Summer Getaway Capsule Wardrobe for Grown Women

capsule wardrobe for a summer vacation for women. Size-inclusive with plus size options. Capsule wardrobe for summer that fits in a carryon bag.

it has been a while since I have built a capsule wardrobe. The world has been topsy-turvy and we haven't known what will happen tomorrow, next week, next month. But with things evening out a bit, many of us are venturing out this summer on vacations. Beach and lake getaways, road trips, family vacations… what the heck do you pack to keep it simple, light, but be ready for whatever your holiday brings? I hope this summer getaway capsule wardrobe will help guide you!

Summer Getaway Capsule Wardrobe for Grown Women

This is a capsule wardrobe for grown women. Everything packed can be worn with a traditional bra and pair of undies. The shoes are cute… but functional. Items can be washed in the machine (or in the sink at the rental house or hotel room). Sun protection is factored in, and everything is available, at a minimum, up to size 20. I will share the size range and alternatives in a better size range when applicable. Also, I promise no fast fashion, but also no $250 t-shirts and $500 straw hats! And with that, let's check out my summer getaway capsule wardrobe and why I included what I did:

What's In my Summer Getaway Capsule Wardrobe?

With capsule wardrobes, you want to stick to a color story so items mix and match with ease. Usually, my capsule wardrobes are based upon black, but not everyone likes black and in the summer, black can be hot to wear. So this capsule is soft neutrals with pops of color. White, beige, navy, blush all mix and match nicely but also look beautiful with lilac, magenta, and other brights you may love.

This capsule wardrobe is based upon my own travels. Earlier this month I went to Lewes, Delaware for a week. Prior to that I did a few days' staycation in DC. Each summer I head to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware for a long weekend. Our family has done cross-country and East Coast road trips for multiple weeks, having to dress for dinner in Manhattan and canoeing in Vermont out of one bag. Each person's priorities are different; I love fashion and my capsule wardrobe may be more “fancy” or elaborate than one for your needs.

My capsule wardrobes are always guides, not gospel. My goal isn't for you to click all the links and buy this exact collection of items. Instead, I want you to think about what you already own that may fit the role, and then only purchase what will take those items you already own and be cohesive and fill in the gaps.

A Summer Getaway Capsule Wardrobe for Grown Women

A grown woman can be 25 or 85. I used to say women over 40, but life experiences can have us mature more quickly; also many women choose to never grow up. I respect both of these and offer style advice for those who have deemed themselves grown-ass women. You know who you are!

summer getaway capsule wardrobe by Wardrobe Oxygen
gauze kaftan (available in three colors, regular and petite sizes 0/2-20/22) | striped tee (11 colors to choose from, sizes 2-22) | lavender moisture-wicking top from recycled fabrics (20 colors and prints in sizes XS-4X) | polarized aviator sunglasses | linen open-weave sweater (four colors in sizes XXXS-3X) | navy chino shorts (7″ regular and plus, 6″ petite and plus petite. Eight colors, sizes 2-24) | black active shorts (two colors, sizes 00-40) | beige skort (five colors available, regular and tall sizes 0-26) | white crinkle swim coverup shirt (four colors in sizes 14/16-38/40; click here for similar in that I own in white sizes XS-XL) | packable sustainable straw fedora (two colors and four sizes) | straw bag (two colors available) | light blue vegan crossbody with interchangeable straps | white cropped jeans (available in four colors, sizes 00-40) | navy tank swimsuit (three colors and a variety of options for bust and tummy support in sizes 2-18; click here for the same suit in 16W-26W) | floral scarf/wrap (five prints to choose from) | gold hoops | light green bandana (four colors to choose from) | long beaded necklace | waterproof hiking/walking shoes (available in two colors) | gold sandals (four colors to choose from) | white waterproof sandals (11 different colors available)

Shop The Capsule Wardrobe:

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The Why Behind These Capsule Wardrobe Items

As I mentioned before, I based this capsule wardrobe off my own summer getaways, and most of the items in this capsule wardrobe I either own, or own similar and have found it so useful for trips:

  • Why a caftan? A gauze caftan like this one from Chico's (if in doubt size down, it's a relaxed fit and doesn't shrink, even in the dryer) is a travel must. Don't want to put on your pajamas but want to be relaxed and feel cool after a day at the pool/beach/golf course? Got a bit sunburned and the idea of heavy clothes sounds like torture? Want something to put on over your swimsuit for lunch? Going out to dinner and want to feel glamorous yet comfy? That's why I added a caftan. I love such versatility!
  • Why a shirt-style swim coverup? A shirt-style swim coverup may not be as “fun” or glamorous, but it can be worn unbuttoned, or buttoned, it can be styled with leggings and sneakers for a coffee run, tucked into shorts for a day look, tied over a tank dress when it's breezy. I own the one from Tommy Bahama; it's on its third year and still looks great. I also have this no-iron linen tunic shirt that I took with me on my last beach trip and used as a coverup/outfit piece.
  • Why those three shoes?
    • The EVA Birkenstocks are genius; they offer a bit of arch support and look cute while being waterproof. They can be street shoes but also beach/pool flip flops and shower shoes, and at the end of the day can be hosed off (I keep my white ones clean with a Magic Eraser).
    • The gold sandals are dressy enough for nicer outfits, but comfortable enough if you have to walk a distance to your restaurant. The style works with pants, shorts, skirts, and dresses of almost every length and silhouette.
    • The sneakers are actually hiking shoes that are waterproof, but lightweight. Wear them sightseeing, wear them to the gym, wear them for a morning jog, wear them for a canoe ride, and of course, wear them for any hikes. They're cute enough to go with your day outfit, but functional enough for all your activities.
  • Why those two bags?
    • I liked that the light blue crossbody bag wasn't black and instead a summery color that goes with the whole color story of this capsule. I liked that it is vegan leather, so you don't have to freak out if your ice cream cone melts onto it or it gets scuffed. It comes with two different straps; use the wide one when sightseeing for comfort, the slim one to dress it up for the evening. Plenty of pockets and a good size for your essentials when on travel.
    • The straw tote is great when you need to carry more, or when you want to switch up your look. Unlike a lot of tote-style purses, this one can be packed small into your luggage but still looks polished enough to carry to dinner.
  • Why scarves in summer?
    • The small bandana-style one can be worn for fashion tied in your hair or around your neck, but it's also great for mopping a brow. I often wear such a bandana “cowboy style” when doing outdoor activities so it protects my chest area, but also is there for me to do a quick face wipe when it's hot and sweaty. I can also slide it over my head if I feel my scalp needs coverage.
    • The larger scarf can be styled for fashion, but it can also be a shawl in the evening. I love such scarves for travel; they can be your blanket on a plane or train, and I have even tied above the chest to be a tube dress of coverage when puttering around my hotel room.
  • Why so many bottoms? Because in the summer, your bottom half determines the dressiness of your ensemble. That lavender tank with the black active shorts is perfect for kayaking; with the skort, it's cute for grabbing coffee, could be worn canoeing; pair with the white jeans and gold hoops and you can head to dinner at a restaurant. In the summer, a simple tank top can go from your run to a restaurant with a change of bottoms and accessories. Variety prepares you for all sorts of situations, and shirts like the ones in this summer getaway capsule wardrobe are easy to wash up in the sink, hang up, and have ready to go the next day.

A Summer Getaway Capsule Wardrobe If You Have More Room in Your Suitcase…

summer getaway capsule wardrobe over 40 1
This is the same exact capsule wardrobe as above but I changed out the caftan photo and added three items:
waterproof tote bag (three prints available) | breathable baseball cap that can get wet (three colors available) | striped rashguard (sizes XS-XL with petite and long options; this link is for the same rashguard in sizes 1X-3X)

Shop these Capsule Wardrobe Additions:

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Now, are you going on a summer getaway for three days or three weeks? Are you with a group that loves bar-hopping or dining out, or will you be doing more outdoor activities? Adding just a few items may be able to extend your summer getaway capsule wardrobe by days or situations. Below are some items I regularly throw in my luggage for a summer getaway (the tote, cap, and rashguard make cameos in the possible outfits from this summer getaway capsule wardrobe).

  • This genuis tote: I own several pieces from SCOUT, which is a woman-owned business here in the DC area. This tote is similar to the one I take on almost every trip. Because it is structured, we use it in the car to hold groceries or luggage. We then use it to go to the beach or pool because it can hold all our towels plus all our other things and keep them organized. We can hose it down after the beach and tip it upside down over a railing or on the deck to dry out, and then it packs flat if we don't need it to cart items home at the end of the trip. Ours is years old and still looks new.
  • This rash guard: I own this one in the Breton stripe and while it works for its given purpose to protect you from the surf and sun, it can also make for casual streetwear. Toss it on with a skort and you can go for an early morning hike and hike straight to the cafe for breakfast and window shop after with your iced latte and look and feel great for all those situations.
  • A cap that can get wet: If you're out in the sun, you need to be protected. While I included a packable fedora in the capsule wardrobe and take mine on every trip, I often also tuck in a fitness baseball cap that is breathable and quick-drying. For you, it may be a bucket hat or a cap with neck protection or a visor. But adding this helps for hikes and stand-up paddle boarding and floating down a lazy river in an inner tube.
  • This packable rain jacket: I own it and love it for summer showers and throwing on for a chilly evening on the deck or at the beach. For reference, I am a size 14 and got a large regular and it's roomy enough to fit over a sweatshirt. Here is the link to the same jacket in plus sizes.
  • A second swimsuit: I linked to the separates available from the brand Sunsets. I am in love with this brand of cup-sized swimwear that really delivers. Cup sizes 28G-40H and non-cup sizing up to 24W, my Sunsets separates have lasted for multiple summers, even going in the washer (and once or twice accidentally in the dryer!). The fabric is traditional swimwear fabric so it's easy to mix and match with pieces from other brands (or get a top from Sunsets and a bottom from a place that has a shape and size you prefer).
  • This below-knee knit dress: as easy as a t-shirt dress, but the hem makes it so it can dress up for dinner out or a party. It can handle being balled up in the corner of your duffle bag; it's often what I grab to add when I realize I have a little pocket of space left and always am glad I packed it. Available in a variety of colors, two necklines, and sizes 00-40.

Sample Outfits from My Summer Getaway Capsule Wardrobe

I have created 25 different looks from this capsule wardrobe. To see the individual looks, tap any of the photos below to scroll through the gallery.  Just X out to return back to this screen.

Can This All Fit in a Carryon Bag?

I am a size 14 woman with size 8 feet. I think that is necessary to share with any capsule wardrobe that claims to fit in a certain size bag. Your size determines the size of the items going in the bag, and that is rarely factored for capsule wardrobes. I didn't use to factor it myself, but will go forward so you can determine if a capsule will fit as well as how much additional space you may have.

TOM BIHN AERONAUT REVIEW 1
I know I know, winter clothes in a summer capsule wardrobe post? But this shows my size and height with the Tom Bihn Aeronaut 45, which fit this summer getaway capsule wardrobe (excluding the waterproof beach tote)

I was able to fit these exact items or size/weight/style equivalents of all of this (except for the waterproof tote) in my Tom Bihn Aeronaut 45 (Read my Tom Bihn Aeronaut review. In it you see photos of me holding the bag so you can get a good feel for its size). There was still room left over to tuck my underpinnings, an extra swimsuit, a lightweight knit zip-up hoodie, a second bandana, two sleeveless knit tops, a bracelet, and two more pairs of earrings. I likely could have fit more, but I wanted it to be able to still slip out the backpack straps but keep them in during transport.

The Tom Bihn Aeronaut 45 is small enough to be a carry-on bag on a domestic flight (though it is at the max for size; full specs on the product page). It has handles, plus a crossbody/shoulder strap AND padded shoulder straps. It is designed where you can work out of your suitcase sitting on a luggage rack without anything spilling out. It's soft, which is great for car travel, but also structured enough that you can stack items on it easily. I have on multiple occasions worn a full Aeronaut as a backpack and walked a dozen city blocks or almost a mile to my hotel. My husband and I use ours for all of our summer getaways.

20 Comments

  1. REBECCA
    July 21, 2021 / 10:06 am

    I got the Ugg sandals and I love them! They fit true to size–maybe even a bit wide, but that helps me–and they are really good-looking.

    • July 21, 2021 / 11:36 am

      That’s awesome to read, I’m so glad!

  2. Laura Zwickl
    June 23, 2021 / 10:37 pm

    Thanks for a great capsule. I keep seeing white pants for summer, but I just can’t do it! I always end up dropping something on myself when I have on white! Any suggestions for other colors?

    • June 24, 2021 / 3:15 pm

      I think a light stone colored chino or navy would work!

  3. Corinne Baines
    June 22, 2021 / 12:05 pm

    I missed out on the caftan in petite sizes. Have you come across any others … its tough finding maxi dresses in petites that are well proportioned.

    • June 22, 2021 / 12:16 pm

      I highly recommend eShakti, I have had such luck with them. You can either have them in the standard size and cut to fit your height (which works for me likely because of my bust) or custom measurements.

  4. Marla
    June 21, 2021 / 6:05 pm

    You may have sold me on a caftan. They really are super versatile. And I own the lavender tank. It’s fantastic! It, too, is a multi-tasker!

    • June 22, 2021 / 12:17 pm

      I am so glad to hear you own and love the tank!

  5. Luanne Teall
    June 21, 2021 / 3:57 pm

    Tried to find the straw bag and got a “dead end” message.

  6. E
    June 21, 2021 / 2:39 pm

    Love this capsule- it’s so adaptable to things I already have, and I appreciate that. I do hope chico’s will restock the hot pink gauze dress! When are companies going to catch on we want COLOR?!?

    • June 21, 2021 / 4:01 pm

      They have already restocked twice, yesterday the pink was in stock in most sizes. I hope they get back more!

  7. Lee
    June 21, 2021 / 12:36 pm

    This is great! You’ve got me thinking about items in my closet & what might work. My family already took a trip earlier this month, and I definitely overpacked (I almost always do). But, I did take clothes that mixed & matched with each other & that was helpful. One idea from you that I really want to try is using a white shirt as an extra layer—I bought a linen button down 2 years ago at Uniqlo & still haven’t used it—ugh. It’s one of those things I see others wearing & think they look so good, but I don’t picture it for myself, you know? I purchased the eva Burks last month in hot pink & love them! So much more comfortable than flip flops. I am not headed to a beach this summer but am certain they’ll come come along with me on future trips!

    • June 21, 2021 / 4:02 pm

      I love those EVA Birks even for letting the dog out and getting the mail! My daughter and I both have pairs and they sit at the door at the ready for our outdoor excursions!

      • Lee
        June 21, 2021 / 4:30 pm

        They are great! I forgot to add that my dog’s name is Scout! I had no idea that Scout Company was based in DC. I ran across a few of their products several years ago while on vacation in the Boston area. Such cute & useful things!

        • June 21, 2021 / 4:58 pm

          That’s such a great name for a dog!

  8. Jessie
    June 21, 2021 / 11:05 am

    Love this capsule – especially the fact that you included lots of navy instead of black! I find black too harsh for my coloring, so I usually rely on navy.

  9. Grace
    June 21, 2021 / 9:26 am

    Thank you for this post, Allie! I am in the middle of building myself a capsule to take on a five-week trip, and this is so helpful!

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