As the years pass (somebody please give me a time machine back to the 80s 😉 ), fashion trends come and go faster than ever before.
But you can stay ahead of the curve: with this style guide, you’ll have a solid foundation of timeless pieces to build upon for any season or occasion.
In today’s post you’ll find:
- Choosing Your Favorites
- Determining Your Color Palette
- How Many Items Should You Have in a Capsule Wardrobe?
- Invest In Quality Pieces? And…
- How to Mix and Match
- How To Accessorize
- Pulling It All Together
So let’s jump in!
Summer Capsule Wardrobe: Your 2023 Style Guide
Now’s the time to start thinking about the clothes you enjoy wearing and what “staples” you’ll choose for your summer capsule wardrobe.
Choosing Your Favorites
Write down the summer pieces you feel great in:
- Are you a lightweight pencil pant/chino and cap sleeve top gal?
- Do you feel wonderful in maxi dresses and low heels?
- Are skirts and tanks your go-to?
- Capri’s and nice summer blouses?
- Love that Moroccan vibe in a flowing kaftan?
Once you determine the type of summer items you love wearing it’s easier to start the capsule wardrobe process.
If you’re still a bit stumped, here are some pieces you can start thinking about:
- A romper/jumpsuit: A romper or jumpsuit is a versatile item that can be dressed up or down. Pair it with some flat sandals and statement jewelry for a night out, or with sneakers and a denim jacket for a day out with friends.
- Lightweight Pant: Lightweight pants are a must-have for summer. Choose a pair of linen or cotton trousers in a neutral color and add some sandals and a loose, flowing blouse.
- Light Flowing Blouse: A light, flowing blouse can be dressed up for an evening out or dressed down for a day at the beach. Pair it with jeans, pencil pants, and sandals for a chic summer look.
- Maxi Dress: A maxi dress is perfect for hot summer days. Choose one in a lightweight fabric and you can easily dress it up with an updo and some statement jewelry, or dress it down with flats and a jean jacket.
- Skirt: A skirt’s a summer staple that can be worn for any occasion. Choose a flowy maxi skirt for a boho look, an A-line skirt for maximum flatter-ability*, or a fitted pencil skirt for work.
*not a real word- I made it up
By determining what you like and investing in those pieces, you’ll have options to wear everywhere, and you can mix and match them with items you already own.
The key is to choose pieces that flatter your body type, and that make you feel comfortable and confident no matter where you go.
Determining Your Color Palette
Traditional summer colors are usually bright and bold, such as coral, turquoise, and sunny yellow (their pastel counterparts are associated with spring).
These colors add a tropical, cheerful, festive vibe to your wardrobe, perfect for the warmer months.
Summer colors also include traditional hues like navy blues, whites, and reds- reminiscent of sailing, seashores, buoys, and harbors.
Having a mix of outfits that incorporate these summer colors is classic! But ultimately, it comes down to your preferences:
- What summer styles and colors do you love?
- What colors do you find yourself gravitating toward year after year?
Write down your favorite summer colors and looks as a base to start building your wardrobe.
And if you’re still not sure- choose shades that complement your skin tone, this will ensure your outfits always bring out the best in you.
Going With Your Color Palette
If you have warm skin tones, consider shades of peach, orange, and warm gold.
Warm skin tones include darker skin and skin with olive, bronze, and yellowish undertones. These colors will bring out the natural glow of your skin and give you a sun-kissed look.
If you have cool skin tones like whiter skin with blue undertones, opt for shades of blue, green, and purple. These colors will make your skin look refreshed and you’ll be able to mix and match different pieces in the same palette.
If you’re still unsure about which colors work best for you, try holding different shades of fabric up to your face and see which ones make your skin look brighter and more vibrant.
Alternatively, consult a color wheel for a more in-depth look at colors that are complementary to your skin tone.
And there are some universal summer shades that work well for all skin tones, such as white, ivory, and beige.
These neutral shades help to create a fresh, light look and can be paired easily with any other colors in your wardrobe.
Once you have your core color palette:
- Experiment with different patterns and textures, such as stripes, florals, or polka dots, that incorporate your chosen colors in creative ways.
- Incorporate some neutral colors, such as white, beige, or black, to balance your outfits and make them versatile.
- Choose colors that match the vibe you want to convey, such as playful, romantic, or edgy.
Now that you’ve determined the style and types of clothing items you like, and the color of summer clothes you loves best, it’s time to start building that wardrobe.
How Many Items Should You Have in a Capsule Wardrobe?
What are the basic starting points?
Generally, you’ll want to start with the basics, the following items are not included exclusively as part of your “capsule outfits.”
But they are a part of your annual summer capsule wardrobe, the difference being that these items don’t necessarily need to be changed or purchased often and are not a part of the full-day wear and tear, and should be stored away with your summer capsule wardrobe.
1.) Summer footwear- flip flops, flats, low-heel sandals, boat shoes, canvas shoes, espadrilles, wedges. The more types you have and wear, the less wear and tear on each set of shoes.
2.) Summer accessories- wide-brimmed hats, sunglasses, jewelry, belts, lightweight scarves, umbrella, parasols, gloves, purses, and totes.
3.) 1 formal blazer or vest- this is for the office and can be thrown over your summer outfits to help “formalize” them a bit- if needed. Likely it will be rarely worn but gently washed and hung dry.
4.) 1-2 summer exercise outfits– simply hand wash them often and hang dry as needed. The durable, strong material should last for many summers to come.
5.) 1-2 bathing suits– generally don’t have to be purchased new every year if you’re not an avid swimmer. Hand wash, hang dry.
6.) 1 bathing suit cover– again, can be kept for years because they’re so light, simple, and easy to care for. Hand wash, hang dry.
7.) 1-2 light cardigans or jean jackets- summer’s so mild that these items will be rarely used and will keep well for years. Hang dry.
8.) 2-4 summer sleepwear sets– wash gently, hang dry and wear only in the summer to preserve the longevity of the material.
Your capsule wardrobe items are as follows:
1.) 2-3 pants– chinos, paper bag, culotte, palazzo, jeans
2.) 2-4 shirts– boho, t-shirt, classic white, tank
3.) 1-2 skirts– A-line, jean, tulip, maxi
4.) 2-3 dresses– maxi, kaftan, house dress, sundress
5.) 1 romper or jumpsuit (optional- these are not for everyone)
- for spring, summer, and fall you can keep the same raincoat and a heavier coat handy
- slips can also be kept out year-round for all the season’s skirts and dresses.
- it’s also handy to keep one “dirty” outfit year-round, something for gardening, yard work, deep cleaning, or other utilitarian jobs.
- try to have at least one formal outfit (this can be included in your capsule or separate) year-round
Invest in Quality Pieces?
When selecting pieces to add to your wardrobe, look for natural fabrics such as cotton, linen, and silk, which breathe well and have a high-end feel.
These fabrics last longer, look better after many washes, and are more comfortable to wear.
Choose pieces that are easy to mix and match, so you can create multiple outfits from just a few key items, aim for classic silhouettes that never go out of style; when selecting base pieces, opt for neutral shades like black, white, beige, and navy.
Some summer examples of timeless pieces might include:
- a white button-down shirt,
- a navy blazer,
- a pair of beige chinos,
- and a khaki or jean skirt.
Because “fast fashion,” or trendy clothing isn’t made of the finest natural fabrics, it’s often looked down upon and considered “wasteful” or “throw-away” clothing, but it doesn’t have to be.
When you buy and take good care of synthetic clothing, it can last a long time.
- they’re a classic style and color (including prints and patterns- leopard skin anyone?!!!?)
- you follow the exact manufacturer guidelines for garment care (when in doubt, gently wash and hang dry)
- any sewing requirements are addressed fast: a popped button, seam, or tear
- they’re used only during that capsule’s season and stored away for the rest of the year
- it’s a block color that can be re-invigorated with machine-wash clothing dye (awesome tip-see below!!)
So YES, you can take the age-old rhetoric about buying only “quality pieces” with a grain of salt if you’re purchasing and taking proper care of synthetic seasonal clothing!!
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How To Mix and Match
Start by selecting a few key items that you love, such as a flowing skirt, a classic white shirt, a light cardigan, or a pair of palazzos.
Then, consider what other pieces in your wardrobe can complement those items.
- pair the flowy skirt or palazzos with a classy tank top and denim jacket for a casual daytime look.
- the white shirt can be dressed up with a statement necklace, high-waisted jeans, and some heeled sandals for an evening out.
- the cardigan can be worn over a maxi dress or with a pair of culottes for a breezy summer evening.
Play with colors, patterns, and textures- look for complementary shades among any patterns.
And try contrasting textures to add dimension to your outfit, like a flowy skirt with a structured blazer or a leather sandal with a linen blouse.
- Create balance with fitted and flowing items
- Dress up sleek and casually down
- Experiment! That’s where the fun lies
You should be able to wear these clothes to the beach, out to dinner, running errands, for weddings, and at work.
But How Do You Accessorize?
Here are some accessories to include in a summer wardrobe:
- Sunglasses: are a must-have accessory for summer. Not only do they protect your eyes from harmful UV rays, but they also add style. Choose a pair that flatters your face shape and matches your personality.
- Hats: are practical and stylish accessories that keep the sun out of your face and add an extra level of interest to your outfit. Popular options include fedoras or sun hats.
- Jewelry: is an easy and fun way to dress up any outfit. Hoop earrings, layered necklaces, and statement rings are popular choices.
- Scarves: are versatile accessories that can be worn draped over shoulders, tied around a bag, in your hair, and around your neck for a pop of color and pattern.
- Bags: Look for a cross-body bag or tote that is roomy enough to carry all of your essential items, such as a water bottle, sunscreen, sunglasses, and a book, but not too bulky or heavy.
- Belts: can add definition to your waistline and create a more polished look. Choose wide belts for casual-sophisticated and thinner belts for a simple work look.
By including these accessories in your summer wardrobe, you can add visual interest and variation to your outfits without having to buy new clothing.
Pulling It All Together
With these summer wardrobe staples and accessories, you’ll have everything you need to create stylish and versatile outfits for any occasion.
For more inspiration see these summer style blogs for specific items to purchase, and tips and tricks to help you make the most of your summer capsule wardrobe: