It’s the best time of the year! I love Summer so much and it’s one of my favorite seasons to get dressed for because it’s so easy. You just throw over a cute dress, sandals and you are good to go. But I understand that sometimes it can be challenging to create cute looks, especially if you have a million options. Yes, you heard that right. I believe that the more things you have to wear, the harder it is to get dressed. Trust me, I’ve been there. That’s why today I’m sharing all my best tips and step by step on how to build a Summer capsule wardrobe with just 25 pieces and showing you over 80 Summer looks!
I started living with less about 4 years ago. Last year we took it even further. We sold everything we owned and started living in Airbnbs full time. We are crazy I know. But I love it. It’s one of the best decisions we’ve ever made for ourselves.
I thought I was going to miss having a bunch of outfit options, but I don’t miss it at all. It’s very easy to get dressed every day. Right now we are in Florida. We’ve been moving around Florida since February, so I’ve been testing out all these Summer pieces for months and I was so happy I was able to narrow them down to 25. But first, here are some tips to do a little closet clean up while you are planning your Summer capsule wardrobe.
Are you ready to learn how to create your own Summer Capsule wardrobe? Lets do this!
No time? No problem! Go straight to what you are looking for:
- Planning a Summer capsule wardrobe? Start here
- How to create a capsule wardrobe for Summer with 25 pieces
- Tops needed to build a Summer capsule wardrobe: (includes outfit ideas)
- Bottoms needed to build a Summer capsule wardrobe: (includes outfit ideas)
- Dresses needed to build a Summer Capsule wardrobe: (includes outfit ideas)
- Shoes needed to build a Summer Capsule wardrobe:
- Summer capsule wardrobe checklist
- Final thoughts
- Related capsule wardrobe posts
Estimated reading time: 35 minutes
Planning a capsule wardrobe? Start here.
First of all, please don’t go out and buy anything unless you really need to. The best advice I can give you is to please go through your closet, see which pieces you have from this list and then see if you need anything ok?
If you have a big closet, I think you’ll be able to find most of these pieces in there. That’s what I hope. That you’ll be able to build your Summer capsule wardrobe without spending a dime! Although, if you do need to shop for anything, I’m recommending some brands below.
I don’t want to go in depth in here on how to clean up your closet, because I already wrote about it here. BUT, here are some general things to keep in mind:
- Take out everything you have in your closet and organize things in piles. (all tops together, all jeans together, all shorts, etc). Do that for every piece.
- Then narrow down even further. All T-shirts together, all cardigans, all button down shirts, etc. Get as specific as you can. This is a great way to really visualize what you have of each piece. You’ll probably realize here that you have 30 t-shirts or 6 little black dresses LOL.
- Now it’s time to get picky! Go through each and see if they fit right, if the pieces are good quality, check for stains and how the fabric looks like, etc. Get rid of the things that don’t pass the test!
Those 3 steps are a good start! As I said before, I wrote in depth about this subject here. If you are cleaning your closet, make sure to check it out because it will help you clean your closet and only keep things that you use and can style in many different ways.
How to create a capsule wardrobe for Summer – 25 pieces you need
Ok, let’s do this! I personally think you will be very comfortable creating many looks with 25 pieces and this includes shoes too! I’m going to provide outfit ideas for each piece. Just keep in mind that these photos were taken over the past 5 years. So, if you see 5 different shorts, it doesn’t mean I have 5 shorts right now. it’s just to give you an idea ok? so bare with me. These looks are just for inspiration. I’ll do my best to repeat a lot of the same pieces though.
Remember that once you build an essential capsule wardrobe per season with 15-25 pieces each, you’ll be able to mix and match certain pieces too. For example, my Spanx leggings are part of my Fall, Winter and Spring capsule wardrobe, so sometimes I wear them in the Summer too. This also applies to shorts which are part of my Summer capsule wardrobe, but I wear them with tights during Fall. I think you get the point ;) But please, if you have any specific questions, don’t hesitate to ask in the comments below! Basically, each season has it’s own capsule wardrobe and all of those together form a minimalistic wardrobe.
Here’s what you’ll need:
Tops needed to build a Summer Capsule Wardrobe
- 3 plain t-shirts
- 2 button down shirts
- 1 denim jacket
- 1 long cardigan
- 1 long vest
- 1 cami (printed one)
- 1 going out top
*Some of these pieces can be replaced every Summer.
PS: Get creative with other things too! For example, I styled my pajamas as daywear and created 7 looks! Think outside the box and really pay attention to the things you already have and if you can style them differently.
Three (3) plain t-shirts:
I suggest a white one, a striped one and a black, grey or green one. If you usually dress with pops of color, then instead of a black one, get any color you’d like or a graphic one. BUT, the white one and the striped one are non-negotiable in my humble opinion.
Here you’ll have the option to get a V-neck or a crewneck, either works. There are a lot of cute ones with sleeve details, which are fine too, just keep in mind those a little bit harder to layer because if you add a sweater over it, you’ll be able to see the sleeves in most cases.
The brand I recommend for T-shirts is called American Giant. They have great quality basics!
- Here you have 4 examples on how to wear a white t-shirt for Summer. Notice that you can layer them underneath a dress, throw a denim jacket over it, wear it with a white button down shirt above or simply pair them with cute pants and accessorize them:
I wrote a blog post on how to wear a white t-shirt where I shared 40 ways to style it if you want more outfit inspiration.
- The other basic T-shirt I recommend having is a striped one. I always have a black and white striped t-shirt because they are a great option to mix with a lot of pieces whenever your white t-shirt is dirty LOL. Here are some looks: (cute option here)
- The third t-shirt you’ll need to build your Summer capsule wardrobe, I’ll leave it up to you! I’ve had grey, green, light pink, camo, graphics, etc. Pick whatever color you want as your 3rd one. You can browse some options here.
Two (2) button down shirts:
I suggest a chambray one and a white linen one. I don’t work in an office, so I don’t feel the need to have more than 2. To me, they are as important as t-shirts. I wrote a whole separate post on how to style a button down shirt, but for now just remember: you can tie them around your waist, wear them open with a cami underneath, roll up the sleeves, or just as a button up.
- Here are some looks with a white button down shirt: (Link to the one I’m wearing here. It’s my favorite brand!)
- And some looks with a chambray button down shirt:
One (1) denim jacket:
Denim jackets are a must for all year round! I’m sure you already know that. I’ve had a denim jacket for over 10 years and I still use it. They never go out of style and to me, they are like an accessory almost. Here you have 10 Summer looks:
You can pretty much add a denim jacket over any outfit! Here’s a cute light washed option and a cute medium wash option. (I personally don’t think the dark washed denim jacket is as versatile as the other 2).
Also read: 70+ outfits with a jean jacket for every season
One (1) long cardigan:
I incorporated long cardigans into my wardrobe 3 years ago. I will have them for the rest of my life! They are almost as good as a denim jacket, and you car wear them all year round! I include 1 lightweight long cardigan to my Summer capsule wardrobe and 2 chunky ones for the rest of the year. Here are some looks and ways you can wear your long cardigan during Summer:
You can wear them over shorts, skirts, dresses or jeans. Just use it as an extra layer for those cold Summer nights when you still want to wear shorts but need something warmer for the top ;)
I also wrote a blog post on how to wear a long cardigan where I share 35 looks for every season. Maybe it’ll help you see how versatile these actually are.
One (1) long vest:
Long vests are kind of new to my wardrobe. You don’t see them often in stores, but I love them because they add something extra to any basic look. They can be styled with jeans, for the office, over shorts, skirts or dresses. I have loved having a green one, because I don’t have a lot of green things and it seems like a good color to pair with other neutrals. Here are 3 looks: (all styled with t-shirts)
This is also a great piece for the office. Check out more outfit ideas for the office here.
One (1) cami:
Camis are so comfortable and easy to layer. If you are cleaning your closet and find a lot of camis that you like, then maybe keep 2-3. I’m ok with just one. This is one piece I replace every year, that’s why you’ll see different versions of it below.
As you can see, I gravitate towards white ones, but you can choose whatever color or print you prefer. I think the white ones and striped ones are the most versatile, but I also had a lot of fun with the pink one. Right now I have 1 white one and 1 pink one.
I love these 3 brands to shop for cute camis (if you click on them it will take you directly to that section fo their website):
One (1) going out top:
I rarely have going out tops. I always seem to manage with dresses or a skirt and a t-shirt styled with cool accessories. However, I don’t go out more than once a week, so I don’t know if not having a going out top works for everyone, so that’s why I included it here. I’ve only had one LOL. Here’s how I styled it for my birthday a couple of years ago:
You don’t have to have one if you are like me. Here are other going out outfit options with other pieces included in this Summer capsule wardrobe:
- A t-shirt and a short, or jeans with heels. Add a cool pair of earrings and you are good to go.
- Any dress styled with heels or espadrilles.
- A cami, denim jacket paired with any bottom piece and heels.
- A skirt with any top, sandals and fun accessories.
- A jumpsuit
Bottoms needed to build a Summer Capsule Wardrobe
- 2 pair of shorts
- 1 mini/shorter skirt
- 1 midi OR maxi skirt
- 1 pair white jeans or pants
- 1 pair of Jeans
- 1 pair of chic/comfy pants
*Some of these pieces can be replaced every couple of Summers.
Two (2) pair of shorts:
I’m not big on shorts, but I know I’m strange. Truth is, I have a lot of cellulite and I just don’t feel confident wearing shorts (I’m working on it). However, shorts are super important for a Summer capsule wardrobe. I would recommend having one pair of denim shorts and another neutral color or printed ones. It depends on your style. Here are some looks with these green ones:
Pro-tip: If you are a little bit insecure like me and are still working on feeling better about yourself, one way to wear shorts in a modest way is to add a long cardigan or even better, a button down dress! Just pay attention to that last look above ;) It’s a button down dress that doesn’t fit styled as a cover up.
Here are other options for shorts. I did wear a lot of them when I was skinnier a couple of years ago.. then COVID-19 happened LOL.
One (1) mini skirt:
Skirts are more my thing. I have to contain myself when it comes to skirts. I could easily have 10 different skirts in all lenghts, forms, styles and shapes. But no, currently I only have one short one. I’ve had many over the years though, but really if you chose a black one or a denim one, you don’t need more than one. I promise.
Here are some ways to style a mini skirt with some of the basic pieces I mentioned above:
One (1) midi or maxi skirt:
Also an area where I really have to contain myself. I love midi skirts AND maxi skirts, so it’s really hard for me to choose one or the other. You would most likely have at least one of each because I also recommend them for a Fall and Spring capsule wardrobe. The green one is my favorite midi skirt: (I’ve had it for 6+ years and I use it all year round!)
You can also consider those high-low skirts. I like them a lot. I’ve had the floral one picture above for 4+ years now!
PS: I wrote a blog post about how to wear a midi skirt with 20+ midi skirt outfit ideas in case you are interested in more looks!
One (1) pair of white jeans or white pants:
Jeans or pants? it’s up to you! I personally don’t wear a lot of white jeans because of the cellulite problem I mentioned above, however I tried a pair of wide leg white pants and I absolutely love them. They are definitely more breathable and comfortable than jeans.
Also, feel free to replace white with beige. Similar white pants here.
One (1) good pair of jeans:
I rarely wear jeans! I’m more of a black skinny jeans kind of gal, but it is nice to have a pair of NON SKINNY jeans for Summer. That’s why I still recommend them. I mean, they are so easy to style. Here are 4 looks with jeans I’ve had over the past 5 years. Right now I only have one pair and I still rarely wear them, but they are good to have because you can wear them all year round.
One (1) pair of chic/comfy pants:
Comfy pants are my favorite and this time of the year they come in so many fun prints and colors! I think comfy pants are the reason why I don’t wear jeans that often. Right now I have 2. One is part of my Summer capsule wardrobe and the other one is part of my Spring capsule wardrobe, here are some looks and different styles for you to consider:
if you want, you could have two of these instead of jeans. Just saying!
Dresses needed to build a Summer Capsule Wardrobe
- 1 black dress
- 1 printed dress
- 1 other color of your choice
- 1 jumpsuit
- 1 beach cover-up
*Some of these pieces can be replaced every Summer.
Pro-tip: remember you can make dresses double as skirts if you layer them with a button shirt, top or sweater!
Make sure the dresses you get are different from each other in a way. For example, get a short one, a maxi one and a midi one. Or short sleeves and sleeveless. Mix them up and you’ll be able to create a lot of looks that are different from each other.
One (1) black dress:
I hope I don’t need to convince you on why you need a black dress as part of your Summer capsule wardrobe! you will use this closet staple for ever and most likely all year round. I dedicated a whole blog post to how to style a black dress and provide you with a bunch of outfit options there, so make sure to check out that post too. A button down black dress is a good option to create Summer looks because you can wear it as a cover up and as a dress like I did here:
Check out this post for more black dress outfit options and how to style them.
One (1) printed dress:
For this piece, just pick whatever print/color you prefer. I personally like midi dresses because they transition very well for Fall. Although if you have a shorter dress, you can also style it with tights and booties. So, just pick whichever style you like better. Dresses are a great way to easily create cute Summer looks.
One (1) other dress (color/print of your choice):
Again, choose whatever you want depending on your style and lifestyle. Dresses are my weakness, but I’ve gotten so much better at it. These 3 are some of my favorite ones: (I styled the pink one in 3 other ways here)
One (1) jumpsuit:
I have a love/hate relationship with jumpsuits and if you have ever owned one, then you know why! You basically have to get naked every time you need to use the bathroom, and that’s not exactly convenient. HOWEVER, I love jumpsuits and I do wear mine pretty often. I love them so much that I have one already packed for my trip around the world!
Treat jumpsuits as dresses. Get creative and play with accessories and layer them. Maybe when you feel super cute with your new jumpsuit, you’ll forget how annoying it is to go to the bathroom LOL.
PS: I dedicated an entire blog post on how to wear a jumpsuit. It includes outfit ideas for each season and a lot of styling tips and advice on how to pick the right jumpsuit for you. Make sure to check it out!
One (1) beach cover-up:
I debated internally whether or not to add a coverup here, but it just happens that the one I have right now it’s too good not to share! It’s basically a dress and it’s so chic. The fabric is super soft and it doesn’t wrinkle. Although, it’s see through, so don’t actually wear it as a dress LOL. I wear it for the beach or as an extra layer over any Summer look like I did here:
Shoes needed to build a Summer Capsule Wardrobe
- White sneakers
- Slide sandals
- Espadrilles or sandals (neutral color)
*Some of these pieces can be replaced every Summer. I usually replace the flat sandals because they look very worn out after each Summer and that’s ok.
There’s only one brand of white sneakers that’s top of my list! They are sustainable, comfortable and not crazy expensive. It’s a Brazilian brand called Cariuma. You can walk in these shoes for MILES! This is the brand I’m taking with me on our trip around the world and so is my husband, so that’s when you know it’s real. Check them out here.
Here are some white sneaker Summer looks:
You can pretty much wear them with anything! It’s so easy to create multiple Summer looks with white sneakers.
*The Cariuma’s are not the ones in the photos, because these photos are old and I’m not kidding about my bag being packed already. I decided to pack them and stop using them (I just kept wearing the old ones) so I didn’t have to buy new ones and save some $.
PS: I also wrote about how to wear white sneakers and I’m sharing 60+ looks for every season!
Slide Sandals (or flat sandals):
These type of sandals I have to buy every Summer because I really wear them out. And that’s ok, that’s how it’s supposed to be honestly. They don’t have to be slide sandals, just pick a pair that you like and make sure they are comfy. Here are some options:
I didn’t include any looks because I’m wearing them a lot in all the other photos. The colors I recommend are: beige, nude, brown, navy, green or black. Just keep them neutral. In my experience the ones I’ve gotten the most out of are light brown.
Espadrilles, wedges or heels (whichever fits your style better):
In here, also choose one. These will be like your going out shoes for the Summer. Pick a neutral color and make sure they are comfortable. Maybe something with a block heel or wedge. Here are some options for each:
Espadrilles for Summer:
Wedges for Summer:
Block heels for Summer:
Summer Capsule Wardrobe checklist (25 pieces)
|Plain T-shirts (I suggest: white, striped and 1 color of your choice)||3|
|Button down shirts (I suggest: white and chambray)||2|
|Sleeveless cami (casual)||1|
|Going out top of your choice||1|
|Midi or maxi skirt||1|
|Other dress of your choice||1|
|Espadrilles or heels (neutral)||1|
Of course you can complement this list with accessories like a cute bag, a hat, tassel earrings, etc. Adding accessories will help you create even more Summer looks and it will upgrade any outfit. Use this post as a guide to clean up your closet a little bit this Summer and try doing this every season. I’m working on capsule wardrobe posts for each season, so stay tuned for those.
If you want more tips on how to clean up your closet, what questions to ask yourself, how to decide if something is a keeper or not, check out this post. I wrote a very detailed step by step on how to do just that.
I hope you feel inspired to live with less. You know that saying that goes: ‘the more you want the less you have’? It’s true. Living a simple life with less frees up so much space off your brain. Believe it or not, all the things we own take a bunch of space from our minds, including what’s in our closets. By living with less you will also be able to save money and time. No more wasting time shopping and meaningless online browsing.
You’ll be able to save money for important things like experiences and traveling or buying that dream house or securing a nice retirement. You can use your time to read more, think about your purpose and what you want to do with your life. No more scrolling through Instagram and following 500 different influencers and wanting every piece they post about. I’m perfectly aware I’m part of them, but I really do try not to shop often and to show you how to style the things you already have in your closet. That’s why I preach on building a minimalist capsule wardrobe for each season.
Anyways, those were some random thoughts about being a minimalist little by little and living with less. Let me know what you think in the comments below and if you have any questions. I’m here to help!
Liked this post about how to create a Summer capsule wardrobe? Please pin it!
Other capsule wardrobe related posts:
- Capsule wardrobe VS minimalistic wardrobe – Which one is for you?
- How to create a capsule wardrobe for travel – European Summer 2021 Edition
- How to build your own capsule wardrobe for Fall
- Ethical clothing brands shopping guide
- How to wear a long cardigan
- How to style a black dress
- How to wear a white t-shirt (40 looks)
- How to style a white shirt
- Outfit ideas for Spring
- How to style pajamas as daywear
- On the hunt for leather leggings for Fall? Read this Spanx Leggings Review first before you spend a dime (Spanxs are a part of all my other capsule wardrobes)
- Wondering if I should add a white blazer to this capsule wardrobe. You let me know! Check out these 10 white blazer outfits. Maybe for a Spring Capsule? This is the piece of clothing I didn’t know I needed!