Creating A Summer Capsule Wardrobe You'll Love Every Year

As the warm weather slowly returns, it brings the promise of sunny days relaxing on the beach and exciting tropical getaways. But before you plan for picnic dates and brunch with your besties, you might want to check your wardrobe — nothing darkens summertime plans faster than realizing we have nothing to wear for the season ahead. While shopping yet again for summer staple wardrobe pieces to replace all the thermals and puffer coats you stocked up on during the winter, you might want to consider a capsule wardrobe.

According to Sustainable Chic, a capsule wardrobe is "a limited selection of interchangeable clothing pieces that complement each other." For all of us who love to shop, this may sound like the opposite of a fun time, but in reality, you might find yourself taking more trips to your favorite stores while you're on the hunt to perfect your capsule wardrobe. Intentionally shopping for pieces that are long-lasting, sustainable, and work in any season takes time, but your wallet and your closet space will definitely thank you later.

So before you hit "add to cart" on hundreds of dollars worth of trendy summer 'fits that you'll end up tossing out when the cold returns and trends continue to evolve, try building a capsule wardrobe full of good quality, staple items that you can rely on year-round.

Decide on your summer vibe

Move over spring cleaning, summer wardrobe resets are our real priority as the weather warms. Parting ways with clothing to make way for a capsule wardrobe might feel like a challenge, but you'd be surprised how many of your clothes you actually wear, and how many still have the tags on. The New York Times reports that "in the case of clothing, 20% of what's in your wardrobe is worn 80% of the time." This summer, turn your 20% into 100% by focusing on a streamlined wardrobe that fully represents your needs and style.

The key to a great capsule wardrobe is creating multiple outfits out of just a few pieces. Building your capsule wardrobe will usually consist of 25-50 staple items and fashion basics that you consistently wear. When deciding on which staples you need this summer, try focusing on curating an overall aesthetic with your style rather than a series of singular outfits. Do you enjoy cool tones, soft fabrics, and neutral basics? Are you particularly fond of florals and pops of color in the summertime? When the weather warms, do you live in sundresses or are you more comfortable with a trusty pair of jean cutoffs and crops? Creating a capsule wardrobe will help you define your style and outfit options so you can spend less time deciding what to wear and more time soaking up some much-needed sunshine.

Shop for clothes that fit your style and budget

Whether you're going for the chic coastal grandmother vibe or a classic minimal wardrobe this summer, narrowing down your aesthetic is only step one of creating your capsule wardrobe. Now, it's time to start shopping. It might take a while to find stores that sell reliable wardrobe staples that are good quality and also fit into your budget. As tempting as it is to throw a whole new wardrobe into your online shopping cart, we recommend making trips in-store to feel the materials and try on the fit of clothes before purchasing them. And if a piece catches your eye online that doesn't quite measure up once it's delivered, remember to return it to prevent the pile of "if only" clothing at the back of your closet.

Building a capsule wardrobe is also a great way to practice sustainability. Fast fashion continues to have a negative impact on the environment, so instead of throwing out last season's clothes to make way for the latest trends, try investing in timeless pieces that you can wear every summer. For those with an ever-changing style, you can still supplement your collection of basics with unique articles of clothing and accessories found in sustainable ways by visiting vintage and thrift stores. Exploring different secondhand stores is also one of our favorite summer activities! Pair a day of thrifting with an iced latte and a reservation at your favorite brunch spot for the perfect summer Sunday.

Minimalist summer wardrobe necessities

People who prefer a minimalist style of fashion thrive with a concentrated wardrobe built on a collection of basics. When you're looking to craft a summer capsule wardrobe as a minimalist, start by determining what color palettes work best with your complexion and style preferences. Style experts recommend light denim, linens, and neutral tones for the summer months to keep you cool and trendy. Minimalist fashion is great because it is timeless — a white sundress, jean jacket, and a wide-brimmed sun hat will never go out of style, no matter where you plan on traveling to this summer. Building a wardrobe with minimalist fashion is also a great way to sustain your wardrobe options year-round, and you can just add layers as the cold months return.

For our visual learners who might need even clearer examples of a chic and trendy minimalist wardrobe, let us introduce TikTok creator @marisaalberelli. She showed off her ideal warm weather capsule wardrobe built on reliable jeans, neutral-colored tops, and a few unique pieces that showcase her personal style without compromising the consistent color palette. With a few different bags and a pair of shoes for every occasion, this creator is totally ready for summer.

Creating a summer capsule wardrobe as a maximalist

While building a capsule wardrobe to save yourself time, money, and space sounds like the perfect choice for fashion lovers, maximalists might be less inclined to reduce their wardrobe down to neutral basics. We get it — many people rely on their wardrobe to showcase their personality and celebrate their unique fashion sense. Luckily for the bold fashionistas, a capsule wardrobe philosophy doesn't have to stifle your style. And in the summer months, maximalists are in their element thanks to the bold colors and vibrant prints that are totally trending.

For a maximalist capsule wardrobe, focus on collecting pieces that have different fits and fabrics rather than a cohesive color palette. Having a foundation of bottoms and tops that feel good on your body and make you smile is the goal, even if each piece initially clashes with all the others. After all, maximalists are all about playing with different colors and patterns. Proud maximalist @pastelgrandma shared six vibrant and unique looks utilizing only eight articles of clothing and three different accessories. Every look is vastly different and shows off their personal style without taking up too much closet space.

A summer capsule wardrobe will make packing a breeze

Capsule wardrobes are especially handy when you're planning your summer vacay — everyone wants to look their best on vacation, but no one wants to haul around 50 pounds of luggage. Most of us are guilty of overpacking, because who knows when we might need 10 extra pairs of underwear? But with a capsule wardrobe, your articles of clothing are few and your options are plenty.

TikToker @two_scoops_of_style shared her plans for packing for a summer getaway with a capsule wardrobe, following the "five, four, three, two, one" packing guide. With five tops, four dresses, three bottoms, two swimsuits, and one of every essential accessory, this creator is ready for anything her vacation may throw her way, with only a carry-on to lug around! She reminds us that summer dresses are a great travel outfit option because they are comfortable, easy to pack, and can be styled in so many different ways. We love all the different options that she creates out of just a few items of clothing, giving us yet another reason to love a summer capsule wardrobe.