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Traveling in the summer (or any warm-weather destination) should be simple. A few light layers and you're good, right? If you're anything like how we used to be, then you've made the mistake of buying all the floral dresses, tops, and tank tops you thought you'd want to wear once you got there. Then you realized you hated everything in your suitcase.
The trick to avoid this "I have nothing to wear in this relaxing, gorgeous destination" conundrum is the summer travel capsule wardrobe. You've probably heard of the term "capsule wardrobe," but the summer travel version is extra paired down.
It's light, it's versatile, and it travels well. Fit it in a weekender tote or add a few more items in your carry-on or larger tote. It's your go-to whether you're on a city break, visiting your parents, or heading somewhere tropical. With a few accessories (a necklace, trade the sneakers for heeled sands), it can even work for dressier occasions and dinners.
The best part of the summer travel capsule wardrobe is you can easily make it your own. Swap the jeans for jean shorts. Trade the linen for cotton. Two pairs of sandals instead of sneakers. The golden rule, however, should always be followed: If something can't be worn with more than one other item in your suitcase, it isn't part of the capsule. Got it? Okay — let's start packing.
What to Include in a Summer Travel Capsule Wardrobe
Light-Wash Straight Leg Jeans
See our favorite high-waisted denim styles here.
Classic Tank Top
Floral tank tops don't have a place in the summer travel capsule wardrobe. Instead, opt for a classic tank to pair with your bottoms. This style from Everlane is, hands down, our favorite of the season.
Oversized White Button-Down Shirt
Whether it's linen, cotton, or poplin, you can't go wrong with a button-down. It also serves as an additional layer if the temperatures drop.
A white t-shirt is a classic staple that never feels too underdressed or overdressed—no matter the occasion.
Linen pants are the relaxed version of slacks. They'll keep you cool and they look incredible dressed up with espadrilles or sneakers.
Jean shorts can sometimes feel a little too casual. Paperbag shorts, on the other hand, can do it all. Add a top in the same color for a day-to-night monochrome look or sneakers for grabbing coffee.
Yes, you only need one. Not sure which one to bring? Stick with a black one-piece swimsuit. You won't regret it.
Your capsule wardrobe isn't complete with a dress or two—if that's your style.
An easy brown leather sandal will take you far—literally. Pick a flat sandal or one with a small heel.
A pair of white leather sneakers, obviously.
Sun protection is important—and you know pictures are always ruined when you're squinting. See our favorite pairs of sunglasses for summer.
Straw Tote or Beach Bag
The least practical item on the list is the straw bag—but it's cute and you know you want to bring it with you. Not into straw totes? Take a look at the best beach bags of the summer.