minimalist summer wardrobe

How To Create 14 Looks With a Minimalist Summer Wardrobe

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If you’re anything like me, then you might face the temptation to do a complete wardrobe overhaul when a new summer season rolls around. And although browsing all of the new arrivals at our favorite stores and shopping new pieces for the latest trends can be tempting, it can be hard on both closet space, and our wallets! If this sounds like you, creating a minimalist summer wardrobe might be a great solution.

What Should You Have in a Minimalist Summer Wardrobe?

Although capsule wardrobe guidelines vary when it comes to that “magic number” of pieces to include, the one I’ve created below has 24 pieces.

The key to creating your own summer capsule wardrobe that works for your own life is to choose versatile pieces that can easily be mixed and matched to create different outfits.

Although neutral colors might not always seem like the most exciting choices if you prefer colorful pieces, they’re key to being able to get the most out of each piece when it comes to creating a wide variety of pairings.

Plus, these are only suggestions! You can always swap out any of the pieces below for bright colors if you’d like – the key to a minimalist summer wardrobe is curating a collection of individual pieces that you love and feel great wearing!

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How To Style Your Minimalist Summer Wardrobe

Now, for the checklist and outfit ideas. Above, you have 24 suggestions of clothing pieces to create your own capsule wardrobe for the summer months, and now, below you’ll find 14 different looks that you can use as inspiration for mixing and matching.

Sweater

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Another key part of creating a minimalist wardrobe of capsule pieces is making sure that you have pieces that can transition from season to season. This will help you ensure that you’re getting the maximum amount of wear out of each piece – especially if you’re choosing to invest in high-quality pieces.

A pullover sweater or cardigan is the perfect example of an item that can transition from a winter capsule wardrobe to a spring capsule wardrobe and even into the summer months. If your climate is too warm to wear it on a hot day, you can always tie it over your shoulders for a chic accessory.

More than likely you’ll have multiple sweaters in your wardrobe, so I would suggest choosing a variety of styles to cover your bases. For example, a lightweight version like the one linked here might be more practical for spring and summer days.

Button-Down

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A classic striped or white button-down is another perfect example of a piece to transition from your spring capsule wardrobe into summer. Whether you wear it open or buttoned, it’s a great layer to add when you feel like wearing an airy blouse for warmer weather. Look for styles in cotton or linen, both of which are breathable and perfect for comfortable outfits.

This is also a great piece when you think about versatility in terms of casual versus elevated looks. Whether you’re dressing for work or the weekend, a classic button-down can do it all.

Striped Tee

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A basic short sleeve tee is always a good idea to include in a capsule wardrobe. It can be worn in so many different ways, and can always act as a foundational layer. A striped tee is a good idea to include because it’s a “neutral pattern” that will never go out of style. Plus, it will add a little more interest to your look than a solid version.

White Tee

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The white tee is wardrobe gold, so much so that you might want to invest in multiple! Whether you’re layering it under your sweaters in the winter or creating a minimalist summer look in the warmer months, this is a piece you’ll reach for again and again.

If you want to wear this piece solo, you’ll want to find a white tee that isn’t see-through. The box-cut tee from Everlane pictured above is particularly great when it comes to thickness, without being bulky. This is one of my personal favorites, as I also love that the fit isn’t skin-tight.

Straight-Leg Jeans

A quality pair of jeans will be worth the extra cost. This is another piece that can carry you through all four seasons, so it’s worth taking the time (and sometimes money) to find a pair that fits you well.

To start, try a pair in a medium wash if you’re looking for versatility. A straight-leg pair is also a smart choice if you’re looking for wearability, which can easily be dressed up or down.

Of course, if you have a tried and true style that’s never failed you, always choose a pair that makes YOU feel good!

Linen Vest

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The linen vest is a great piece to try if you’re looking to add a trending item to your wardrobe this year. Although it’s currently trending, a linen vest has staying power.

Whether you choose to layer it over a t-shirt in the summer or a turtleneck in the winter, or maybe wear it as a top by itself, it’s a classic piece that is the perfect way to elevate your look. Use it to replace your tank top, or your favorite sweater on warmer days.

Floral Dress

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A floral dress is a great way to add a complete outfit to your closet that will translate to a variety of different occasions. Whether you’re attending a wedding shower, taking family photos, or maybe just heading to work, a floral dress can easily be styled for nearly any location.

Plus, choosing summer dresses when you’re getting ready will take you less time to style. A fun sundress is also one of the best ways to add bright colors to your wardrobe.

Look for a style that ultimately fits your personal taste, and feels comfortable on your body shape. I love the style above because the length and the short sleeves mean that it could easily be worn to church or work, but is still a fun piece to wear out as well.

Straw Tote Bag

When it comes to a minimalist closet, choosing the right bag to fit your lifestyle is key – otherwise, you’ll end up with a wardrobe full of beautiful bags that you never use.

For those on the go, a classic tote is a great option due to how much it can hold. And if you aren’t a fan of the canvas style, try a woven or straw option like this – it’s more of a seasonal choice, but it’s the perfect way to add a summer flair to your look.

Shift Dress

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Speaking of dresses, a midi dress like the shift style in linen shown above is another great addition to your summer capsule wardrobe.

Linen is a great idea when it comes to natural fibers for warm weather, and the midi length is flattering on a wide variety of heights. If you’re dining out in this dress, try tying a sweater over your shoulder in case it gets cold, or bring along a denim jacket from your spring capsule wardrobe.

Free Resource: Looking for more capsule wardrobe shopping lists? MCO has free guides for you here.

Leather Sandals

Speaking of leather sandals, this pair from Tuckernuck has been around for years, and with good reason. They’re an elevated take on a classic designer style, while also being easy to slide on and go about your day.

Related: French Sole Alibi Sandals vs Hermès Oran Sandals • I’ve Had Both and These Are My Honest Thoughts on Them

Dress Shorts

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Last year was one of the first times that I ever tried on a pair of dress shorts, and I’ll never look back! They’re one of my favorite ways to look put together in the summer while still staying cool.

Plus, a style in linen like the ones shown above is airier and softer than denim shorts. I also love the pleating and slightly longer length – as I get older I feel a slightly longer length tends to be more practical and more fitting for my current style.

Black Tank Top

A classic tank top is another important foundational piece for your own summer capsule wardrobe. Choose a neutral color that will pair well with other layers in your closet. This way it will be multi-functional on its own, or worn with another top.

Fisherman Sandals

Fisherman sandals are another great choice for a comfortable shoe that’s also breathable for warmer weather. The adjustable strap will ensure a comfortable fit, while they offer enough coverage if you prefer not to wear a completely open-toed option. If you’re looking for another color, these come in a great shade of cognac as well for a versatile and classic brown.

Denim Shorts

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When dressing for a more casual occasion, denim shorts are a tried and true item. Although these can be slightly more difficult when it comes to finding a pair that fits and flatters you, they’re one of those pieces that will forever feel like summer. Plus, you can style them in so many different ways, depending on what top you wear.

Oval Sunglasses

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No minimalist summer wardrobe would be complete without a pair of chic sunglasses. If you love a vintage flair, an oval pair is a good option and alternative to the classic cat eye shape.

White Jeans

A pair of cropped white jeans is a great option when it comes to classic denim for your summer fashions. They offer contrast to dark pieces on top, or can help you create monochromatic-inspired looks with lighter tops.

Layered Necklaces

Layering necklaces is another perfect way to add your own personality to a capsule wardrobe. Choose individual pieces to stack that are meaningful to you, or choose a pre-layered set like this. If choosing to layer your own individual pieces, try mixing up the lengths and textures.

Related: How To Build a Jewelry Collection: 11 Must-Have Timeless Pieces

Linen Trousers

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Linen pants are a great pick if you’re looking to transition from the work week to the weekend with ease. Depending on how you style them you can create trendy casual looks, or more classic ones that are perfect for the office.

If you need more ideas about what tops to wear with linen pants, MCO has a post already created for you to read here.

Sneakers

A pair of sneakers is a must for the occasions when you plan on being on your feet for a long time. Whether you’re packing for a summer trip to Europe or maybe perusing your local farmer’s market, a comfortable pair of white sneakers is the perfect shoe.

Choosing a pair with a neutral color palette will ensure they complement a wide variety of outfits, like this black and white style from Veja.

Tortoiseshell Sunglasses

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For those of us with a rounder face shape who prefer more angular frames, this pair of oversized tortoiseshell sunglasses will be especially flattering. I love to balance a more practical pair with a more dramatic style (like the oval shape or a cat eye pair) if I am looking to create a minimalist selection.

Heels

When it comes to choosing a pair of heels to include in your summer capsule wardrobe, considering a few details will ensure that you get the maximum amount of wear from them.

First, think about what heel height you’re comfortable walking in. Although the higher height may look tempting (especially for those of us who are on the petite side!), they may not come out of your closet except for special occasions.

Choosing a shorter heel in a block style will more than likely be a safer choice, but ultimately, it is up to your personal style and comfort level! The same thing goes for whether or not you prefer an ankle strap for added stability. If you are comfortable without one, I’ve found a slide pair like these with thick straps that are easy to wear while still being practical.

Baseball Cap

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Even if you don’t root for a particular sports team, a baseball cap is the perfect accessory for casual summer looks (or bad hair days). There are plenty of solid options out there, or branded ones as well if you don’t like to rep one team over another.

Gold Hoops

Whether you prefer gold or silver, a simple pair of hoop earrings is a great choice when it comes to versatile jewelry. They pair well with elevated or casual looks, and come in a wide variety of sizes depending on your personal taste.

Ring Set

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A set of rings that you can wear together or separately is another great choice for summer, especially for active days when you don’t necessarily want to wear something looser like a bracelet or necklace.

Chunky gold (or silver) rings also help to elevate casual looks, and the thickness is a small detail that helps them look more intentional.

The Concept of a Minimalist Summer Capsule Wardrobe Wardrobe

Even if not all of the pieces above fit your personal style, hopefully, this checklist gave you some inspiration on where to get started when it comes to creating a minimalist summer wardrobe!

The goal of a capsule wardrobe like this is not only to save space in your closet, but also to make it easier to get dressed in the morning with a select number of options that are easy to pair together. After all, summer is too busy (and fun) to stress about finding something to wear!

And if you’re still fully in spring mode thanks to cooler temperatures, check out the next post. Up Next: 60-Degree Weather Outfits: Striking the Perfect Balance

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Hi, I'm Cassie! My husband and I have a full house with three furbabies, and when I'm not spending time with them, I'm loving all things fashion, travel, and romanticizing life's little moments. I'm also a self-described book nerd, and am always on the hunt for my newest read.