Finding reliable clothing staples to rewear again and again helps us all to become more sustainable travelers—and refrain from overpacking. When building a summer travel capsule wardrobe, versatile and comfortable basics are key: Rather than packing a suitcase full of trendy items or statement outfits you’ll only wear once, consider investing in basics you can pair with several outfits and wear from day to night. To lay the foundation, we’ve put together a list of top summer wardrobe essentials, whether you’re headed to a beach vacation in Mexico or are planning to eat your way through Italy. No matter where your upcoming travel plans take you, these are the pieces you’ll be glad you packed. From crisp white button-downs and lightweight linen dresses to walking sandals and packable beach totes, you can count on them to keep your packing list short and your outfit options long.

Below, 13 pieces to build a summer travel capsule wardrobe, with men’s and women’s styles from brands we love: Everlane, Lululemon, Banana Republic, and more. Keep scrolling to see them all or jump right to your item of choice.

Build your summer capsule wardrobe:

The breathable tank top

Hot summer days mean you’ll need a few basic tanks. Ribbed tank tops are always a smart choice—they’re both comfortable and flattering. If you want something that looks a little more put together with a pair shorts or a midi skirt, I wear this seamless bodysuit from Amazon constantly (it’s double-lined and I own it in multiple colors). Nike and Lululemon make some of our favorite performance tanks for men—they’re available in a variety of colors, too.

Reoria sleeveless racer back halter neck bodysuit

Buck Mason Surplus rib tank

Everlane Organic Cotton Cutaway tank

Lululemon men’s Zeroed In tank

Nike Men’s Dri-Fit training tank

The perfect short

Finding a trusted pair of shorts can feel nearly impossible. We chose options that aren’t too short, so you can avoid unwanted chafing while still keeping cool. High-waisted, light wash options are ideal for hot summer days and pair well with just about any top in your suitcase.

Everlane The A-Line denim short

Abercrombie & Fitch Curve Love High-Rise Dad short

Lululemon men’s ABC Classic-Fit short

Buck Mason men’s Herringbone Twill Larsen short

The linen pant

For something a little more breezy, opt for a pair of linen pants. Whether I’m headed to a barbecue or lunch by the pool, I’m always gravitating toward linen in the warmer months. Lightweight, packable, and chic—it’s the ultimate summer pant.

Everlane The Linen Way-High Drape pant

Banana Republic linen pull-on pant

Todd Snyder Italian Linen Beach pant

J.Crew Classic-fit linen pant

The basic tee

Every traveler needs a go-to tee. A basic T-shirt pairs well with almost any pair of shorts, linen pants, or skirt you pack this summer (sometimes I even throw one underneath a sleeveless dress). Cotton tees from Everlane, Skims, True Classic, and Cuts are breathable and lightweight, making them year-round staples for every type of packing list. No matter where I’m headed, whether it’s a beach trip in Miami or a cabin getaway in Vermont, I have at least two comfy tees in my weekender.

Everlane The Organic Cotton Box Cut Tee

Skims Cotton Jersey t-shirt

True Classic men’s white crew neck T-shirt

Cuts men’s AO Forever Tee

The classic button-down

Along with a plain white tee, I never travel without a button-down—I wear these with denim, as a cover-up by the pool, or over a slip dress at night if it gets a little chilly. For something ultra lightweight, a linen button-down will keep you cool and covered.

Buck Mason Mainstay cotton shirt

Everlane The Linen Relaxed shirt

Quince men’s 100 Percent European linen long-sleeve

Banana Republic men’s Slim Castello linen shirt

The midi dress

One of the most fun items to pack for summer: midi dresses. Staple pieces like this rib tank dress from Buck Mason and Abercrombie’s linen blend dress are always smart options, but for something with a little more flare, I’m eyeing colorful picks from Lulus, Farm Rio, and Banana Republic. Whether you’re headed to a dinner party or want to explore a new city in style, these dresses scream summer and are easy to throw on with any pair of sandals.

Buck Mason Surplus rib tank dress

Lulus Summer Journey Light Orange Tie-front Cut-out midi dress

Farm Rio Blue Stitched Garden maxi dress

Banana Republic European linen dress

Abercrombie & Fitch linen blend midi dress

Abercrombie & Fitch Mia Vest midi dress

The midi skirt

Equally elegant and comfortable, a midi skirt can be dressed up or down with a pair of low heels, sneakers, or sandals. A skirt like this elevates an otherwise simple look and can be reworn endlessly throughout a trip with any of your favorite tanks, tees, or blouses. We love these chic styles from Free People, Banana Republic, and Cuyana, but for something under $40, Amazon brand The Drop’s high-waisted skirt is a great staple.

Free People Like a Mermaid skirt

Banana Republic Midi Slip skirt

Cuyana Poplin Gathered skirt

The Drop Veronique high waist slit skirt

The exercise dress

Ideal for active travelers and especially hot destinations, exercise dresses are supportive enough for hikes and workout classes, while doubling as a cute daytime outfit. I don’t always work out on a trip, but when I do, a sporty yet feminine exercise dress is the way to go—I’ll wear one for a morning walk and still feel put together enough for breakfast at the hotel and whatever comes next. For practicality and comfort, I love ones that have built-in shorts underneath, like the Outdoor Voices style.

Outdoor Voices The Exercise Dress

Abercrombie Traveler mini dress

FP Movement Hot Shot mini dress

The white sneaker

When it comes to essential shoes, every traveler needs a crisp pair of white sneakers. It’s always my most-worn shoe on every trip, especially when there’s a walking tour on the itinerary. Some of our team’s favorite comfortable white sneakers come from Nike, Lululemon, and Adidas, with men’s and women’s sizes available for each.

Lululemon Cityverse sneaker

Adidas Stan Smith sneaker

The walking sandal

Summer sandals can be a tricky shoe to purchase: You want a pair that can withstand a good amount of walking without causing blisters, but that still leaves you looking put together. These options below from Rothy’s, Olukai, Birkenstock, and Teva can take you from the pool to lunch to sightseeing around town. Comfortable, versatile, and packable, a good walking sandal is simply a must.

Rothy’s The Weekend Slide

Birkenstock Men’s Soft Slide sandal

Teva men’s Hurricane Xlt2 sandal

The comfortable heel

For those summer nights when you need something a little more elevated than your favorite pair of sandals, a comfortable heel is a must-have. Black, ivory, or nude heels match just about any midi dress you toss in your carry-on. The height of these heels is just right—high enough to wear to any destination weddings or special events you’re attending, but low enough to actually dance the night away in. Bonus points for block heels and mules—both styles are easier to walk in and provide decent stability on uneven ground.

Sam Edelman Waylon Block heel slide

Reformation Wilda Kitten mule

The quality bathing suit

No matter where I’m headed—beach vacation or not—I always pack a bathing suit. You can’t go wrong with a supportive one-piece or high-waisted set. Some of our favorite men’s swim trunks are from Todd Snyder and Lacoste, but we have plenty more options where that came from.

Left on Friday Weekender Suit

Andie Swim The Symi one-piece

Left on Friday Plunge Top and Hi Hi bottom

Summersalt The Ruched Sidestroke bikini top and high-rise bottom

Todd Snyder Riviera swimsuit

Lacoste lightweight swim shorts

The packable tote

A packable tote bag that you can bring to the beach, shopping, or to the hotel pool will always come in handy. When I’m low on suitcase space, I prefer one that can lay completely flat—like Rothy’s Lightweight Tote. These roomy, beachy bags all fit a day’s worth of essentials, including a beach towel, water bottle, and lots of sunscreen.

Carve Designs Treasure Tote

Banana Republic Slouchy Vida Straw Bag

Dragon Diffusion Nantucket basket bag

Rothy’s Lightweight Tote


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