There comes a time in life where you’ve reached a shape and size that is likely not to change in the upcoming years without something drastic occurring. There is no real need to buy cheaply made clothes that will fall apart because if you invest your time (and sometimes money if you choose to) in quality pieces that are well-made, you can wear them for years to come. Think Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, Kate Middleton, and Meghan Markle – their styles are all classic and beautiful, and while they never tend to wear anything too risqué, they are always in style, and their outfits have never been on a ‘worst dressed’ list. Why? They each have curated their own version of a capsule closet, and used that as their wardrobe foundation.
A capsule closet, by definition, is a collection of items in your wardrobe – not your entire wardrobe – that are meant to remain there for long periods of time as staples that you can mix and match with other come-and-go trend items that will filter in and out of your wardrobe over the years.
Creating a capsule closet is all about filling your wardrobe with classic staples that are timeless, and will work in most seasons, for most occasions. This makes it easy to keep your clothing for many, many years, without feeling out of style. Of course, a few new trend pieces each season can always be added throughout the years if you choose to do so. However, keeping some pieces that fit into a set type of style that is very classic ensures that you will never feel out of place with what you are wearing, and will reduce any ‘need’ you may feel you have to purchase a large number of new pieces each season/year.
Creating a capsule closet is also not something you can do overnight (unless you’re quite well off financially, in which case, more power to you), so do not feel as though it is something that you have to complete immediately. For me, it’s taken a couple of years, and I am still working on it! It also does not imply you must spend an uncomfortable amount of money on your clothes, you simply need to find items that are well-made, which does not always go hand in hand with being expensive.
The key is to start with the basics. As mentioned in this post, I love the Harper dress pants from Old Navy. I have found that Old Navy items are quite well made, especially for their price, and over the past couple of years I have purchased their Harper pants in black, navy, pale pink, hot pink, forest green, and a lovely floral pattern. They are a classic and forgiving cut that works for my shape, and will not go out of style. They enable me to look professional at work while having some fun with colour. Having some stylish yet practical dress pants for work and for formal events is a closet essential, and can be mixed with so many different pieces to create versatile looks.
Coats are another staple piece that can last for years and years, and can make or break your outfit. A classic coat, such as this neutral coat, this trench coat, and this winter coat, are things that are quite classic and will not go out of style. Finding a coat (or two) for each season that is a figure-flattering cut, and a colour that is neutral for your wardrobe and skin tone (ie – black, beige, pale pink, pastel shades of most colours, khaki green or white work best for me) will not only last you multiple years, but will pull together your look. This is especially true for those of us living in colder climates, where a coat is necessary most months of the year! While coats in vivid and bright colours are nice, they should definitely be treated as one of your ‘trend’ pieces for the season, not your main attraction. A bright red coat will not go with everything you own, nor would a bright yellow coat and, while they are great pieces to mix it up every once and a while, they are not a good staple piece for your wardrobe. Investing in good coats is something that I do every couple of years (unless I find a great deal, like this black winter coat** on clearance for £37). Though I typically tend to invest monetarily, as well as in quality for these specific items, I do so over a longer period of time so as not to break the bank.
White shirts are the epitome of classic. You can never go wrong with a white shirt – unless you’re in a rainstorm without a jacket. Having a variety of white shirts is incredibly beneficial as they go with absolutely anything from skirts to pants, red to blue – they match them all. I find having a long sleeve white blouse, a sleeveless or short-sleeve white blouse, a classic white t-shirt, and a white tank top to be essential pieces for your wardrobe. These do not need to be expensive, and can be found at a number of different stores for a great price with great quality. These pieces are versatile, always in style, and great to mix and match to take on vacation and save space! Some that I currently like are this one, this one, and this one.
Classic fit dresses are another key type of item to have. Dependant on your personal shape, you can determine the dress types that are best for you. I’ve found that slightly above the knee or longer – nothing that is too revealing – is best for a capsule dress as these types of dresses can then be appropriate for any occasion! The a-line or empire cut styles are classic cuts that work well for me for this purpose, however they may not work for your body shape, so be sure to shop around and try on all different cuts to find what works best on your individual body! I recommend sticking with a solid colour or muted pattern, which is typically best for longevity, as patterns can come and go with the seasons and trends. Of course, you cannot forget about the LBD and more modern classic LRD – you guessed it, little black dress and little red dress. These are typically saved for a night out when you really want to look your best and amp up your look, and they are classics for a reason. Find cuts that suit and compliment your body shape, and invest in a really great quality dress of this type, as it will be a staple in your closet for a very long time.
When it comes to purses or bags, some people may want to invest monetarily in their bag – however I find that I can get some great quality bags for a fraction of the price, that will last me just as long! There are a lot of materials out there, which are made with longevity in mind, that you can purchase without breaking the bank. Style-wise, pieces that are in neutral colours are the best type to purchase, as well as bags that are versatile for your needs. It’s nice to add a pop of colour with a few small clutch bags, but for your day-to-day purse, a more neutral colour will match your wardrobe much easier!
Shoes – my very favourite things. When it comes to capsule shoes, this can vary from person to person. The key is to stick with your personal preferences, but ensure you have a variety to fit your needs. A good place to start is typically neutral coloured pairs of heels, flats, sandals, and running shoes. Neutrals can range from beige, white, black, brown, and even some pastel shades, but these are a great place to start! Having at least one pair of shoes in each neutral category is very beneficial, as you will never be mismatched. However, in my personal opinion, you should have more than just neutral shoes! I love colour, and shoes are one of the accessories that I love to play around with! I like to go with fun and unique styles for shoes. Even if they are a neutral colour or in a very basic style, I will buy them in a very fun colour! Since shoes are items that can be kept for longer periods of time, if you maintain them well, I tend to collect a multitude of them in varying styles.
Jeans are another classic item that will always be a staple in your closet. The key here is to find flattering cuts and hues that fit your body and personal style, and to stick with that. I find that a pair of darker wash skinny jeans is essential, and black jeans are great for times when you want to be a bit dressier but still wear jeans. You can experiment with different cuts such as a culotte jean or a straight leg jean – even a wide-leg jean would be very nice. Ultimately, taking the time to find classic jeans that fit you well and look great is worth it.
Overall, the key to creating a capsule closet is to find cuts, shapes, colours, and styles that suit your skin tone and body shape, and will be appropriate for any occasion, as well as having classic and neutral pieces that work cooperatively with trend-pieces that will come and go. This will give you versatility, comfort, and style that will never fade. As much as trends may come and go, style truly lasts forever.