Summer Travel Capsule Wardrobe For Grown-ass Women

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Summer Travel Capsule Wardrobe For Grown Women

A bunch of us, myself included, us are heading out for vacation this summer. 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 travel capsule wardrobe will help guide you!

Packing for my own summer getaway, I was inspired to create this summer capsule wardrobe with items I either own in my own closet or own very similar. This combination has done me well for many getaways over the years. In fact, I originally published this summer travel capsule wardrobe in 2021 and am updating it for 2023 with items that are now in stock that offer just as much style and versatility.

Summer Travel Capsule Wardrobe

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.

What's In my Summer Getaway Capsule Wardrobe?

With summer wardrobes, you want to stick to a color story so items mix and match with ease. Usually, my capsule wardrobes are based on the black and white color palette. I know many find white easy to get dirty and black too harsh or hot in summer. Most everything featured here comes in other colors or you can find similar for sale this year in a color that pleases you.

This capsule wardrobe is based on my own travels. I originally created this capsule after my family and I spent a week in June in Lewes, Delaware. Just a week prior, my husband had a staycation in DC for our anniversary. Each summer I head to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware for a long weekend and 2023 will be no different.

Our family has done cross-country and East Coast road trips for multiple weeks almost every summer, dressing 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-ass Women

Wardrobe Oxygen provides real-life style for grown-ass woman. A grown-ass woman can be 25 or 85. I used to say women over 40, but being a grown-ass woman is a lifestyle, not an age. It's a woman who may have fewer f*cks to give, but still gives a sh*t. Wardrobe Oxygen's capsule wardrobes, this one included, are for those who still give a sh*t about personal style but have no f*cks left to sacrifice comfort and joy to achieve it.

This capsule wardrobe is pretty timeless, considering I made it a couple of years ago and have had to do very little to update it for 2023. It's also pretty versatile, not just meaning creating X number of outfits from Y number of garments. But it's versatile in regard to types of events, establishments, and situations you may experience on a summer getaway. I hope it helps, and may show you that you can create a capsule wardrobe with clothes already in your closet.

Summer Vacation Capsule Wardrobe For Women

pink dress | black dress | chino pants | black shorts | white linen shorts | white linen shirt | green linen sweater | striped shirt | black windbreaker | black swimsuit | lavender active top | black tank | sneakers | gold sandals | white sandals | sunglasses | hoop earrings | baseball cap | packable straw hat | printed large scarf | lavender bandana | straw tote | black crossbody

Shop The Capsule Wardrobe:


The Why Behind These Capsule Wardrobe Items

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

  • Why the scarves? Scarves and bandanas are a quick way to update a look without adding bulk to your luggage.
    • A bandana can be tied kerchief style to protect your scalp, tied cowboy style to protect your collarbone and easily mop your brow, can be rolled on the diagonal and tied in front of your throat for a pop of color and style. I chose a color to match the sneakers and active top but complement the rest of the capsule.
    • An oversized silky scarf is a quick way to elevate a look by using it as a belt. The one I included I own in a different print, you can see it as a belt on me here with the same pants in this capsule. I also wear this scarf as a headscarf, I've tied it around my neck, it's big enough to throw over shoulders for sun protection… it's a travel must for me.
  • Why white linen? I know, white is sheer, white gets dirty, but white linen also screams summer, and can go from casual to dressy far easier than most any other color. I wear these undies from Soma under my white linen, and I will spot clean my white linen in the sink with a bit of dishwashing liquid or Ivory soap. However, feel free to replace the white linen with any color that you like, though I recommend a matched set for optimal style. I own this exact linen shirt and shorts in multiple colors. If in doubt size down, especially with the shorts.
  • Why pants in summer? Bugs, sun, air conditioning, evening breezes… there are many reasons why you may want a pair of pants in summer. These are a soft chino that don't restrict and can dress up and down relatively well, and also look good even if they get wrinkled and rumpled. I own these myself and love them.
  • The pink dress I reviewed in this post. I have taken either this dress or a similar tiered poplin dress of this length on every summer vacation I've taken in the past few years. I throw some Thigh Society slip shorts underneath and am comfy and cool even on the muggiest days. If pink isn't your jam it comes in a bunch of other colors. The black dress is inspired by my sister's Miami weekend capsule wardrobe. I bought the dress after her review and can attest to it being quite awesome and versatile.
  • I own a previous year's version of the black jacket and I love how it packs down so small, isn't hot and sticky, but will offer some light rain protection, sun protection, and breeze protection with style.
  • Why these sunglasses? I am terrible with sunglasses. I break them, stretch them out, lose the nosepiece. They slide down my nose, they look weird on my face, I scratch them. These I have owned for four years and are still kicking. They are super lightweight, don't slide down even when I'm sweaty and greasy, can take a beating and still look great, and have polarization to make everything look better and see more comfortably in bright light. Totally worth the price.
  • The black tank from Chico's has been a closet mainstay for me for years and I always pack at least one for a trip. The tight knit with subtle shine can look like activewear or be refined enough to wear under a suit. Opaque, covers bra straps, not too low cut, and small enough to tuck into a little corner of your suitcase.
  • I always toss a canvas or sports fabric baseball cap in my vacation luggage. It's the cap you can get wet when paddleboarding, will stay on your head when ziplining, and will cover your bedhead for a morning coffee run. This color won't show sweat or look gross when wet while also looking more elevated than a bright color. The straw hat is packable so it won't get ruined before you get to your destination.
  • Every pair of shoe is ready in case a quick walk to your destination ends up not being so quick. The sneakers are waterproof and made for hiking, the gold sandals have arch support and get great reviews for comfort, and the white sandals I own. They're waterproof and comfortable. I have walked miles in them as well as have worn them canoeing and as my beach/pool flip flops.
  • The black neoprene bag is lightweight and can hold plenty for a day sightseeing, but still looks cool and stylish. The lack of hardware helps it go from hike to nice restaurant, the strap takes it from crossbody to shoulder. The straw bag can pack up small in your suitcase. without being ruined.
  • Why this swimsuit? I love Lands' End swimsuits and knew I'd add one to this capsule. This style is new to me but gets decent reviews, has a D cup option, adjustable straps, and comes in plus sizes. I thought it looked elegant and fresh and decided to add it, though any of their suits would be lovely.
  • Why these black shorts? I now own four pairs of these shorts and am tempted to get more. If in doubt, size up (I wear them in S). These shorts are quick dry, a matte finish that doesn't look like activewear, and are slightly longer at the inner seams to prevent them from riding up and allowing chafing to happen. Deep pockets, a wide waistband that doesn't roll… I love them and wear them with sweaters, knit tops, and workout clothes.
  • Why a striped top? A striped top looks more elevated and interesting than a solid. I own this exact t-shirt and like how it's more refined than a standard tee, but still super easy care and a fantastic price.

Sample Outfits from My Summer Getaway Capsule Wardrobe

I have created 24 different looks from this capsule wardrobe but clearly this is just a start with these pieces. And I hope these photos show you can achieve even more versatility with the addition of one or two items, if they fit in your bag. Pull-on linen pants, a belt bag, or a pair of white ankle jeans can all extend this summer vacation capsule wardrobe to be an all-summer long capsule. 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 in 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 45
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 fits 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 and the purse) 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, a lightweight knit zip-up hoodie, a second bandana, another knit top, 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 so that 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.

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. Linen and denim are must have, this is so true! It was my 1st experience to create a summer capsule wardrobe this year. Since August I am eager to create a year round capsule closet.

  2. Thanks for the size comment – the other thing that affects whether everything will fit in a carry-on is how much you like to wear in any one outfit. For me, I prefer to cover up (even in summer), so that naturally means I’ll have to pack more to achieve that (a full wetsuit equivalent instead of a bikini, for example).

    I used to feel bad about this when being compared to my husband’s or friends’ luggage, but now I just tell them it’s the price to pay if they want me to partake in their activities with them lol.

  3. That’s a great point about the size of the clothing and shoes impacting whether the capsule fits in a carry-on bag or not. I have size 11 feet and it’s shoes that often make or break my packing plan. As always, if flying or taking AMTRAK, I wear the clunkiest pair and pack the other(s). If driving, well, the sky’s the limit, LOL.

  4. 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.

  5. 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?

  6. 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.

    1. 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.

  7. 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!

  8. 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?!?

  9. 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!

    1. 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!

      1. 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!

  10. 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.

  11. 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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