The summer has so many occasions to dress up for: the interview for a job you're not going to get, the wedding of the first person you ever had sex with, the funeral for your cat who died of heatstroke, etc. But even casual occasions require a little bit of style and polish. If you're spending an aimless few months, weeks or even days bumming around at home, you might get so bored you'll feel like chopping your own head off. To fill the void where your sense of purpose used to be, here are a few simple but put-together outfit ideas so you'll be dressed to kill time.
To roll out of bed, look in the mirror and become reacquainted with how much you hate your face, there's no better outfit than an old T-shirt from soccer camp and a pair of off-brand bike shorts you wore in high school gym class. Sticky and sweaty, you can now mechanically head to the kitchen in style to scarf down three PB&J sandwiches.
When you realize it's 1:45pm and decide to get dressed, throw on a casual, yet stylish ensemble of board shorts, a skull T-shirt and Vans for an effortlessly elegant Lords of Dogtown vibe, except somehow you look nowhere near as cool as Tony Alva, the movie's resident Mr. Steal Yo' Girl.
You are now perfectly attired to go shopping, so drag your sorry ass over to H&M! Everything is ugly at H&M, so it's probably by virtue of some dark magic of the store itself that you, too, are always ugly at H&M. Maybe it's the mirrors in the dressing rooms that magnify all the hairs and pores you never wanted to know you had.
After spending too long trying on heartbreakingly tiny Swedish sizes, cop a basic T-shirt for $8 and then head home to continue hating yourself for the rest of the day. Stay up until 2am even though all you want is for this day to end so another day can begin, not because tomorrow will be any better, but because you haven't yet wasted all its possibilities. To take your outfit from day to night, just take your shirt and socks off and collapse into a blissfully dreamless sleep where you don't have to think about what you're doing with your life.
To pull off even the shortest shorts with confidence, here's a styling tip I bet you didn't know: just don't look at your legs. You'll feel much better about yourself. Now that you're rocking those tighty whities, you're perfectly equipped to click around Twitter to keep up with your three best friends, who are spending the summer in desolate locations including, but not limited to: Tajikistan, a rural town in the Pacific Northwest and New Jersey. While you're there, you can live vicariously through Twitpics of the cushy offices of various prestigious publications where they all have summer internships.
To make a trip down the street to the bodega for a beer and a donut, pair espadrilles with cream and red pinstriped lounge pants. They're not sweatpants if they're linen, cost $400,and make you look like Jimmy Stewart in Rear Window. Except they kind of are sweatpants if you don't wear underwear, curl up on your couch while wearing them and live a life that's almost as immobile as that of Jimmy Stewart in Rear Window (minus Grace Kelly or any physical resemblance between you and a dashing leading man).
Go check your mail because you have nothing better to do. Wedged between the pages of a Victoria's Secret catalog is your summons to jury duty. As you try to decipher it, in an effort to figure out what steps you need to take to perform this adult task, you get more and more frustrated at the vague phrasing, fine print and hypotheticals that you finally rip it up, throw the pieces in the trash, slam the lid shut and also slam the windows shut for good measure too. This brief fit of anger leaves you empty and shocked and just as aimless as before.
If your alarm was set to go off at 8am, or maybe you just intended to set it, but you wake up bright and early at noon, just put on a T-shirt with the sleeves cut off and the armholes way too low. This athletic-inspired style will give you unrivaled mobility to move from the microwave where you're nuking some leftovers, to the couch to swipe through old classmates' uploads from Governors Ball, to the coffeemaker to fix yourself your eleventh iced coffee, though somehow you still don't even have enough energy to go outside.
Instead, try to acquire some culture and do some summer reading like you're supposed to. Skim a few pages of the part in The Stranger where the main character lies around, stays in bed smoking cigarettes until noon and then stands by his window all day watching happy, excited people walk down the street. Get bored and queasy and drink more coffee. Marathon a comedy series on Netflix, so you can watch funny, successful people deliver the perfect joke with perfect timing every single time. Isn't it soothing to look at something being done entirely, flawlessly right?
When it's time to go to bed, tired from not doing anything, treat yourself and wear your nice Hanes boxers that your grandma gave you for your birthday. They're the perfect wardrobe staple to lie awake in bed and wonder whether, if you died in your sleep that very night, you would have accomplished anything that matters.
If you're going to get out of bed, get dressed and then lie back down and stare helplessly at the ceiling for three hours, pair an extra-long T-shirt with a pair of printed silk pants you got in your senior year of college when your life felt full of possibilities. Accessorize with your phone so you can text friends who you know are in town, but don't particularly like to ask them whether they are doing "anything cool 2day." To add your own personal flourish, text a highbrow joke about The Stranger or some other work of European art to your ex, the one you're friendly with, but are still always trying to impress with your wit in every conversation. You know, the one you can't think too much about without getting upset.
You've just remembered one of your friends was having people over for dinner and lives an hour away? No problem! Channel Frank Ocean in a patterned short-sleeve button up, jeans and some fly kicks. If the sky darkens and the wind starts to swish in the trees, top off your look with a military jacket. When you hop off the train and get to your friend's place twenty minutes late (you had to switch lines twice), you feel overdressed and too sober, so just undo a few buttons of your shirt to be totally suave. To give off the illusion that you're really deep and have a lot going on, be sure to spend forty-five minutes telling your hot former classmate all about your existential malaise—about how you were just looking up at the empty sky and contemplating all the empty years stretching out before you. It'll really complete your brooding, complex vibe.
But the number one style tip of the summer? Just be yourself, man. So what if you're single, funemployed (except no, you’re just unemployed) and lonely? Nothing matters anyway, so you might as well excel at the one thing you can control and be impeccably dressed.
Emily Lever is a French-American writer who wishes she led a life of adventure. You can follow her on Twitter here.