When I was an assistant prop stylist in New York as a 23-year-old, a pretty well-known photographer, Sang An, who I shot with a lot wore the same thing every day. He had a uniform – two actually, one for summer and one for winter, and he wore the exact same thing five days a week (he had 5 sets of the same outfit). He did it so he “didn’t have to think”. When you are a 23-year-old stylist during the day and a bartender at night living in New York, such adulting seemed so odd. Isn’t getting dressed supposed to be fun? A part of creative expression? A way to take low-risk creative risks?
Whenever I heard “capsule collection,” I thought it was what boring rich old people did. It just felt so grown up, full of zero “fun”, but also for most of my 20s I wore wacky thrift store clothes that included vintage teenage mutant ninja turtle teeshirts and “cotton bell-bottom chaps” – decidedly not two ingredients that are a part of anyone’s capsule collection. But like anything, the older you get the more you don’t need to try on as many types of partners/careers/styles because you get closer to what makes you happy and feels the most right for YOU. Truly a very adult thing. Or maybe I’ve just gotten boring stylistically, and that’s ok, too. I can shake it up for big “nights in the city” (spoken like a true country cliche mom) and splurge on a fancy dress here and there for special occasions. Or maybe it’s just a phase, a only-barely-post-pandemic-lifestyle? Or a seasonal thing when you live by a lake and don’t take any meetings from the chest down?
I know exactly what I “opt” to wear all summer. So while it wasn’t intentional I, too, have created a loose uniform of sorts. More like a formula that allows for change in colors, patterns, and styles. But the shape, fit and general vibe are consistent. This is based on years of trying other things only to be kinda uncomfortable in one way or another and always opting back to my formula.
The formula is simple: short jean shorts (with varying amounts of holes and lengths), a blousey blouse (with varying amounts of pattern and color), and nude sandals or mules (with varying amounts of heel and traction). Maybe a T-shirt here and there but I’m so picky with t-shirts that I’m much more of a blouse lady.
Want proof? Here are 6 outfits I’ll be rotating all summer long:
Outfit #1: Long Sleeve Blouse + Jean Shorts + Sandals
This formula was scientifically produced in a lab where the first question is – if it’s hot out, what body part wants to be exposed? The answer for me is always my legs (but might be different for you). So my shorts are short and no I’m not falling for the Bermuda short thing as I think it cuts off my legs and honestly makes me cringe – a decidedly uncomfortable emotional reaction that deems itself scientifically out of the running. I love a loose cotton or silk top that has a peephole or some sort of ruffle sleeve (but you’ll see I also love a white men’s button-up). These sandals are my newest ones that are SO CUTE, while being extremely transitional.
Outfit #2: Long Sleeve Blouse + Ripped Jean Shorts + Sandals
With a more conservative top (a menswear-inspired white button-up) I bring out the even shorter ripped shorts. These are all different varieties of 501 Levis, but I’m sure other brands have good options. I like a little slouch in them. And the button-up acts as my swimsuit coverup, too.
Outfit #3: Short Sleeve Blouse + Shorts + Sandals
Outfit #4: T-Shirt + Long Jean Shorts + Sandals
This isn’t QUITE as typical, but this year I did get some slightly longer shorts with less holes, mostly so my FIL would stop making fun of how many holes I have in my pants. The t-shirt is from Lost and Found in LA and it’s super thin and comfy, which is great for layering on top.
Outfit #5: Short Sleeve Blouse + Jean Shorts + Heeled Clogs
I suppose this is me getting fancier with heeled clogs and a patterned button-up. I’m very curious if/when I’ll go back to wearing shoes that have 3″ of wood on the heel – it now feels ABSURD to me, but admittedly I do feel good in them visually. I might wear them for Mother’s Day brunch and see how long I can handle a heel (these are super comfortable but after a year with no heels it just feels absurd that they even exist).
Outfit #6: Short Sleeve Blouse + Jean Shorts + Heeled Clogs
A lot of the same – I know – thus the “formula”. But these shorts are my “not too short, not too long” option that I probably wear the most. And another cotton blouse that feels fun, comfy, and forgiving. I didn’t buy anything new for this post except the sandals, because I needed them, but wanted to round up some of my favorites out there in shorts, blouses, and shoes. But first, I have some guidelines for buying that have helped me purchase clothes I will wear again and again.
For Jean Shorts:
I like to size up to wear with swimsuits, but I like it to be more fitted when I wear with blouses, so I often have two sizes of the same short. They do stretch out a bit but not a ton (as Levi’s are 100% cotton).
I like anything that doesn’t need to be ironed, has some sweet detailing (like ruffle or necktie), and usually a pattern. This allows me to be a mom and run around with kids without worrying about ruining or staining a shirt. I also wrote a more in-depth post last year about my blouse formula. Man, I am VERY scientific about my clothes.
For Shoes (And Other Accessories):
I like them to look/feel more utilitarian with no fussy heel or shine. Just leather, straps, and full function. I also wear Havaianas and Tkees for flip-flops and love a basic straw gardening hat with a tie for the beach (I’m done trying to find a floppy hat that doesn’t lose its shape in a few weeks). This year I bought this and this. Lastly, for sunglasses I’m big on the classic Rayban Wayfarer and aviators (or knock-off versions that are way less expensive) and most of you know I love this tanning lotion (forever, like I’ve tried everyone and it is my favorite) and for light makeup I love this easy lipstick and this sunscreen/foundation combo.
I have to say having a sort of uniform DOES make it so you don’t have to think as much. So if you like this look and want to create your own, here are some picks to get started:
1. 501 Original Women’s Shorts | 2. High-Rise Denim Shorts | 3. Denim Mom Short | 4. Slouchy Boyfriend Short | 5. Mom Ultra High Shorts | 6. High-Rise Denim Short | 7. High-Rise Bermuda Jean Short | 8. 3″ Sky High Rise Shorts | 9. High-Rise Mom Shorts
1. Babydoll Collar Cotton Shirt | 2. Babydoll Collar Blouse | 3. Jeanne Blouse | 4. Maeve Blouse | 5. Printed Flowy Shirt | 6. Wide-Cut Blouse | 7. Ruffled Collar Cotton Denim Shirt | 8. Ariste Top | 9. Harmony Lace Peasant Blouse
1. Ruffled Cotton Top | 2. Ruffle Short Sleeve Linen Top | 3. Carla Highneck Shirt | 4. Carla Highneck Shirt | 5. Flutter Short Sleeve Eyelet Top | 6. Brett S/S Bohemian Blouse | 7. The Scallop Cedar Top | 8. Ruffle Sleeveless Eyelet Blouse | 9. Marianne B Ruffle Sleeve Shirt
I feel like a summer uniform or “formula” is easier than a fall, winter, or spring uniform mostly because the kids are out and I’m with them so much. It’s like play clothes that I feel kinda cute in and make me feel stylish enough, while being incredibly comfortable and casual. But that’s just me. So, I am curious, do you have a summer uniform and if so, what’s your criteria? xx
Opener Image Credit: Photos by Veronica Crawford | From: My “Casual, Comfortable, Cool” Spring Weekend Wardrobe