summer travel wardrobe over 50

Best Summer Travel Capsule Wardrobe for Women Over 50

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Updated: 4/29/2024

If your summer vacation is right around the corner and you’re looking to streamline your packing, creating a summer travel capsule wardrobe ensures you have versatile, chic outfits ready for any adventure. Whether you’re taking in stunning coastal views, exploring museums and historical sites, tasting wine, or eating in amazing restaurants, having the right clothes can make all the difference. 

In this blog post, I’ll share tips and tricks for putting together the perfect summer travel capsule wardrobe tailored for women over 50 and traveling to a warm destination. I’ll share versatile pieces that travel well in the summer, are comfortable, and easily mix and match so your suitcase is filled with exactly what you want and need to have a great time.  At the end, I’ll show you outfit ideas for all the ways you can style these pieces. Get ready for a ton of outfit pictures!

What is a summer travel capsule wardrobe?

A summer travel capsule wardrobe is a carefully curated collection of versatile clothing items designed to meet all of your needs for a trip without overpacking. With some carefully chosen pieces that you can mix and match, you can make a variety of stylish looks for anything you have on your travel itinerary. Choose comfortable pieces that coordinate well in color and style, such as lightweight dresses, comfy tops, pants, or jeans, and layering pieces like a light sweater or jacket for cooler evenings. 

After hearing from so many mid-life women who don’t love wearing shorts, this capsule is centered around dresses, pants, jeans, and flat shoes that are easy for walking. 

Start by considering the number of days you’re traveling and the suitcase you’ll be taking. For a 7 to 10-day trip, build your packing list around enough clothes for 7 days. Depending on your suitcase size and whether you’re packing everything in a carry-on suitcase or planning to check your bags, you may be able to add more pieces. Investigate the laundry options at your hotel and plan to wash clothes through the hotel if you’ll be traveling for a long time. 

If you’re heading to a warmer destination where temperatures will be at least 70 degrees, dresses are a great choice, especially if you don’t love wearing shorts. Look for lightweight fabrics with natural fibers like linen and cotton. Cotton fabric blends are also a good choice since they are wrinkle-resistant, wick moisture, and dry fast. Blends that include rayon, acrylic, nylon, and polyester are also great options for the same reason.

This capsule includes 4 dresses that transition from day to night, 5 short-sleeve tops with 1 pair of lightweight linen pants, 1 pair of jeans, a layering cardigan, and a denim jacket for cool restaurants or evenings. I include 2 optional items, including a pair of shorts and white jeans, in case they feel more like your personal style. 

Since tops get smelly and bottoms are easy to re-wear without washing, you’ll need more tops than bottoms.

I’ve built this capsule around shades of blue, black, and white. Having a color scheme makes it easy to mix and match pieces. Shades of blue are perfect for summer and have a bit more visual interest than a capsule wardrobe full of neutral colors. 

Let’s look at the pieces I’m including in this capsule.

Essential pieces of a summer travel capsule wardrobe


Fit Note: I’m midsized at 5’6″, 162 pounds, with a 36-B bust, and size 12 jeans.

Here are 4 dresses that can be worn from day to night. 

1. Navy and pink floral tie-waist dress (Fits TTS, wearing size medium)

I don’t usually wear dresses with floral patterns, but this one feels playful and effortless. It’s a great choice on a hot day since it’s sleeveless. It has a flattering v-neck and a tie waist to define the middle. At 5’6”, it hits above the knee for me. Made of rayon, it has a silky feel and is wrinkle-resistant. It’s lightweight, cool, and comfy and comes in 6 patterns. I’m wearing it in a medium.

2. Blue notch-neck swing dress (Fits loose, wearing a small)

A classic navy dress is a great alternative to black for summertime. This one is an unexpected win. The navy with a white wave pattern is so eye-catching. The notch neck draws the eye up to the face. The cap sleeves elongate the arms. The waist cinches in at your natural waist and then opens into a full skirt. This soft knit has a thin lining. It doesn’t wrinkle and is not see-through.

It’s a great alternative to shorts and hits a few inches above the knee for me.  I’m contemplating trying a medium so it’s a bit roomier across the shoulders with my 36-B bust. That will also make it a bit longer. If you have similar sizing, consider ordering a medium. Update: I tried on a medium, and it makes the skirt wider, but there’s not much difference in the top, so I’m sticking with the small.

This comfy dress will be on permanent rotation this summer, dressed up and down.

3. Black tulip sleeve swing dress (Fits roomy, wearing a small)

You guys, Loft brought back a classic little black dress I bought years ago and loved so much that I couldn’t bear to get rid of it. This is an elevated t-shirt dress with tulip sleeves that aren’t puffy but have overlapping petal-shaped sleeves that add a little something extra to the dress for a stylish look. The skirt is a-line with a swing, so my stomach is completely concealed, and the length hits right above the knee. I’ve tried the new version in the store, and it is an exact replica. Although the fabric content has changed slightly, it’s still an easy-to-wear cotton blend.

I’ve worn this dress to work with a blazer, a funeral in a pinch, and like a t-shirt dress with sneakers and a baseball cap on a Saturday. This is the all-purpose dress that you will wear again and again after your trip is over.

See how I styled it in 20 Best Black T-shirt Dress Outfit Ideas + Style Tips.

4. Navy and white floral midi dress (Fits TTS, wearing a medium)

This navy floral midi dress is sleeveless with a split neck and a gathered elastic waistband hitting at the slimmest part of your natural waistline. The fabric is a lightweight cotton rayon blend that resembles gauze in that it has a slight texture to the fabric. The dress has pockets and is lined on the bottom with a breathable, lightweight material. This is one you can dress up for a nice dinner or wear with sneakers or slides. The navy and white floral has touches of royal blue and feels elevated.

I’m wearing a medium, and the flowy midi skirt hugs my size 12 hips with a little room. Going up a size would probably make it too big in the bust as a 36-B.

Now let’s look at bottoms. I’m including linen pants and blue jeans. I’m also sharing two optional items, including white shorts and white jeans.

5. White linen pants (Fits loose, wearing a medium in petite length; Similar straight leg ankle-length pair, fit TTS)

I debated whether to include lightweight linen pants or white shorts here. I love the comfort of pull-on pants, especially after a long flight. I’ve heard from many midlife women who don’t love wearing shorts, so I included shorts as an alternate option below. If wearing white pants worries you for traveling, carry a stain pen. Also, be careful when you’re eating chocolate. Those little crumbs melt right into the fabric.

These Old Navy wide-leg linen pants look best with the shirt untucked, which hides the elastic waistband and creates a more streamlined look.

White linen pants

Update: I’m wearing them in a petite length, so they hit my ankle at 5’6″. The petite length is sold out, so I’m linking a straight-leg pair of linen pants from J.Crew Factory. They fit TTS. I’m including a picture of them below in a blue and white stripe that’s now sold out. The white color is available at the time of publication.

6. Blue denim kick crop jeans (Fit TTS, I’m in a 31, aka 12)

It’s a good idea to pack a pair of jeans in the event of cold weather or a rainy day. Kick crop jeans are a fresh and modern alternative to skinny jeans. They’re still slim fitting in the hips and thighs, but they have a cute flare below the knee and are ankle length at 5’6”. As someone who wears size 12 jeans, I love how the flare provides balance to my triangle body type with a larger rear. These Loft kick crop jeans are a new purchase, and they are insanely flattering. Somehow, they make my legs look like they go on for days. They’re soft, and have so much give for comfort. The wash is a bit lighter for summer, and the hem is finished, giving a more polished look.

7. Optional Item: White kick crop jeans (Fit TTS, wearing size 31)

These high rise kick crop jeans are some of my favorites. The rise is 11-inches and the slightly flared crop raw hem balances wider hips and shows off your shoes.

White kick crop jeans

8. Optional item: White shorts (Fit slightly big, wearing my true size 12 for a roomier fit)

I’m not a big shorts person, but these are my go-to when I do wear them. They have a longer 6-inch inseam without being Bermuda shorts. These are the curvy fit for my size 12 hips. They are slightly roomy in my true size. I also own them in a size down for a more exact fit.

white shorts

Let’s look at tops to pack!

9. White notch-neck flutter sleeve top (Fits TTS, I’m in a small)

I love this top instead of a basic white t-shirt. It’s elevated with a flattering v-neck with contrast cotton flutter sleeves with cutout detail. When I first saw this shirt hanging in the store, the sleeves looked puffy, but a quick steam took care of that. This is a shirt you can dress up or down. It’s longer in length and flowy, so I like to front-tuck it. Substitution: If you prefer, pack a white tank top if it feels more like your personal style. 

White notch-neck flutter sleeve top

10. White and blue striped boatneck tee (Size up since it fits small and straight. I’m in a medium)

You know I love a striped shirt for visual interest. Since my bottom half is larger than my top, the horizontal stripes and the boatneck help to create balanced proportions between my bottom and top half. I’m obsessed with this royal blue stripe. It’s so fresh for summer. It also comes in a dark navy. This shirt is cut fairly straight and is easy to leave untucked if you prefer. I’m wearing a medium.

White and blue striped boatneck tee

11. Black wedge tee (Relaxed fit, wearing XS)

This black shirt is a great alternative to a standard t-shirt. The cap sleeves cut across the arm at a higher spot creating a flattering and elongating effect on the arms. This is another shirt that you can easily wear untucked if you prefer. 

Black wedge tee

12. White and navy striped tee (Fits TTS, wearing a medium)

A striped tee is a great option for adding visual interest to a simple outfit. This white and navy striped tee is another casual option of a classic tee for when you want to be more dressed down. 

White and navy striped tee

13. Gray t-shirt (Fits TTS, wearing a medium) 

I love a light gray t-shirt as an alternative to white for everyday wear. This is a basic tee and another casual option for a more casual itinerary.

Gray t-shirt

14. Denim jacket (Fits big, wearing large for a looser fit)

If you want a light layer for air conditioned spaces, a denim jacket is the perfect length with dresses and also works with pants. This is a lighter blue wash and works so well with this color palette. It is slightly oversized for a casual look. You could also take a jacket with a hood if your destination is rainy.

15. Gray crewneck cardigan sweater (Similar linked fits TTS)

A gray crewneck cardigan is a more elevated option as a layering piece that works with all the dresses, tops, and jeans. A hip-length cardigan helps to define the waistline of a dress. In this outfit, I love the combination of gray, black, and cognac brown. It feels so rich.

Gray crewneck cardigan sweater

16. Brown bay slides (Fits TTS, wearing size 9)

These brown slide sandals are an elevated alternative to flip flops that you can wear to the pool or a winery and with shorts or a long dress. They’re super versatile and comfortable.

Brown bay slides

17. Tretorn sneakers (Fits slightly roomy in the toe-box, I prefer my true size 9)

These canvas Tretorn sneakers are flexible, lightweight, breathable, and easy to wear for moderate walking of less than 10,000 steps.

If you’re walking more than 10,000 steps for several days in a row, choose your favorite running shoe with a cushioned insole and your perfect amount of arch support.

When it comes to sizing, I own them in my true size and a half size down. Both fit but I prefer the roominess in the footbed of my true size. The smaller size can rub on the toes and heel. Wear them with no-show socks that come above your heel with a heel tab. A white pair of socks will blend in, so you barely notice them. Break them in at home first to ensure they work for your foot shape and have the comfort you need when traveling.

Tretorn sneakers

My pair came with striped and white laces. I love how the gum sole matches the brown of the bag. They look great with navy.

18. Two-strap slide sandals (Fits TTS, I’m wearing my usual size 9)

These canvas and rubber slides are a knock-off of two-strap Birkenstocks that require no breaking-in period. The rubber insole is super comfortable; you can wear it with a swimsuit or dress. The canvas body with gold buckles gives them a more elevated look than your standard leather Birkenstocks. You’ll be happy to have them when you want an easy alternative to sneakers.  They’re my go to easy shoes for running around town. 

Two-strap slide sandals

19. Brown leather belt bag

When you’re sightseeing, a hands-free bag is a must. I prefer a belt bag to a crossbody because everything important stays securely right in front of your body. This is slim and hugs the body with space for your phone, sunglasses, and a small wallet. It’s made of thin pebbled leather and has an adjustable strap. The shape and clasp give it an equestrian vibe that I love.

Brown leather belt bag

20. Optional: Brown faux woven tote bag

I’m including an inexpensive brown woven tote bag because you don’t have to worry about getting gelato on it or scratching it up. It’s super lightweight, rolls up in your bag, and takes little space. From time to time, you may want a tote bag if you’re going shopping or want to carry a ton of snacks and a light water bottle. If you carry a lot of stuff daily, go for a travel backpack instead to be hands-free. 

Brown faux woven tote bag

21. A baseball cap

A classic summer outfit for me includes a baseball cap for shade. Anytime I’m out in the sun walking for an extended period, I wear a hat. This Paris hat from Anthropologie is my absolute favorite. It’s chic and perfect for a bad hair day or when it’s misting out, and I don’t want to carry an umbrella or wear a hood. This one snaps open and closed, and I hang it from my belt bag if I’m not using it. It adds a chic, sporty look to any outfit.

A baseball cap

22. Optional: A woven fedora (Similar linked)

A woven fedora is a stylish alternative to a baseball cap for a little bit of shade. It’s light and comfortable to wear when it’s hot out.

A woven fedora

23. Optional: Reversible belt

This Amazon reversible belt is a bestseller and gives you two color options, which is great when you’re traveling.

Reversible belt

24. Gold bauble necklace and gold coin necklace

This inexpensive gold statement necklace elevates simple outfits for day or night. Wear it alone or layer it with a gold coin necklace like I do here.

gold necklaces layered

Wardrobe capsule outfit ideas

Are you ready to see the different outfits you can make with these pieces? Let’s see some of the different looks you can create. 

Navy And Pink Floral Tie Waist Dress (Fits TTS, Wearing Size Medium)

Blue Notch-Neck Dress (Fits TTS, Wearing A Small)

Black Tulip Sleeve Swing Dress (Fits Roomy, Wearing A Small)

Navy And White Floral Midi Dress (Fits TTS, Wearing A Medium)

Denim Jacket (Fits Big, Wearing Large For Loose Fit)

Gray Crewneck Cardigan Sweater (Similar Linked Fits TTS)

Blue Denim Kick Crop Jeans (Fit TTS, I’m In a 31)

White Linen Pants (Fits Oversized, wearing a medium)

White Kick Crop Jeans (Fit TTS, I’m In My Usual Size 31)

A well-planned summer travel capsule wardrobe is your best bet for ensuring a great trip. By selecting versatile pieces that easily mix and match, you can build outfits that will suit any occasion, all while maintaining a cohesive color scheme. This approach simplifies packing and ensures that you look stylish and feel comfortable in warmer months, no matter where your adventures take you.

When it comes to building a summer capsule wardrobe for traveling, for a great trip, your best bet is to build outfits around a color scheme, making it easier to mix and match pieces.

Hi, Friend. I'm Marya. I'm so glad you're here!

I’m here to help women feel good inside and out through approachable everyday style inspiration and encouragement for midlife. Once upon a time, I worked as a therapist and coach. Now, I’m a holistic style blogger studying style coaching! Be So You celebrates leaning into who we were meant to be! 

Read about my  journey to self-discovery at 40. Follow me on Instagram here and Pinterest here. Send me a quick question through my contact page here.  

Fit Note: I’m midsized at 5’6″, 160 pounds, with size 12 jeans.

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4 Responses

  1. I really like this travel capsule wardrobe! I am going to Europe this summer and I plan to add a few of your items to what I already own and re-create this wardrobe! It will also make for a nice summer wardrobe once I’m back home! Thank you!!! 🙂

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