An Active Casual Capsule Wardrobe

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capsule wardrobe active casual

A reader contacted me asking how to build herself an active casual capsule wardrobe for her new life as a retiree.  I am so thrilled for her new adventure and thrilled she is looking for a way to make getting dressed every morning easier. A capsule wardrobe can help one focus on life instead of what to wear each day. Purchasing carefully, slowly, and while considering all you currently own can get you to the point of having a small quality wardrobe of hard-working pieces that have you ready for whatever comes your way.  The reader loves the colors blue and green, so this active casual capsule wardrobe is based on these cool tones. 

capsule wardrobe casual active over 60 featured by popular Washington DC fashion blogger, Wardrobe Oxygen

An active casual capsule wardrobe for a retiree

For this casual capsule wardrobe, I didn’t focus on yoga and walking as I figure you have gear for those activities; however, I did try to create a collection that will move with you, be comfortable for long spans of time outdoors taking the grandchildren sightseeing or to the park, or sitting on a blanket in the grass enjoying live music.

As a pear-shaped woman, it can be hard to find bottoms for your capsule wardrobe that fit and flatter. For skirts, those with an a-line, a flare from the waist, or that are softly gathered will flatter your figure. A skirt at or below the knee not only balances your frame but provides modesty when chasing after little ones or sitting on the ground. While many women avoid shorts, they’re so practical and so many lengths and styles are now available making it so any woman can find a cut that she likes. For a pear shape, a straight short that hits right at the top of the knee is best. Here I offered a stretchy denim style with a single cuff, and a stretch twill Bermuda that can dress up or down nicely. A “boyfriend” jean is great for pear shapes because they’re more relaxed in the hip and thigh area and the cuff makes them have just the right amount of taper and color contrast to not shorten the leg like traditional cropped pants. Many women choose dark bottoms to minimize their hips and rear, but a pair of opaque white jeans can be quite chic and flattering (and it also makes primary and jewel tones look so luxe). It’s not ridiculous to pay to have jeans tailored (if you purchase them from Nordstrom they will tailor them on-site); go up a size for a comfortable fit in the hips and thighs and have the waist and hem adjusted for a custom fit. A straight jean is on-trend yet will still be stylish next year; such a cut also balances hips nicely

For your capsule wardrobe tops, I kept things simple but incorporated elements to balance your curves. Boatnecks, cap sleeves, and gathered necklines add interest and also balance the bottom half of your figure. Choosing tops that highlight the slimmest part of your torso are also great; look for empire waists, built-in belts (or add one at the waist or at the ribs over an untucked top), and details like ruching and knots that define. Notice I kept prints to a minimum and those prints quite classic – prints can look dated very quickly. Sticking to solids and classic simple prints will keep your wardrobe from looking passé or frumpy. Breton stripes are a classic and look chic on women of all ages; while florals can be seen as mumsy this simple white and blue print in a stretch silk or synthetic will look quite modern, especially when paired unexpectedly with boyfriend jeans or shorts.  A graphic print in your favorite color can easily be switched out for the floral.

With dresses, I incorporated the same concepts from the skirts and tops.  Fit and flare styles, cap sleeves, details to emphasize the waist, and skirts that hit at the knee or lower.  Do know that models are often taller than average; a dress that looks thigh-high on a website may be knee-length on you.  Consider the measurements offered as well as the photo (and customer reviews, if available) before judging a dress or skirt.

While a shoe with a bit of a heel will balance a pear figure, I believe in function over fashion and a flat shoe for your capsule wardrobe will do you better with your new lifestyle. Choosing shoes that match your bottoms or are low contrast to your legs will be the best choice; a metallic flat is a great way to dress up casual pieces but they’re also a great way to get away without wearing heels to a wedding or other social event.

Accessories are what takes a capsule wardrobe from ordinary to extraordinary. Statement necklaces are a great way to draw attention to your face, add personality and also a youthful touch to your outfit. A silk scarf can look matronly, but in a bold print it adds personality and class to simple knits.

As for bags, choosing a crossbody means you have your hands free to hold on to your grandchildren, take a photo, or grab a pair of drinks for you and another at that next blues festival.  I can't stress the importance of accessories enough, especially with a pared-down wardrobe of staples.  Accessories show your personality, show that you are young at heart, and that you are aware of current trends and care about style.  Don't be afraid of a sparkly necklace, a metallic slip-on sneaker, or a statement watch or bag from a popular brand.

A pair of black plastic sunglasses are a classic; I recommend purchasing a classic yet popular brand and a style that is pretty classic to show you are aware of the trends but wearing them in the way that is best for you.  While I featured the classic Ray-Ban Wayfarer in the collage, other styles are equally chic; I chose a few that caught my eye and have them in the widget above.  With sunglasses and bags, I recommend buying the best quality and brand you can afford.  These are accessories you likely will wear every day; quality will last and also elevate your basic wardrobe staples.

Like this capsule wardrobe? Click here now to see more of my capsule wardrobes!


A woman with curly hair wearing a plaid blazer holds a green fur coat over her shoulder on a city street.

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  1. I also love blues and greens, with neutral bottoms (except white or cream) in gray , khaki or denim or navy colors. (pants and capris) As retired, I ditched the skirts and haven’t worn a dress in decades. Only jewelry is pearl necklaces in several shades and purses in neutrals. Everything can be mixed. Have pants and blazer (several) for dressier events. We are ultra casual and live in active wear tops and capris or walking shorts, wear athletic shoes except for dress which is rarely. Am working on a capsule minimalist wardrobe.

  2. Where are the models over 60? Get real!
    Don’t ask me to extrapolate from a svelt 30 year old.
    (And I’m not large – 5’5″ and 125. but I sag and need to see how these clothes would REALLY look on me!)

    1. Your comment is why my collages and capsule wardrobes do not include models. It’s impossible to know how something will reallly fit when placed on a 6′ tall teenager. Blogs are a great resource for this. There are many bloggers who are most any age and shape that share their daily outfits in photographs. I’m in my 40s but I highly recommend my friend Susan at https://susanafter60.com. On my menu you’ll find under social a link that says “Blogs I Like” and there you’ll find a few more blogs by women of a variety of ages. Also google fashion blog over 60 you’ll find so many amazing women sharing how clothes really look on them!

  3. I am retired and try to be fashionable but I’m a short chunky busty apple. I would love to see recommendations for my body type. I find your blog very helpful.

  4. Definitely the way I do my wardrobe – we’re travelling for our retirement plan, have been on the road for 3 years. I have three packing cubes, each with a “season” – hot weather, cold weather, and temperate. That’s it, plus 3 pair of shoes. Amazing how we can look great with less!!!

  5. Finally found this post! Do you have any suggestions for good sources of casual tops that aren’t the same old boxy t-shirts? Love the cobalt blue trapeze one.

    1. I find stores that sell career wear end up having great unique tops. NY&Co, Ann Taylor, LOFT, JC Penney – a bit of lycra, a nice knot or gathers to flatter. Also I’m seeing a positive change with Banana Republic who is starting to embrace such tops; I look forward to seeing how the new concept goes. Unfortunately that blue top is out of stock, but I also saw similar pieces at Nordstrom!

  6. Wow, I really appreciate that you make posts for all ages! I will share this with my mom, who is the same age and has a similar lifestyle as the woman asking the question. You have a greate blog!

  7. I’ve got pretty much the same selection for summer and I’m 27! The pieces you propose are so easy to wear, classic and versatile! I love metallic flats, gotta find a pair!

  8. Allie, this post describes my lifestyle. However, I am apple shaped. What sort of changes should I make. Thank you for the tip on the crossbody bag. My youngest is expecting our 5th grandchild in the fall. As the designated babysitter, I will have to switch up to a hands-free bag. Great post!

    1. Hi Debbie! As a fellow apple there’s not a ton you need to change. If you feel comfortable with a smidge shorter of shorts and skirts you can rock them. For necklines, look for scoops, V’s, and U’s that aren’t too low but elongate the neck. With accessories, ones that hand a bit lower will flatter better, especially if you have a larger bust. Pendants are a great choice. Choose sleeves that are either completely sleeveless or hit mid-bicep or longer so they cut off at a more flattering location. Glad you liked the post, I’ll admit it was inspired by my mom’s wardrobe, and she too is an apple and owns similar pieces to everything featured!

  9. Thanks to this post I went into my closet and found a kelly green front zip sweater that had gone unworn far too long. Found a t shirt in same shade and wore it yesterday with straight leg jeans. And got a ton of compliments. Next week it will come out with white jeans or tan pants. Thanks for the inspiration … your capsule is working already!

  10. Hi Allie, I’m a stay at home mom, approaching 40, and short but very curvy. Do you happen to have a capsule wardrobe for someone like me that needs something comfortable to chase after the kiddos, but attractive and stylish at the same time? Oh and for a very limited budget (single income family situation can be tough on the wardrobe sometimes!) TIA!

    1. Unfortunately I couldn’t find the exact same things for sale at this time. The knot-waist one was originally from H&M, the green tunic is Oscar De La Renta (I normally don’t link to products of that price but the color and silhouette was perfect for the concept and I know you can find similar elsewhere) the tee at the bottom is a linen tee from an Australian company but linen tees of that sort can be found at any price point; I love Target tees.

  11. Allie, I can’t thank you enough! It is PERFECT, I love everything …you really nailed it like you know me. I can’t wait to start purchasing the items you recommended. You are a genius. I am so thrilled. Again, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  12. Alison, you aren’t ugly or fat or gross. I saw some of the rude comments people leave you, I think you are cute and fashionable. I’m 37 and considered rather handsome, if you smiled at me in a bar I’d certainly come over and get something started with ya’.

  13. Great pieces, Allie. I’ll be 60 in a couple of months and dress like this every chance I get. Just swap the shorts for knee length skirts, and I am there. xo

    1. If you hover over the picture or click on it a tiny “Pin It” button should be in the upper left hand corner over the logo on the graphic. Thank you! And yes, that is something I will be updating with my blog redesign, that Pin It button is too tiny! 🙂

      1. I hovered. I clicked. I might have sprained my pinning finger (tragedy!). Still nothing. I’ll just keep checking your pinterest board for it to show up there….

  14. I didn’t write you, but it just about exactly describes me! Except I’d add world traveler and frequent theater goer. I’m pinning this post. Very helpful.

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