7 Minimalist Outfit Ideas for Your Summer Travel Capsule Wardrobe

Simplify your suitcase with instant outfits like elevated linen sets, lightweight layers, and breezy dresses.

woman wearing white button down and white pants
(Image credit: Launchmetrics)

Balmy days are on the horizon, and you likely have a sun-filled trip (or two) lined up on your schedule. Whether you’re jetting off to a tropical island or heading to a bustling city, you’ll want to rely on a summer travel capsule wardrobe to make the most of your vacation days. After all, you should be spending your time lounging or exploring—not rummaging through your overstuffed suitcase while trying to figure out what to wear.

A summer travel capsule wardrobe should include easy-to-style practical staples with versatile neutral hues and simple silhouettes that you can effortlessly cycle through on rotation. As you pack for your next summer getaway, consider pieces like airy linen pants to help you beat the sweltering heat, white button-down shirts that can be used as both beach cover-ups and casual tops, and comfortable shoes that can be worn during an entire day of sightseeing.

Now that you've completed the basics let's get into the outfits. If you’re a fashion enthusiast like myself, you’ll find that mixing and matching these pieces is where the fun really begins. I’ve curated a list of looks that will round out any summer travel capsule wardrobe—from a crisp linen set you can wear during the day to the perfect minimalist maxi dress for a night out. Follow this outfit formula and all that’s left for you to do is sit back, relax, and enjoy your vacation.

A Classic White Button-Down With Flowy Linen Pants

When it comes to the products Marie Claire recommends, we take your faith in us seriously. Every product that we feature comes recommended by a MC writer or editor, or by an expert we've spoken to. Learn more about how we review products.

woman wearing button-down and trousers

A timeless white linen set can (and should) be worn on repeat during any summer vacation.

(Image credit: Launchmetrics)

A multipurpose white button-down is essential, no matter the design. Wear it as a cover-up on the beach, or style it with matching linen pants for a casual day out (as seen above). You could even style this monochromatic uniform as an elevated alternative to a sweat set for your next airport outfit. To compliment this look, throw a few neutral accessories into the mix.

A Laid-Back Top With Airy Linen Shorts

woman wearing tube top and shorts

Prioritize comfort with a casual outfit that's easy to move around in.

(Image credit: Launchmetrics)

A few summers ago, I traveled to Madrid and wore a casual top paired with loose-fitting linen shorts practically every other day—for leisurely city walks, local food market trips, and even museum visits. This practical look has remained one of my go-to travel capsule wardrobe outfits. If your trip itinerary involves countless city excursions, I recommend wearing this outfit styled with a pair of cushioned sneakers and a hands-free crossbody bag.

A Sophisticated Maxi Dress With Elevated Accessories

woman wearing black dress

Alongside casual basics, your summer travel capsule wardrobe should include a few elevated pieces for formal occasions.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you’re planning a girl's trip or a romantic getaway with your special someone, I’m guessing you’ve got plenty of evening dinners on the itinerary. The foolproof option for a night out is a sleek black maxi dress embellished with subtle pieces of silver jewelry. This look will not only serve you during your next summer vacation but also for many warm-weather trips to come. because a black maxi dress and sleek accessories will never go out of style.

A Cozy Cardigan With Lightweight Layers

woman wearing striped top and white shorts

Summer is filled with sizzling hot days, but that doesn't mean temperatures can't drop. Prepare for chilly moments by the shore with a snug cardigan.

(Image credit: Launchmetrics)

For your next seaside vacation, you’ll want to pack a cardigan to throw over your shoulders when coastal temperatures fall. Any lightweight layer will fit the bill, but consider a striped sweater to give your travel capsule wardrobe a nautical-inspired boost. Style this piece over a gauzy outfit so you won’t overheat. Carry a beach bag that’s large enough to store your sweater if you decide to shed a layer.

A Breathable Top With a Roomy Skirt

woman wearing tank top and skirt

You simply can't go wrong with neutral basics. For style inspiration, look no further than this easy outfit.

(Image credit: Launchmetrics)

Alongside linen shorts and pants, a relaxed skirt is another warm-weather essential for plenty of use during a sun-filled vacation. Choose a neutral shade—white, tan, or beige—that will go well with other colors. For an uncomplicated look, team your roomy skirt with a breathable tank top and take the subdued color palette further with brown slide sandals and a matching leather-trimmed tote. If you’re in the mood for jewelry, heat things up with warm gold accessories.

A Colorful Dress With a Woven Bag and Statement Accessories

woman wearing yellow dress

Play into summery colors by way of a relaxed dress.

(Image credit: Launchmetrics)

While the foundation of your travel capsule wardrobe should include great mix-and-match basics, you’re allowed to spice things up here and there. Liven up your vacation outfits with a colorful dress—and if you’re stuck on which shade to choose try a trending butter yellow hue— a summery shade that will have a place in your warm-weather wardrobe for years to come. Complete this cheerful outfit with a woven bag and statement accessories to add some texture to your look.

A Pair of Sporty Shorts With a Basic Top

woman wearing tube top and athletic shorts

For moments of downtime during your vacation, consider an easygoing outfit.

(Image credit: Launchmetrics)

I love a travel itinerary packed with endless activities, but I always carve out a bit of downtime, too. Whether lounging around my hotel room or reading a book by the pool, I throw on this foolproof outfit formula for lazy vacation days: a pair of sporty shorts, a basic tank top, flip-flops, and a cozy, lightweight sweater.

Lauren Tappan
Fashion Editor

Lauren is the Fashion Editor at Marie Claire, where she writes trend reports, shopping pieces, and celebrity news stories. Prior to Marie Claire, Lauren worked for Harper’s Bazaar and ELLE as a freelance editor with a specific focus on seasonal styles and coveted products. She also worked for Town & Country, where she developed a robust portfolio of fashion roundups and designer profiles.

Lauren graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a bachelor’s degree in communications and a minor in journalism. While attending Penn, Lauren contributed to the university's fashion magazine, The Walk, while also interning for Philadelphia Style Magazine and EveryStylishGirl.

When she’s not exploring the world of fashion, you can find Lauren sharpening her skills as DJ, discovering new restaurants in New York City (she’s a foodie), and spending quality time with friends and family. Follow her along at @laurenktappan.