This post is all about curating the perfect summer capsule wardrobe for 2023 and beyond, using our step-by-step guide.
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 and new pieces 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.
- What is a Summer Capsule Wardrobe?
- How to Build a Summer Capsule Wardrobe
- Our Summer 2020 Capsule Wardrobe
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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 wardrobe.
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 her closet 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 or high quality white tee, 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 organize 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!
If you need further help in clearing out your closet, you might want to download our handy closet clear out flow chart!
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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 jewelry. 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!
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 colors, 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 2023 Capsule Wardrobe
Here at Dukes Avenue, we’ve taken the time to put together our ideal summer capsule wardrobe comprising of 30 items, each falling under one of 5 different categories:
- Shorts, skirts and trousers
- Shirts, tops and camisoles
- Dresses & Jumpsuits
- Cardigans and blazers
The Summer Capsule Wardrobe Breakdown
The Dukes Avenue summer capsule wardrobe for this year 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 colors 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 fabrics such as linen and cotton, to make sure that they are suitable for the weather.
Shorts, Skirts and Trousers
In fact, most of the garments selected are all pretty loose, with the exception of the white jeans. We figured that white jeans are a staple piece in any wardrobe and can be worn all year round, so an exception can be made here! If you’d prefer to avoid these too, swap them out for a smart pair of white cotton or linen pants for a similar look, leaving just a little more room for air to pass!
Next up are shorts – both linen shorts and denim shorts. Both are super items to own.
These gorgeous beige linen shorts from Piece of White are great for so many occasions, from running errands during the day to brunch dates or casual work environments. Pair them with anything from a plain tee and slides, or a paid of heeled sandals to an informal evening event. The cute self-tie belt adds a little something extra to the look too.
Apart from the linen shorts, it’s worth having a pair of denim shorts too. Slightly more casual, but equally versatile and comfortable. We love denim shorts with a white t-shirt or cardigan, white sneakers and a large shopping bag. Perfect for a busy woman on the go!
Next up are the skirts, starting with a dusty pink midi skirt from Zimmerman. Flared at the hem and made of rib knit metallic fabric, this skirt can be dressed up or dressed down. Pair with a simple cami and trainers or sides whilst on the go, or with heeled sandals and a form fitting bodysuit for a night out.
From a flared and flowy skirt to a more form fitting skirt, the Wolford black skirt is one of our favorites. This black skirt can be styled as a maxi dress, a midi dress or a mini dress, as well as a maxi skirt, midi skirt or mini skirt. It can also be worn as a sleeveless top. The possibilities with this garment are endless, and its versatility makes it an absolute must for any summer capsule wardrobe.
Last but definitely not least are these pink satin wide-leg palazzo pants by Alice + Olivia, complete with front pleats and side pockets. A little esoteric and not to everyone’s taste, but after all it’s summer, and every wardrobe could use a little splash of color.
Palazzo pants are perfect for warmer climates, and like many of the other items in our summer capsule wardrobe, can be styled up or down depending on the occasion. Even if pink isn’t the right color for you, a pair of palazzo pants are great to have in your wardrobe!
Shirts, Tops & Camisoles
Now that the bottoms are covered, it’s time to tackle the tops, and here we’ve featured some of our favorite shirts, tops and camisoles below.
This simple white lace racerback silk camisole by Zadig & Voltaire is high on our list in our summer capsule checklist. Why? Because it can be worn with practically every other piece on this list, whether that’s the blazers or cardigan and any of the shorts, skirts and pants. The beautiful lace detailing also makes it a little more interesting than a plain white camisole, making it equally as appropriate for more dressy events as it is for casual outfits.
Next are the bodysuits from Skims. We think that a summer capsule wardrobe should comprise at least one white, one nude and one black top that can be worn with multiple different pieces from your wardrobe.
Skims are just great for these kinds of pieces, so we’ve selected our favorites in both nude and black, but altered the neckline so that you can achieve different looks. The nude can be paired with a great pair of statement earrings, whereas the black square neckline would look fantastic with a striking necklace.
Of course, there had to be a classic white tee in the perfect summer capsule wardrobe. This one doesn’t even need an explanation – crisp, white, clean and versatile!
Next up are the shirts, including a classic white shirt (or blouse if you prefer) as well as a patterned shirt, ideally oversized. Both are versatile pieces that can be worn with each of the bottoms. If you’re in need of styling advice here, you might want to check out our article on How to Style an Oversized Shirt.
Dresses & Jumpsuits
A selection of comfortable dresses and jumpsuits for the warmer months – but always stylish!
First up on our selection of dresses and jumpsuits is the little black dress – perfect for afternoons and evenings alike. All you need to do is change up the accessories and swap from sneakers or slides to heels.
Aside from the little black mini, it’s worth having a longer dress in a different shade just for a little bit of variety. Once again, Skims delivers the goods with this brown, soft lounge sleeveless long dress. This is flattering for all body shapes and sizes, and super comfortable. Like many of the pieces in this capsule wardrobe, it can also be worn with heels or flats, and many of the blazers.
Next is the classic shirt dress. Not only does this work well for having something for smarter occasions, but also, can any summer capsule wardrobe really be complete without a white dress of some sort? This Daytripper Dress by Everlane ticks both of those boxes. Pair it with the belt of your choice or leave loose and flowing. It also works with heels or flats and matches each of the blazers!
The following two dresses inject a pop of color into any summer wardrobe. The first is a floral midi dress by Zimmerman, whilst the second is a baby pink mini dress from Polo Ralph Lauren (which also comes in black and white!). These dresses are great when you don’t feel like thinking about your outfit too hard and just want to throw something on that’s quick, easy and comfortable. Both match with sliders and white sneakers, and are ideal for shopping trips, days out, running errands or casual work environments.
Last but not least is the classic beige jumpsuit from Everlane. Again, this is something easy to throw on, can be dressed up or down, worn with heels or flats, for either day or night. Versatility was one of the main requirements for items that made the cut in this year’s summer capsule wardrobe.
Cardigans & Blazers
Before moving on to accessories, we’re capping off the last of the garments. The final layers of your ensemble before you begin to accessorize the outfit so to speak – the cardigans and blazers.
First up is a cropped tailored, double breasted blazer from A.L.C. Made with 67% linen and 33% cotton, this blazer is perfect to throw over your shoulders when going out on those cooler summer evenings or if heading somewhere more formal. Adding a blazer to an outfit can instantly elevate your look!
Aside from the double breasted beige option, it’s also worth having a looser tailored option for a more relaxed look. Available in the classic shade of navy, this timeless single breasted ruched-sleeved blazer from Cinq à Sept can work for both formal and informal events. It’s also great for those cooler evenings, or summer days when there is a bit more breeze. Navy is also one of those timeless colors that will never be out of style!
And of course, because it’s summer and light clothing is essential, a linen blazer just had to be included. This linen blend blazer in a beautiful shade of ivory caught our eye for its classically elegant pinstripe look. Perfect for so many different occasions and can be paired with multiple items from this capsule collection.
For more blazer styling ideas, be sure to check out our article on How to Style a Blazer.
Following on from the blazers and onto the more informal is the classic denim jacket, a key essential in any capsule wardrobe for its comfort and versatility.
A comfy white cardigan was added, because it’s good to have at least one cardigan for the summer season – something that’s light enough to be worn on its own, but also stylish enough to be thrown over a bodycon top as an additional layer of warmth.
Lastly, and again from Cinq à Sept, is this cute cropped tweed jacket that adds a little bit of color to a mostly neutral wardrobe. Picking out shades of black, red and ivory, the jacket offers a stylish short-sleeve silhouette made of a classic metallic tweed.
And finally, there are the accessories, featuring shoes, bags and a belt we absolutely adore.
Of course, a classic pair of white sneakers made from Birkenstock made the list, and these feature unusual cork detailing that we haven’t come across all that often in a sneaker!
Also included are some unique and interesting slides from Bottega Veneta, made from woven raffia. These are a real taking point!
A gorgeous pair of peep-toed heeled sandals by Gianvito Rossi are next, made with transparent straps and a metal sandal sole. The transparent straps make the shoe incredible versatile, and the metallic sole and stylish stiletto heel easily match any outfit.
On to bags, first up is the Saint Laurent medium Rive Gauche canvas tote, that’s roomy enough to carry all your belongings, but stylish enough to still look chic, even if filled full of grocery shopping! The bag features leather handles and a stitched logo.
For the more glamorous occasions is this exquisite Serpenti Forever Metallic Leather pochette bag. The detailing includes the captivating Serpenti snake closure embellished with enamel and malachite eyes. Such a standout piece that works perfectly for fancier events.
To cap it all off, a smart neutral belt to cinch in the waist (also from Saint Laurent) felt like a must-have!
Summer Outfit Ideas
Here are just a few examples that you can use as inspiration for different looks for different occasions. All can be created with this summer capsule wardrobe! all that’s added are some extra accessories like jewelry and sunglasses to complete the overall look. Feel free to make each of them your own!
Outfit Idea for Work
Outfit Idea for Shopping
Outfit Idea for a Brunch Party
Outfit Idea for Date Night
Outfit Idea for a Girl’s Night Out
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