13 Summer Capsule Wardrobe Essentials


Step Into Summer With The Wardrobe Essentials You Need

Summer Capsule Wardrobe Made Easy

Summer, it’s a love/hate relationship. Warm weather, sunshine, water, barbecues, being outside: LOVE. Summer wardrobe? It’s a struggle. No season is harder to dress for than summer, which sounds ridiculous. Shorts + Shirt + Sandals = Outfit. Right? Well…yes, but it can get a little boring. When you have a selective number of items in your closet it can feel like even more of a snooze without the layers, booties, scarves, and everything else we use to up our style game in the other three seasons.

What summer capsule wardrobe essentials do you need to keep your outfit game on point? I’m glad you asked because I’ve got 13 essentials for you, most of which you probably already have. Definitely shop your closet before hitting the mall. But if there’s anything from this list you’re missing and it suits your personal style, check out my Classic Capsule Wardrobe Guides to figure out how to best fill in those gaps!

This article and the video below are taken from the Stunning Style Weekly Style Snack! Join us Wednesdays at 1pm ET on the Stunning Style Facebook page or the FREE Capsule Wardrobes for Classic Style Facebook Group.

A Flattering Pair of Shorts

Unlike jeans, which reign supreme 3 seasons a year, shorts really only have summer in most parts of the country (California and Florida, don’t rub it in, ok?). This is their season, and we love the extra air circulation. These days they come in every inseam length, so you can cover as much or as little of your legs as you like.

For many of us, a flattering pair of shorts is a must in a summer capsule wardrobe. They go with just about everything, they’re comfortable, and they can be dressed up or down. Depending on your body shape and personal style, your “perfect” pair of shorts could look totally different from someone else’s. 

April from Stunning Style wearing white shorts and a blue tee as part of her summer capsule wardrobe.

A Versatile Skirt

Skirts are a year-round favorite, but my summer capsule wardrobe has more than the other 3 seasons together. They are the perfect breezy alternative to shorts, getting even more cool air moving around your nether regions. Just like dresses, even though they are supremely comfortable, you automatically look more dressed up.

Like shorts they come in every length from mini to midi to maxi, and you can get as much or as little coverage as you like.

April from Stunning Style wearing a neutral leopard skirt with a black tee.

Cropped Pants

Not everyone wants to show some leg in the summer, and cropped pants are a great option. Opt for the wider leg cuts to get some breeziness literally and visually. Choose a length that hits at the narrow part of your lower leg, below the calf muscle, for the most flattering look. Add a lightweight summer fabric like linen, and your summer look is complete. If linen is too casual for your lifestyle, a lightweight gabardine is a great choice.

April from Stunning Style wearing blue cropped pants and a blue tee as part of her summer capsule wardrobe.

A Neutral Top

I’m willing to bet that there’s almost nothing in your closet that wouldn’t go with a plain white or black tee or top. Basic tees are comfortable and so versatile. Wear it on the weekend with an easy skirt, pair it with shorts and sandals for running errands, or layer a blazer over it with statement earrings for work. You’ll probably want a few of these! To keep it from being boring, choose one with an interesting design detail.

April from Stunning Style wearing black shorts and a neutral white tee as part of her summer capsule wardrobe.

A Colored Top

Include at least one solid-colored top, and a great choice would be your favorite or signature color. Who wouldn’t want to wear their very most favorite color that gets compliments every.single.time? It’s a guaranteed winner to make you look and feel amazing. If you love the color that much, you probably have more of it in your closet, and it’s likely to go with a lot of things in your summer capsule wardrobe.

April from Stunning Style wearing black shorts and a red colored top with silver bag.

A Patterned Top

“How many striped tops is too many? I’ll let you know when I find out.” According to my daughter, stripes are my favorite color, and I definitely have a weakness for them. Classic stripes are so chic and versatile, but it can be any pattern you love. 

Is there a pattern that makes you feel particularly summary? A floral pattern? A graphic tee? Something that reminds you of fireworks? A fruit print?

Pattern is easier to wear in smaller doses, and a summer top is a great option for including it in your capsule closet. Decide whether you would prefer a neutral pattern, a neutral plus 1 color pattern, or a multi-color pattern.

April from Stunning Style wearing black shorts and a cobalt patterned top.

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A Neutral Sandal

The very first summer shoe you need is a basic sandal in a neutral color that will go with everything in your summer wardrobe. Basics sound boring, but as we’ve talked about before, they are the foundation of every outfit. And they don’t have to be boring!

The perfect basic sandal will be the pair you reach for again and again, goes with everything in your wardrobe, and tells your style story. It’s all about the details. It sounds like a lot to ask, but if you are narrowing it down to this one go-to shoe, you want ultimate versatility, which comes by considering color, comfort, lifestyle, and personal style.

April from Stunning Style wearing silver basic sandals as part of her summer capsule wardrobe.

Statement Shoes

Who says capsule wardrobes have to be boring? Based on your lifestyle, find a pair of statement heels, sandals, or sneakers you absolutely love to add a pop of personality and style to your summer capsule wardrobe. The statement could be a bold color or a pattern, interesting straps or other details. 

Statement shoes are staples in my summer capsule wardrobe. Because clothes are smaller in the summer, it’s easier to bring in more color and pattern without feeling overwhelmed. The smaller they are, the easier it is to wear something bold. Soaring temperatures means it is likely to be a sandal, but it doesn’t have to be, especially if you can’t wear sandals to work.

April from Stunning Style wearing statement patent red shoes as part of her summer capsule wardrobe.

An Active Shoe

Summer means parks, picnics, barbecues, fireworks, after-dinner walks, and basically getting out and about outside. While your other two pairs of shoes need to be comfortable and fit your summer lifestyle, sometimes you really need an active shoe.

This can be something as sturdy as a hiking shoe, if that is an activity you do often enough to include it as part of your core summer capsule wardrobe, or it can be more like a sneaker, or a water sandal.

AprilfromStunningStylewearingleopardactivesneakers perfectforsummer!

A Go-To Dress

Dresses aren’t just for dressing up! They are a favorite summer wardrobe essential for me, and I hunt for new ones every year. If you want fuss-free style, dresses are easy, breezy, instantly chic, supremely comfortable, convenient, one-and-done outfits.

When you put on a dress, you are basically…dressed. Just add shoes and go. No mixing and matching required – it’s the ultimate easy button. You automatically look dressed up, put together and chic just because you put on what is essentially a very long t-shirt.

With one go-to dress in your summer capsule wardrobe you can change up how you style it, dressing it up or down as the occasion calls for. They come in every length, style, and material, and there is a perfect one for you.

Best color + figure flattering + comfortable = perfection

April from Stunning Style wearing a pink and white striped dress as part of her summer capsule wardrobe.

A Lightweight Sweater

A…sweater? In the summer? Oh yes. Is it just me, or are restaurants, movie theaters, malls, and all indoor public places basically refrigerated in the summer? If you get cold as easily as I do, or if it gets chilly in the evenings, summer sweaters are a great option.

Choose a solid-colored sweater that goes with your color palette. Look for thin, lightweight materials that are meant for summer in a pullover or cardigan style, depending on your preferences. 


An Incredible Bag

Nothing will elevate your look like a great bag. I’m not saying you need to spend a mortgage payment to get a quality bag, but maybe it should cost more than a lunch date. If you want something luxurious but budget-conscious, look at the pre-loved market, and take your time. 

In the summer I prefer smaller lightweight crossbody bags because I’m out and about with my kids a lot more. I need to be hands-free.

I do like to bring color to an otherwise neutral outfit with a bag, but if I had to choose one bag, it would be black. Sounds so cliche, but for me it’s true. What is your go-to neutral? Choose that. 


A Piece of Jewelry

That pair of earrings that goes with everything. The sentimental necklace that you received on a special occasion. The one that perfectly represents your style, and you can throw it on with just about any outfit and feel complete. That’s the one you need. 

It could be a statement piece or a dainty piece, but it definitely feels like you. If you are super minimal with jewelry and want something you can wear with anything, anywhere and even sleep in, a pair of hoops are the way to go. They come in every size from huggie to Jenny from the Block.


20 thoughts on “13 Summer Capsule Wardrobe Essentials”

  1. Diane McCormack

    Could you reference where you got the solid tees (white and navy) that have the flattering details.. Interested in getting some of those!!
    Love how simple, dressed up they look.

  2. Fantastic info and love the pictures too! Working on my wardrobe because I never want to look frumpy at 59!!

  3. Have you had experience dressing people that can’t wear shorts or skirts? I have huge legs and look terrible if I show them or my ankles. I’m not a large woman! Just have unsightly legs so my outfits are limited.

  4. Thank you! Summer is a tough one for me as I prefer to be covered up (turtlenecks, jeans, knee high boots are the loves of my life)!
    I just wanted to say I LOVE you in the neutral colour way sweater picture. I follow you as you’re the only person I’ve found who looks like me 🙂 I’ve shied away from light colours but your picture gives me inspiration.
    Thank you and please know we might not always comment but there are loads of us that are so grateful for you sharing your style secrets.

  5. Hi April- would you share your makeup brand/colors you wore in this video? You look fantastic! Marilyn

  6. These are awesome!! I am so glad I found your site. thanks for the great info, now I just need to figure out which length of shorts is best for me.

      1. Hi Robin, the links to these were included in previous seasons of April’s Seasonal Wardrobe Guides, which are for subscribed members of the Stunning Style Society. The doors to join are currently closed, but will open next month for the Summer season! If you’d like to learn more about the Society you can join the waitlist here: https://stunningstyle.com/society

  7. The royal blue cropped pants are the perfect pair I’m looking for. I like that they are not too tight or too wide. Where did you buy them? To update my summer wardrobe, I bought a new purse. I was tired of using a purse that was too small and full of tiny zippered pockets. Now I’m on the hunt for a comfortable walking sandal. Thanks for all of your tips.

  8. Diane McCormack

    Just once again asking where you acquired the solid tees ( such as the white and navy) with the flattering details. Interested in getting some of those. Love how simple but dressed up they add to the outfit with their simple details.
    Thank you again for you time. Truly enjoy all your information.

  9. Is there a place these questions are answered? I’ve watched the YouTube videos too & don’t see that anyone answers these, like can you recommend brands or give shopping links to the items you referenced? Maybe Im too new to understand how your site works.

    1. Hi D,

      Many of the items April wears come from her Seasonal Wardrobe Guides, which are for subscribed members of the Stunning Style Society. To maintain the integrity and benefits of being a member, often times April does not publicly disclose where she bought something but will include it in the shopping portal on her membership site. Many times she is willing to share, it just depends on the item. If you’d like to learn more about the Society you can do so here: https://stunningstyle.com/society

      Doors to join the Society open four times a year, and the doors will open for Fall later this month! If you’d like to join the waitlist, you’ll be the first to know when they are open for new members.

  10. I live in OK so summer is basically three seasons long (as it is in much of the south). I adore skirts and dresses and am working on building my collection because I agree they really are the perfect summer outfit. I also agree that shoes are hands down the most important part of a summer ensemble (and for me most any outfit): my shoes are hands down the hardest item for me to shop for since they have to fit, be comfortable, and be the right style. I sometimes shop for an entire season before finally finding the right pair of shoes, just in time for another pair to wear out ugh lol.

    1. Cianna, I am also picky about shoes. My feet have always been painful. Sitting down is one thing, but if I have to be on my feet…there aren’t that many options for me. It’s worth it to wait until you find the right ones.

  11. I love your style!! Can you please tell me the brands of your entire outfit in “A LIGHTWEIGHT SWEATER?” I would truly appreciate it!! Thank you

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