Summer Capsule Wardrobe 2021

In Style over 50 by Joni33 Comments

If you’re new to this blog let me explain what these try-ons are all about.

Every season I construct a Capsule Wardrobe based on my capsule wardrobe recipe. If you put ‘capsule’ into the search area on this blog you can see all my previous wardrobes so far.

The point of a capsule wardrobe is to put together a minimal set of co-ordinating items which you can mix and match to create all the outfits you need for three months.

My clothes budget

While some wardrobes you see online show new clothes, I try to re-use as many older clothes as I can and just introduce a few items to bring the wardrobe up to date and make life more interesting.

I live on a pension so I can’t splash out on clothes I’ll hardly ever wear. Everything I buy has to work hard for me. And the dearer it is, the harder I want it to work. I supplement some key items with a few supermarket purchases. In general these are very inexpensive so I don’t expect them to last for years. I buy them to fill gaps in my wardrobe and look for colors or styles that bring a dash of current fashion into my otherwise classic closet.

These capsules are for my lifestyle and my personal style. So they are casual and comfortable. Even outside of the pandemic lock-downs I don’t go to smart events so much any more. I live in the country and a smart event here is very casual indeed! So you won’t find me trying on chic expensive clothes.

But many women well over 50 have told me it’s useful to see what someone else of a similar age really wears.

Why I show my photos online

I don’t retouch the images. I believe we need to see many more pictures of older women in the media. Otherwise we can only compare ourselves with young women… and that way we end up feeling bad about ourselves. I’m over 70, overweight and short (62″) and so that’s what you see.

If I had a perfect model-slim figure I’d wear more adventurous outfits but as it is I have to find ways to make the best of my good points and camouflage my bad points. You may be the same.

I hope you enjoy seeing what I’ll be wearing for the next three months. Perhaps you’ll be tempted to make your own capsule this season too.

Style updates this season

I like to make a different capsule wardrobe from the previous year. This makes getting dressed each day more fun.

To do this I rethink colors, fabrics and styles. I try to put clothes together in different ways from the previous year.

This summer I’ve focussed on linen as my favorite fabric. I looked through everything summery I had and pulled out linen items. Then I rejected anything that didn’t color-coordinate well. Then I added a linen tunic dress and linen shorts.

Why linen? Well I’ve written recently about linen for summer and my research for that article made me realize how many great qualities linen has – from being eco-friendly to being cool to wear. (I know – ironing!!!)

Boho loose fitting maxi dresses with flounces are trending this year so I bought an inexpensive one to add a different look from my more classic linen dress. Boho actually covers lots of relaxed and fun styles as I explain in this post. The wide-sleeved peasant-style blouse is part of the revival. And so is simple embroidery. My new blouse has both these features which is why I bought it.

Everything else in my capsule this summer tends to be fairly classic and timeless.

Setting the anchor color

I always start my wardrobe with a base or neutral color.

This summer I’m using white as the base. I like to begin by lining up at least one bottom and one top in the base color and these form a sort of anchor for the whole collection. Whites don’t stay looking good for long so I accept that I’ll have to add to my collection every summer if I continue to choose white as a key color in my summer capsules going forward.

Choosing white pants

I bought a new pair of white three-quarter length pants from the local supermarket. They sit on the hips which is a bit of a challenge for me as I carry a roll of fat at my waist. But fortunately they are cut generously so they don’t push this up too badly. Even so, I have to be aware not to add anything too fitted at the waist just above the pants as this area is best camouflaged.

That’s why I tend to wear fitted tees and vests as a layer with another item on top. If I’m among people of a similar age to myself I might remove the top layer in warm weather – after all most women of my age have a problem with their expanding waistline. Otherwise I use the top layer to provide a glimpse of the tee between the parallel lines made by the front opening of the top. These lines help to make one’s figure look slimmer.

Choosing white tops

As my white top I chose a big linen handkererchief-style top that I bought last year. And I added three white cotton tee shirts with different necklines – one with very short sleeves and two sleeveless. These were unworn though I bought them a year or more ago.

I tend to buy basics like tees whenever I see them discounted. And white tees are about as basic as you can get.

My secondary color

I’ve gone for a strong red this season. I’m finding bright colors lift my spirits and my look these days. I used to be a tone-on-tone grey, black, beige, brown type. But my skin is paler now and bright colors draw the eye away from my complexion which I find makes me look better. But it does mean I need to wear much redder lipstick this summer.

Choosing red jeans

I bought a pair of red-ish colored stretchy jeans to be my secondary colored bottom item. As I’m petite I have to fold the hems up underneath. Which is a pity as they have a nice fifties-style side vent at the hem which is invisible on me.

I searched for ages for red pants without success. I finally found this pair in a reasonable shade. But they are slimmer than I’d like. I look best when the exact contours of my chubby knees are less in evidence. So you’ll see I’m wearing tops that come over the hips this season so the transition from hip to knee is camouflaged.

I tell you these things because style is all about making oneself look the best one can be within one’s budget and time constraints It’s not about demanding perfection or spending big bucks.

Choosing a red cardigan

This layer in the secondary color is my main purchase this season.

I love Brora clothes and colors. So I bought a red cotton cardigan (it’s just gone into the sale – ouch!) in Poppy. This is a true warm red and I love it. They do little silk neck scarves in their palette of colors so I snapped up a red one just as it came into their spring sale.

Brora is an ethical Scottish clothing company known for their cashmere which is spun in Scotland. But nowadays they are broadening their collections. They are around the top of high street prices because they don’t believe in fast fashion or the miserable working conditions that so often accompany fast fashion manufacturing. These things matter more and more to me too so I’m steadily building my Brora clothes one at a time as my budget allows and only when I need an item.

Choosing a red sleeveless blouse

Because summer is supposed to be warm (though today is yet again rain) I decided I would need a sleeveless top in red for when the sun comes out. I found a fun sleeveless cotton top with a big flounce around the neck.

If, like me, your upper arms are showing your age, you’ll understand the necessity of that flounce. It might not cover the whole of the upper arm but it takes the attention off the arm and makes you look at the flounce. It also creates a good line across the shoulders which helps to make my hips look narrower by contrast.

The special color

As my third or special color I’ve chosen navy. It’s becoming my stand-by these days since I’ve dropped black almost entirely. I know that if I need to buy extra items in navy they will be useful for future wardrobes however fashion changes.

Choosing navy shorts

I bought a pair of long pleated shorts – more of a divided skirt really – from marksandspencer.com. I need to be able to get at least some sun on my legs but short shorts are out of the question these days due to cellulite that has got worse this year.

These shorts remind me of our Girl Guide leader back in the fifties. Funny how fashions always come round again, however ghastly they looked to the young years before.

Choosing a navy dress

I’ve talked about my interest in linen above. Whilst researching that topic I came across a great little independent designer/retailer based in the beautiful English city of Bath. You’ll have heard of Bath if you read Jane Austen as a girl.

Bibico releases a small collection in linen each year. The styles are classic and simple so will only date very slowly – perfect for me! Compared to larger retailers I found their color palette to be more interesting. It’s slightly Spanish with its subdued but dense hues such as olive.

I bought a navy dress plus two other patterned items which I’ll add to my Fall wardrobe. The quality is superb. So I’m hoping the clothes will wash well too. (By the way Bibico don’t offer affiliate commission – I’m raving about this shop because I love it!)

My capsule of clothes

My recipe suggests three bottoms, nine tops and one or more dresses to see you through a season. I can usually stay within that. You’ll need three to five pairs of shoes depending on your lifestyle. This summer I’m feeling pretty good that I’m going to be able to manage with just four pairs. I add a few small accessories and a very few pieces of jewelry. This number of items is only possible if you’re strict on colors and silhouettes.

Here’s my whole capsule of clothes for summer 2021 with an idea of how old they are so you can see the mix of new items and clothes I’ve been wearing last year or even earlier.

In case you like any of these outfits I’ve added either the actual site where I purchased or a site where you can find a very similar item.

Bottoms

Tops

  • White tee shirts bought over last 2 years during the sales
  • White embroidered peasant blouse new (local supermarket) Similar:H&M embroidered blouse
  • Red and white striped sleeveless tee bought last year Similar: Boden short sleeve breton tee
  • Red sun top with flounce new (local supermarket) Similar: CeCe ruffled blouse at Nordstrom
  • Red cotton cardigan new Broraonline
  • Navy and grey striped cardigan bought several years ago Similar: V neck cardigan at MarksandSpencer.com
  • Blue and white striped shirt bought in the sales several years ago
  • White linen square top bought last year at marksandspencer.com.
  • Navy and white breton tee, bought a year or so ago from the local supermarket. It appears in so many of my capsules that I didn’t bother photographing it this time!

Shoes and accessories

Jewelry

  • A couple of sets of simple gold earrings I’ve had for several years
  • A gold chain from last year
  • Red cloth beads (discovered last year when hunting in the back of my drawer)

Extras

I’m not including a jacket as the next three months never really get cold enough here is south-west France. I won’t be going to any indoor events in cold stone chateaux this year either – which is when I sometimes need a jacket.

As I’m going to be in the UK for at least half the summer I am, of course, taking a light raincoat!

I’ve also got a dress and hat for sunbathing plus a swim suit for the pool.

So that’s it! Enough clothes to make lots of outfits for sunny weather and rainy days too. I can easily pack all this into a suitcase for visiting family back in the UK. And, best of all, I’m really looking forward to looking a bit different this summer from last.

If you’d like step-by-step help to create a seasonal capsule wardrobe that suits your body shape, coloring and lifestyle then take a look at The Mature Style Course. With over 25 videos and other lessons I lead you through the whole process. You won’t get overwhelmed and give up half way. You’ll successfully create a coordinated closet that makes you smile with confidence at how you look every morning.

Take me to The Mature Style Course

Comments

    1. Author

      Hi Caro or Carol. I’m so glad you found my latest try-on worth commenting on! Thank you so much for the feedback. Joni x

      1. Just discovered your post and felt I could relate perfectly! I am turning 70, 5 foot 3 in and weigh 125 lbs. Your examples are wonderful for a capsule/travel wardrobe. Thank you for the ideas and you are inspiring.

        1. Author

          Hi Diane. So glad you found the post useful. Thanks for taking the time to comment. It makes my day – really!! Joni x

        1. Author

          Thanks for the comment Kathleen – makes it all worthwhile! Joni x

  1. Now I am 75. I have seen many blogs about capsules but have never tried any. Like you, I am short 61″ and an apple shape.
    Not only do I have the upper arm issue, but my mid-section has also given me grief my entire life. My own mom always told me she had a 17″ waist when she married…HA! Mine was 23″ and no matter what I do with my weight I never lose my tummy. I look forward to your newsletter and your Mature Style Course!

    Charlotte Sanders

    1. Author

      Hi Charlotte. We are very similar! I’ve never really had a waist. Good news! The Mature Style Course is now out. I’ve emailed the link to half the newsletter group today and will email the rest tomorrow (limitations set by my email provider). I’m so looking forward to feedback on the course. It’ll help me make it better and better. Joni x

    2. For any ladies out there…..please …..just try going for a walk….every day if you can. I have “lost” my middle tummy; thank goodness….you just don’t know how this feels…..so happy.
      It won’t happen overnight…but within 10 weeks you will have a lovely new shape. Believe me.

  2. Hello! Nice to see your collection of lovely outfits ! I was just wondering what stores you mean when you say you bought clothes at the local supermarket. Literally? Which stores are you talking about? thank you!

    1. Author

      Hi Christine. I live in France most of the year so my local supermarket is usually SuperU which always has a good selection of simple inexpensive clothes. Occasionally I find nice items at Carrefour. I also buy from a store called Cache-Cache which has on online presence but doesn’t have physical stores outside of France (as far as I know.) Glad you find the blog interesting. Joni x

  3. Great capsule! The navy shorts are sold out in my size. Hopefully, they will notify me if they restock as they are just what I was looking for.

    1. Author

      Thanks for the comment Terry. Yes, these shorts have moved really fast this summer. At least M&S let you know when they restock. I think so many retailers are suffering from Covid self-isolation rules for staff/supply chain these days. Joni x

  4. Best comments I’ve ever had at my disposal. Someone understands. Thank you so much!

    1. Author

      Hi Barb. I love being part of a group of women with similar problems and joys. When I retired I spent a couple of months thinking what now? Building this community of women who ‘get’ what my life is, is making me feel so good right now! Thanks for taking part and commenting. Joni x

  5. Hi

    I love your honesty and bravery pointing out your own physical challenges. You seem to be getting more confident with the styling over time and you look really good in many of the outfits you are choosing. I also like how you are detailing the items (new or old) selected for your capsule outfits.

    I have a different body shape, taller and quite thin and top heavy so tend to go for the rule of tighter tops and sleeves and balance this with either looser or snug bottoms. Separates fit me better than dresses and whilst I can admire you in yoir floaty dresses and tops, sadly they would look awful on me but I managed to find a Boden dress which hugs the top and arms but is fuller skirted.

    Then we come to colour, I am 75 white blonde and very pale and many colours I used to be able to wear now drown me so muted mid tones (stripes or patterns) are my ‘pop’. Navy (which I am not keen on) and all shades of grey suit me with a mix of white and mid colours for the bottom half.

    I find there are items I havent worn or rarely wear and favourites which I wear over and over. I should really slim my wardrobe down but its the usual hesitancy that I will regret it. Also lockdown and recent life challenges has really changed my social life, which is another reason why I stick to the familar and easy.

    Thank you again for your presence here.

    Lesley

    1. Author

      Hi Lesley. Sorry it seems to have taken me so long to notice your comment, especially as it is really useful. Not only for me but also for other readers. Thanks so much for taking the time to explain how you look your best. I’m interested in your classic take. You are silver where I am a gold type. You are slender, perhaps a rectangle or inverted triangle, whereas I am a square or triangle on its bottom (!!) type. You know we’d love a photo of you in an outfit you love (you can always ask me to crop your head if you don’t want to be recognized). If you’d like to send an image use immotherofthebride at g mail dot com. Also, take a look at the Mature Style Course (Find it in the top menu as ‘Courses’). It’s all about creating a minimal wardrobe whilst being aware of your best style. I wrote it because so many people have said to me they intend to get started downsizing and upstyling their closet but never quite get started. Joni x

  6. Thank you for your article. This is the exact problem I have with my wardrobe. Looking forward to you newsletter.

    1. Author

      Hi Jane. I’m so pleased you found the article useful. The newsletter goes out about every 2 or 3 weeks. I know most people send one every week but, to be honest, I don’t want this to turn into a full-time job. I love being retired and my life without stress! Joni x

  7. Hi Joni. I’ve really enjoyed looking at your capsules and reading your words of wisdom. Thank you.
    If ironing linen worries you, try adding a tablespoon or more of white vinegar to a spray bottle of water – misting bottle is best – and spray the garment before ironing. The creases will iron out easily. If you don’t want to iron linen, hang it as soon as it is washed and mist with the vinegar/water mix – the fibres relax more than with just water.
    I look forward to seeing your future capsules.

    1. Author

      Hi Lilian/Elizabeth. It’s so great to hear you find my articles interesting! Yes. I’ll be doing a Fall capsule wardrobe try-on soon. Thanks so much for your lovely comment! Joni x

  8. Thank you for encouraging me. I am 76 and am trying to be age appropriate but not dowdy. Your look is exactly right for me. We are not the same shape or height – in fact I am 5’9 and blonde grey with the lack of a waist, but it was the capsule wardrobe that showed me how to achieve the look I want to transition to. Love your post

    1. Author

      Hi Grace. So pleased you’re finding these posts useful. Makes my day! Joni x

  9. Hi Joni,
    I just found this article on the internet, when searching about ways to dress to camouflage my upper arms. I am short and overweight by about 20 pounds. I really like your suggestions. Thank you so much for the wardrobe ideas. Love this!

    1. Author

      Hi Diane. So glad you find some of my ideas useful. Aaaaagh upper arms… Me too, flabby arms, 20 lbs overweight, short. But hey, we can still look good, can’t we!!! Joni x

  10. Hello, just came across your post thru Pinterest. I’m 71, short, dumpy, fat legs. Love all your styling, got lots of ideas! Will you do an update for 2022?
    My daughter and family going to France this summer.
    Mary

    1. Author

      Hi Mary. Yes, I do a tryon of my seasonal wardrobes 4 times each year. As I have to wait for items to become available online I can’t do these capsule wardrobes before the start of the season. It would be great if I could do Summer 2022 right now, because women are looking for that on Pinterest now. But these are my real wardrobes, not sponsorships, so that’s why you’re seeing last year’s Summer capsule. I’ll do the Summer 2022 tryon about end June or start of July. You can find all the past and current wardrobes by typing Capsule Wardrobe into the search area on my site.
      Hope your daughter enjoys France. I split my time between the Charente (SW) and the Var (Cote d’Azur).
      Joni x

  11. Joni, I love your posts and pictures! I am similar in size, at 62” tall, 138 lbs., can’t seem to stop eating Italian bread and chocolate chip cookies! I am 77 and my blonde hair has turned white and silver stripped. I just look terrible in reds, oranges and yellows. So I have a bazillion shades of blue tees and stick to cotton leggings in shorts, capris and ankle length. Like you, my tiny waist slowly turned into a muffin top! I can’t wear jeans at all as they cut into my stomach when I sit. I am disabled so I sit a lot! So I like white, gray and navy bottoms. I buy my tees in the relaxed fit from Landsend.com catalog. I buy my bottoms from Amazon.com. I found you on Pinterest and so glad I did! Looking forward to seeing your Summer 2022 Try on Capsule wardrobe! I live in very hot and dry Colorado mountains in the USA.

    1. Author

      Hi Sydney. I’m so pleased you like what I write about – it makes it all worthwhile when people say so! I agree with your colour choices. Silver hair looks sooooo good with blue (and purple). Yes, if you are mainly sitting you absolutely don’t want to wear regular jeans. Lots of good pants have elasticated waists now. Thank goodness! Great to hear from you in hot and dry Colorado -here in France we are between seasons with all types of weather, especially night storms. Joni x

  12. It is so refreshing to see a woman of our age and size showing us what looks good on her. Therefore, will look good on us. As many of the others, I am 5’2″, 139 lbs and 73 years young. Truly looking forward to keeping up with you! Thank you, Kathleen

    1. Author

      Hi Kathleen, thanks for commenting. So good to hear from other women of a similar age/stature – though I’m now pounds over your weight. Perhaps you’ll be the push I need to get back to a lower carb diet again. Joni x

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