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How to Accessorize a Colorful Summer Capsule Wardrobe (21 For 21)

In my last capsule post, I created a colorful capsule wardrobe for summer starting with 13 garments that I identified from my wardrobe tracking spreadsheet as high priority wear items based on their current cost per wear (CPW). I then filled out the capsule with 3 neutral pieces and 5 colorful/print pieces to create a 21 For 21 capsule. This capsule breaks down into:

-7 short-sleeved tops [can also wear 1 as jacket]

-2 sleeveless tops

-1 3/4 sleeve top

-1 long-sleeved top [can also wear as jacket]

-2 ankle pants

-2 skirts

-1 skimmers (long shorts)

-3 jackets

-2 cardigans

This capsule provided us with a LOT of mix and match options, even though we did not build it around a set color palette.


Today I am adding accessories to the capsule, using the same method as I did with the garments: starting with high priority wear summer-appropriate items from my planning spreadsheet (based on high current CPW). Here are the 16 high priority accessories I identified. There are 8 necklaces, 1 scarf, and 6 shoes. Both more expensive items (that take longer to bring down the CPW) and more recently purchased items (that have fewer wears so higher CPW) are represented in this group.

Starting with 16 pieces, we are left with 5 additions to reach our total of 21. My first step was to look at the skirts/pants in the capsule and make sure there was at least one pair of shoes here that can be worn with them. Luckily we have a nice selection of neutrals (brown, nude-to-me, and black/grey) in our shoe collection so that wasn't an issue at all. The number and variety of necklaces also looks good. So I decided to pick bracelets and earrings to fill out the accessory capsule. I don't track wears and CPW for those two categories because I've never had an issue with overbuying them and historically I didn't own that many of either one. In the last couple years my collection of bracelets and earrings has grown a lot as I've started to create my own pieces, but I still haven't felt the need to track the wears.


For earrings, I wanted one statement pair and one more subtle pair. First I picked the brown leather leaf earrings with the brass tassels to work with the brown flats. I don't have any brown clothing in the capsule, so having a second brown leather piece to complement the shoes felt useful for creating cohesive outfits. I thought about picking a mixed metal pair as my second addition, but the only pair I have are another dangling style and I wanted more of a stud style. So I picked some large gold studs. Because of the two mixed metal necklaces in original 16, I definitely wanted that mixed metal feel represented in my bracelets. I handled that by selecting a chunky gold/silver bracelet and a nice big stack of metallic bead bracelets in silver, gold, and rose gold (which I counted as 1 set) that can be mixed and matched. For the last two spots, I added DIY bracelet sets based on the accent colors in the garment capsule: one medium blue/aloe vera green/white/gold set and one lime green/pink/silver set. Of course these bracelet sets can be broken up and mix-and-matched with each other and the metallic bracelets.

And here is the final accessory capsule for the 21 For 21. It's a bit different from what I would have assembled working completely from scratch...in particular, the necklaces here are mostly neutral/metallic whereas I would have added at least one (and probably more) very colorful necklaces. But the scarf, two bracelet sets, and three pairs of shoes are colorful, so that is enough color, and with the array of various metals and pearls, I am satisfied with the final collection.

Let's put the garment and accessory capsules through their paces by creating outfits! I will select four outfits for each bottom piece and accessorize with items from our new capsule. 5 bottoms x 4 outfits each = 20 fully accessorized outfits. But as we saw in the previous post, we have at least 180 different outfit combinations from our capsule that could be accessorized, so the outfits here are just the tip of the iceberg of possibilities!

I am pleasantly surprised at how varied the accessorized outfits look! I find it very easy to get a lot of variety in a winter capsule by introducing colorful/print scarves to relatively simple base outfits, but summer can be more difficult as my go-to cool weather strategy of "add a scarf" isn't so much in play. In this capsule, a lot of the color is in the garments, which means many of our pre-accessorized base outfits are pretty colorful to begin with. Then the shoes and bracelets (and the cool-to-wear fish print silk scarf) bring in more color while the necklaces and earrings finish the looks with metallic/pearl elements.


I think this kind of capsule--garments and shoes with a good mix of neutrals and accent colors + mostly neutral metallic/pearl jewelry + one colorful print silk scarf--is a good alternative to the classic mostly neutral capsule with a small amount of accent color. If you have some neutral jewelry pieces that you want to prioritize for the season, rather than relying on accessories to add the color, you can make sure that color is represented in the clothing capsule.


Do you like wearing accent colors in the summer? Or are you more of a neutrals fan? When bringing color into your outfits, do you tend to rely on clothing, accessories, both, or neither?


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