Summer Capsule Wardrobe: A Real-Life Example of Dressing with Less

Summer capsule wardrobe - a real-life example of dressing with less

Today I’m sharing a look inside my summer capsule wardrobe. My goal is to give you a real-life example of what dressing with less looks like. And how I make a small wardrobe work as a stay-at-home/work-at-home mom.

Simplify your life with a capsule wardrobe

I get quite a few requests to see what my own capsule wardrobes look like, and I totally understand why!

I think the idea of reducing your wardrobe – a little or a lot, depending how many clothes you’re starting with – can be intimidating, or even a little scary, for a lot of us. Clothes can be hard to let go of sometimes, even if you know you don’t wear them!

But don’t let the feelings of overwhelm or fear hold you back!

Decluttering my clothes has been one of my favourite simplifying projects to date! I can’t say enough good things about the benefits of dressing with a small wardrobe filled with only the clothes I love to wear.

In fact, I didn’t even realize what a burden and weight my clothes added to my life until I let go of most of them!

I hope by sharing my own capsule wardrobes, it will give you a practical, real-life look at what a smaller wardrobe looks like.

Showing you a capsule wardrobe doesn’t need to be intimidating, overwhelming, scary or boring. Just the opposite in fact! Fewer clothes make life so much easier, while still giving you lots of outfit options!

Summer capsule wardrobe - a real-life example of dressing with less

What is a capsule wardrobe?

If you’re new to the idea of a capsule wardrobe, the concept is actually really simple!

A capsule wardrobe is a small collection of clothes you love, look and feel good in, and are easy to mix and match to create a variety of outfits, without needing a closet full of clothes.

There are many different ways to approach putting together a capsule wardrobe. Some people limit themselves to a certain number of items. Some people create a year-round capsule, while others create a new capsule for each season.

You can read more about how I put together a capsule wardrobe, my best advice to help you declutter your clothes and how my capsule process has changed over time. You can also see my previous capsule wardrobes here: winter to spring, winter, spring, summer, fall.

My approach to capsule wardrobes is to keep the whole thing simple. In fact, I intentionally don’t put any strict rules on my capsule wardrobes.

I found strict rules took the fun out of making and using a capsule wardrobe and made it more stressful than it needs to be.

For example, instead of limiting my wardrobe to a certain number of items, I only keep the clothes I look and feel my best in. Then I go by how my wardrobe “feels” instead of limiting it to a certain number of items.

If getting dressed is quick and easy, I know my capsule wardrobe has enough.

But if getting dressed or deciding what to wear, starts to feel overwhelming, stressful or just not easy, that’s a sign that it’s time to simplify my wardrobe.

You do you!

Remember the point of a capsule wardrobe is to make your life easier. If any part of it isn’t doing that for you, re-evaluate and adjust.

Don’t get hung up on following anyone else’s rules, or doing your capsules exactly as they do. Figure out what works for you and go with that!

Following someone else’s capsule wardrobe guidelines or process for putting a capsule together is good when you’re first starting out with a capsule wardrobe. It gives you a place to start, which is super helpful!

But don’t be afraid to break the “rules” and make your capsules work for you and your life!

Benefits of a capsule wardrobe

Imagine opening your closet and only seeing clothes you love to wear and look and feel great in. Sounds like a great way to start your day, right?

If you’re curious about what the benefits of using a capsule wardrobe are, here are a few of my favourite reasons why a capsule wardrobe is awesome:

Saves time

Deciding what to wear is fast and easy when you only have clothes you love and feel great in, in your wardrobe. No more time wasted weeding through clothes you don’t love, no more trying on multiple outfits to find something you like.

Saves money

Choosing a smaller wardrobe helps curb mindless or excessive clothes shopping. Instead, you tend to buy fewer clothes and are more thoughtful about your purchases, which can help save you money!

Fewer decisions

Fewer clothes, all of which you love wearing, mean you can save your limited decision-making power for more important decisions than deciding what to wear. Decision fatigue is a real thing!

More positive vibes

When you let go of items you don’t love, you let go of the negative feelings or guilt associated with them. Instead of feeling bad about your body, or guilty about the money spent on something you don’t wear, you let go of those items and the negative emotions associated with them.

Having a tidy, organized closet that’s easy to keep that way

A capsule wardrobe gives you space in your closet and drawers. It’s easy to find and pull out what you’re looking for and put clean clothes away. And keeping your closet organized is easy with a small wardrobe – no elaborate closet organizing system required!

More confidence

When you curate your wardrobe, only keeping your favourite items you love and feel your best in, you look and feel good in your clothes. And we all feel more confident when we feel great in our clothes!

More contentment and gratitude for your clothes

When you intentionally choose to keep your wardrobe small and only keep your favourite items, you feel happier, more content with and appreciate your wardrobe more.

My summer capsule wardrobe

Now that we know the what, the why, and the how, let’s take a tour inside my own summer capsule wardrobe!

 Before we get to the clothes, here’s a little background info that’s important to understand my capsule wardrobes.

Climate

I live in central Alberta, Canada. Our summers are on the shorter side, but the weather can be hot while it lasts.

Lifestyle

I am a stay-at-home/work-at-home mom to 2 young kids. I prefer casual, comfortable, functional clothes for life with young kids that still let me feel put together during the day. I don’t like anything too fussy, instead opting for things that are simple and easy to wear.

In the summer we spend a lot of time outside, biking, at the playground, swimming, etc. I need clothes that can keep up with us!

What’s included in my summer capsule wardrobe

I include my everyday clothes in my capsule wardrobes. For me, that’s tops, bottoms, everyday dresses, shoes and outerwear.

I don’t include accessories, pyjamas, undergarments, bathing suits and coverups, work out clothes, dressy or formal clothes, or occasional situation specific items like rain boots, park/lake sandals, my two golf shirts, etc.

A look inside my summer capsule wardrobe

I have included links to the items in my wardrobe in case you’re looking for something similar. If the exact item is no longer available, I’ll try to link to something similar. The links are affiliate links, and you can read the full disclosure policy here.

But remember, you don’t need to buy a new wardrobe each season. In fact, I’ve had many of the items in my capsule for quite a few years. It’s ok to buy items to add to your capsule, just do it thoughtfully and intentionally so your wardrobe stays small and curated.

Tops

Summer capsule wardrobe - a real-life example of dressing with less

1/ burgundy linen blend t-shirt 2/ black swing t-shirt (similar) 3/ grey linen blend t-shirt (similar) 4/ black tunic 5/ black round neck t-shirt (similar) 6/ black v-neck t-shirt 7/ black tunic tank (similar) 8/ black graphic tank (similar) 9/ black graphic tank (similar) 10/ black graphic tank (similar) 11/ black graphic tank (similar) 12/ grey graphic tank (similar) 13/ black swing tank 14/ white striped tunic tank (similar) 15/ black tank 16/ orange and blue patterned tank (similar) 17/ blue patterned tank (similar)

As you can see, I have a simple, neutral, versatile color palette in my favourite colors of black, grey and burgundy. This color palette makes mixing and matching items easy and is what I prefer to wear.

A capsule wardrobe doesn’t have to be limited to neutral colors though. Simply include the colors and patterns you love most!

Dresses

Summer capsule wardrobe - a real-life example of dressing with less

1/ striped t-shirt dress (similar) 2/ black patterned tank dress (similar) 3/ black tank dress 4/ striped midi tank dress (similar)

I have included a few dresses in my summer capsule wardrobe. I used to wear a lot of dresses and skirts before having kids. Then found dresses didn’t work for me between breastfeeding and life with babies and toddlers. Now that my kids are getting older, I’m enjoying wearing dresses more often.

Bottoms

Summer capsule wardrobe - a real-life example of dressing with less

1/ denim shorts 2/ black shorts (similar) 3/ denim cut-off shorts (similar) 4/ denim shorts (similar) 5/ dark wash cropped jeans 6/ medium wash cropped jeans 7/ cuffed cropped jeans 8/ grey 7/8 length leggings (similar) 9/ black 7/8 length leggings

I love wearing denim and leggings for pants and shorts. Again, I keep my pants neutral, simple and versatile so they are easy to mix and match with my selection of tops.

Shoes & outerwear

Summer capsule wardrobe - a real-life example of dressing with less

1/ grey fleece sweater jacket (similar) 2/ black zip-up hoodie (similar) 3/ denim jacket 4/ black leather sandals (similar) 5/ black flip flops (similar) 6/ grey runners 7/ pink runners

I wear a larger variety of shoes in the summer compared to the winter simply because I enjoying adding some variety in my summer capsule wardrobe.

However, I still try to keep my selection of shoes simple so it can stay fun instead of getting overwhelming!

Accessories

2019 summer capsule wardrobe - accessories

1/ silver necklace (similar) 2/ silver feather necklace (similar) 3/ interchangeable crystal pendant necklace (similar) 4/ beaded mala necklace (made by me) 5/ beaded mala necklace (made by me) 6/ beaded bracelets (similar) 7/ beaded wrap bracelet (made by me) (similar)

I keep my accessories pretty simple in the summer. But I still enjoy having a few different accessory options to add to my outfits and change up the look.

These are my every day, go-to options that I keep easily accessible on the shelf in my closet. I keep the rest of my jewelry collection that I wear less frequently but still love, in a less accessible spot in my closet.

Because jewelry is something I enjoy wearing and making, I have a larger collection than you might expect. But remember, there is no “one size fits all” with a capsule wardrobe. Find the balance that feels like “enough” for you and go with it. The key is remembering to make sure it’s adding value to your life, not making you feel overwhelmed.

How I use my summer capsule wardrobe

A loose daily uniform

The longer I use a capsule wardrobe, the clearer I get on my personal style preferences and what I love wearing most. Knowing this, I’ve developed a loose daily uniform or outfit formula that I wear most days.

My outfit formula or uniform lets me get dressed quickly and easily because I don’t have to put much thought into what I’m going to wear. But at the same time, I know I’ll feel good in my clothes.

For example, in the summer my outfit formula or uniform is usually a looser fitting t-shirt or tank with cropped denim jeans, denim shorts or leggings.

Mixing and matching

Even though I am perfectly happy to repeat outfits, I still have plenty of outfit options, even with a smaller selection of clothes. Simply because it’s easy to mix and match most of the items in my summer capsule wardrobe.

For example, just having 17 different tops alone means I can wear a different outfit every day for 17 days without any effort at all. That in itself is a lot!

Then something as simple as changing the pants or shorts means I have a lot more options on top of that. And if you are willing to get creative with your clothes, you can come up with even more outfit options!

Transitioning my summer capsule wardrobe from spring to summer to fall

As I shared in my capsule wardrobe update, I no longer make a separate capsule for all four seasons. I found it just wasn’t worth the time and effort because our springs and falls tend to be short and unpredictable.

For me, it works better to make a winter capsule wardrobe and a summer capsule wardrobe, then let them naturally transition through spring and fall.

How I transition my summer capsule wardrobe

Here’s what that looks like for me:

When I switch over to my summer capsule wardrobe in mid-spring, I’ll keep a few long-sleeve tops and a couple of cardigans in my closet from my winter to spring capsule wardrobe. I’ll keep my shorts and tanks in a less accessible place in my closet until it’s nice enough to start wearing them.

As I start wearing shorts and tanks, I will put them back in a more front and center place after I do the laundry. Then put the long-sleeve tops and cardigans either away with my winter wardrobe or just off to the side of my closet.  

As the weather cools down in the fall, usually later in September, the long-sleeve tops and cardigans will naturally come back out more front and center in my closet. And my shorts and tanks will naturally move off to the side.

It’s basically prioritizing the position of my clothes in my closet to make it easy to get dressed based on the weather. My system of doing this is very natural, based on what I’m wearing most at the time and what I need for the weather.

Sometimes it’s just a matter of layering items I already have in my capsule on cooler days, and not layering on warmer days to help transition through the spring and fall.

Here is an example of the items I use to transition my summer capsule wardrobe through spring and into the fall:

Transitioning my summer wardrobe through spring and fall

1/ burgundy long-sleeved top (similar) 2/ black long-sleeved top (similar) 3/ grey sweater (similar) 4/ black sweatshirt (similar) 5/ black keyhole back sweatshirt 6/ burgundy cardigan (similar) 7/ mauve cocoon cardigan (similar) 8/ black jacket (similar) 9/ dark wash jeans 10/ grey jeans

You can see how I make my winter capsule wardrobe work from mid-fall to mid-spring here.

Summer capsule wardrobe - a real-life example of dressing with less

Simplifying summer with a capsule wardrobe

I hope seeing how I use my capsule wardrobe helps demonstrate the ways having fewer clothes can simplify life without giving up style, comfort or practicality.

The key for me is keeping the clothes in my capsule wardrobe and the process I use to make my capsule simple. I dress with less to make life easier, so the last thing I want to do is complicate the process in any way!

Simplicity is key! Figure out what you like, get rid of anything you don’t, stay flexible, make your capsule work for your lifestyle and preferences, and keep it simple!

Have any questions about my summer capsule wardrobe or the process I use to put it together? Let me know, I love talking about capsules!

Summer capsule wardrobe - a real-life example of dressing with less

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4 Comments

  1. Love this! I was just looking at my clothes the other days and thought “17 tops seems like a lot”. But I truly like them all and they go well with multiple bottoms. Love how you say to not put strict rules on ourselves! Makes me feel more confident with what I have. Thanks!

    1. I’m so glad to hear this helped you feel more confident with your wardrobe choices, Jeni! I completely agree with you – if you love what you have and wear the pieces often, it’s the right amount for you! Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts!

  2. I’m trying out the capsule wardrobe, as one of my close friends turned me onto the idea! It’s spring in Chicago, and it snowed all day yesterday (unusual to snow so late in April, but not unheard of), so I stayed in and went through my closet and did some purging. My idea to try it out is to hang my capsule wardrobe in the closet, and only wear the clothing hanging in there. My dresser will be off-limits, and that way I can determine that if I don’t miss any of the items in the dresser (from the “in
    season” drawer, I can let them go.

    1. I’m so excited for you that you’re going to try a capsule wardrobe, Veronika! That’s awesome! I think that’s a great way to do a trial run with a capsule without having to fully commit right away. It’s a lot easier to be bolder and experiment living with less when you know it’s not permanent. I like to think of it as a decluttering safety net! That’s exactly how I started with a capsule wardrobe as well. I kept my extra items in our spare bedroom closet because it felt a little scary to completely let go all at once! Thanks for reading and sharing your plan! I hope you enjoy your capsule!

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