The 10 Must-Have Essentials for a Conscious & Chic Summer

Are you ready for the heatwave? If your wardrobe needs a refresh and you need to up your style game this sunny season, we’ve got your covered with our 10 must-have essentials for a conscious and chic summer - and beyond. From airy dresses and statement earrings to upcycled classics, elevate your wardrobe with pieces that are stylish and sustainable, so you can make the most of those sun-drenched days ahead.

1. The elevated beach towel

The humble beach towel deserves our attention, particularly as the temperature rises. Whether you’re lounging poolside, heading to the beach or simply need some time outside, this unassuming accessory is actually the one we use the most and should be celebrated. This summer, it’s time to invest in one that’s gentle on you and the planet, and BANIA has you covered with their organic towels.

With their considered approach to design that is anchored in print and colour and their mindful attitude towards craftsmanship, BANIA elevates the everyday towel into a luxurious item that celebrates the ritual of bathing and drying off after a much-needed dip. Sustainability is a cornerstone of the brand; all their towels are made from GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) certified organic cotton that is produced in Portugal by one of Europe’s most established and progressive mills, which minimises excessive waste and is working towards a zero-waste circular economy. 

2. A roomy basket bag

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Laid-back summer days can’t be complete without the perfect carry-all and a roomy basket bag is top of our must-have list. With a minimal style that pairs perfectly with everything and maximum carrying capacity, you can fill this bag to the brim with all your favourite essentials, for every occasion.

Kayu is a Californian based ethical and sustainable accessories brand which creates beautiful natural basket bags that are handwoven by women cooperatives in the Philippines. Their aim is to help preserve and cultivate traditional loom and handweaving techniques and local craftsmanship in these communities through fair trade practices. Our pick this summer is the Behati tassel straw tote, a playful take on the classic basket bag, it is woven from seagrass and is decorated with contrasting thread and a removable tassel. Roomy enough to fit your towel when it comes to beach time or perfect for those days on the go, this versatile bag is guaranteed to be a chic summer essential.

3. Swimwear

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Whether you plan to be poolside, spend time by the beach or in your backyard, naturally, swimwear should be the first item on your must-have summer list. So, if you’re considering buying a new season style, the one-piece should be top of your list. Flattering for every body shape and size, with a leg-lengthening effect, the classic maillot is also designed to take you beyond the beach. This is the key to consuming less and buying better, finding styles that can multitask and be used in a variety of ways. The one-piece can easily transition into après-beach attire, style it like you would a bodysuit and pair it with jeans and strappy heels or be daring and wear it under a sheer wafty dress.

Here at Cura Swim we have you covered with the most sought-after and sustainable swimwear. This season look out for maillots that have interesting details like a belt to emphasise your waist like this one by RH Swimwear, a high-cut leg to draw attention and lengthen your gorgeous pins like this one by Second Swim or a style with a playful print to injection joy into every outfit like this on by Cleonie Swim.

4. The maxi dress

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While summer usually has us peeling off the layers and showing off just the right amount of skin, this season we’ll be covering up with the most coveted sartorial style, the maxi dress. It’s all about floor-grazing, feminine and flowing silhouettes for those carefree and laid-back summer days. Look for styles that have interesting details; an open back, a tie up front or statement sleeves to help balance the length of the dress and effortlessly take you from day to night. 

For a serious fashion statement, try bold prints or a voluminous shape for maximum twirl-ability, we love this one by transparent Parisian label Sézane that is beautifully billowy and breezy, and imbues effortless femininity with its poppy print, puffy sleeves and square neckline. Sézane is committed to becoming a fully sustainable brand and being transparent about their progress, they have even set up an internal ‘Green Team’ headed by a welfare and environmental expert and created a detailed microsite where you can follow their ethical and environmental commitments.

5. Statement pearl earrings

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Pearls have always been synonymous with classic and conservative style but they have made a triumphant resurgence, reimagined into bold and contemporary iterations for the discerningly stylish. This summer, statement pearl earrings will take centre stage, adding effortless elegance and elevating even the most casual of looks. From hoops strung with freshwater pearls to oversized pearls suspended from sculptural shapes, find pieces that celebrate the beauty of these natural gems and that are mindfully made.

We particularly love these statement baroque pearl earrings by sustainable British jewellery designer Alighieri, which has a strong focus on craftsmanship and supporting local manufacturing. Their designs are created using responsibly sourced materials including recycled bronze and are produced locally in Hatton Garden, London’s historic jewellery quarter, so when wearing these beauties, you can rest easy that they have been kind to the environment and the people who make them.

6. Luxurious sunscreen 

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Summer is all about being fresh-faced, salty and soaking up as much vitamin D as possible whilst being sun smart and staying protected. So, sunscreen should no longer just be a beach day consideration it should be part of your everyday beauty routine and thus it makes sense to use a lotion that is safe for you, the environment and leaves you with a gorgeous glow.

Soleil Toujours creates environmentally responsible and reef-safe sunscreen which is derived from natural ingredients and free from paraben and all other nasties, that gets a big tick from us! We’re particularly big fans of their 100% mineral sunscreen glow SPF 30, not only does it give you superior UV protection combining enriching anti-oxidants and anti-ageing actives, but it is also infused with a subtle tint giving you a luminous and dewy glow, making this one luxurious sunscreen. Soleil Toujours is also vegan, cruelty-free and offsets all their carbon emissions through Cool Effect, so now you can enjoy the sunshine knowing your skin and the environment is protected.

7. A wide brim straw hat

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For those long sunny days spent by the sea, you can’t go past an oversized or wide brim straw hat. This timeless must-have accessory will not only keep you cool and add another layer of protection against those harsh UV rays but is also a chic addition to all your warm-weather outfits. Currently, we are lusting over the summer seagrass straw hat by environmentally-conscious brand Will & Bear who create headwear with a difference.

Loosely handwoven with natural seagrass - one of the world’s best naturally-occurring carbon sequesters and featuring a wide brim, this sustainable sun hat will fast become an everyday summer staple that you will wear for every outing and for years to come. With the environment at the core of their business, Will & Bear only use 100% natural materials to craft their hats and through their partnership with Trees.org, they plant 10 trees for every hat sold. Currently, they are planting in Senegal, West Africa to revitalise the degraded land affected by deforestation.

8. Denim shorts

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Denim shorts in summer are a no brainer, they should be a staple in every wardrobe. They are the piece you go-to when you want to feel comfortable, effortlessly cool and what you grab when you don’t know what to wear. But denim is one of the most polluting and impactful materials, so if it’s time to replace your cut-offs, do so with some that are consciously made.

LA-based sustainable luxury denim brand RE/DONE is our go-to for responsibly crafted denim. A truly disruptive brand they source, hand-pick and hand-cut vintage Levi's, that would have otherwise ended up in landfill and repurpose them to create distinctly one of a kind denim pieces. Our summer pick is the high rise short, it features a flattering high waisted silhouette, a raw cut hem and has that lived-in wash that creates the perfect pair of denim shorts. All of their pieces are created in Downtown LA to stimulate the local community and are manufactured using water conservation methods with no harsh chemicals.

9. A classic pair of sunglasses

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If there is one accessory you should invest in, it has to be a pair of great quality classic sunglasses. An essential all-year-round but a must for summer, you want to rest easy that while you soak up the sun you are also protecting your eyes, look stylish and feel good about what you’ve bought. While it might be tempting to buy a cheap pair of trendy sunnies that will most likely end up in the bin by the end of the season, investing in a timeless design that will transcend trends and last you years if not decades, is the way to go.

 Melbourne brand Mari & Clay is the answer to eco-conscious eyewear, they create classic and minimalist sunglasses which are made from bio-acetate; a 100% biodegradable material which is just as durable and beautiful as traditional acetate but is gentler on the environment. We particularly love their Murray sunglasses in tortoiseshell, understated yet chic their square-shaped frame with rounded angles and spectacled amber hue gives them that vintage feel, that you’ll wear for years to come while their polarised lenses provide 100% UV protection.

 Sustainability is at the core of Mari & Clay, from the materials they use, the charities they support, their packaging to the product lifecycle, which is why they have developed their own sunglasses recycle program. So, when you no longer want or need your pair of Mari & Clay sunglasses, you can send them back and get a 15% discount to go towards a new pair. And for every pair sold one tree will be planted through their partnership with One Tree Planted, which will help go towards restoring the landscape in Australia following the devastating fires.

10. Lace-up sandals

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This summer’s go-to shoe is the slinky lace-up sandal; chic, understated and undeniably versatile, it will lengthen your legs and take you from the beach to bar in effortless style. Top of our list is Sydney-based sustainable footwear label Maria Farro who has perfected the art of easy footwear. The brand’s AELIA sandal is a refined take on the classic gladiator style which features a minimalist silhouette and delicate thin leather straps, so whether you wear them with denim shorts or a wafty dress, they are the perfect day to night sandal and will quickly become your quintessential summer style.

Maria Farro’s beautiful leather sandals are all handmade by artisans in Crete, Greece using chemical-free natural leather and ancient techniques local to the area. The brand is committed to supporting the local Crete community, maintaining the traditional and ancient craftsmanship and minimising their overall waste.