Ask Allie: Summer Capsule Wardrobe with Polish

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“I’d love to know what you plan on wearing this summer, what are your top buys?”

“Can you do a summer capsule of business casual but that works with after work ball games, happy hours, and other events? I can’t figure out summer day to play like I can for fall and winter.”

Summer should have a wardrobe as fun yet relaxed as it is; it’s a time to embrace color, consider bold prints, and choose fabrics that can handle the heat and your more active lifestyle. Below is a sample summer capsule wardrobe, envisioning what I’d be buying and wearing this summer, featuring my favorite trends of the season as well as many wardrobe classics that could already be residing in your closet.

capsule wardrobe - summer polish

Shop Similar:
printed shell | gray tee | band tee | white blazer | black top | blue camisole | striped tank | wedge sandals | Birkenstocks | printed pants | white shorts | denim shorts | hat | sunglasses | cuff bracelet | white jeans | boyfriend jeans | purse | belt | pencil skirt | midi skirt | scarf | necklace | printed dress | yellow dress


  • A silky sleeveless top in a bold print is surprisingly versatile, it’s a hot trend this summer but a piece that will be stylish for many seasons to come. Wear untucked with white shorts, wedge sandals and gold jewelry for your friend’s annual summer bash, with jeans for happy hour, tucked into the chiffon midi skirt for a sweltering day at the office, with a pencil skirt and the white blazer or cardigan to ward against the frigid temps of an overly-air conditioned workplace. I even love the contrast of silk with distressed denim; pair with the boyfriend jeans or denim shorts and Birkenstocks and look comfy chic for an outdoor concert or barbecue.  I just got this one from Nordstrom and have worn a dozen times in just a month.
  • I love a gray v-neck tee, I have a couple Old Navy Vintage V-necks and have heard good things about Everlane; if linen or stretchy, it has a dressier feel that looks great knotted over a chiffon midi skirt or under a white blazer with boyfriend jeans. Also consider knotting over a dress to give it a completely different look.
  • I love band tees, a great way to show your personal tastes and incorporate a hot summer trend. I always cut the neck out of mine, and occasionally snip off a bit of length of the sleeves for a more feminine fit. Pair with the chiffon skirt or printed pants and Birkenstocks for a concert or weekend party, wear with distressed denim for the weekends and add the blazer for a more refined look.
  • A white blazer in a relaxed cut and fabric is an easy way to dress up a casual summer look or transform a “play” look into something “day” appropriate. I have a white linen blazer from LOFT; I roll the sleeves to get a casual summer vibe and pair with separates or wear over a dress.
  • A black drapey sleeveless top is a summer wardrobe essential for me; last summer I had this silky one from MICHAEL Michael Kors and this summer I added this jersey one from Two by Vince Camuto. It’s nice enough to wear to the office with the printed pants or either of the skirts or slip under a suit. However it can dress down and work with the white shorts or jeans for a casual dinner out or drinks at a waterfront bar.
  • A floaty camisole in a fabric like crepe, silk, or cotton voile is perfect for day to play dress. Wear under a blazer or cardigan for the office and remove the topper for drinks or dinner. If the color is in a similar hue as the pencil skirt (teal with cobalt, purple with navy, etc.) the two paired with a blazer makes for an elegant office look and without can make a lovely outfit for a daytime wedding. Wear untucked with any of the bottoms for breezy summer style.
  • You know I love stripes, and that love continues through the summer. A striped tank in a heavyweight stretch or refined knit can dress up enough for Business Casual; pair with the printed pants for black and white pattern mixing, with the chiffon skirt and wedges, or the pencil skirt and blazer. For play, it would look great with any of the bottoms, add a belt with gold details to dress it up.


  • Printed pants are my new favorite wardrobe addition. In a lightweight fabric, it’s a way to look polished while keeping your cool all summer.
  • Shorts come in so many cuts and lengths this summer, there’s a flattering style for everyone. My favorites are a distressed denim (I self-distressed a cheap Target pair, see them here, and I used this tutorial), and crisp white. I find white versatile and easy to dress up, while many feel white is bad with pale legs, it’s less harsh than black and complements more colors and fabrics.
  • Some can’t fathom wearing denim in summer and I get that. For me, I like it for the evening or Casual Friday. White jeans can be flattering if you choose a heavyweight denim or a denim blend, and consider a looser cut or going up a size. Boyfriend jeans are still hot this summer, and their looser fit makes them more comfortable in the heat and great for sitting in the grass for a picnic or festival.
  • Skirts are a summer essential, especially if you work in an office setting. A pencil skirt in a cotton or linen blend is seasonally appropriate and office appropriate. A chiffon midi or maxi skirt floats in the breeze and dresses up and down with ease.


  • Gotta love one-piece dressing during the summer months! Featured are my two favorite summer dress cuts – the tee or shift dress and a more feminine fit and flare style. The tee dress can dress up for work with heels and a scarf or necklace and can dress down with a topknot and Birkenstocks. The yellow dress can be paired with nude heels and a sparkly necklace for a wedding, with a blazer or cardigan for the office, and simple sandals for play. Tie a tee over it or wear a belt (or a scarf tied at the waist) for a completely different look.


  • Wedge sandals are brilliant for summer; they can work for more casual office settings and won’t sink into grass at an outdoor wedding. They also work with pants, jeans, skirts and dressier shorts. Flat sandals are a comfy summer must; I’m loving the return of Birkenstocks and their availability in metallic and patent leathers but a simple sandal, gladiator, or thong style can also work.
  • It’s important to protect yourself in the sun, along with sunscreen it’s smart to don a hat and sunglasses. A white Panama hat is on trend, looks at home with a tee and denim cutoffs as well as a pretty summer dress and heels. Classic Ray-Ban Wayfarers also dress up and down nicely and are a classic that will still look cool next summer.
  • A small black leather clutch with a strap that can be removed or tucked inside is my favorite type of summer bag, and perfect for day to play. Use the strap for the office and transform it into a clutch for happy hour. Wear across the body for a daytime festival and without for a wedding.
  • A black leather belt with a bit of hardware is a quick way to dress up wardrobe basics. A thin belt isn’t as hot and can nicely cinch a floaty tunic or dress or add some polish to white jeans or shorts.
  • A square scarf in silk or cotton voile is extremely versatile. Tie bandana style and add interest to a simple tee and jeans, knot over a ponytail or to the strap of your bag. I sometimes tie a scarf to a front belt loop of my jeans to spice up a simple outfit.
  • In the summer, heavy jewelry can be hot. A simple chain and charm and a thin cuff of the same metal is enough sparkle needed to dress up wardrobe basics.


When it comes to summer dressing with a touch of polish, what are your wardrobe tips and suggestions?

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. Challege, if you wish to accept it. I’d love to see a 50 piece mid season wardrobe… That’s what I do with mine, instead of seasonal capsules. I’d love fresh ideas!

  2. What a lovely inspirational group of clothes! I particularly love the yellow dress (yellow is so ‘in’ this year, I really want a few pieces to add in to my wardrobe).

  3. Another great post! I must say, I have been following your blog for about 2 years, and loved it from the beginning, but since you have returned with the new format it has been even more amazing! Welcome back!

  4. I really wish these capsules could be done to reflect the size one wears. I know my size 10 – 12 white jeans do not look like the picture available for the capsule. I love capsule wardrobes, and I know they are kinda a “wish” list or “idea” list, and don’t get me wrong I LOVE your blog, but one of the reasons I read your blog is becuase your body type is similar to mine. I know when you create your capsule you are limited to the picture available to you, but you should show you in the actual clothes or the actual clothes in a realistic size laid out together instead of the picture available for the capsule….just a thought. Thanks for being awesome!

  5. I fear I’m becoming a broken record, but every time you do a capsule wardrobe you just blow my mind. Your pieces are each great, but it’s the SEAMLESS interchangeability you get out of such great pieces that’s so impressive.

    And needless to say: my favorite item here is that Van Halen top. There’s a pic of me getting my wedding makeup done in a cropped VH tank that I’m pretty sure was intended for like, a 10 year old boy. 🙂

    1. It’s not that difficult really. I love this blog because I tend to use the same kind of pieces over and over and it gives me better ideas. Grab a color wheel when shopping for a new item, it’ll make your life so much easier and interchangeable!

  6. I like the styles of your summer choices. However, I have a question about the fabrics. In hot weather I can’t tolerate any percentage of polyester, nylon, acetate next to my skin. They make me feel sweaty, clammy, itchy, miserable. Cotton, silk, linen, rayon feel good so that’s what I wear..

    Allie, can you wear poly shirts and be comfortable in the summer heat of DC? If you can, how? Body powder? Special deodorant?


    1. I like when they have a crepe-like finish because it doesn’t cling, I find it more comfortable than a tee shirt which seems to soak up sweat. Also for work and then after-work events it’s usually air conditioned or partially so. I also wear CertainDri in the summer to reduce sweat 🙂

  7. I LOVE YOUR CAPSULES! I would replace the blue tank with something with more coverage and the band tee for an embellished T I got a J Crew and the yellow dress for a green one I have that is similar but this is AWESOME! Welcome back Allie!

  8. I love when you do these. It is so inspiring. I’ve been feeling in a rut with clothes and this was just what I needed.

  9. very nice – for my life, I’d swap the print trousers for black linen ones, and make the short-shorts knee-length. Great wedge sandals too. xo

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