As the temperature rises and the days grow longer, it’s time to revamp your wardrobe for the summer season. Creating a functional and stylish summer capsule wardrobe is all about selecting versatile pieces that can be mixed and matched to create numerous outfits while keeping you cool and comfortable in the sweltering heat.
Whether you’re heading to the beach, going on a vacation, or simply enjoying the rooftop drinks at your local bar, having a well-curated summer capsule wardrobe will ensure you’re always ready for any occasion.
In this guide, we share our favorite summer essentials that we keep reaching for year after year, which we think you should add to your summer wardrobe, too.
If you are familiar with the concept of capsule wardrobes, you know that it’s good practice to buy most items in your wardrobe in a neutral color palette to maximize the number of outfit combinations that you can create. To get the most use out of your items, opt for neutral colors that you wear often and that complement your skin tone. For example, if you are cool-toned, opt for cool beige hues instead of warm tan, and for navy blue instead of black if you have very light features.
Also, don’t be afraid of injecting some color into your wardrobe, especially if you love wearing color. After all, the idea of a capsule wardrobe is to create a curated collection of summer staples that you absolutely love. We highly encourage you to add at least one or two tank tops or dresses in your favorite colors to your summer wardrobe to customize our summer capsule to your personal taste.
Now, with this said, let’s jump right into the wardrobe items that we think you should absolutely consider adding to your own summer capsule wardrobe.
Our Summer Capsule Wardrobe Picks
Neutral Tank Tops
Good basics will always be the foundation of a great summer capsule wardrobe, and tank tops in classic cuts are the perfect place to start. We’ve picked 3 colors that will look good in anyone’s wardrobe; white, black and a beige/tan top (depending on your skin tone). These colors work with a multitude of outfits and can be combined with any pieces of clothing you see in our featured capsule image above.
However, life can be a little boring without color, so if you want, you can add 1-2 additional colors in your favorite summer shades (for us, that would be pale blue and artichoke green). You may also want to add a cropped version of a neutral tank to your capsule – bralettes ad crop tops look incredibly chic when worn with a blazer and wide-leg pants.
Neutral Tanks We Love
A high-quality button-down shirt is a year-round staple, and when summer rolls around, it becomes even more versatile. Not only can you pair your light blue and white shirts with any bottoms from a pair of shorts to jeans for a classic look, but you can also wear them as beach cover-ups.
White Shirts We Love
Flowy Wide-Leg Pants
Flowy wide-leg trousers made from natural or semi-natural materials have become our all-time favorite summer pieces (particularly these ones from Reformation – the petite version works well if you plan on wearing them with flats, just size up from your regular size). They are so easy to pair with other basic wardrobe pieces, but somehow, the result is always elegant.
Wear them with your favorite tan tops and accessorize with your favorite designer belt and sunglasses for added glam.
You can also top off this look with an oversized blazer for an added touch of sophistication. Another look that we’re particularly fond of is the bralette + blazer combo with these wide-leg trousers – so chic!
Wide Leg Pants We Love
We are huge fans of tailored shorts that give your look a more polished appearance. Look for shorts in natural materials to survive the hot weather better; again, we are huge fans of Reformation’s shorts – these ones, in particular, are incredibly flattering (and constantly out of stock in certain sizes).
Tailored Shorts We Love
You can’t beat a good pair of denim shorts for those days that you want to dress more casually. We especially love the look of distressed shorts dressed up with accessories like a chic designer bag and sandals.
Opt for denim colors that you usually gravitate towards, whether those are light-wash, white, true blue, or dark-wash shorts.
Denim Shorts We Love
Neutral Oversized Blazers
Oversized blazers are seasonless pieces that can instantly elevate an outfit, no matter how casual the rest of your look is. You can wear them with anything from floral dresses to denim shorts and cocktail party outfits, and they’ll never look out of place.
While we favor lighter blazer colors for the summer season, you can also opt to add a chic black blazer to your outfit if you own a lot of black clothing. Of course, it’s best not to wear black in the heat of the day – you’ll want to reserve this blazer for evenings.
If you plan on wearing your blazer during the daytime in the summer heat, it’s best to opt for breathable natural fibers like linen, or semi-breathable materials like rayon, polyamide and polyester blends, which tend to have a smarter look.
Neutral Blazers We Love
Summer nights call for warmer pieces, and there’s nothing quite like a timeless striped sweater to achieve a trendy French girl-inspired look. You can also use this piece as a daytime accessory, slinging it over your shoulders and tying it at the front, as has become trendy in recent seasons.
Look for sweaters in natural fabrics like cotton and lightweight wool – unlike synthetic materials, they will actually help you keep cool.
Striped Sweaters We Love
It’s always a good idea to have a few different summer dresses in your capsule wardrobe since they are so fuss-free to style. We recommend adding one white sundress to your wardrobe and one feminine sundress in a color that you love to wear – be that light blue, floral or something else.
Sundresses We Love
It’s also a good idea to add a long midi or maxi dress to your collection that is more figure-hugging than your other dresses. You can style it up or down, depending on where you’re going; wear it with a pair of dad sandals for casual errands, or dress it up with strappy heels for fancier occasions.
Tank Dresses We Love
Your Favorite Jeans
A good pair of denim jeans should never leave your wardrobe, no matter the season. For summer, we prefer light-wash jeans with a straight-leg, but you can also opt for a pair of white jeans or trusty blue jeans in a baggy cut, if that fits your personal style better.
Jeans We Love
Neutral Everyday Designer Bags
Designer bags are what you need to transform your outfit from “meh” to “wow” in an instant. We recommend having one black bag and one beige/tan bag to match all of the different outfits that you create with this capsule wardrobe guide. You don’t need any more colors than that!
Of course, classic, timeless bags like the Chanel Flap Bag will always be among our top recommendations, but cheaper brands like Saint Laurent, Celine, Gucci and Prada also have some fantastic options.
Everyday Designer Bags We Love
If you’re going to spend a lot of time on the beach or by the pool, you need to get a Raffia tote bag. These chic beach bags fit everything you could possibly want to carry, from laptops to an extra pair of shoes. They also make for cute summertime travel bags in and out of the airport.
Beach Totes We Love
Sunglasses are an absolute must – not only do they provide protection, but they double up as a fashionable accessory. We love a good pair of Celine sunglasses, but many other brands also offer interesting designs that fit different face types – a few of our favorites are below.
Sunglasses We Love
Much like sunglasses, a designer belt is a rather inexpensive way to elevate your entire look. Celine’s Triomphe belt has been the most popular accessory in our recent memory, but it’s not the only designer belt worth checking out – a few timeless options are below.
Designer Belts We Love
From beach slides to dad sandals, a chic pair of flat sandals is the ultimate summer shoe that can be worn anywhere from sandy beaches to the city streets. Invest in a good-quality pair in a neutral tone to make sure your flats retain a timeless appeal.
Flat Leather Sandals We Love
Summertime is the peak of events, ranging from garden parties to beach BBQs to rooftop cocktail parties and more. The easiest way to transform a casual outfit into a more dressy one is by changing your shoes, which is why we recommend having at least one dressy pair of shoes in your wardrobe, be that a pair of strappy sandals or espadrille wedges – or both!
Dressy Shoes We Love
White sneakers are a year-round wardrobe staple that always gets extra use in the summer in our editors’ wardrobes. They’re the perfect shoe to pack with you on holiday, especially if you’re going to be walking a lot and exploring different regions.
Despite being quite casual, they go with anything and everything in a capsule wardrobe, and they’re perfect for toning down certain wardrobe pieces like blazers for a more wearable everyday look.
White sneakers We Love
We hope you enjoyed this article about summer capsule wardrobe essentials and got plenty of outfit ideas to try while the warm weather lasts! As we already mentioned, make sure to tweak this list to your style, adding classic pieces in colors that work well with your skin tone and personal style.