A 12 Piece Elevated Basics Summer Capsule Wardrobe

A white background with 12 clothing items plus shoes and accessories for A 12 Piece Elevated Basics Summer capsule wardrobe. In the middle is a light purple box with black text that reads, "A 12 Piece Elevated Basics Summer Capsule Wardrobe."

One of the fashion trends that we are seeing a lot of for this summer and into fall is the back to basics, or elevated basics trend. It’s one of those trends that is more like a wardrobe shift versus a trendy piece that you add.

Bear with me, I am going to use the word basics a lot.

Styles come and go, especially now that we are seeing the cycle move at an unprecedented rate.

But we are also seeing a focus on slowing down and pulling back to basics to showcase a more nostalgic and longer-lasting style.

This is an important one for me, especially in the summer when we are hot, uncomfortable, and really don’t want to think much about our wardrobe.

Nor can we depend on throwing on some layers to build our look because the weather won’t allow it.

I talked a bit about the elevated basics a few days ago, and how I like to source out what are referred to as not so basic basics.

I like to think of it like shaking up an old classic. Take t-shirts and jeans for example.

It is a tried and true pairing that has been a go-to uniform for decades. But how do we make this traditionally basic outfit, not so basic?

We look for basic pieces that are just a little bit (or a lot) outside the box.

We want versatile pieces with a touch more flair or style than your standard basics. These items can elevate your wardrobe without being overly complicated.

So pieces that would still be considered wardrobe staples and building blocks, but they have that little bit of extra something that enhances the whole look.

In summer we are often guilty of just going back and pulling out our t-shirts and skirts, shorts, or jeans.

The pieces that we wear throughout the year but in other seasons are used in the process of layers, and combining other pieces to build looks.

When summer comes and we can’t rely on that we often just give up and wear the basic t-shirt pairing because it is easy, comfortable, and seems like a waste of money to update our look.

But hear me out.

What if we are buying not so basic, basics to use for the entire year instead?

That way when summer comes around and you default back to your base layer basic pieces from other seasons your options will no longer be basic, they will be interesting.

A 12 Piece Elevated Basics Summer Capsule Wardrobe

A white background with 12 pieces and accessories for A 12 Elevated Basics Summer Capsule Wardrobe.

Waistcoat | Denim Linen Trousers | Blue Flats | Blue Shirt | Floral Clutch | Bubble Top | Dress | Burgundy Heels | Brooch | Flip Flops | Black Bag | Skirt | Shorts | Flower Earrings | Button Up | Cardigan | BrownTrousers | Swoop Earrings | Purple Bag | Gold Mules | Sunglasses | Tank Top | Crochet Top | Sneakers

How to Elevate Your Wardrobe Basics

What we are going to do is replace our basic basics with some elevated options.

Meaning, that we are looking for pieces that when on their own they have enough visual interest to make a statement without needing to build whole look around it.

By bringing in these pieces we will transform our summer wardrobe in a way that we have pieces that can tell a story on their own.

It is a shift in mindset to do this because people tend to believe that in order to have a strong foundation in your wardrobe you need to have a really great set of basics.

Which is true, but it doesn’t have to be basics in the way that we have been conditioned to believe that basics are.

In shifting our mindset when shopping for them we will erase our preconceived notions about what basics are and instead select ones that will energize our whole wardrobe.

And if you are wondering what types of characteristics we should be looking for when we want to up our basics game, I am about to get to that.

The easiest way to add that visual interest to your outfits, specifically summer outfits is by choosing pieces with shapes and lines that are notable.

These will catch your eye and make you take a second glance.

Another way to do this is through adding texture, colour, and different fabrics.

For example, I included a square toe, ballet-style mule in gold. I consider this a twofer. Not only does the strong square toe stand out, but the colour makes an impact.

What about a tote bag? A basic tote is usually a large leather bag in a neutral colour.

What about if you tried a tote in a north-south shape (skinner and longer instead of shorter and wide) in a bold colour, or colour block?

It is still a basic tote style but this way it stands out more like a statement bag, but yet doesn’t fall into the trend trap and won’t get dated.

These pieces aren’t just tied to summer, they are all easily adaptable to other seasons by layering over/under, or by pairing them with heavier fabrics giving them longevity and purpose in your wardrobe.

Because long-lasting items are what we should be seeking when building our wardrobes.

How Do You Know What Pieces to Choose?

When I worked in retail the number one problem that most people had when shopping was that they would like something but not know how to wear it.

A lot of people don’t have that innate ability to go through your wardrobe in your head and figure out the ways you would wear it before you even buy something which is why stores use mannequins in full outfits in order to inspire.

I remember us having a shirt that was in a colour that a lot of people may shy away from and it literally sat in the store on a rack for months with zero units being sold.

On a Friday night that I was working, I decided to dress the mannequin in an outfit using this shirt so people could visualize it on themselves and told the staff that I would have at least half of these sold by the end of the weekend.

And I did, more than half if I remember correctly. Many with the, “I’ll take the whole outfit” sort of thing you generally see only in movies.

So now I am going to give you a breakdown of some of the pieces I chose and their characteristics that make them not so basic.

Then I am going to tell you how you can wear them throughout the other seasons so you can see what I see.

First is the tank. At first glance it looks like a regular tank but it is actually a fine knit which has a different feel and look.

Plus it is what I like to call a non colour, colour. It is muted enough that it can work well as a neutral becasue of its grey undertones. The colours that you add ish to are perfect for this, so this is purpleish.

This is a buildable piece so you can layer anything over it. Cardigans, blazers, lightweight jackets, even the semi sheer blue drapey shirt can go over it.

The crochet shirt I chose because of its interesting uneven hemline, but also the knit is tight so you get the crochet look without the exposed openness.

It keeps coming and going out of stock probably because the Massimo big summer sale just started, so you need to check regularly if you like it. The UK site is currently stocked though.

This would pair really nicely with a full skirt and blazer for something a bit dressy, then jeans or trousers with a little cropped jacket so you can see the hemline.

The ice blue shirt has some pleating and a bubble hem making it stand out as a shirt. In the cooler months it would be cute with a fitted turtleneck underneath.

When you are flooded with vests/waistcoats it makes it easier to find ones with unique shapes like this longer-length style that nips at the waist.

This is also a layerable piece that you can use as a part of a suit, or depending on the tightness of fit you could also wear a sleek bodysuit underneath.

Or you could go the opposite way and pick a light blouse that has billowy sleeves.

The cardigan again has an interesting shape that also nips a bit in at the waist and has a wide V neck that leaves a lot of open space to fill with statement jewellery.

I feel like I would like this as a shirt through all the seasons, and you could wear jackets or heavier knit cardigans. Like an oversized cardigan worn open over this more fitted version.

Let’s talk about the skirt. I am in love with that skirt and what drew me in was how structured it was. It has such a great shape and most would feel like it was too dressy for every day wear but I disagree.

You can easily dress this piece down and still retain the structure of the look. Pairing it with a preppy blazer and turtleneck in the fall is a great juxtaposition and really simple.

But something as “basic” as a sweater and ballet flats still really tells a story.

And the last piece I am going to talk about is the blue semi-sheer shirt. Last week I talked about the black version, but they released it in the blue and it is an eye catcher.

Most people wouldn’t want to wear it just over a bra, so I would choose a tank or camisole.

Then as the weather shifts you can wear it over a t-shirt, turtleneck, slip dress. But also layer it underneath jackets and blazers not only for a bit of sheerness to an outfit but also a blast of colour.

I hope this helps you to see the potential in pieces that you would normally veer away from. I think choosing a great collection of elevated basics is a great starting point in developing a really well curated wardrobe that will give you some not so basic outfits.

We want to embrace minimalism with some hardworking basics we just need to make sure that each piece has enough personality so not to fade into the background.

Not So Basic Outfit Ideas for Summer

A white background with 12 outfits for A 12 Piece Elevated Basics Summer Capsule Wardrobe.
A white background with 12 outfits for A 12 Piece Elevated Basics Summer Capsule Wardrobe.

Waistcoat | Denim Linen Trousers | Blue Flats | Blue Shirt | Floral Clutch | Bubble Top | Dress | Burgundy Heels | Brooch | Flip Flops | Black Bag | Skirt | Shorts | Flower Earrings | Button Up | Cardigan | BrownTrousers | Swoop Earrings | Purple Bag | Gold Mules | Sunglasses | Tank Top | Crochet Top | Sneakers

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Sara is the founder and creative behind livelovesara. A George Brown College Fashion Styling Graduate, she provides advice on finding your personal style regardless of age and budget. She is always on the hunt for the perfect wardrobe piece and is a vintage and thrifting enthusiast who can't wait to share her newest finds. She is also trying to learn French.

One Comment

  1. Interesting article. Would love to see basic causal capsule wardrobe for size 12 and up.

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