I've worked in the fashion industry for almost a decade now, and along the way I’ve picked up a few tips for creating great outfits to say the least. Like most of us, in my twenties I experimented with my style— playing with trends and trying on different sartorial personas. Some I still love today, and some I’d like to stay firmly in the 2010s, thank you very much. By the time I reached thirty a couple of years ago, though, I’d pretty much settled down to a routine of capsule pieces I wear on repeat. Or at least, some go-to outfit formulas I know will make me feel good, whatever the occasion.
In autumn and winter I always tend to lean on chic layering, based around a mix of neutrals that all go together— usually involving some form of relaxed tailoring (I’m a blazer super-fan). Summer is a little different though, as you have to really rely on hero pieces alone, like a dress or a linen co-ord, and then build a warm-weather outfit around them that still manages to look polished. That’s where it becomes all about the combos, balancing proportions out and adding timeless accessories that will always elevate your look.
So, in case you’ve been struggling with inspiration for what to wear this summer, I thought I’d share with you my seven go-to outfit formulas that I bring out every year and wear on repeat. I’ve added any styling tips I could think of, as well as shopped out my looks in case you see anything your summer capsule wardrobe is missing. Happy scrolling!
Shorts sets are a concept I've only recently added to my regular summer rotation, but one I'm starting to wonder how I ever lived without. Linen ones in particular will keep you cool, and where shorts can sometimes feel quite casual, the co-ordination keeps the whole look feeling put-together.
A white dress should be a summer staple in every woman's wardrobe. Whether you prefer mini or midi, frothy and lacy or pared-back and minimalist, nothing beats it against sun-kissed skin. I usually pair mine with tan accessories as I think it adds a relaxed but polished finish, but black works just as well.
As you can see I've been wearing this simple combo in quite a few different variations this summer— but that's because it's a fool-proof outfit I always feel good in. The tank top keeps you cool in the heat, and I've swapped my trusty jeans for lightweight wide-leg trousers. These balance out the proportions while adding a more grown-up vibe to the look. Flats make the whole outfit more relaxed while heels are the perfect addition for the office or date night.
Although in autumn/winter I usually stick to a palette of neutrals, I really enjoy adding a splash of juicy colour to my summer outfits. Loud prints are probably a step too far for me, but a block colour like this makes enough of a statement— and it's more timeless than a print. My advice? Opt for colours that suit you, and that you really love wearing, rather than just the ones on trend right now. I bought these sunshine dresses two years apart and still love them both equally.
Can you tell I have a thing for wearing yellow in summer? But this outfit works with literally any bright blazer you fall for. I do love a linen version, though, as it keeps it feeling relaxed and warm-weather appropriate Then I'll just add classic jeans (loose and lighter for weekends and smarter for meetings) and a crisp white tank.
A black strappy swimsuit can double up as a top whether you're on holiday or in the city. Just throw over a floaty skirt to balance out the slim top and you're set for heatwaves and beach days alike. Simple black leather flip flops go perfectly and never date.
In theory, when I entered my thirties I became more averse to showing a lot of skin in summer. But on those hotter-than-hot days we're experiencing more frequently now, I still embrace a barely-there mini. Opt for silkier slip styles rather than frothy puff-sleeves for a more grown-up vibe— Realisation Par and Reformation do the best ones in my opinion— and then elevate with glossy gold jewellery. You can always throw a linen shirt over as a cover-up, too.