How to build a capsule wardrobe: a guide for beginners

Banish fashion fatigue by building a capsule wardrobe (and it’s easier than you might think)

With a year like 2021 nearly in our rear mirrors, we can all agree it’s time for a fresh start. And that extends to our wardrobe too. 

In the Venn diagram of fashion, there are few pieces which manage to snuggle themselves into the slot between style and comfort. There’s loungewear, of course, whose virtues have been extolled at large over the past year, and there’s the jeans-and-a-nice-top maxim for when things feel tired, stylistically speaking.

But to hit that lusted-after sweet spot of both comfort and style is no small feat. To further compound the issue, the complexities of feeling like you don’t actually wear any of the clothes that line your wardrobe further fan the fashion dilemma flames.

The solution to feeling stylish, comfortable and knowing what you have available to wear every day comes in the form of a capsule wardrobe, which is a curated selection of clothes that are versatile enough to work seamlessly with one another. In short, on the days when the fashion fatigue hits, a capsule wardrobe will banish the headache that oft-times accompanies sartorial dilemmas. 

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“You can buy fewer but better-quality items that will not only last longer but also maintain value over time”

Indeed, a capsule wardrobe signals the end of frantic fashion moments, and also provides a framework for what a more sustainable future could look like more often. Buy less, buy better is the adage of the capsule wardrobe convert, with the central belief being that by allowing a curated handful of items to form the backbone of your line-up, there will be more opportunities to invest your surplus change into investment pieces that stand the test of time. 

This is the quintet of style staples that will lead you away from fashion freneticism and towards the fashion light.

Duo of dreams

Updating your wardrobe needn’t be splurging; instead, aim to craft a capsule wardrobe, which in these seven simple steps will take you from overwhelmed to organised in the blink of an eye.
The boxy two-piece

When Julia Roberts attended the Golden Globe awards in 1990, she set the internet’s tongue wagging with her boxy and oversized two-piece suit, which was lauded at the time. Fast forward 21 years and not much has changed as it pertains to the duo’s sartorial durability.

With a capsule wardrobe, the key to its success lies in your knowledge of the pieces that can be worn with each other. With a two-piece suit, a curated selection of clothes becomes infinitely easier thanks to its trousers, which can be worn with any and all tops, and its blazer, which can similarly be swapped out to be draped over a dress or skirt. The only duo your wardrobe truly needs. 

Plain white T-shirts

How to build a capsule wardrobe
The best white T-shirt

Nothing forms the basis of an outfit more than a T-shirt. But, as is often the case, the simplest and most cult of pieces are in reality hard to get right. And T-shirts are no exception. There’s fit: nobody wants a tee that isn’t snug in all of the right places; there’s neckline: either be a crew neck or a V-neck, but pick a lane; and there’s colour: does the perfect white T-shirt (the sort that works with everything) really exist?

In short, yes it does. Skims’ cotton T-shirts have the best fit of the many that I’ve tried over the years, while Asket specialises in designing curated capsule collections and whose plain white tees are among the best in the game.  

Bags of style

How to build a capsule wardrobe
The best classic bags

The way an artist adds a final splash of colour to complete a masterpiece is the same energy a capsule wardrobe connoisseur needs to employ when finalising an outfit. 

The perfect way to do that? By snuggling an It bag into the nook of your shoulder or elbow; the perfect and ultimate way to inject a healthy dose of sartorial vitamin C to an ensemble. There’s no need to spend a fortune though. JW Pei is the bag brand that’s been seen on the arms of the fashion set, while Radley’s recently rebranded totes are the stuff of dreams. Forever bags if ever we did see them.

Denim daze

How to build a capsule wardrobe
The best classic jeans

A good pair of jeans is like a juicy burger; they stick to the ribs and cling to the hips in all of the most delicious ways. The perennial appeal of jeans is clear: they’re both versatile (pair with the aforementioned T-shirt and blazer for proof) and flattering. They can be dressed both up and down and they require minimal maintenance.

Abercrombie & Fitch’s newly rebranded denim section boasts a bevy of form-fitting denim, while Good American’s straight-legged jeans have become cult for good reason. The perfect accoutrement to a cool top and jacket combination. 

Fresh kicks

The best white trainers
The best white trainers

While hardly a novelty, the power of a fresh pair of trainers knows no bounds. The fashion set’s kicks of choice at the moment come by way of outdoorsy brand Salomon, but the Asics and New Balances that have paved the chunky kicks way are still proving popular on the trotters of the It crowd.

The only key to remember with a capsule wardrobe is that less is absolutely more – so keep everything clean, fresh and intentional, which includes the trainers. No mud-covered sneaks here, thank you very much. 

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Images: courtesy of Noor & Zee, Getty and brands.