If you walk into my dream wardrobe, you’ll find something straight out of Keeping up with The Kardashians episode. Not necessarily in terms of style, but more a perfectly organised Pinterest dream with classically tailored pieces, organised by colour and occasion, everything in it’s perfect place. Wardrobe essentials only. Open the doors to my real wardrobe, and you’ll find…well, picture a DFO store, post sale. Honestly on most days, I’m lucky if I can find a pair of matching shoes without having to dig through a pile of discarded clothes and heels I swear I’m going to wear next season.
Though I might not like to admit it, I have a deep tendency to hoard. When something catches my eye, I want to keep it forever a la the leopard Dolce & Gabanna dress circa 2006 that was worn once and still sits in my wardrobe. Coupled with a contradictory manic need to organise, living in an untidy space truly makes me feel like I’m going to break out in hives.
Then I watched a Masterclass episode hosted by Tan France all about creating a “capsule wardrobe” and feel that my life is now forever changed.
Capsule wardrobes are made up with easy pieces that are great for specifying your personal style. By having select items of clothing and a few flexible pairs of shoes, you can make styling and layering easy, and spend less time figuring out what to wear (hello Mum Life). The set number of items in a capsule wardrobe can also help you avoid decision fatigue.
Sound good? Well read on dear Mama and go forth to create the carefully curated wardrobe of your dreams.
What is a Capsule Wardrobe?
A capsule wardrobe is a collection of classic pieces that work together with versatility, allowing you to create look after look with just a few items. A capsule wardrobe consists of your most essential clothing items, which serve as the building blocks of your closet. You can create entire looks with just the capsule wardrobe, and you can also layer capsule pieces with seasonal pieces and trendy, fast fashion items.
Boutique owner Susie Faux coined the term “capsule wardrobe” in the 1970s to describe mix-and-match basics, and designer Donna Karan popularised the term in the 1980s when she released a capsule collection of fashionable workwear.
9 Tips when shopping for your wardrobe essentials
The perfect capsule wardrobe is about building your foundations—and you don’t need a professional stylist to help you find new pieces for your basic wardrobe essentials. If it’s your first time selecting your own capsule wardrobe essentials, check out these tips from Tan France:
Every capsule wardrobe should contain a solid piece of outerwear, like a trench coat or other heavier coat.
A motorcycle jacket—whether it’s real leather or vegan—is a great staple for many wardrobes. A leather jacket is cool, and it shows style without making any real effort. A blazer can also be a useful article of clothing to make a dress more work appropriate.
You may not want to wear a button-up shirt every day, but eventually, you will need a button-up shirt. It can be used in a very casual, fun way, as opposed to super-corporate. Invest in a couple. Add a white and a black option. You can go for other colours that make you feel like you, such as a navy, a brown, and a beige. But stick with a neutral colour palette. It’s going to be a lot easier to mix and match with other things down the track.
A great-fitting suit.
A suit does not have to be expensive. You can get something relatively inexpensive and have it tailored—but make sure it fits you to perfection. Again, stick with a neutral colour: It can either be a darker neutral or a lighter neutral. Then you can break the suit up, and you can wear it in so many different ways.
You will likely need knitwear at some point in the year. Stick with something relatively neutral. Stick with something that flatters your body type. If you like a crew neck, go with a crew neck. If you are slightly shorter, go with a cropped sweater. If you embrace a longer length that makes you feel like your best self, go with a longer length. Just decide what sweater is going to work best for you by trying on many, many options. For your capsule wardrobe, select an option that is simple and versatile. A solid grey, a solid navy, a solid black, and a solid cream are good choices. Find colours that are relatively neutral so you can mix and match.
A t-shirt is a simple item that you can get from just about every store. You can either go for something super expensive or inexpensive. Choose neutral colours, and then throw in maybe two or three different colours that pop a little more. The foundations are usually black, white, navy, grey, and brown. A khaki is also relatively neutral. Make sure that you like the cut, the colour, and the neckline. Is a V-neck more your story or do you like a crew neck more? Find the T-shirt that works best for you and your body shape by trying them on and then buy them in a few different colours. There are so many stores that offer inexpensive basics. Find the right fit and buy it in every colour available.
Denim is a significant component of your capsule wardrobe. Decide on the shades and fits of denim you like, and try on multiple options. Whittle it down to a pair of jeans that you know you will appreciate for many years to come, usually something with a more straight-leg or tapered leg. Nothing too wild, nothing with rips, nothing bedazzled—keep it relatively simple. Go for a couple of pairs of those jeans, whether it’s black or blue or white. Buy a couple of pairs in whichever your colour you select.
Now and then, you’ll want to jazz up that outfit, and a statement belt is the perfect way to take your outfit to the next level. You want it for fashion, not function. If you need the belt to hold up your pants, you’re wearing the wrong size. If you’re the kind of person that likes a black belt with a gold buckle, go for that. Choose a belt that you know you’ll wear for years and years.
If you are the kind of woman who wants to wear a dress, you can go for a little black dress or a little green dress. Spaghetti straps are classic. The shape is classic: It’s an A-line dress. Maybe it’s a satin dress that’s never going to go out of style. But again (I think we are repeating ourselves here) the colour must be relatively neutral, so you can easily pair it with other items.