As I was gazing into my closet the other day, dreaming about the changing season and warmer temperatures, I thought how wonderful it would be to wiggle my nose and poof! A perfectly curated summer capsule wardrobe would appear.
No…nothing happened with the wiggle of the nose. But it got me to thinking about what I might have in my current wardrobe that could become a part of this seasonal group of clothes and accessories. So I decided to create my ultimate summer capsule wardrobe, on paper anyway. It’s a great start to a plan that just might come to fruition over time.
Who created the concept of a capsule wardrobe? A woman by the name of Susie Faux coined the term in the 1970s. She was frustrated with the lack of well-made clothing available at the time. The capsule wardrobe was catapulted into the limelight in 1985 when ‘Seven Easy Pieces’ were introduced by designer Donna Karan.
When you think about it, unless you’re a fashionista who must absolutely have the latest, greatest fashion trends hanging on your closet, a small collection of timeless, interchangeable pieces could serve many of us very well.
How many pieces should a capsule wardrobe include? If you do some research on the subject you’ll find a variety of recommendations, from as little as 10 pieces (what??) to about 50 pieces. Ultimately, it’s up to you.
And, in this instance, we’re creating a seasonal summer capsule wardrobe, so if you live in a climate that includes a colder weather season, this won’t be your complete wardrobe.
That’s how I approached this project, as I currently live in a 4-season climate. I wanted enough variety to cover all of the potential opportunities to dress in more than yoga pants and a workout top (my typical in-the-office by myself wardrobe choice).
Ultimately, my ideal summer capsule wardrobe includes 20 pieces:
- 1 pair of linen pants
- 1 pair of jeans
- 1 pair of shorts
- 1 pair of jean shorts
- 1 skort
- 1 dress
- 2 tank tops
- 2 t-shirt tops
- 3 tops
- 2 sweaters
- 1 jacket
- 4 pairs of shoes
A capsule wardrobe is based on personal preference, personal style, and lifestyle, so my choices wouldn’t necessarily be 100% workable for you. But, you can see the pieces, get a feel for the logic behind the selections, and also see a number of styled outfits that are possible as a result of the selections.
A Casual Summer Capsule Wardrobe
So, let’s take this casual summer capsule wardrobe and put it to the test. How versatile will it be when putting outfits together? My style of living, and dressing, is quite casual, so when I’m going to put a look together it will most likely be for entertaining family and friends at my home, heading out to do a little shopping, going to church, maybe out for a meal.
How did I do with my outfit styles? Well, I could have put about 100 combinations together, so that tells me that my selections were good as far as mixing and matching of the tops, bottoms, and shoes. That’s what you’re looking to accomplish with a summer capsule wardrobe, or any type of capsule wardrobe.
If there is a piece in the collection that never seems to work, it might not belong. Fortunately, I didn’t encounter that problem with this collection.
You’ll notice that some pieces I used more than once, to show the flexibility of the individual pieces. I also included some basic jewelry and accessories to show how to simply and easily complete an outfit. Again, they are versatile and functional in a number of different ways.
First, here is an overview of the pieces in my summer capsule wardrobe by type:
Being a casual type girl, I always want a pair of jeans and denim shorts in my wardrobe. The navy linen slacks are perfect for a little bit dressier occasion, and the longer length navy shorts will always come in handy.
I love the idea of a skort, and this is where I’m comfortable wearing white as the bottom piece of an outfit. With my midlife body shape, white pants is not a choice I’d typically make. But the skort? Yep. It’s comfortable and offers a summery look that is still flattering.
It’s easy to get carried away with tops, so I tried to include the pieces that I knew would be worn, based on my lifestyle. I always want a tank top or two, for layering purposes when I’m out and about. A white short sleeve top is a wardrobe staple, and the rose linen is a pretty color to add to an overall neutral summer capsule wardrobe.
One bright floral keeps things interesting, a blue/white narrow stripe top is always a good choice to create a classic look, and the the wide-sleeve linen top is comfy yet stylish.
Staying true to the theme of classic navy and white, the sweaters and jacket are versatile options that suit my lifestyle.
In the warmer months a simple cardigan works really well for me, and can be dressed up if needed, or not. Either way, it offers additional coverage for the body shape, some function, and completes the layered style.
If I have just one dress to choose, this will be it. Simple, classic lines, about knee-length, sleeveless to allow for the warm days, with the option of either sweater to finish the outfit and take the chill off. Perfect!
My goal was to find a maximum of 4 pairs of shoes that would offer the versatility to complete any outfit combination in my summer capsule wardrobe.
As I was creating my unique outfits, they did not disappoint!
I always have to have some sneakers, and these espadrille sneakers from Target were the perfect choice. Then, two pairs of slip on sandals that can go with virtually any outfit combination + a cute pair of ballet flats complete the ‘shoe capsule’.
#1 Navy & Marigold with Dragonfly Accents
Navy wide-leg high-waist linen pants are a wardrobe staple that offer such flexibility in warmer weather. The bright marigold tank provides the vibrance, and the dragonfly earrings plus cat eye sunglasses add the fun.
And, how cool is this open-front sweater-blazer? Longer length, cotton blend that can work in just about any weather, with bracelet length sleeves and patch pockets.
#2 Classic Denim & White
I don’t know about your summer capsule wardrobe, girlfriend, but mine will always include a comfy pair of jeans. That’s part of my personal style. The white wide-sleeve t-shirt can be worn on the outside or tucked in, and I love the funky, colorful beaded bangle earrings. Simple ballet flats and a denim jacket to handle a cooler evening are all that is needed.
#3 Casually Stylish for Day Into Night
When I spotted this jewel neck, sleeveless, knee-length draped dress, I knew it was ‘the one’ for the capsule wardrobe. Why? Well, it looks awesome just as is, it can be dressed up if desired, or kept casual as in this look. Perfect for afternoon lunch, an outdoor dining experience, a simple gathering, or a shopping excursion.
The straw tote, colorful beaded earrings, and clear strappy sandal are fun finishes to the look.
#4 Fun with Navy & White
It’s sort of a preppy look, isn’t it? The white skort, navy and white boatneck top, and sweater blazer are a wonderful combination of style and comfort.
Skorts are great…the look of a skirt with the comfort of shorts. Works for me!
#5 Afternoon Excursion with a Pop of Color
We’re keeping it casual with the look, using jean shorts, sneakers, and a white 3/4 sleeve open cardigan. Then, pop! The vibrant garden print top adds the surprise, and can work well on cooler weather days (or when the a/c is cranked down and it’s freezing inside!).
I could wear this outfit all day and all evening, and be nice and comfy.
#6 Denim with a Twist
Denim takes a little twist with blue on blue and a statement necklace. The seaport blue tank is a beautiful rich color that balances well with the statement necklace and blue hoop earrings.
Any of the shoes would work. I chose the espadrille sneakers for this outfit.
#7 Soft & Subtle Style
Classic yet casual, the weathered rose linen top adds soft color to the otherwise white collection from the capsule wardrobe. For me, it would be a great choice when I have just a wee bit of color from the sun.
Having a 3/4 length cardigan is almost always on my ‘must-have’ list. Not too heavy, but just enough to ward of the chill of evening air or the over enthusiastic air conditioner.
Another outfit that can be worn comfortably from morning ’til night.
#8 Sporty Look in Shorts
Longer length navy linen-blend shorts are the foundation of this sporty, casual outfit. A white round neck t-shirt is always a flexible option. The sweater blazer adds just the right amount of layering.
And, the accessories add some additional style and fun.
Is a Summer Capsule Wardrobe Right for You?
So, you’ve seen how my curated summer capsule wardrobe can work. It’s classic, understated, neutral, and always flexible for my lifestyle.
Think about how you live, where you go, how style and fashion play into your life, whether you enjoy shopping for clothes (or not), your overall budget, how often you like to switch out your clothes and outfits, and how satisfied you might be wearing the same group of clothes for a period of time.
A capsule wardrobe isn’t for everyone, but it sure has some benefits for those who are willing to give it a try!
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