How to Create the Perfect Capsule Wardrobe

A mixture of white, black and grey clothes on hangers
Photo Credit: Pinterest

Ever tried to desperately close that wardrobe door, only for it to spring open with the mass of clothing trying to escape? Or how about the feeling of “I’ve got nothing to wear!”, even with several wardrobes and a chest of drawers filled with your shopping habits? Let’s be honest, we’ve all been there…

But how about turning the chaos into a capsule wardrobe of key pieces that are good quality, stand the fashion test of time, and go with everything? We’ve got your capsule wardrobe checklist covered to make getting ready in the morning a whole lot easier…

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What Is a Capsule Wardrobe?

A trend in itself – a basic capsule wardrobe is about minimizing your closet in order to not only declutter your bedroom, but also your mind. After all, there’s nothing worse than having so much that you can’t actually pick an outfit without stress!

It’s about choosing your best clothes (aim for around 30 pieces) and being creative in how you wear them throughout the changing seasons. Capsule clothing is intended to work all year round and we love the fact that less can mean more when it comes to building a wardrobe. The idea is to go back to basics and add in key pieces and accessories throughout each season to keep things fresh.

Grey jumper, black handbag, white trainers and black sunglasses
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Build a Capsule Wardrobe: Spring/Summer Looks

For warmer days, capsule wardrobe essentials could include a loose fitting t-shirt, vest top, a smart and casual shirt, sweatshirt, cardigan, shorter and longer dresses, skirt, shorts, casual jeans and smart jeans, leather jacket, denim jacket and a combination of sandals, canvas shoes, chelsea boots, heels and pretty flats. In terms of accessories, neutral coloured hats, bags, sunglasses, belts and jewellery are must haves for summer.

Capsule wardrobe pieces definitely start with a simple colour palette, so white, grey, blue and tan will work wonders in the spring/summer, and you may find that several items could also work throughout autumn and winter too.

Build a Capsule Wardrobe: Autumn/Winter Looks

Black and grey are great base colours for a winter capsule wardrobe, alongside earthy colours such as dark green, burgundy or camel.

Something to remember for this time of year is that shoes and outerwear are going to feature much more heavily. Going for one long tailored coat in black or camel will definitely stand the fashion test of time and work for dressing up or down. We also suggest a shorter style coat, quilted bomber jacket and leather jacket (for nights out when it isn’t below freezing).

In terms of footwear, knee high boots, comfy chelsea boots and elegant heels for the Christmas party season are all must-haves. Due to the darker colour palette during the colder seasons, your capsule wardrobe list should definitely include a pair of black leather boots – chances are, you’ll reach for them daily.

In terms of capsule outfits for autumn/winter, a pair of black and blue skinnies, black leather skirt, fitted long sleeve tops, a chunky jumper, smart cami, a-line dress and something sparkly will achieve more than you think at this time of year. And if you’re missing patterns, leopard print shoes will work wonders with all outfit choices!

Create a Capsule Wardrobe for… Holiday

As tempting as it is to just throw everything into a suitcase when ‘panic packing’ the night before going on holiday, not only will you run the risk of being over the weight limit at the airport, but also you may well forget something crucial like swimwear.

Key items when creating a capsule wardrobe for a holiday could include a relaxed maxi dress (suitable for day and night), soft skirt, bikini, light tailored trousers, comfy sandals, a hat, sunglasses, kimono, plain tops and a pair of crochet or denim shorts. Perhaps also a beach bag that can work for evenings too.

Suitcase filled with holiday clothes
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Create a Capsule Wardrobe for… Work

If you’re wondering how to create a capsule wardrobe for work, don’t fall into the trap of thinking everything has to be black. You can certainly be more creative with your outfit choice for those weekdays: business doesn’t mean boring!

A grey or black tailored suit is a work capsule wardrobe classic, but add an a-line midi skirt, dress, pencil skirt, cigarette trousers, crisp white shirt and fitted top into the mix, along with mid-height heels, neutral coloured pumps and a pair of loafers, and you will have a staple wardrobe for the week that will be sure to get you noticed (for all the right reasons).

If you love colour, go for it on the bottom half with plain, interchangeable tops that will complement each piece. You’ll be surprised at how many combinations work with a slightly oversized white shirt, for example.

Three ways to wear a white shirt: with jeans, cigarette trousers and a-line skirt
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Create a Capsule Wardrobe for… Casual Friday

We love the end of the working week – particularly as it means we can wear something more relaxed on casual Friday. This is when your favourite pair of skinny jeans or comfy skirt and slouchy shirt can come out of that simple capsule wardrobe. Add some ankle boots and you’ve got yourself a winning clothing capsule.

Four ways to wear a black and white checked shirt
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How to Minimize Your Wardrobe: Top Tips

Making a capsule wardrobe is about:

  • A neutral base with complementary, interchangeable colours.
  • Going for key, quality pieces that will stand the test of time.
  • Judging what will work for each season.
  • Easing the daily stress of finding the perfect outfit.
  • Wearing the things you love.
  • Noticing on-trend pieces that add to your look, rather than take it over.

Build a wardrobe that reflects your style and you could potentially find yourself with capsule clothing that lasts a lifetime. Choose around 30 key pieces that you regularly reach for as you start creating capsule wardrobe ideas, and remember there’s only room for your ‘yes’ pile. In doing this you’ll remove the temptation to keep buying clothes that only last a season due to poor quality or being too niche (remember the Topshop ‘GEEK’ and ‘DORK’ tees of 2o13? Classic example).

Give a capsule wardrobe a go and see how less really is more.

Read more great articles on women’s fashion here at alexie.co.

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