I’ve never really been one for capsule wardrobes, but as I navigate the world of sustainable fashion, it is making more and more sense to me. Why not focus on buying quality, classic products that will last summer after summer instead of trendier pieces that might end up in the donation pile when fall rolls around?
The idea of a capsule wardrobe is to buy a few classic items each season that will work well paired in different ways (scroll down to see how I did that) and that won’t go out of style anytime soon. While I tried to include as many sustainable brands as possible, my focus was more on including really great items that you will wear year after year.
My summer capsule wardrobe
1. Packable Sunhat
In case you hadn’t heard, sun protection is the most important. Don’t skip it! I wear SPF 50 on my face every single day of the year, and in the summer months, you can usually find me in a baseball cap on top of that. At the beach, I like a sunhat with a wider brim to protect my neck as well. I have this hat from Tuckernuck ($60) that you can fold up and pack easily which is a huge win because I’ve ruined other sunhats in transit to the beach in the past.
2. Striped Tee
A striped t-shirt was actually the first thing I added to my summer capsule wardrobe. Hundreds of brands make classic Breton- striped shirts, but I included a Saint James t-shirt ($90) on this list because they make super durable shirts that last for decades. I have three of them in my closet and one I’ve had for over 10 years, which somehow gets better and even softer with age.
On top of that, they are an ethical company that produces their products in France. In 2005 they were even awarded the “Ethics and governance” trophy by the business school Ecole des Dirigeants et Créateurs d’Entreprise (EDC) sponsored by Jean-Pierre Raffarin, France’s Prime Minister at the time.
3. White Shorts
Over the weekend I bought these J.Crew white shorts ($69) because I didn’t have a pair and they were 40% off. They will definitely get a ton of use this summer paired with a striped tee or a cozy sweatshirt at night. This J.Crew Factory pair ($16) looks similar, although I can’t speak to how they fit. And this pair from Everlane ($58) is both sustainable and affordable.
I wear my Birkenstocks every single day in the summer. I throw them on to play in the backyard with Amalia and they’re a staple for daycare pick up and drop off. I need something easy to slip on and off that actually support my feet. I used to be a flip flops all day all night kind of gal but when I do that now, I get pain in my feet and calves. Yes, I’m old. It’s fine. I have this classic pair ($134), but just bought these rubber ones ($39) for summer so they can get muddy and wet without me having to worry about them. When they arrive, I’ll tell you more about how they fit in comparison to the classics, but they look similar.
Are Birkenstocks the cutest shoe on the block? Probably not. But they are 100% making a comeback and I love how comfortable they are. Last weekend my dad kept asking me if the doctor ordered me to wear them so I think that means I should buy him a pair for Father’s Day, right?
5. Casual Jeans
In case you hadn’t noticed, I’ve fallen in love with Everlane again and part of the reason why is because of their commitment to making clean denim. The other part is that they make incredible jeans that look cool, fit well, and come at a fantastic price. On a recent trip to the city, I picked up this pair of casual summery jeans ($68) that I find myself reaching for over skinny jeans lately because they’re so much comfier.
I don’t wear heels all that often, but when I do in the summer, they’re usually espadrilles because they’re so comfy and flatter my legs. These Soludos espadrilles ($95) are classic and durable. For something more affordable but will hold up summer after summer, these J.Crew Factory espadrilles ($38) are fantastic. I have them in blue and can speak from experience that they’re comfortable and look great too.
7. White Jeans
I am so excited that J.Crew brought back my all-time favorite pair of white jeans ($98). I’ve had this exact pair for about 6 or 7 years and they’re finally at the point where they look more grey than white. I was dying for a new pair but they didn’t make them for a while. They’re back now and I snapped them up to replace my old ones which are being donated to a local shelter.
8. One-piece Swimsuit
You can’t go wrong with this classic 1989 scoopneck one-piece from J.Crew (on sale for $49). I love their suits, but if you want to stick to sustainable fashion, I also am a big fan of Summersalt. I have this suit in two colorways and this fun color block one is on my list too. The brand spends a lot of time researching different body types and sizing, and I can honestly say that I’ve never found a better-fitting swimsuit.
I also discovered a sustainable swimwear line called Vitamin A from a follower. You can read about their sustainability practices here. I’m adding one of their suits to my birthday wish list. This striped one-piece is my favorite, but I also randomly love this short-sleeved crop top suit. Plus the founder’s name is Ahmalia!
At this point, I do feel like a good headband is a wardrobe staple. I included a silk one ($69) because you can wear it out or to bed and it will protect your hair. It’s from the same brand that makes my silk pillowcase and has a ton of great reviews. I bought it for myself and will report back on how it looks.
10. Denim Shorts
No good summer wardrobe is complete without the perfect pair of denim shorts. For me, that means high waisted but not too short with the perfect amount of distress. And that dream pair of denim shorts ($128) exists IRL. You can find a similar pair for $88 here and for $65 here. And if you are on the sustainable fashion train, you will love this pair from Everlane ($58) that comes in 3 different washes
11. Party Dress
I couldn’t have a summer capsule wardrobe without a party dress. I love wearing dresses in the summer because they’re just so easy. You don’t have to think about anything besides throwing it on with a pair of sandals. You’ve seen me wear this Reformation dress a few times now (here and in yesterday’s post), but I also love this red one ($218). It comes in extended sizing here. Reformation makes amazing fun and flirty dresses, and although the price tag is certainly high, they’re totally transparent about their production process and dedicated to sustainability in a major way.
For something a little more affordable, I love this mini ruffle dress in bubblegum pink. I have it in red and in navy from last summer and wear it constantly.
12. White Tee
There is nothing like a perfect white tee and I’ve found one that is as close to perfection as they come. Everlane makes a lot of great tees, but their loose-fitting v-neck ($25) is my personal favorite.
Although it’s not straw, I bought this cotton beach bag ($65) over the winter for a trip to Florida and absolutely love it. It’s huge and can fit everything for a beach day including towels. I just read up on the brand, Las Bayadas, and learned that they donate 10% of the profits of each product sold to their eco-friendly partner, the Costa Verde International School, to support a scholarship program for its local “green” Mexican students. Very cool brand and very cool products!
How to wear these pieces together…