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. 

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(Image credit: @styleidealist)

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

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(Image credit: @sylviemus_)

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. 

2. Sundress

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(Image credit: @ali_tate_cutler)

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.

3. Basket Bag

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(Image credit: @styleidealist)

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

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(Image credit: @dawn.tan)

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

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(Image credit: @emilyjdawes)

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. 

6. Shorts

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(Image credit: @symphonyofsilk)

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. 

7. Plain T-Shirt

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(Image credit: @basicstouch)

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. 

8. White/Off-White Jeans

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(Image credit: @lucywilliams02)

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.

9. Casual Jacket

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(Image credit: @savina_chai)

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. 

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. 

Maxine Eggenberger
Deputy Editor

Maxine Eggenberger is Who What Wear UK’s deputy editor and has over twelve years of experience in fashion journalism. She been creating engaging and elevated style content for Who What Wear UK since 2018, covering runway reports, emerging trends, long-form features, self-styled shopping stories, and columns, including her edit of the best new-in buys. She ensures the highest editorial standards are met across the site, works closely with influencer talent on content initiatives, represents the brand at industry events, and regularly contributes to social media. Previously, Maxine appeared on TV in her own fashion segment and has interviewed countless celebrities—everyone from Victoria Beckham to Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o. 


Prior to Who What Wear UK, Maxine’s career began when, after completing her first-ever internship, she was offered a position on the Look magazine fashion desk. She accepted, leaving university a year early in the process. She went on to become the title's fashion news and commercial content editor, with a stint as InStyle.co.uk’s fashion writer along the way. She later served as Look’s acting Editor in Chief before embarking on a successful freelance career, working with Grazia, The Pool, and Marie Claire amongst others. Maxine works remotely from her countryside home near Edinburgh.