How to create a summer casual capsule wardrobe

Nikki ParkinsonFashion, How to 23 Comments

Seven-plus years ago when I kissed my former career and a Monday-Friday office gig goodbye, I was initially excited at the prospect of not necessarily having to get dressed up to do work.

I say initially because, honestly, I was quickly at a bit of a wardrobe loss. Going from one wardrobe extreme to the other will do that.

Suddenly the Saturday and Sunday section of my wardrobe was my every day.

Yes, there were times – and there still are – where I have to step it up a notch because I’m going to a meeting or event but generally it’s all about the casual.

I talked summer office wear in this post, so in this post I’m balancing things out for women, like me, who are home based – the freelancers, consultants, small business owners, stay-home-mums and retirees.

It’s for those in more relaxed work places, casual Friday fans and women looking for weekend wear inspiration

This is also a post I hope will help new school mums feel a little more confident tackling the school run for the first time next week.

Of course, if you’re heading to the office after the school run, you’ll be in workwear. If you’re heading home, then keeping it comfortable and casual is the go. It’s a topic I get asked about every year – and it’s a topic that I cop criticism about ever year. My tips for what to wear on the school run are listed here.

As I say in that post, I don’t care what anyone wears for the school run – or on any day, for any occasion or any task. What I care about is helping women feel more confident in any situation and if the school run is new to you then you may be feeling far from confident.

Ok, so back to the summer casual capsule wardrobe. The principles behind creating this are the same as with the workwear capsule.

Make sure your wardrobe is edited and that the clothes you wear MOST of the week are front and centre, then plan your wardrobe week in advance to save valuable morning time.

The 15-pieces below are a starting guide for you. You may have similar pieces in your wardrobe. You may prefer a different neutral colour base. You may only like wearing pants – or dresses.

Use this guide as inspiration to create a capsule that’s matched to your lifestyle, personality and budget.

Comfort is king for my work-from-home wardrobe. That starts from the feet up with shoes that I can walk in all day.

I start with a base piece for at home and, should I leave the house, add on wedges, a light blazer or kimono and accessories to dress up an otherwise casual outfit.

To keep things fresh, I try to mix it up each day, opting for a dress one day, shorts or pants the next; neutrals one day, a pop of colour the next.

I also use the whole getting dressed and putting on a face routine as a way to get motivated and stay focussed on the day’s work tasks. This might not be a motivation for everyone but it definitely is for me.

15-piece summer casual capsule wardrobe

1. Surafina tee $49

2. Witchery shirt $129.95

3. Katies tank $14.95

4. Target shorts $29

5. Country Road skirt $79.95

6. Bohemian Traders pants $129

7. Betty Basics maxi dress $29.95 @ Birdsnest (on sale)

8. Metalicus dress $139.95

9. Katies kimono $79.95

10. Bird Keepers blazer $89.95

11. Surafina cross-body bag $169

12. JJ Sisters scarf $39.95 @ Birdsnest

13. FRANKiE4 Footwear sandals $209.95

14. FRANKiE4 Footwear wedges $239.95

15. Uberkate necklace $145


Just a few possible outfit combinations

1 + 4 + 13 + 12 + 11

1 + 4 + 10 + 14 + 15

2 + 4 + 13 + 11

2 + 5 + 14 + 15

2 + 7 + 13 + 11

3 + 5 + 10 + 14 + 15

3 + 6 + 9 + 14 + 12

3 + 4 + 10 + 14 + 15

8 + 11 + 13 + 15

8 + 10 + 14 + 15


Just the same as this post, my number one rule still applies:

Don’t buy it unless you LOVE it.

Are you more casual, Monday-Friday? Heading off on the school run for the first time? New to working from home? Share your tips for how you take the stress out of what to wear below.

Tomorrow, we’re talking back-to-school wardrobes for teachers with Alex from What The Teacher Wears.

For some real-life casual wear inspiration, check out the #everydaystyle Instagram feed.

* This post contains affiliate links. If you buy something via one of these links I may receive a small commission. Full disclosure policy here.

Comments 23

  1. You’re continuing my Birdsnest obsession with that maxi dress Nikki! Must login and see if they have one left in my size 🙂

  2. Love that Metalicus dress, what a shame ‘one size’ is never my size. I’m in that stage stretching my weekend wardrobe into something that works for most days – I would love to be able to make the capsule concept work, I get it mentally but seem incapable of putting it into practice. I’m working on it.

  3. Love these styling tips. I often feel under dressed when dropping my kids off at school most days Im in my work uniform but for the first few days back to school this year Im taking a leaf out of your book.
    Thank you!

  4. I cannot get enough of these posts. They are great inspiration and I find I need to be regularly reminded of the wardrobe possibilities. So thank you.

  5. Still so jelly of you and your ‘do’ with Nigella yesterday. (it was me that commented on your FB post last night). Sigh. There is nothing better than a strong, able woman with opinions! She’s a gem and a beautiful writer to boot … just like you, of course.

    Back the topic at hand … I also have a “polo and jeans” work outfit which I loathe … but the weekends are for fun. While I can’t tick off your exact list I can tick off 99% of the ‘types’ of items you have above thanks to you. Except for that gorgeous Uberkate necklace. I can feel a little web-browsing coming on.

    Cheryl x

    1. She is all that and more Cheryl and you’re way too kind putting me in the same writing category … I do love to tell stories but I love her story telling!

      A uniform can be a good thing … no need to think about it and more money for weekend wear!

  6. Love all your picks here Nikki, sadly I wear a uniform for work. Logo polo (yuk) with shorts in summer and long pants in winter. Stylish – a big NO. Practical though 🙂

  7. you always have a good selection thankyou nikki!
    all in the mix!
    you guessed it i’m casual mostly, but that can be changed in an instant especially with a jacket or accessories! … normally i’m a shirt girl as I like a collar! … I have been wearing knee length skirts a lot this summer!!! they are cooler than pants and a couple of loose dresses! … ok, who am I indeed?
    enjoy your day hope you enjoyed nigella! how fantastic! I love her words!
    much love m:)X

    1. I love a knee-length skirt too M … my preference is the tube style. And love that you’re embracing some loose dresses!! Nigella was fabulous. I have so much respect for her and how she connects with her huge following. Half the room wanted books signed and she did them all! Not many international stars would do that.

  8. Love these posts, great combinations & love how many different looks you can achieve. Just gone and reread your post for the school run as my eldest starts prep next week. Think big sunnies will definitely be needed, I’m already tearing up talking about it! Love your work

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