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How to Build a Summer Capsule Wardrobe


Sarah Barthet


Do you often find yourself standing in front of your wardrobe wondering what to wear for the day? Are you conscious about frivolous spending on clothes that do not match with anything else you own? Are you environmentally conscious about the world of fast fashion and want to make some changes to your shopping habits? Or perhaps you want to invest in a few key high quality pieces but just don’t know what? You’ve come to the right place. A summer capsule wardrobe is going to be the answer to each of these questions.

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What is a Summer Capsule Wardrobe?

The concept of a summer capsule wardrobe is pretty simple. A capsule wardrobe is just a fancy way of describing a limited number of clothing items, shoes and accessories that you love to wear, and that can be mixed and matched to create a multitude of looks for different occasions. The idea is that these items are then exclusively used as your complete wardrobe. Capsule wardrobes typically change from season to season, but if done correctly, some pieces could easily cross-over to transitional seasons like your autumn (fall) capsule and spring capsule.

If you’re wondering who needs a summer capsule wardrobe anyway, the answer is pretty much anyone!

To the woman who stands in front of her wardrobe everyday and feels as though she always wears the same thing or just cannot find something to wear, having a winter or summer capsule wardrobe will put an end to all of it. Knowing that you have curated a wardrobe of 25 to 30 versatile pieces that work well with each other and the can be worn on different occasions will save so much time in the morning. You’ll find that the ordeal of getting dressed becomes so much easier.

To the woman who freely spends money on clothes that get lost at the back of the wardrobe and only re-emerge months later with the tag still on – a capsule wardrobe is for you. Investing in high quality pieces that you know you will wear again and again means that there is less frivolous spending, and that the garments that you do buy will earn their keep in your closet. Instead, the money that you’ll save on your wardrobe can be spent on other little pleasures such as great skincare, travelling more or that bottle of luxury boutique perfume you have been eyeing up for months.

For the environmentally-conscious woman that is against fast fashion and wants to make changes to her shopping habits – a summer capsule wardrobe is for you too! Selecting just 25 to 30 summer staples that are higher quality and made with better materials may cost a little more, but they will live a much longer life. You’re also more likely to wear these pieces for longer before putting them into retirement.

How to Build a Summer Capsule Wardrobe

At this point, you might already be sold on the idea of creating your own summer capsule wardrobe (or are at least thinking about it?). The next question is, where to start?!

The Summer Capsule Wardrobe Requirements

The truth is that there are absolutely no rules for putting together your summer capsule wardrobe, but these are some of the things you might want to consider. Select garments and accessories that:

  • Are Timeless: If you are going to be investing in garments sold at a higher price point, you want to make sure that they last longer than a mere few months. Some absolute classics, like a clean white linen shirt dress, are not going to go out of style in two to three years. That neon green tank top however, may be out of style as soon as next year! Invest in pieces that can create classy and sophisticated outfits that won’t need an update in a few short months.
  • You Love: Probably the most important of the five! It goes without saying that you need to love the pieces that form your summer capsule wardrobe, so that you’ll be sure to style each piece with care, whilst looking and feeling your best.
  • Are Excellent Quality: This ties back to the point on fast fashion. Items that are bought from fast fashion retail outlets may be low cost, but they are more often than not low quality and will not last to the following season. Typically, these also tend to be trend-led pieces which may not stand the test of time that a capsule wardrobe demands.
  • Are Comfortable: They have to be comfortable! To put together a collection that you’ll want to use throughout a summer (and possibly a few more!) you’re going to want to make sure that they are comfortable for whatever occasion you are wearing them for, whether that’s a casual brunch with friends, date night, or Zoom calls with colleagues.
  • Fit You Well: Last but not least, ensure that whatever you are buying will fit your shape like a glove!

Form the Basis for Your Summer Capsule Wardrobe

Before heading to the shops to pick out your brand new summer wardrobe, the very first step is to go through your current one. Have a look through every garment that you already own and set aside those items that you no longer need, like or wear. These can either be donated to charity, or sold on platforms like Vestiaire Collective or Depop. Clear out the old and make space for the new.

This leaves you with another pile of all the items you love and continue to wear frequently. Split this pile into further sections according to the season. Depending on the country you live in, you might want to set aside your winter coats, scarves and thick woolly jumpers for when you organise your winter capsule at a later date.

At this point, you should now be left with a pile of summer clothing that will form the basis of your summer capsule wardrobe! The next step is to think about what is missing from that collection to curate your summer style for the year!

How Many Items of Clothing are Necessary for a Capsule Wardrobe?

The concept of a capsule wardrobe is very much a personal thing and as said previously – there are no hard and fast rules. Think of them more like suggestions. When London boutique owner Susie Faux first came up with the term in the 1970’s, her goal was to streamline women’s style and their wardrobes. Her idea of a ‘capsule wardrobe’ comprised of essential timeless pieces that could last for years, but that could be mixed and matched well and shaken up by adding some seasonal accents like jewellery. She insists that both cut and cloth are worth paying for, and tailoring to get the perfect fit is critical.

In the 40 years since Susie initially thought of it, the concept has evolved. Donna Karan even released her own capsule collection in 1985. People have adapted the guidelines to suit modern life, leaving us with a pretty blank canvas.

Generally, capsule wardrobes should comprise of around 25 to 30 items, however this could vary depending on lifestyle and budget. In recent years, the idea of Project 333 was also created – a minimalist fashion challenge that involves only wearing 33 items of clothing for the next 3 months. In our view, there is no right answer. Follow your own muse and choose a number that works best for you!

Summer Capsule Wardrobe

What are the Essentials in a Summer Capsule Wardrobe?

The essentials of a summer capsule wardrobe very much depend on the wearer’s lifestyle and the most important elements of it. Someone who works from home will have a very different summer capsule wardrobe to someone who works in a corporate role (who might find a professional capsule wardrobe more useful).

If we were to follow the recommendation of the brains behind the initial capsule wardrobe, Susie Faux suggests two or three white shirts, a belt and bag, shoes, trousers or shorts (depending on your location) and a dress tailored to just below the knee. In terms of colours, black and neutral tones are great for a capsule wardrobe as they match with pretty much everything. Classic cuts are also ideal as they play off the criteria of being a timeless piece that you may even be able to wear for decades to come.

Our Summer 2020 Capsule Wardrobe

Here at Dukes Avenue, we’ve taken the time to put together our ideal summer capsule wardrobe comprising of 30 items, and created five separate outfits, including one for the office, date night, an outdoor activity with friends such as a barbecue or brunch party, a girls’ night out and a final one for shopping or running errands.

Summer Capsule Wardrobe

The Summer Capsule Wardrobe Breakdown

The Dukes Avenue Summer Capsule Wardrobe for 2020 offers a mix of classic pieces that can be worn for many different occasions. Pieces which may be slightly higher priced, but are high quality items that will remain wearable for years to come. The colours are mostly kept neutral, and can be paired together to create outfits for both work during the week, as well as for some weekend fun. The clothing is made with light-weight and breathable such as linen and cotton, to make sure that they are suitable for the weather.

For anyone looking to create their own mood board like this at home, Pinterest is an excellent source of inspiration!

For the Office

For Date Night

Summer Capsule Wardrobe

For a Barbecue or Brunch Party

Summer Capsule Wardrobe

For a Girls’ Night Out

Summer Capsule Wardrobe

For Shopping or Running Errands

Summer Capsule Wardrobe

Do you have a summer capsule wardrobe? Let us know your favourite looks by tagging us @dukes_avenue on Instagram!



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