Putting Together a Summer Wardrobe Capsule: What to Wear This Season

Putting Together a Summer Wardrobe Capsule: What to Wear This Season

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Arlyn Hernandez
Jun 3, 2016

It’s strange for me to admit this out loud (or in writing), but I’m not big on summer. Sure, I love the carefree idea of the season, but having grown up in Florida where summer (read: blazing, unthinkable heat and humidity) is basically a constant, I think a part of me just kind of rebelled against it, particularly with my wardrobe. I was that girl in jeans and a long-sleeve shirt complete with cardigan in the middle of July, sweating miserably but refusing to throw on a sun dress. But I have decided, this is the year I let go and put on a tank top and shorts. Deep breaths, I know I can do this. As my first step (and after much research), I’ve put together my essential summer capsule wardrobe that I dream of myself wearing oh-so-casually for the next three months.

Before I get started, though, you might have some questions. What exactly is a capsule wardrobe? Well, technically, it’s a fancy term for a small, curated, highly edited collection of clothing that you wear over any given season. Much of it works together in harmony, which makes getting dressed in the morning far easier, and maybe even a little more fun. Apartment Therapy contributor Eleanor Büsing chronicled her capsule wardrobe maiden voyage this past winter in a three-part series (plus a spring update!).

Having followed Eleanor’s journey closely, I learned a thing or three about the benefits of the capsule, and am applying all my nuggets of knowledge into my version for summer. I thought it safe to stick to the formula she borrowed from Caroline Rector of the style blog Un-Fancy: 37 pieces consisting of about 15 tops, 9 bottoms, 2 dresses, 2 jackets/cardigans and 9 pairs of shoes. Accessories, workout clothes, swim suits and the likes are not included here, just as a heads-up.

IMHO, summer can be tricky, since weekend/vacation wear reigns supreme, but the office is still waiting for most of us Monday through Friday. I’ve taken that into consideration, and planned accordingly by splitting up the clothing tallies to account for work-appropriate and casual pieces.

Onward and upward! It’s time to slice and dice those 37 pieces into individual articles of clothing that you can use as inspiration when putting together your own personal summer capsule (check back soon for buy-it-now shopping lists of my favorite essentials).

Essentials: 3 layering pieces work great for me, but you may need less. A chambray shirt can double as a jean jacket if worn unbuttoned over a T-shirt, and T-shirts can be office wear if you pair them with a blazer, black slacks, wedges and a great piece of costume jewelry. Other shirts can easily be worn with black trousers or shorts.
(Image credit: Arlyn Hernandez)
More essentials: Shirts that can seamlessly transition from day to night and beach to lunch. Everything doesn't have to be a basic neutral, but a few key pieces (like a striped T and roomy white blouse) will always get a ton of play.
(Image credit: Arlyn Hernandez)

First at bat: Tops, 17 to be exact (I went ahead and rolled the outwear/layering pieces into this section to keep all the tops together.) I’ve included a well-rounded mix of T-shirts (that can do double duty for the office when paired with a blazer or cardigan), blouses and tanks. I feel my happiest in cheerful prints and bright solids, though everyone needs a heather gray and white T! A white linen blazer can easily be paired with dresses and every type of pant or skirt, and a black blazer is key for the office or evening.

Essentials: 2 washes of denim, black skinnies, 2 pairs of slacks, maxi skirt, gauzy midi skirt, and 2 shorts (denim and black are the most versatile)
(Image credit: Arlyn Hernandez)

Now, let’s tackle those 9 bottoms, shall we? This is my recipe for getting through work hours, weekends, vacations and evening activities. Blush slacks work with way more colors than you'd imagine, and break up the monotony of denim and black. A white skirt is great when worn with a tank or T-shirt, for weekday meetings or weekend barbecues. Plus, a jersey-knit maxi skirt will change your life. I promise you'll want to live in it!

Essentials: Maxi, something with a fun print, a fresh linen option, and a swingy ultra comfy T-shirt dress
(Image credit: Arlyn Hernandez)

Two dresses just didn’t seem like enough for me for summer, so I borrowed a few from the shoes count to make this category a little more robust, which works for me, but may not be ideal for you. You do you!

Essentials: Sandals, wedges, 2-3 work appropriate flats, sneakers
(Image credit: Arlyn Hernandez)

Thank goodness for sandals and wedges, amiright? I like to keep my footwear mostly neutral to get the most out of it, but there’s always room for a little fun and personality!

Phew, there you have it. Remember, your capsule doesn't have to look anything like mine, but the essentials are good to strive toward. The beauty of this is you can find pieces that work for you and your personal style so you can make this all your own, but still have a streamlined closet full of clothes you actually want to mix and match, and most of all...wear!

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