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The Best Summer Travel Capsule Wardrobe To Make Packing A Bliss

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Creating a summer travel capsule wardrobe is one of the key tricks to packing light. While it might be tempting to overpack, most people don’t ever end up wearing everything they bring. Instead of packing a bunch of different outfits, you should be bringing versatile pieces that can be worn for different occasions.

What to Bring in a Summer Travel Capsule Wardrobe

If you want to keep things light, we recommend the 54321 packing method. This means bringing:

  • 5 tops
  • 4 bottoms
  • 3 dresses
  • 3 shoes
  • 2 swimsuit
  • 2 bags
  • 1 hat
  • 1 pair of sunglasses

This is the perfect amount of clothes for a carry-on bag or small suitcase. Make sure they’re lightweight since you usually have to abide by the airline’s weight limit.

It’s also a good idea to bring things that don’t wrinkle. You won’t have room to bring a steamer, and you shouldn’t count on your hotel having an iron. Nylon, polyester, and wool are just a couple of wrinkle-free fabrics.

Items for Your Summer Travel Capsule Wardrobe

Tops

bow tie tank - summer capsule wardrobe
Anthropologie

Since you’re only bringing 5 tops, it’s important to be strategic about what you pack. Ideally, your items should be versatile and layer-able, like a tank top and a lightweight button-up. If you’re traveling somewhere warm, it’ll be nice to have a sleeveless top to keep you cool. But temperatures can still drop at night (even in warm destinations), so a button-up is great for when things get chilly.

Reformation Aspen Linen Top
Shopbop

Stick to tops with neutral patterns (or solid colors, depending on your style). That way, you’ll have more options to mix and match depending on the occasion.

CP Shades Marella Double Cloth Buttondown Shirt - summer capsule wardrobe
Free People

Bottoms

Italian Linen-Cotton Wide Leg Jean - summer capsule wardrobe
Banana Republic

Bottoms are a little trickier to pack, as they can often be heavy and bulky. But the good thing is that most bottoms are neutral and versatile, which is great for building a capsule wardrobe.

Jeans are great, but we really love colors that go beyond the basic blue. Just take a look at these wide-leg jeans. They come in black, white, and brown – all of which are perfect for matching with your neutral-colored tops.

The Somerset Maxi Skirt - maxi skirt summer travel capsule wardrobe
Anthropologie

For warmer destinations, don’t forget your shorts! These high-waisted linen trousers are the perfect length for the pool, the beach, or even out to dinner! And for more dressier evenings, you can throw on a flowy maxi skirt. It’s super flattering on all body shapes and looks great with a pair of heels or flats!

Image number 1 showing, Extra High-Waisted Taylor Linen-Blend Trouser Shorts -- 5-inch inseam - summer capsule wardrobe
Old Navy

Dresses

Reformation Baxley Dress - summer travel capsule wardrobe
Shopbop

You can build a summer travel capsule wardrobe without packing a few dresses! The key here is bringing one that is casual and two that can be dressed up or down. That way, you’ll have options for daywear and more formal occasions (like date night!)

For our casual dress, we are choosing this floral number. It’s made of lightweight material so it’s great for summer. However, you can also toss on your button-up if you feel too cold.

For the two dressier options, we suggest making one of them a darker dress. Darker colors are extremely versatile, so they can easily be worn for a fancy night out.

Endless Rose Sleeveless V-Neck Knit Dress - summer travel capsule wardrobe
Anthropologie

Accessories

Leggera Jumbo Curb Link Necklace &#124 Aureus + Argent
Banana Republic

Many of these summer travel capsule wardrobe items prove easy to dress up or down. If you want to wear them casually, just wear them as-is. But if you want to dress them up, add some accessories!

All you have to do is add some nice earrings and/or a chunky necklace and BAM! You have an instant chic outfit for vacation!

Ravena Drop Earrings &#124 Aureus + Argent - earrings
Banana Republic

And if you’re looking for an accessory that adds structure to your outfit, consider getting a fitted belt. If you’re wearing pants, you can use the belt to create a more cinched waist. For those who want to wear a loose dress, you can use the belt to create a more defined shape.

Angolo Leather Belt
Banana Republic

Shoes

Vince Martina Ankle Strap Sandal, Main, color, Black - summer travel capsule wardrobe
Nordstrom

As part of your capsule wardrobe, you can bring 3 different pairs of shoes. We recommend packing 1 pair of sandals, 1 pair of sneakers, and 1 pair of dressier shoes for going out.

Flip-flops are great for pool days, but they aren’t necessarily the best for walking around. Therefore, you should choose a sandal that works with your pants, skirts, and shorts. We like this ankle strap sandal because it’s super comfortable (cushioned footbed) and has contrasting neutral colors.

For your sneakers, you can’t go wrong with something white, like the Esplar Sneaker. It’s a timeless look that can be worn with any of the outfits you put together in your capsule.

Veja Esplar Sneaker, Main, color, Extra-White Sable
Nordstrom

And finally, choose a fancier shoe or heeled sandal for dressier occasions. It’s a neutral color that will look absolutely stunning with your day-to-night dark-colored dress!

Larroudé Brigite Ruffle Raffia Sandal, Main, color, Beige/ Beige - summer travel capsule wardrobe
Nordstrom

Bags

AllSaints Mosley Straw Tote, Main, color, Peat Brown - summer travel capsule wardrobe
Nordstrom

Choosing the right bag is one of the trickier tasks when packing. Larger bags are great for traveling and storage, but they aren’t necessarily good for nice dinners. Thankfully, this list allows you to bring two different styles.

If you’re going to the beach, having a durable beach bag is a no-brainer. We also love that it can function as a tote for the daytime or while you’re on your flight. For your second bag, bring something that is smaller and more suitable for evening events. Again, having something neutral-colored or with minimal pattern can help you pull together a variety of different looks.

The Mini Brigitte Satchel by Melie Bianco: Raffia Edition - summer travel capsule wardrobe
Anthropologie

Swimsuits

Beachy Bestie Blue and Ivory Abstract Side Tie Bikini Bottoms - summer travel capsule wardrobe
Lulus

If you’re one of the lucky ones going somewhere warm for vacation, you’ll likely have a few pool or beach days. Therefore, you’ll want to bring 2 different swimsuits with you in your suitcase. Of course, what you choose will depend on your personal preference and style. However, this is one of the few things you can bring that doesn’t have to be plain or neutral!

Feel free to choose something bright and playful, like this two-piece bikini. Or for a more chic look, you can rock this color-blocked one-piece. And don’t forget the button-up or cover-up you can use for chilly days!

STAUD Dolce One Piece - summer travel capsule wardrobe
Shopbop

With this fool-proof formula for packing, you can look chic and stylish without bringing unnecessary clothing. If you remember to keep things light, comfortable, and versatile, then you’ll have an endless number of outfits for your vacation. It doesn’t matter if you’re traveling with family

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