, isn't it. But maybe analyzing what makes something works will help us find another similar item. I can't promise it. Sometimes it seems to work for me and sometimes it doesn't. 

    TheCat, your blouse sounds dreamy! Kind of like the epitome of summer in a shirt...

  • merwoman replied 3 years ago

    What a brilliant purchase....if only we could predict all our star players!
    Hands down, my favourite item is the Ted Baker bag, worn (or carried) non stop. Runners up include Cole Haan oxfords ( so comfy, and go with everything), black BR blouse from a few years ago and surprising purchase is the blue denim top from Gap. I don't wear it like it's pictured, instead preferring a semi tuck, or no tuck at all over workout gear.
    I'm sure there are mvps in my closet just waiting for warm weather to arrive!

  • Runcarla replied 3 years ago

    That top is a slam dunk with the crops in your first picture! Love it!

    It has been so rainy that I am wearing mostly dark bottoms (that don't show splashes as much.) With Arctic A/C at work and on the train, a 3rd item is de rigeur no matter the outside temps. The Zara jacket bought last summer as an emotional purchase has turned into a workhorse. It provides some warmth when my environment turns cold, yet it goes with black, blush, and white. I reach for it all the time. It has garnered compliments EVERY day that I have worn it.

  • Suz replied 3 years ago

    Carla, I absolutely love it when a statement item bought on a whim (and at a bargain) turns out to be so useful. I got a shrunken knit fuchsia jacket several years ago at H&M that filled the same function -- I had my doubts about it, but it turned out to be fantastic. I wore it out pretty fast, alas...but it definitely earned its keep in the closet. 

    Another MVP for me is a scarf I bought out of need in Stratford one year. It was around this time and unseasonably cold -- I had not packed for the weather we got and ran into a store to buy a scarf to carry me over the next few days. It has turned out to be a fantastic summer companion. 

    Merwoman, that bag is a bit like Carla's jacket -- a real statement that somehow goes with almost everything. I love patterned footwear so why not a patterned bag? Great idea. 

  • Sal replied 3 years ago

    A "surprising workhorse" for me was some black floral shorts.  I had been "off" shorts for a couple of years and then once I started wearing these I was wearing shorts most of the summer (and added two new pairs).

    I added a couple of "expected workhorses" too, but that is a different category again.

    Love the blue and white gingham shirt Suz, it is a very versatile piece, and the construction and fabric must be good quality as well.

    Here is the link to the shorts.

  • replied 3 years ago

    I am so impressed with *merwoman's* ted baker bag.

    Suz, you look Marvy in your gingham. I would love some sort of small check like that.

    My surprising MVP has been my trench coat. I wear it at least twice a week.

  • shevia replied 3 years ago

    Interesting question! First of all I love that top on you - and it couldn't be more trendy right now! I think a pair of khaki green Current/Eliot aviator pants from a few years ago but newly acquired by me and a pair of Shoemaker (Israeli brand) slides are getting the most wear so far.

  • Ledonna N. replied 3 years ago

    Loved the responses and topic. My most mvp. These denim Drop crotch overalls. I've had then for 3 years and I Love them. They were Fashioner just for me. They have seen me through pregancy and are a fash breeze. I love them

  • JAileen replied 3 years ago

    My mvp has been this ultra light backpack from REI. I bought it this spring on impulse, and use it all the time. It was terrific on our drive to Minnesota, I use it when I walk the dogs, and I used it this weekend when we went to Pt Reyes Nat'l Seashore. We walked down to the lighthouse and back up all 308 steps. While I needed a warm jacket going down because of the cold and fog, I didn't need it going back up and just stuffed it in the backpack, so I didn't have to carry it.

  • Greyscale replied 3 years ago

    It's not exactly a surprise, but the cotton cardigan I bought from the Gap last month has been in constant use. It turns out it goes with almost everything I wear and is the perfect weight for my freezing office. I knew I needed to fill that niche, but I wasn't sure this cardigan would be The One. It is, and I'm considering duplicating. (Someone did mention that hers pilled and got fuzz on her shirts, so caveat emptor.)

  • Bijou replied 3 years ago

    My MVP is my white boots. Bought on a whim, having seen how great Angie's were and they seemed to give an instant refresh to everything that I wear them with. I wear them with jeans, dresses and skirts and am pretty sure that they would be cute with shorts too. Because I live in a temperate climate, they work year round too. The crazy thing is I was hesitating on buying them at the time being unsure whether I could make them work!

  • lindalu replied 3 years ago

    My unexpected MVP is a pair of Birkenstocks!  I had always shied away from the brand for some reason... I guess I thought they looked clunky on the foot.  Anyway, after watching a Birkenstock segment on the shopping channel and seeing all the lovely styles and colours, I decided to try a pair.  I bought a pair of the Gizeh-style in metallic bronze.  They are fabulous and I wear them everywhere!  They seem to go with everything and are so comfortable!  Picked them up at a shoe store in the mall.  Highly recommend. 

  • skylurker replied 3 years ago

    I only wish I could predict which items would prove really useful.
    You look great in the blouse. You don't often wear v-necks, do you? But this v-neck looks real good on you.

  • Elizabeth P replied 3 years ago

    Not even close to knowing what I'll be gravitating towards this summer...  :(.  I'll respond in a month.

  • Suz replied 3 years ago

    Elizabeth, I know -- the weather! 

    Isabel, thank you. You are right I don't often wear Vs. I love them, though. The thing is -- like Angie (and maybe you, too?) I have to ensure they are moderate Vs -- narrow (as this one is, since it's essentially a shirt style without the collar, fitted enough on the shoulder, or not too wide and deep. Otherwise they shift around too much or I can't "fill them out." It's a shame, because I agree with you that the V shape is very flattering to me. It's one reason I like shirt collars -- the shirt can be opened to a narrow V. 

    Lindalu, I could have also posted my Fitflops -- similar to Birkenstocks. I bought them last year to help me deal with plantar fasciitis and now wear them every day for months at a time. 

    Bijou, those booties look amazing on you. And I am chuckling...my own white booties got exactly 3 wears last season!! Silly me. It is not that I don't like them -- I love them! But our climate gives them such a short season. When will I learn? 

    Greyscale, you and I have a thing for batwings. I wonder why? Are they especially flattering for a wider shoulder/ smaller busted frame? Or perhaps it is the comfort? I don't know, but I do know I love them on you! Smart purchase. 

    JAileen, there you go, proving the value of a printed bag yet again! It probably works because it's practical, not too big, adds interest to your outfit, and feels lightweight. 

    Ledonna, those overalls look fab on you. And they provide a canvas for anything you can add. Great look. 

    Shevia, thanks -- and those items sound very "you." Re slides...I am always sliding out of them, but I love the look...

    Smittie, I know!! Trench weather right into summer, who'd have thought it...and the. rain!!! 

    Sally, you look fantastic in those shorts! Love them. I do love a printed bottom. 

  • Sisi replied 3 years ago

    No wonder that blouse is an MVP as you call it: it has a lot of precious qualities and you look fab in it !

    Some years ago I bought a cobalt gauzy cardi  without being particularly  enthusiastic about it, I just thought "This thingie could be useful in some way".  Well, much to my suprise it became one of my best workhorses ever. Nice color, right weight, looked casual/chic, went with everything, could be worn ironed or wrinkled and often received compliments.

    You pose an interesting question Suz, how can we identify these precious pieces at the moment of the purchase? I have not found the solution yet. I have often thought to dedicate a post to this question.

  • Penny replied 3 years ago

    This simple navy jersey dress has been a staple on weekends - I've worn it to cookouts, on strolls, to brunches, and just about everywhere. Classic, elegant, and easily styled with dressy or casual accessories.

  • Column replied 3 years ago

    Love the shirt and your styling, Suz. On the how to predict question:

    Pattern: I think a piece is more versatile when it picks up more than one color (unless we intentionally want to cut ourselves in half, which some people can do!)

    Color: I think it helps when the colors in the pattern are our staples, and we know we have several coordinating pieces (in your case, bottoms) that go with (in your case, navy and white)

    Vertical Proportion: The shorter length is a clue for us short-legged gals that our vertical proportion will be right

    Horizontal Proportion: Checks and strips on top are clues to help balance us curvy-bottomed gals

    Fabric/cut: Not my expertise, except to say that I pick washable fabrics.

    For dresses, I take notes from Penny, above: If it's a solid color, wide or V-neckline, sheath silhouette with tapered skirt or flare bottom that collapses back on the body--or straight shift (not flared)-- I know it's a good candidate.

    My pieces that meet the above descriptions are MVPs!

  • Suz replied 3 years ago

    Column, what a great analysis! We should start a separate thread for that. I know we've discussed it over the years but I still find myself endlessly surprised at what pieces end up being winners. This helps. 

    Penny, that dress looks really versatile!

    Sisi, I think cardigans can often become MVPs because they are a "third piece" for outfits and also help us deal with air conditioning or cool breezes and can be easily stuffed in a bag, unlike a jacket. 

  • replied 3 years ago

    Coming back to add my answer here :  a denim dress.  I have 4 different ones - differing weights, shades, shapes, and they are the answer to quick hot weather dressing .  I NEVER feel underdressed for work in one, it goes straight from work to cocktails with a friend, it is always comfortable and never requires fussing, and covers all assorted and unwanted body transformations.  One or two pieces of statement jewellery (needed to offset the visual weight of denim) , some heeled sandals, and I'm done.  And the best part? I do not see myself coming and going with every woman around me wearing one ........which is odd.....;)  

  • Suz replied 3 years ago

    OOoh. Lisa, do you have finds or links for some of your dresses? I know I have seen a few of them on you and love them. I think it's something I really need to add to my closet in a dark wash. I have a light chambray shirtdress and it has been a staple the last three summers, but I find that the light chambray is not as flattering to me as a darker wash is now and I would like an upgrade. Do your dresses have tencel in them, too? That would help with drape...

  • replied 3 years ago

    Suz - I have one new one this summer - find below, which is tencel , yes.  The others are all from BR,UO,  or Joe Fresh, believe it or not, and aren't new.    Joe Fresh always seems to have an easy denim dress in their summer stock, and for $40 or $50 - such an easy buy.  The last JF dress was tencel too, now that I think about it. Cap cuffed sleeves, shirt dress style, and I cut the belt loops off and wear it straight.  The other find is one from UO - actually I  think I'll wear that one today !

  • Angie replied 3 years ago

    I LOVE that gingham blouse on you, Suz. Gorgeous in every way. How wonderful when a wardrobe item can surprise us like that. Do you wish you had it in other colours? 

  • Suz replied 3 years ago

    Angie, good question. The answer is no. I might wear a solid colour blouse in this same shape or one with a different pattern, but I would't want another gingham. The blue and white is what makes it so versatile for me, plus I tend to prefer gingham in blue or black and white (and sometimes pink or purple). 

    LisaP, thank you -- those are great dresses. I will be on the lookout! 

  • Christina F. replied 3 years ago

    I tried these on a whim, and they fit like short culottes (so they look a bit like a skirt). I didn't expect to love them, but I did.

  • texstyle replied 3 years ago

    I have so many MVPs for summer, it's hard to choose but I'd have to say my Everlane cotton v-neck tees and Madewell Whisper Cotton tees have been going strong for the past couple of years. They wear well, wash well and work for summers when sometimes I am known to go through three different ones in a single day!  I own multiples in navy and white.

  • JuniperGreen replied 3 years ago

    Definitely my white jeans - a Loft purchase I bought at the end of last season.  I was too timid to wear them last year (don't know why!) but they are a twice weekly staple now. 

  • Glory replied 3 years ago

    Ha first I wanted to see my fleece topper because it feels like we have barely had a warm day!
    However it is a pair of black stretch capris purchased at costco two summers ago. I have been stuck in athletic wear since my ACL surgery 8 weeks ago! Who could have known all this black stretchy wear would come in so handy. LOL

  • Dana replied 3 years ago


    You are crazy cute in every one of those outfits!! Plus you have an adorable hair cut and smile! 

    I haven't had them very long yet and haven't styled them with more than 1 top, but I am in LOVE with cropped, black joggers from White House Black Market! I am so late to the Athleisure party, and I'd resisted the joggers b/c I can't wear heels well, except lately it's been easier (heels.) I tried the joggers on for the heck of it, and now you can barely get them off of me! 

  • Greyscale replied 3 years ago

    Suz, I think you're right that the batwing or dolman tops work particularly well on our wider shoulders and slight frames. Shoulder fit is often hard on me but that style always drapes well. I also need generous sleeves for my upper arms. Definitely my go-to silhouette.

  • Angie replied 3 years ago

    Good strategy. Some things simply look best in very specific colours and patterns. 

  • Lisa replied 3 years ago

    What a fun and versatile top!  For me it would be white jeans.  I sport mine as much as I can because they dress up and down so easily in the summer months.

  • cindysmith replied 3 years ago

    My drop crotch cut-off-sweatpants shorts from H&M divided grey line. I bought them because they have a very gothic street ninja vibe to them & I wanted to try the trend. They have become heavy hitters in my summer rotation because they're long enough for my taste, the drop crotch keeps me from having a bunch of sweaty fabric bunching up in my crotch (sorry for the mental image that probably gives), and they're black so they don't show fruit stains at work. They're mostly cotton, so they breathe well. They're h&m divided grey, which means they're a bit worn looking (I do love me some post-apocalyptic chic LOL), which means that any small damage I do to them kind of looks intentional or just blends in. For h&m clothing, they've held up surprisingly well to some major abuse in the laundry cycle when I've needed to get them washed and dried quickly.

    My doo.ri tank top (find) was such a workhorse that I wore it to death--faded, small holes... I got lucky and found a replacement in the same size and color at yoox and snagged it up so I could put it into rotation this summer. It's currently being held in reserve because it's not yet hot enough for me to break out my tank tops yet for anything but yard work (I try and save that for July-september when it's stupid hot in excess of 100F).

    And lastly, my black Naya sandals (find). So easy--just poke my foot in and go. Arch support like whoa! I would never have expected to like them as much as I do, and they were worth every moment I spent searching for some weird sandals to buy because I didn't want a flip-flop or gladiator or anything, I wanted something a bit different and these reminded me a bit of UnaUna's 'fin' miles from last year that sold out before I could snag a pair.

  • Carole replied 3 years ago

    Oh, Im in love with that blouse, Suz! I can see why it's an MVP!

    I don't know how to answer the question because it seems like summer just start d around here and I'm at a loss but I love reading absolutely it everyone else's favorites!

  • Staysfit replied 3 years ago

    Nice blouse Suz! My MVP is a newish DVF wrap dress. It seems to work well for travel and for the strange weather we have had so far this summer. It can be worn with pants or with a cotton tank dress underneath. It has the most repeat wears so far of anything in my wardrobe.

    Here is a link for it since I don't have a pic in my finds.


    A close second is this linen blend dress by Karen Kane. I wear this one with pants also, although it is long enough to wear on it's own.

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