A Summer Capsule Wardrobe: The List

“Anyone can get dressed up and glamorous, but it is how people dress in their days off that are the most intriguing.”
—Alexander Wang

So, capsule wardrobes. The internet is awash in content about it and recommendations on how to do it about. Some people encourage as part of a minimalist lifestyle (a worthy goal that holds zero appeal for me, an unrepentant maximalist), some people as a way to push a reset button when it comes to style or consumerism (which I think is a great idea on the whole). Books have been written about this stuff.

I ignored most of it. My intentions were not lofty but deeply practical. The major desired outcomes were ticking a box on a goal list, and finding a way to begin packing now for a move that wasn’t happening for another month and a half. Any added benefits such as a reduction in stress or faff when getting out the door in the morning were gravy, as far as I was concerned.

The only advice I followed, which seemed fundamentally sound was simple: have a color palette. The idea was that if everything came from the same general grouping of colors, the chances of everything matching one another and creating easy outfits was much higher. Blue and white together are one of my favorite color combinations generally and especially for summer, so I chose that with black and green (my other favorite mix) thrown in for variety.

I was most dubious about this idea working with workwear, notoriously tricky at the best of times and hugely intimidating for a London summer where we might legitimately experience all four seasons in a single week (if not day!), but thus far it’s working great. I’m getting use out of my investment pieces and have enough basic, mix-and-match items to deal with the variance in temperatures, sun, and wet.

Some people include shoes or accessories in the list of items, but I couldn’t be bothered with that, nor did I see any point in listing items like sleepwear, activewear, or other specialty items. My list didn’t include items for my brother’s wedding, for instance, or the t-shirts I often sleep in (usually purloined from Jeff…). The only rule I gave myself, plucked more or less from thin area, was to try and restrict myself to 20 core items.

Notwithstanding the general laissez-faire and last minute approach to this project, I’m still a bit surprised that the first month of this project has sort of just whizzed by. This indicates to me that I still have too many clothes (which is not news), but also that my general project towards overall wardrobe streamlining is working. For a while in my 20s, when I was still deciding who I wanted to be and how I wanted to dress, I had a lot of things that would never have gone together no matter how hard I tried. These days, the mix between reliable basics and statement, personality pieces feels correct and more like “me.”

Without further ado, this is what my two month capsule looks like:

Tops (11)

  • White silk button up shirt (Everlane)
  • White silk button up sleeveless top (Everlane)
  • White silk tank top (Everlane)
  • Black sleeveless top
  • Black silk button up shirt (Everlane)
  • Blue and white polka dot silk shirt (Sezanne)
  • Blue cotton button up (GAP)
  • White linen shirt (found at a street market in Italy)
  • White t-shirt (Everlane)
  • Green cotton tank top (GAP)
  • Green and print silk button up shirt (& Other Stories)

Bottoms (5)

  • Black trousers (no clue)
  • Light blue jeans (Glassworks)
  • White jeans (GAP)
  • Navy pencil skirt (J Crew)
  • Navy shorts (GAP)

Other (4)

  • Black short sleeved work dress (MM LaFleur)
  • Navy sleeveless work dress (MM LaFleur)
  • Black and white print casual dress (J Crew)
  • White linen blazer (J Crew)

I’ll check in at the end of August and let you know how the project turns out, but I’m curious! If you have done a capsule, what did it look like? How did you build it? What were your rules, and why?

One thought on “A Summer Capsule Wardrobe: The List”

  1. Love this.

    Given that I work at home, not needing a capsule…but very careful about what I choose to buy.

    For me (comfort/style/cool in summer) I usually live in dresses.

    — pink/gray/black patterned long dress bought in Santa Fe for $20 or $30, 2019
    — pale pink cotton dress bought in Budapest on the street for $20, 2017
    — black pleated ankle length dress, Aritizia on sale, 2016, $100 (great for day/business and evening)
    — black jersey shirt-dress style, long, Michael Kors, 2015, $80 (comfy, elegant, day/night/business)
    — Burgundy cotton stretch tank dress, Aritzia, 2015 $60
    — pale blue ” ”
    — mauve-ish crepe bias cut long dress by Ghost (UK), 2002, $200? (wore it for our wedding!)
    — orange cotton cardigan, J. Crew
    — olive green cotton cardigan, J Crew
    — beige long cardigan, London
    — black long cardigan., London

    I mix it up with lots of accessories — long necklaces, scarves, earrings, sandals.

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