9 Simple Pieces You Need for an Elevated Summer Capsule Wardrobe

I'm pretty strict when it comes to a summer capsule wardrobe. Years ago, I might have been tempted to ensure there were loads of summer dresses and loose-fitting trousers in my wardrobe, but I'm now set on only a few items. This reasoning is absolutely to do with sustainability and ensuring my wardrobe works as hard as possible for me, but also, when it's hot, you don't want options—you just want pieces that make you look and feel good. 

Karina Marriott showcases how easy it is to assemble a chic summer outfit when you have some core basics to hand. 

I've finally narrowed down my warmer-weather outfits to just nine pieces. It doesn't seem like very much, but all of these items are perfect for mixing together and creating different looks. Not to mention I've included plenty of accessories. Sunglasses, a pair of sandals that work with everything and a proper basket bag will do brilliant things for your outfits. 

Below, you'll see the nine items I recommend that should be in everyone's summer capsule wardrobe. Note that there's no mention of swimsuits, as this isn't for going on holiday, even if plenty of these pieces work for that, too. Rather, it's for your day-to-day looks during the summer. Read on. 

1. Relaxed Shirt

Summer capsule wardrobe: Sylvie Mus wearing an oversized shirt



Style Notes: If there's one item I can't do without during the summer, it's an oversized shirt. It can be in any colour you want—although, my preference is a white or striped version—and just know you'll wear it all the time. Whether with jeans, shorts or knotted over a dress or your swimming cossie, this will be your summer saviour. 

You’ll work up so many ways to style this shirt. 

Dress up or down for day or night. 

2. Sundress

Style Notes: I think everyone needs a summer dress that makes them feel great. You know the frock that you can throw on when it's boiling and you still manage to stay looking cool? That one.

A pretty neckline in a classic black hue. 

3. Basket Bag

Style Notes: Take a tip from our French friends, and opt for a basket bag during the summer. My preference is oversize in case there's a call for a picnic and you need it to double up as your picnic basket. 

4. Sunglasses

Summer capsule wardrobe: Dawn Tan wearing rectangle sunglasses



Style Notes: Don't forget to pack your sunnies every day of summer. Sure, one minute it'll be raining, but the next, it'll be sunny. Right now, rectangular frames are high on the style agenda. 

5. Sandals

summer capsule wardrobe: emily dawes marks and spencer sandals



Style Notes: This season, there's been a lean towards '90s-style sandals. Flatforms and chunky flip-flops are where it's at. My best tip, however, is to keep them simple so that they go with everything you own. 

Ease into the flatform trend with these leather flip-flops. 

6. Shorts

Style Notes: You might not be much of a shorts person, but in the height of summer, nothing else will do. Look to Lorna of Symphony of Silk, who always manages to make her looks chic. 

The slightly longer length of this denim short makes them look all the more premium. 

Massimo Dutti is many a fashion editor's go-to for relaxed tailoring. 

7. Plain T-Shirt

summer capsule wardrobe: basics touch wearing plain black tee



Style Notes: Black and white T-shirts have saved me again and again during the summer. Tuck one into jeans, shorts or a skirt, and you'll look chic and fresh. 

Hone a relaxed aesthetic by pairing this boxy tee with wide-leg trousers. 

8. White/Off-White Jeans

Style Notes: I never used to be a white-jeans person, but about five years ago, I realised just how great they look in the summer. My preference right now are wide-leg versions.

These jeans come in waist sizes 24 to 40. 

9. Casual Jacket

summer capsule wardrobe: savina chai wearing a suede jacket



Style Notes: If I lived in L.A. or somewhere else equally as warm, I probably wouldn't include a jacket. But I live in the UK, and it gets cold in the summer. So a light jacket is a necessity, and linen or twill make for excellent breathable options. 

This colour goes with so many others in your wardrobe. 

Crop jackets are trending this season. 

Next Up, Autumn/Winter 2023 Trends: Expert-Backed Looks You Need to See

This post was originally published at an earlier time and has since been updated.