Here’s a list of foundational items that will kick-start a casual warm weather wardrobe capsule, especially if you are starting a casual Summer wardrobe from scratch. Once the foundations are in place you’ll find it easier to build complete wardrobe capsules around a colour palette, and put together head-to-toe outfits. 

Start by getting ONE of each of the below items and build your capsules from there. Over time, purchase an assortment of building blocks for extra outfit variation, and to prevent laundry bottle necks. Note that these items can move across various wardrobe capsules. That’s why I am calling them the building blocks.  

  • Denim jacket: Keep it cropped and cheeky to wear over dresses, with skirts, and non-denim bottoms. Think blue or white denim. Even if your Summers are scorchers, temperatures are cooler in the morning, at night, or in air-conditioning. That’s when you’ll need a denim jacket. 
  • Jeans: If regular jeans are too hot for your Summer climate, substitute them with breezier cropped jeans and boyfriend jeans. If pants are not your thing, substitute jeans with a denim skirt. Think blue denim washes, white and coloured denim.
  • Denim shorts: Choose your length. From clamdiggers and tapered Bermuda shorts, to regular length shorts and short shorts.
  • Non-denim bottoms: You have options aplenty. Knitted skirts, woven skirts, cotton-rich trousers, harem pants and slouchy trousers. Choose a print or a solid. 
  • Sandals: A “nude for you”, metallic or neutral snake skin pair is versatile. Or choose a colour that bookends the colour of your hair. Wedge sandals keep the heel vibe casual, as do espadrilles and cork heels.
  • Non Sandal Shoes: Think loafers, slipper flats, ballet flats, fashion sneakers, flat oxfords, sandal booties, peep-toe booties, slingbacks or Summer boots. 
  • Warm weather handbag: Choose a bright colour or a very light colour. Or a style in canvas, wicker, or a metallic. Unstructured or semi structured styles in distressed leather look more casual. 
  • Summer scarf: This item may come as a surprise but hear me out. Lightweight, gauzy, linen/cotton/silk rich scarves keep you cool, and they can add just the right amount of pizazz to a basic tank top or layering tee. Choose a solid or a pattern. 
  • Sunglasses: These days sunglasses are a practical necessity, even in a grey Seattle. Choose a fabulous pair, pop in prescription lenses if necessary, and try not to lose them. 

Once these foundations are laid, add “the glue” to create the head-to-toe outfits that complete a wardrobe capsule. Items like blouses, shirts, knitted tops, layering t-shirts, tank tops and dresses will add flair to the capsule. If your Summers are mild, or you’re victim to arctic air-conditioning, adding lightweight knitwear and jackets is a great idea. Think about adding accessories like a belt, watch, arm candy, or sunhat. 

Don’t worry if you can’t cover all the bases in one season. This template is something to work towards and will help you to identify wardrobe gaps. Wondering why you’re sick of denim bottoms? That’s because you need NON-denim options. How can you make a pair of cropped jeans and tee worn with sandals look more interesting? Add a printed gauzy scarf, bangles and white handbag. Wondering why that dressy dress is orphaned? Layer over a denim jacket and match it with cork heeled sandals to relax its vibe. Use this checklist as a way of expanding your casual outfit options in an efficient, cost-effective, and controlled way.