Welcome inside my closet … again! I’m so excited to share my summer capsule wardrobe with you. Before I jump in, here’s a refresher course on capsule wardrobes, just in case you need to brush up.
Disclaimer: Everything written here is based on my personal experiences + opinions. Not everything I say here will work for you, but I feel free to take the information presented and apply some of it to your own wardrobe in a new and creative way.
My style for the summer is minimal + neutral + a little more modern. Even though I was really happy with my spring wardrobe, I was surprised at how it paled in comparison to my summer wardrobe.
Because my summer wardrobe is more styled + more cohesive + more mix and matchable. This surprise clues me in to the fact that I’m getting the hang of my style quicker than I thought. And that this whole capsule wardrobe thing really does get easier with practice. So people, don’t fret if your first try isn’t amazing — you’re figuring it out faster than you might think.
I ended up with a total of 34 pieces in my summer wardrobe including tops, jackets, bottoms, dresses, and shoes. I didn’t quite make it to 37 pieces for two reasons: (1) summer is crazy hot in Texas so I don’t really need layers + (2) fall comes after summer and I’m seriously lacking fall clothes — AKA I’m going to be dropping a lot of cash on my fall wardrobe. So, essentially, I decided to buy less / spend less on my summer capsule to save for fall.
I bought 16 new pieces for summer. Most of them were either from American Eagle or Madewell. I shopped strategically, using gift cards I’d been saving from my birthday + hitting up sales + keeping an eye out for discount codes. The remaining 18 pieces were either rolled over from my spring wardrobe or pulled from storage.
I budgeted $500 for my summer capsule and I’m really proud to say I stuck to it. Since that’s all I’m spending on clothes for the next three months, it comes out to about $165 per month. I’m really happy with that because I can tell you from experience: when I would shop to jolt myself out of a bad mood, I was spending a whole lot more than $165 each month. But it was harder to notice because it was only $40 here, $60 there, and so on. It was scary just how fast my justifiable little purchases added up over time. Now, I don’t have to worry about that.
TOPS / 15 pieces / splurge level: medium
This section includes 12 tops, 2 vests, and 1 jacket. Here’s where they came from: 1 was pulled from storage, 5 rolled over from my spring capsule, and 9 were new purchases.
Vests have become one of my favorite ways to add interest to an outfit when the temps are soaring. It adds an interesting layer, but it’s still hot weather friendly.
This whole wardrobe is so monochromatic — I feel the need to mention that a capsule wardrobe doesn’t have to be neutral — neutrals are just my style.
white tank (new) / muscle tee (new) / boheme tee (from spring capsule)
white button up (pulled from storage) / linen top (new) / vest (from spring capsule)
brush stroke tank (new) / grey tank (new) / paris tee (new)
chambray shirt (from spring capsule) / denim vest (new) / sleeveless chambray shirt (new)
dark grey tank (new) / black tank (from spring capsule) / leather jacket (from spring capsule)
BOTTOMS / 12 pieces / splurge level: medium
This section includes 4 dresses, 4 shorts, 3 pants, and 1 skirt. Here’s where they came from: 5 were pulled from storage, 3 rolled over from my spring capsule, and 4 were purchased new.
white shorts (pulled from storage) / white dress (pulled from storage) / track shorts (new)
printed maxi (new) / jean cutoffs (pulled from storage) / boyfriend jeans (from spring capsule)
dark jeans (from spring capsule) / black maxi (pulled from storage) / black skirt (new)
soft shorts (from spring capsule) / soft pants (new) / black shirtdress (pulled from storage)
SHOES / 7 pieces / splurge level: medium
This section includes 3 heels, 3 sandals, 1 pair of flats. Here’s where they came from: 1 was pulled from storage, 3 rolled over from my spring capsule, and 3 were purchased new.
Let’s talk Birkenstocks! Mine aren’t real Birkenstocks — I decided to go with this Topshop version and save some cash. They were $65 — happy face! The pair of real Birkenstocks I originally wanted were going to be almost $200 after shipping — yes, I was looking at a special order, and yes I know they usually don’t cost quite that much. I went back and forth on this decision for a bit, but I’m really happy with my purchase decision + saving money. Lots of people swear by the comfort of their real Birkenstocks, but these are super comfy too, so I’m happy.
shooties (from spring capsule) / black heels (from spring capsule) / yellow pumps (pulled from storage)
cognac slides (new) / silver sandals (new) / birkinstocks (new)
d’orsay flats (from spring capsule)
So what do you think?! Is it what you were expecting, or is it way different? See any pieces you want to grab for your own capsule wardrobe? Any newbies starting their first capsule wardrobe this summer? Sound off in the comments section, and as always, thank you so much for reading.
Leanne Caroline says
Yay! This looks fantastic. Can’t wait to see the above in outfit form. I love your colour palette, the more I’ve erred towards a capsule style wardrobe, the narrower my colour selection has become – it makes mixing and matching far easier. Looking forward to being further inspired, I’ll be making mental notes for 6 months time for me (I’m smack bang in the middle of winter, boo).
I love all your choices, and it really is impressive how you are able to pare down your selection so well. I am especially loving those white distressed cut offs and the Madewell track shorts. I can’t wait to see all the outfits you put together with these fab staples.
Christen Barnes says
July could not come fast enough! I have been so excited to see your summer capsule and it did not disappoint. Love all your pieces and can’t wait to see how you put them all together!
I am loving your summer wardrobe capsule! I am super excited to revamp my closet and do a capsule wardrobe once this pregnancy is over and I know more of what my body will be like (first pregnancy) :) It’s definitely been hard to hold off purchasing new items when I go shopping. But I know I need to be patient because I’ll probably spend some serious cash once I do my capsules.
I do have a question – what do you do with the spring items that didn’t carry over into your summer wardrobe? Do you store them somewhere or sell them to offset your next 3 month wardrobe purchases?
Excited to see how you pair and style these items!
Hi Jennifer! My spring items go one of three places: (1) Some are rolled over into my next capsule wardrobe (2) Most are put into storage for next year (3) Worn out items are donated. :) xo Caroline
Jen O. says
Love your capsule! I picked up some of those madewell pieces too! Can’t wait to see how you style everything!
oh i love it!! love it! love it! this concept is so great for me being a stay at home…”unfancy” is just what i need to help me feel good about myself but not feel like “im trying too hard even though i’m covered in spit up and dirty diapers all day” haha Your so talented caroline!
Amanda Bee says
I like how everything here is so basic, but really remixable. I’m looking forward to seeing how everything comes together into different outfits. I’ve found that my summer style is really basic too – it’s too hot to layer, and I really like my neutrals in summer.
Mary Beth says
I agree with the above commenter—you really are so talented! Didn’t you hint in a previous post that you wanted to go with soft corals in your summer capsule? I’m glad you didn’t. I love the neutrals. I can’t wait to see how you combine these. And thanks so much for open discussion about budget. To me, this is totally relatable and helpful.
Hi Mary Beth! Thank you for your sweet words. :) I definitely thought I was going to try for some pinks and corals, but I just couldn’t find pieces I loved. I ended up being really glad I just stuck with neutrals–I love wearing all of them! xo Caroline
Kristeen Owens says
Wondering where you got the printed maxi…I love it, but the link you provided takes us to a similar one, not the actual one you show.
Hi Kristeen! It’s from Nordstrom Rack and there’s no available link for it on their site. I searched high and low for it online, but it looks like your best bet is going into a Nordstrom Rack store. The brand is Lush.
Lauren Hanson says
I’ve really developed a love for Madewell clothes, and I have you to thank! I actually have a lot of the pieces you have in your capsule! Can’t wait to see how you outfit them all. One of my goals for the month of July is to make a capsule wardrobe. I’m selling a lot of my clothes on Thred Up and using the money I get to pay for new pieces at Madewell.com since you can pay through Paypal! My husband is even shrinking down his wardrobe down to 30 pieces as well! He is going to stick to two seasons summer and winter! We live in Houston so there are really only those two seasons! :)
I’ve just discovered your gorgeous site! I”m not sure if you are still answering questions from two years ago but… do you get rid of your previous capsule or do you store the pieces and then reassess the next season? I love thrifting but wonder how that would fit with this system. However I have a crowded closet and even when i pare down it’s still full of pieces I’ve loved for years and years but maybe just wear a couple times a year. But I don’t think I want to totally get rid of favorite pieces just because the season changes… help!
Hi Lauren! Glad to answer your question! When I first started my capsule, I definitely stored pieces and rotated them into my wardrobe basewd on the seasons. It keeps the capsule concept interesting, because after about 3-4 months (when I’m getting bored with my clothes) I can go into my storage and voila! My old clothes that I haven’t seen in months seem new again! :) I’ll swap them for current pieces that I’m tired of wearing, or sometimes I even realize I don’t really want to wear them anymore — and it’s a good time to donate or take to a consignment store. Hope that helps :) Good luck! xo, Caroline
I love the pieces you chose for your summer capsule, and good job for only using 34 pieces! I am debuting my capsule wardrobe as inspired by you for summer. I have a few more colors in mine, and I look forward to all the ways I can mix and match. I purchased those Steve Madden shooties for my summer capsule and you are right- so comfortable for a heel! I love your printed maxi!
Victoria B says
Love your choices and I cannot wait to see you style these! After reading every single one of your blog posts last week, I gutted my closet this past weekend. I definitely got rid of over half of the stuff. Like Lauren Hanson above me, I plan on selling some of them on Thred Up and donating the rest.
I don’t know if I have the guts to do such a small capsule wardrobe. Which probably means I should try, but I am just not convinced. I am not very good at styling and I definitely play it safe with clothes. Especially in the hot, humid Southwest Florida summer. I spend most of my time indoors and often don’t even feel like getting dressed.
Maybe after watching you this summer I will be inspired for the Fall!
I, too, will sing the praises of Madewell. This is my first time trying a capsule, and I definitely have quite a few pieces from them (including that sleeveless chambray…but in the lighter wash!). Thank you for inspiring so many of us to try it out! I already felt so much less anxiety getting dressed this morning w/the help of the capsule and outfits I’d pulled together in Stylebook the night before. Woohoo, summer!
Love Stylebook! xo Caroline
Courtney Hernandez says
Caroline, you’re blog is darling and it’s been a great reminder in my blog feed to continuously purge extraneous things so my life has SPACE to be full. You mentioned pulling things in and out of storage, so I wondered if you have an ideal balance between items currently in your capsule and items tucked away in storage. It seems like that percentage could vary wildly from person to person, but I’d be curious to hear about your strategy.
Does your capsule wardrobe include items you wear while photographing weddings? If so – I’d be curious to know what your go to capsule outfit is for working weddings.
Like the new stuff!
Hi Elizabeth! For summer weddings, I either wear my black maxi dress or my black shirtdress with my d’orsay flats. :) xo Caroline
Sarah @ Beauty School Dropout says
Looks great! A lot more casual than mine, since I work in a business-casual office, but I still love it. Glad to see that I’m not the only one with lots of white and black shirts in my capsule!
Love your selection! Was a bit surprised at no stripes ; ) In all honesty I didn’t exactly stick to 37 pieces (although it has to be said that I probably never actually used more than 37 pieces) this spring – I was just kind of getting used to a massive reduction. BUT, I couldn’t believe how many things I culled from my wardrobe, nonetheless! I was shocked because I actually had already moved my “winter and fall” clothes downstairs. But when I really asked myself, “will I wear this shirt/skirt this spring?” to some of the things still in my closet, the answer was “no” in so many instances. I am now very much more reduced and my ability to choose an outfit is much easier/simpler than before, which feels fantastic. Way simpler. Up here in Alberta we get some cool days so I seem to want a few extra sweaters but I am going to try and go full capsule for summer. Thanks!
Yay! What a fun capsule. And thanks for the encouraging words about starting to find your style after a few different seasons of capsule wardrobing. I did spring on the fly and then as I was shopping for summer, I got really weirdly obsessed with making sure all the pieces I owned were perfect. I did a lot of online shopping and then returning almost everything! It kind of stressed me out. I have a lot of workable pieces and I need to remember that. You’ve always inspired me to embrace my love of neutrals. I’ve always felt compelled to buy colors because I don’t have a good sense of my own style and they feel fun but I almost never wear them once they’re in my closet :) Can I ask you a random question too? How tall are you? I love some of the outfits you style with heels and try to pull them off – but I’m short and I have two little girls that I chase around all day so I’m often in flats.
*also inspired, not always :)
Hi Jessica! I’m 5’5″ and while I do wear heels a decent amount, I only buy/wear comfy ones — I try to keep to chunky heels + heels that are 4 or less inches tall. xo Caroline
I really love your summer capsule, can’t wait to see how it all comes together. I’m also glad that you were so open and honest about the $$$. Looks great! What about your accessories, do you interchange these for the season too? Really enjoying your blog!
This is my first visit to your blog and I am SO excited that I found you! I am so inspired by your capsule selections for this season and the whole idea of a capsule in general! How liberating and smart, too. I am completely inspired and can’t wait to get started with my own! Excited to see what you come up with for your summer outfits. Thank you for the inspiration!!!
Hi again Caroline,
A question for you: As I am taking a look at my closet and thinking about narrowing down my items to make a capsule… I noticed that your work and every day items coincide. For me, my work wear is much more professional than what I wear at home with my two little kiddos or out and about running errands. What do you suggest for people with 2 totally different lifestyle wardrobes (2 separate capsules or 1 intermixed)? I would love to hear your thoughts on that. Thank you again so much for sharing all of this on your blog. I love the idea of feeling like you have more when there is actually less to choose from!
Hi Caroline! LOOOOOVE everything about this and can’t wait to see how you style everything! Also, a big thanks for letting us know how much you spent. I can’t believe you got so much for $500! It’s helpful to know what someone else is spending and look at my own needs/budget and see what’s reasonable. I’m (slowly) working on my work capsule and your blog has been so helpful! Thanks!
Rebecca Lately says
I love the color palette you’re doing for summer. I wish I could do a capsule wardrobe for a season. I’m afraid I would get bored with my clothes.
YAY! This is the direction I’m going with my wardrobe for the most part, so it’s really exciting to see so many pieces that inspire me in one spot. I can’t wait to see what you do with all of them!
everything looks great!
two questions though:
1. the black everlane tank you have looks different than the one on the website (no buttons?). is it the same?
2. i’m curious how accessories (scarves, hats, purses) play into the capsule wardrobe. are they limited as well?
I love your picks for summer! Also, I hope you’ll continue to do the Q&A posts because I have a question to throw in the mix. I know one of the points of capsuling (new usage? ha) is not to buy anything for those three months, but what if you see a piece that you want for a past/future capsule that’s on sale or clearance? For example, an army jacket for fall that’s really low right now….do you just wait it out and hope it’s still available later? Or suck it up and buy a similar one in the fall for more? I’d love to know if you’ve had this conundrum!
Great question, Jenna! I’ll address it in an upcoming post. :) xo Caroline
I just discovered your blog via Into MInd and I love your style! There are so many awesome pieces in your summer capsule wardrobe- definitely some I’d like to own myself. I’ve been trying to pare down my wardrobe this year, but maybe I will really go for it and do a capsule wardrobe for fall!
Fantastic blog – really inspired
So glad you were profiled on Into Mind – I love your blog!! I recently started a project 333 and it’s similar to what you’re already doing. Synchronicity!
Amazing what you’re doing here. Thanks for sharing your closet.
I’m in love w/ your choices!
I discovered your blog through Into Mind and I’ve quickly become obsessed with the idea of a wardrobe capsule! Love your blog and your approach to clothes. I wonder if you budget for accessories and how/if you limit your self to purchases of jewelry, purses, etc. You’ve inspired me to downsize my wardrobe and think more strategically about what I buy.
So glad I found this blog. I love everything about your summer capsule wardrobe! I favour a neutral palette as well, and I would wear the heck out of almost all your pieces :)
I’ve been hemming and hawing over doing a seasonal capsule wardrobe for *months* and you are totally making me want to bite the bullet! I also have some other great incentives: 1. I’m pregnant and can’t afford a whole new wardrobe for my ever-expanding / post-baby body and 2. we just bought a house and moving is a great time to pare down.
Thanks for the inspiration!
Hey Caroline! First off, I just found your blog through Pinterest, and I LOVE it. I’m a college study grappling with building a real, lasting wardrobe, so the how-tos on making a small amount of clothes workable are doing me a world of good. The capsule method is exactly what my mom has done her whole life– and through years of moving often, the wisdom of owning less holds up. Secondly, how are those Madewell gladiator sandals working out? I’ve been staring at them for ages online, but I’ve read so many reviews of leather loose-tie sandals being killers on the ankles.
Thanks for your comment + sweet words! I absolutely love my Madewell gladiator sandals. I was hesitant to buy them at first too, because the first time I tried them on, I thought they were super uncomfortable. But I couldn’t get them out of my head, so I went and tried them on a second time. So glad I did, because I haven’t gotten one blister in them yet, and I always wear them as my “long day of walking” sandals. They are extremely comfortable.
Two quick things I did to ensure they were comfy: I added some moleskin padding to the very back + I also sized up so that the leather tabs didn’t rub certain parts of my foot. You may want to try some different sizes than you usually wear. I’m usually a 7, but the 7 rubbed my foot the wrong way. The 7.5 was perfect, and didn’t rub (even though it looks the tiniest bit too big to my foot — but it doesn’t bother me at all because it’s comfortable).
I love a small wardrobe, not least because I like to pull out an ironed, crease free top in the morning! The only problem in the UK is the weather can change so much, I need more layers to hand. Also, I see the same group of friends in the playground every day so keeping everything fresh is definitely a challenge!
Hi! This is my first visit on your blog. I started about 6 years ago with only one skirt, one shorts, three t-shirts, one bikini, lingerie for the whole summer. When I got a job in the fall, I build up from there.
This summer, my wardrobe consist of the following:
Majority are carryover. As for shoes: 2 sandle with small heels, 2 walking sandles and that is it. I have a large accessory collection that is more costly and high end. I learned that wearing real jewellery on the writs and fingers are required if you wash your hands frequently and apply sun protection. My staple bag is JCrew straw bag.
I’m glad you started this blog.
That’s awesome! I’m glad to know that there’s someone out there who is rocking a 12 piece wardrobe. My husband and I have hopes to move to Europe for a short time, and I’m hoping to do something similar to what you do. So cool!
Hi! I’ve just discovered your blog and absolutely love it!! . My question is: can I “subscribe” to receive updates when you update your blog? I have searched your site and can’t find a “sign up” for newsletters.
I know you posted it somewhere on your blog, but what website or app do you use to help create your outfits? Can’t find it on the blog for the life of me!
I just discovered this whole capsule wardrobe idea today … mind BLOWN. Seriously. Why have I not found this before?! My issue has always been facing a closet FULL of clothes with “nothing” to wear. Looks like I have some sorting and list making to do this weekend!
Hi Kaylie! Thanks for your kind words, girl! They mean a whole lot. :) Excited for you as you get started! xoxo Caroline
Caroline, You are so incredibly talented and precious! I am so glad I stumbled upon your photography blog two years ago; I have beautiful wedding photos thanks to you and now spend way less money on clothes ;) I am starting to plan my fall wardrobe and wanted to know if you have any tips for us “office job” folks who need more versatile and work appropriate outfits? I am feeling like work pants and blazers/cardigans are taking over my list…
I’m new to this capsule idea, but when you shop for new stuff do you get rid of old stuff again and start the de-cluttering process over? Or are you building onto the 37 pieces you already started with?
This is my first visit to unfancy, and I can see that I will be a frequent visitor!
One question, please. I see you talk about storing items from previous capsules, and would love to know about your storage system. What storage tools do you use? Where do you actually store your out-of-season items? How much space do you devote to storage? And what do you do to prepare a garment for being stored? I realize that one of my challenges is that I keep everything in the same closet and dresser, and have to push sweaters out of the way to get to summer tops. I look forward to learning your storage tips and tricks as well.
Thanks so much for an inspiring and useful approach to dressing well!
hi! i just found your blog and i’m so glad i did! i have been trying to figure out my closet for a while now and your approach is super helpful and so practical. i do have a question abut the first white tank you have above. the link goes to a zara tank that is similar but the sheer part does not go all the way across the front. is the one you own the one in the link? i really really love yours so just checking. thanks so much!!!
I love this and can’t wait to see what you come up for FALL!
Just stumbled upon your blog this week and I find it amazing. I love the capsule idea. You have inspired me to clean out my closet ( can’t wait for the weekend). I too have found myself buying something to fill some void or to fit in with others trendsetting but then find myself regretting/returning and feeling guilty for spending so much money i could put towards saving. I love your summer look and love the minimalist approach. I find all my printed items do not get a lot of wear. I’m going to narrow it down to my favorites for the rest of the summer and early September. I was wondering what do you do for special occasions — ie Weddings I use rent the runway so I don’t end up buying fancy dresses i wont wear again. Also could you share your shopping ideas for Fall so I can get some inspiration.
Anne Morgan says
New reader here: I love this idea. I have always been a “uniform dresser”. This past summer, I literally only wore the same 5 dresses to work each week but paired them differently each time. People had no idea! They would compliment me on a dress I had been wearing the whole summer!
I will be doing the capusule wardrobe for Fall ….
(found your blog through heynataliejean.com)
Karli Jo says
I know that I am way late on this post. I was going back through some of your capsules and noticed this one. Just a comment on the Birkenstocks (look-a-likes)… I got a pair at Payless for $18!!! They are American Eagle brand and I had a coupon, but still cost maybe $25 regular price. I love mine to death and wore them all summer! They are my go to sandal, so it is fun looking at all of your recent posts on how to style Birks.
Also, I am a new reader (beginning of Sept. I think) and stumbled upon this completely by chance and you have caught my attention. I love the idea of a capsule wardrobe! All other aspects of my life are simplified… except my wardrobe and I am having the hardest time figuring out what I love and what my style is, so I think this is a helpful first step. Time to Capsule!
Chelsea Scott says
I just found your blog! love it! I have a question though. every ‘season’ do you go through and take all out of your closet and do it like you did the first time? or do you just add to?
Cassie M says
I have literally fallen in love with your blog! I’m definitely trying out this capsule thing. It’s summer now where I live so this is huge inspiration :) I find myself loving the neutrals too! :) may add pops of colour for summer though :D
Does anyone else wish Caroline had posted one more summer capsule before she stopped posting capsules?
nikki perkinson says
I am wanting to start making a capsule, but had a question in regards to work clothes. How do you included your work clothes or suggest on how to include work clothes into the capsules?
Hi Nikki! This is one of the most common questions I get. So you are not alone! My recommendation is to either have a separate work capsule, or to combine the two using your most worn pieces. You may not get down to 37 pieces, but that’s ok! I think the main point is that you are being mindful of the pieces you buy and making an effort to wear what you already have. You might even be surprised how many items can crossover from work to weekend wear, depending on how formal your work place is. Hope that helps! :) xo, Caroline
Andrea Scannapieco says
I will be doing the capsule wardrobe for Summer… your blog are helping me a lot.
Finally seems to me that I’m reaching the light at the end of a tunnel.
So many thanks.
This was exactly what I was needing to help me pair down on clothing and simplify my wardrobe. I just finished creating a spring capsule of items already in my wardrobe and I love how I’m already making plans in my mind of different combinations to wear. Everything was already there, I just needed your help knowing how to find it! Thanks so much!