In March, The Washingtonian featured one of my long-time clients, Renata Briggman, and the style uniform I created for her. The article, and the accompanying style tips, went viral. Since then, I have fielded countless requests from new and existing clients who want the same ease, simplicity, and style we developed for Renata’s everyday look. One of those women was another long-time client, Elizabeth Fitzsimmons. I have featured Elizabeth and her DC boss lady style before on the blog, but this time we focused on her summer weekend look. She approached me about creating a uniform. We weren’t as strict as I was with Renata because I knew Elizabeth would want to some variety in her weekend wear and wouldn’t be happy literally wearing the same exact thing each and every weekend. She was thrilled with the results, and asked if she could share the experience on our blog. Below is her perspective on the process and results of working to create a summer weekend capsule wardrobe. 

Summer dressing in DC can, frankly, feel like a chore.  Searing heat and stifling humidity, afternoon downpours, and arctic office AC limit our choices and can make getting dressed feel like a daily grind instead of a treat.

 With help from DC Style Factory’s summer dressing workshop,I felt like I had summer office dressing handled, but my summer weekends were still a wasteland of yoga pants and not quite right tees. I wanted to create the same kind of effortless capsule wardrobe I enjoy Monday through Friday and make my summer dressing as fun and stylish on the weekends as it was during the week.

My first suggestion to Rosana was a summer weekend uniform, which she (gently and correctly) shot down as a little too confining for someone like me who loves clothes (and shoes, and accessories). She guided me towards a summer weekend capsule, ensuring that my outfits were ready for Friday nights through Sunday afternoons.

We made a quick list of what I was dressing for.  In my case, this was something for date nights that would be easy and DC restaurant appropriate; something breezy and cool for watching soccer, picking berries, and our family beach vacation; and something for afternoons out with friends when I wanted a little more style. My only requirements were ensuring that everything worked together and could fit in a carry-on suitcase.

As always with DC Style Factory, I arrived to find a rack full of great options, which we quickly narrowed down to the winners.  While these may not be the exact pieces that work for your weekends, I think the basic capsule is one that fits the lifestyles of lots of DC-area women and works perfectly with our summer climate.

Trousers

Rosana found a great, washable, lightweight capri trouser which is the backbone of my weekend wardrobe.  I got one pair in black and another in olive, and I am virtually always in one or the other on the weekends. I also added a pair of white jeans with a distressed hem for days when I wanted something full length.

 Tops

I went with two basic silhouettes — a drapey short-sleeve tee shirt and a 3/4 sleeve slightly dressier tee.  We chose a breezy Eileen Fisher stripe{similar here and here} and a stylish grey from The Great as my basics and a fantastic 3/4 sleeve stripe from Veronica Beard for the “dressed-up” option.  All three work perfectly with both the black and the olive trousers.

Date night

This black CAbi jumpsuit has been a workhorse. It is my date night staple with heels (more about shoes in a second) and perfect for lunch or errands in flats. Add a scarf or a necklace to change the look.  It is down to a few dollars per wear already and the summer is only half over.

Light jacket

I was a little reluctant to add a jacket – after all, it is DC In the summer.  But I am so glad I added this light 3/4 sleeve olive utility jacket (featured in first picture).  It has saved me from sunburn on the soccer sidelines and arctic AC.  I can throw it on over my jumpsuit to change the look or with any of my weekend outfits.

Shoes

Even with a packed shoe closet, I realized I didn’t have anything that made sense for my actual summer weekend life.  Rosana knew that stylish shoes are important to me, but also that I needed to be comfortable.  She found these great slip-ons from Hispanitas that get compliments every time I have them on, and a great walkable flat sandal in grey.  Both pairs of shoes work with every outfit and I haven’t had a blister all summer.  She also let me indulge in a pair of fabulous Aquatalia block heeled sandals from The Shoe Hive in a beautiful waterproof cognac suede which make my date night jumpsuit pop and which also work to dress up my trousers.

Accessories

One necklace and a lightweight scarf ensure I always have a third piece to add style, but no weight or heat.  A long pendant lengthens the line of my outfits and the scarf in a soft animal print adds a little sun (and also sun/AC protection if needed.)

 If you are counting along, you can see that with 13 items I am dressed for summer.  Whatever the activity, I am as cool (or warm) as I need to be, on-trend, and feeling fantastic.  Weekend dressing is a breeze and to be honest, I’ve never had so many compliments on my weekend wardrobe. I can’t wait to put together my fall weekend capsule!
Elizabeth Fitzsimmons is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Counselor. She is currently Deputy Executive Secretary, and previously served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy in the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs and the Office of the Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. She joined the Department in 1995, and at the time of her swearing in was the youngest member of the Foreign Service. You can follow Elizabeth’s polished, powerful DC style on Instagram