How Do I Build A Capsule Wardrobe That Will Last A Lifetime?

Make your wardrobe work harder for you.

Capsule Wardrobe

by Henrik Lischke |
Updated on

There comes a time in even the most astute shopper’s life when you find yourself with nothing to wear. Minutes of aimlessly pulling out every piece from your wardrobe turn into hours, you’re stressed, your perspiring, you’re late for work. This is a conundrum that even fashion editors have experienced, which is why, at some point, someone came up with the concept of the capsule wardrobe.

What exactly is a capsule wardrobe?

A capsule wardrobe is nothing that necessarily requires an entire wardrobe overhaul, but is something that can be achieved with things that we already own. The idea of a capsule wardrobe is to curate an limited edit of clothes that are interchangeable, or, put differently, can be styled in a variety of ways to work on a multitude of occasions without having to invest too much time or effort in coming up with new outfit ideas. It’s a smart solution to more than just saving time in the mornings, it helps limit overconsumption and trend-led shopping sprees. It’s a win-win.

Which pieces belong in a capsule wardrobe?

Capsule wardrobes - even though unique to each wearer - generally have a minimal appeal to them and there’s a plethora of wardrobe workhorses that make for a solid selection to see you through any eventuality. For starters, we here at Grazia firmly believe that the perfect white T-shirt, blue jeans and tailored trousers are non-negotiable. Blazers are a great add-on, as are plain knit jumpers that double up as styling tools to add a point of interest to your outfit. Next to trainers, and a pair of evening soles, you should also consider you outerwearselection. There are a few forever styles which will complement any style such as a great leather jacket, a bomber jacket, a denim jacket or a trench coat. Elsewhere, you might want to explore souped-up black leggings for everyday comfort, a crisp shirt for more formal occasions and a everything-and-the-kitchen-sink tote bag to become your workwear companion.

How to build a capsule wardrobe

How do I build a capsule wardrobe?

If this seems like a mammoth task to you, don’t be disheartened. It takes time, patience, willpower and refined shopping skills. In short, a capsule wardrobe is not something that you build over night. First and foremost, consider you personal style. There is no perfect blueprint unless you want to sacrifice your sartorial identity, which is something we wouldn't advise. Everyone’s capsule collection needn’t look the same. Look for your personal style icons that have mastered the art of smart wardrobing (hello Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy) and compare their looks with what’s already hanging in your wardrobe.

Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy
Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy ©Getty

There’s different methods, such as the 3-3-3 method where you choose three tops, three bottoms and three pairs of shoes from your wardrobe to build a capsule wardrobe, or the 5-4-3-2-1 method that suggests you pick five tops, four bottoms, three accessories, two shoes (a practical pair and a nice pair), and one swimsuit to see you through. Don’t let yourself be stressed by those rules. Roughly, you should look at a 30-40 piece-strong wardrobe if you’re seriously considering trying this out. The best way to start? Make a note of the pieces you wear most frequently - those are your hero pieces. Now start to build outfits around them. And most importantly, never be afraid to re-wear outfits. In the long-run, that’s the most ultimate goal.

Capsule Wardrobe

To help you build your perfect one-stop-shop capsule wardrobe, we’ve put together all the pieces you might need below.

The Black Leggings

Pair your black leggings with kitten heels or loafers for a smart take on the comfy legwear.

The White T-Shirt

Every complete capsule wardrobe begins and ends with the perfect white T-shirt. Experiment with different fits until you find your personal favourite.

The Tote Bag

Nothing beats an oversized tote bag. Opt for a smart style to cover all occasions.

Hardworking Jeans

A great pair of jeans will become your sartorial knight in shining armour. Be patient with this one, you never know when you might come across the right pair for you.

The Vest Top

The simple tank top has become an indisputable wardrobe hero. Stock up now, thank us later.

The Hoop Earrings

Sometimes all it takes to dial up a plain earring is a pair of turbo-charged hoop earrings. Enter the below contenders.

The Crisp Shirt

Our secret tip: Feeling tired? Oxford blue will bring out the most flattering hues in any skin tone. Plus, nothing says 'put together' quite like a freshly pressed shirt.

H&M shirt
Price: £21.99

The Tailored Trousers

Tailored trews should be a mainstay in any wardrobe. Whether worn with a blazer or a vest top, wearing tailoring semaphores absolute confidence. Don't be afraid to invest.

The Trainers

Ever since lockdown, trainers have become essential to our wardrobes. Retro-inspired styles have forever appeal.

The Forever Jacket

No wardrobe is complete with appropriate outerwear, especially in the unpredictable English weather.

The Ballet Flats

Feelingloafersfatigue? Ballet flats are a welcome alternative.

The Humble Knit Jumper

Whether you need an extra layer to brace breezy days or are looking to tie it around for a soupçon of cool, always have a stack of fine jumpers in neutral shades at hand.

The Classic Blazer

Blazers easily dress up any outfit, even track pants.

The Investment Handbag

If we've learned one thing by now, then that designer handbags are a real investment worth making. Consider the timeless styles below if you're saving up to treat yourself.

The Classic Heels

Make your capsule wardrobe work harder for yourself by adding a selection of evening-appropriate shoes to the mix to wear with tailored trousers or even denim.

Henrik Lischke is the Senior Fashion Features Editor at Grazia. A first-class honours Fashion Journalism graduate from UAL: London College of fashion, Henrik is invariably on the lookout for the newest talent in fashion, that is driving the industry forward, and shining the spotlight on them whenever possible. He’s also got a passion for interior design and the arts.

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