Meghan Markle’s go-to designer on how to build the ultimate capsule wardrobe

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Kitty McGee
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Meghan Markle Amanda Wakeley cream tailored crombie coat

British designer Amanda Wakeley reveals the simple steps to building the perfect capsule wardrobe of effortless elevated staples.

Meghan Markle’s style is lauded globally thanks to her considered wardrobe of sophisticated dresses and separates and elegant accessories. She re-wears her favourite pieces and looks expertly pulled together, and effortless, at every outing. 

It would be safe to assume that her morning routine is drastically different to most women; sure she may take a moment to work out which of her impeccably made outfits would be most suitable for her day ahead, but it’s difficult to imagine any cataclysmic meltdowns happening on the morning before a big meeting, an important event - or hell, even just on washing day.

But, thanks to one of her go-to designers, British designer and purveyor of chic Amanda Wakeley, you need never experience wardrobe meltdown of a morning again.

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Brit designer Amanda Wakeley is known for her chic eveningwear and elevated wardrobe staples. Meghan regularly wears her Sculpted Crombie coat and her silhouette skimming occasionwear has been worn by everyone from Jennifer Lopez to Zoe Saldana.

Her personal style is built around the very concept that she is passionate about; having the ultimate collection of perfectly-fitting staples, Wakeley adds, “We’ve always shouted about our special evening and occasion pieces but now feels like the right time to be talking about our brilliant wardrobe essentials too.”

Irrational morning breakdowns are something most of us are familiar with. How can we have nothing, literally nothing, at all, to wear? Not one outfit that feels ‘right’, feels ‘special’ or actually fits and flatters us. Hard to believe when most of us shop almost every week. Our wardrobes are stuffed, often so full that we can’t see what is in them. And yet nothing at all in them that we want to wear. 

A lot of this can be attributed to shopping impulsively; shopping in the moment for an event that weekend or a meeting the next week or just seeing something we like the look of. 

The rise in more mindful, sustainable shopping means we are starting to think less about shopping in the moment, less for the thrill of the new and more about investing slightly more time and maybe money, in the right pieces that will work with more of our existing wardrobe, and last longer too. That doesn’t mean buying pieces you think are practical but that you don’t love, or that there’s no buzz when you find the right piece. Fashion & Buying Director at Moda Operandi, Lisa Aiken explains how she works out whether or not to buy something new; “I always ask myself, do I want to wear this tomorrow? Does this work with at least three other pieces in my wardrobe? If not I don’t buy it.”

Amanda Wakeley practices what she preaches. She, like many fashion insiders, has a ‘fashion uniform’. She wears her own label, a privilege not afforded to many. But she knows what works for her, items, silhouettes and colours, and wears those pieces over and over. These are the pieces that make up her ultimate fashion uniform and are the perfect foundations of a capsule wardrobe that will revolutionise the way you get dressed.

So, what are the pieces we need?

1. The perfect pants

“I’ve worked really hard on this; everyone needs a really great pair of pants in their wardrobe. Whether you’re a flare girl, a wide-leg girl, whether you wear a peg pant or even leggings” Wakeley explains. Try on some different shapes and silhouettes and think about what works on a practical and aesthetic level with your personal style and current favourite wardrobe pieces. Your go-to jean shape might help you work out what shape you will wear most.

2. The everyday knit

A roll-neck or crew neck jumper is incredibly versatile, making it a great piece to invest a little more money than usual on. Don’t be afraid of lighter shades, cream and camel are great for daytime and mid-grey or navy can be really useful for day-to-night.

3. The boyfriend knit

Wakeley’s oversized v-neck knits often come in colourblock form, or in a mix of silk and cashmere, making them great options for evening with trousers or a silk midi skirt, as well as working with jeans and trainers for casual weekends. 

4. The tailored coat

A tailored crombie is arguably the most useful coat shape. A great everyday choice for over workwear it’s also great over evening options and can be dressed down with casual basics too. If you wear smart and casual clothes as often as one another you may be best with a camel or grey. If you want super smart navy or black will be slickest. Think carefully about length too; if you wear ankle grazing skirts or dresses then opt for a longer length coat. 

There will be some outfits that don’t feel quite right with a heavy, tailored coat so you may also want a trench or a shorter utility jacket in your capsule wardrobe too.

5. The white shirt

A white tux shirt is a great, practical and stylish option if your dressing dilemmas are often eveningwear related. If you struggle more with daywear look for a boyfriend-style white cotton shirt or an ivory silk shirt could be the best option. The white shirt looks great with smart trousers or jeans and a blazer or tailored coat. 

6. The boyfriend blazer

A boxy, longline blazer is the perfect piece to layer over everything from jeans, to dresses, jumpers and jumpsuits. A boxy style will be the easiest to wear with all of your existing pieces, rather than a cropped or very fitted work-specific style. Navy or grey are the safest options but don’t be afraid of a cream or burgundy style.

As well as expensive, investment staples you will need some solid basics in your capsule wardrobe too.

7. Jeans

Straight-leg jeans in a mid or dark wash are very versatile. Levi’s, Gap and US denim label Agolde have some brilliant options. If you aren’t a fan of jeans and want to start with something smarter, like wide-leg or flared jeans try Topshop or MiH, or head to Selfridges’ Denim Studio, the biggest dedicated denim space in the UK it’s the mecca for all things denim.

8. T shirts

At least one white and one grey, crew neck or v-neck, depending on your personal style. Great places to seek out well fitting, long lasting styles are Gap, & Other stories and James Perse.

9. Trainers

All white, or largely white trainers, like adidas’s new Supercourts or Stan Smiths, Converse All Stars, Veja and Superga classics all work well with both casual and dressy silhouettes and pieces. 

10. Jewellery

Jewellery adds the expert finishing touch to a look. If you don’t already own some then invest in some gold hoops and a delicate gold chain with a pendant. Monica Vinader, Otiumberg and Pandora all do great options.

Lead image: Getty

Product images: courtesy of individual brands