How to Build a Work Capsule Wardrobe for Summer

How do you look professional and stylish every day for the office — even in the hot summer months?

When you intentionally fill your closet with essential pieces that can be mixed and matched, getting dressed every morning becomes easy.

Read on for the four core summer capsule wardrobe pieces I’ve helped dozens of my women’s personal styling clients build their professional wardrobe around.

Lightweight Blouses

A Woman Modeling How To Build A Work Capsule Wardrobe For Summer With A Cotton Poplin Button Up Shirt By Vince

Perfect for: Casual, Business Casual, Formal Dress Codes

Lightweight blouses should be a cornerstone of your professional wardrobe regardless of the season.

A classic white button down like this lightweight cotton poplin version from Vince is a perfect piece to base your summer capsule wardrobe around (and you can put a sweater over it in the winter).

Breathable, natural fabrics like cotton, linen, and silk are key: Stay away from polyester or poly blends, which will increase the sweatiness factor big time.

A lightweight blouse can be paired with jeans and heels for a more casual office, or wear it tucked into a great pair of wide-leg trousers for a meeting-appropriate look.

Easy-to-Wear Dresses

A Woman Wearing Cita Long Sleeve Stretch Cotton Shirtdress As Part Of A Work Capsule Wardrobe For Summer

Perfect for: Casual, Business Casual Dress Codes

Dresses should be a pillar of any woman’s summer capsule wardrobe.

They keep things breezy and serve as a “one and done” outfit, making getting dressed fast and easy.

Look for natural fabrics like cotton or silk for maximum breathability in warm weather; they’ll be versatile enough to wear in the colder months too.

A classic shirtdress silhouette like the one above from Veronica Beard is a professional look that’s perfect for business casual offices.

Pair it with a pair of flat or low-heeled sandals for a simple but stylish look that could take you from the office to dinner or happy hour.

Comfortable Sandals

Build Your Work Capsule Summer Wardrobe With Leather Espadrilles By Gianvito Rossi

Leather Espadrilles | Gianvito Rossi

Perfect for: Casual, Business Casual, Work From Home Dress Codes

Cute, comfortable sandals you can walk all day in are a must.

These days almost none of my clients want to wear heels anymore, so we shop for low heels (1 inch or less) or a flat platform for maximum comfort.

A jute heel like this pair from Gianvito Rossi lends major summer vibes to any outfit.

A neutral core color like black will pair with anything in your closet, or jazz things up a little with a metallic silver or animal print pair.

Look for a footbed made from genuine leather or another natural material to prevent sweaty feet.

Pants in Natural Fabrics

Straight Linen Pants From COS Are A Core Part Of A Capsule Wardrobe For Summer

Perfect for: Casual, Business Casual Dress Codes

Pants in the summer might sound hot, but they don’t have to be.

Look for natural fabrics like cotton or linen, which breathe well. Linen pants in particular can be found in many lighter, summer-appropriate shades like white, cream, and tan.

A great pair of neutral linen pants like the ones above from COS can be swapped in just about anywhere you’d wear jeans or black trousers.

Try them with a lightweight blouse and a pair of heels, or add a sleek pair of white sneakers and a lightweight cashmere sweater for air-conditioned offices.

Note that most of these pieces can transition into the colder months too, so you don’t need an entirely different wardrobe from season to season.

If you need help figuring out how to build a work capsule wardrobe for summer, check out my women’s personal styling services.


Looking for more office outfit guidance? Watch my video on business casual vs. professional attire.

And if you’re expecting, be sure to read my article on minimalist pregnancy style.

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Cassandra Sethi is a NYC Personal Stylist and Image Consultant. After working over 15 years in the Fashion Industry, most recently as a Senior Buyer for Equinox, she created her business, Next Level Wardrobe – a luxury personal shopping service for successful professionals.

Next Level Wardrobe has been featured in Wall Street Journal, Today and CNN. See here.


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