How to Create a Capsule Wardrobe

Many people ask me what a capsule wardrobe actually is. It’s a buzzword that’s been flying around the fashion industry for a while now, but what does it actually mean?

Well to me, Style Director of a leading women’s weekly magazine it’s about having key items in your wardrobe that your entire style is based around- think of these as the pillars of your wardrobe. These pieces are considered and will work hard for you season after season, it’s all about quality basics that have longevity.

I’ve worked in the fashion industry for 12 years and when I started in 2010 fresh out of fashion college I definitely thought I had to be a slave to trends - I love clothes, I love the fun and fantasy of fashion and I love playing dress up, but ultimately you need clothes that suit your lifestyle and fit you well whilst make you feel comfortable and confident.

Here’s why I’m a firm advocate of a capsule wardrobe;

- It takes the stress out of getting ready as you create an edit of fashion fail safes. We have lived in our activewear for two years now and knowing how to get dressed again for the outside world now seems somewhat trickier than it was before. You won’t be overwhelmed by choice if you have core pieces that make up your wardrobe, pieces that look great on you and fit into your life, working for every occasion.

- Your capsule wardrobe purchases should be based on longevity, investing in quality basics; By buying pieces that you know you’ll love forever, classic pieces that you rely on season after season, you’ll have less trend-led impulse purchases, and won’t be throwing these items away producing fashion waste. Overall, you’ll be shopping smarter and more low impact than you did before.

How to Clear Out Your Current Wardrobe

I love a good wardrobe clear out, it really cleanses you and grounds you in your style. My wardrobe clear out is always based around a few key questions that you should ask yourself –

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    *‘Have I worn it in the last year?’* If the answer is no, then it really doesn’t have a place in your wardrobe. It’s likely that you don’t truly love that design as it was probably an impulse purchase that doesn’t feel very ‘you’. Be ruthless when editing down your wardrobe as each item in your final edit needs to serve you well and work hard for you.

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    *‘Can I wear this multiple ways?’* Whether for day or for night, dressed up or dressed down – thinking about wearability is extremely key in figuring out your capsule wardrobe. This theory also applies to cost-per-wear, i.e. if you’ve invested in a classic, premium leather piece the price tag is probably quite high, but if you can wear it multiple ways and on multiple occasions it gives you value for money, and the cost per wear goes down.

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    *‘Do I love it?’* If you um and ah about a piece and you can’t or won’t wear it over and over – that piece shouldn’t make up your core wardrobe.

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    *‘Will this trend come back around again?*’ A capsule wardrobe is about classic pieces, comprised of items that don’t date and aren’t trend led. If the answer is no, don’t hold onto these items, take them to a charity shop or list on a re-sale site as this also keeps fashion circular.

Trench Coats

Nothing beats a classic trench coat, it’s the most timeless piece you’ll ever have in your wardrobe - a true wardrobe staple. It works with everything be it with your summer dress, over tailoring for work or off-duty at the weekend with your jeans and a T-shirt, the trench really is the definition of wardrobe staple.

A Boxy Blazer

The last few seasons we’ve seen our Instagram’s awash with oversized boyish blazers, but why now?! Well, it’s an instant outdoor elevator – throw a blazer on with your sweatpants or jeans and your outfit instantly looks more put together. In the warmer season, throw it over your summer dress and your look instantly just got cooler.

Black Skinny Jeans

Black skinny jeans are quite possibly the hardest working style in your wardrobe. Tell me a time when you didn’t feel good in your black skinnies, they should definitely hold pride of place in your capsule wardrobe. You’ve worn them on a night out when you needed the perfect jeans and a nice top combination but they’re also you’re your off-duty go-to, perfect when teamed with a knit and your favourite stomper boots.

A Padded Jacket/Coat

A quilted or puffer style coat has become a wardrobe go-to over the past few years. Not just destined for winter walks, this has become and everyday essential as our demands for practical and stylish pieces continue to reign supreme. Opt for a neutral colour with minimal hardware and trims so it doesn’t date.

Leather Biker Jacket

The biker jacket is a keeper, if you don’t own one already now is the time to invest. It’s the perfect jacket for in-between seasons and looks great over your spring or summer dress to toughen up a look. Wear it day-to-night and come winter don’t cast it to one side for a heavier coat, simply layer up and wear it underneath, it looks great under a wool tailored coat or a class trench to make the most of the cost per wear.

Blue Jeans

Along with your black skinny jeans, a blue straight leg is a wardrobe perennial. They should be mid wash, ankle grazing and higher on the waist, giving us a touch of nineties nostalgia. They will never date and you’ll wear them styled up multiple different ways, with a shirt and loafers for a casual office look, with a cami top and heels on a night out, and with a knit and boots come the weekend.

The Perfect Pair of Tailored Trousers

We’ve probably all got a pair of tailored trousers in our wardrobe that we’ve leaned on from time to time, however finding a chic pair that you don’t just wear to the office is something you should consider. To hit the right style notes when shopping for tailored trousers go for wide legs, in a full length and allow them to sit high on the waist. Always tuck your top in, whether it’s a silky blouse teamed with heels for an evening event, with a white t-shirt and trainers for low-key office vibes or with a knit and your favourite boots, this is a style that will work hard for you.

A Silky Satin Blouse

A silky blouse looks very polished and put together, it’s the perfect going out top - try pairing with crystal chandelier earrings to amp up the look for the evening. Alternatively you can try it with a silky slip skirt and heels as an alternative to a dress for occasion season, or if you’d prefer something more traditional, naturally it’s the perfect workwear staple.

Classic White T-shirt

A white t-shirt is a wardrobe failsafe, I wear one near enough everyday, it’s crisp clean and classic, complimenting every item in your capsule wardrobe. From your midi skirt and sandals in the summer to your tailored trousers, biker jacket and stompers throughout the year, it’s not basic it’s brilliant and I stand by the opinion that everyone needs one.

The Cami Top

The satin cami top made it into the capsule wardrobe edit due to its versatility. Your new going out top, simple, chic and effortless, it provides the perfect way to dress up your jeans or try with your tailoring and heels as an alternative to a dress for wedding guest outfits or event dressing, and for your summer holidays why not try with a slip skirt and sandals or your favourite denim cut-offs. See, I told you it was versatile.

A Cashmere Knit

Investing in a trusty knit in a neutral colour is a game-changer; choose either black, navy, grey or camel as opting for luxe cashmere really elevates your look. A classic knit like this can be worn to the office, easy for the weekend or even consider dressing up with tailored trousers and heels for an evening soiree, all you need is a statement earring or lipstick to bring this look into eveningwear. It’s more refined than its chunky knit counterpart which makes it more versatile.


No capsule wardrobe can be without a little black dress, it really is a key pillar in your wardrobe foundations. Choose a style that is simple and can be accessorised in different ways, that way you’ll rely on it for every evening event you attend season after season. They never date, and you’ll always feel great in it.

The Summer Occasion Dress

Come summer we hit occasion season with weddings, BBQ’s, parties and the races, the list goes on - so you should definitely invest in a great summer occasion dress. You need something that is statement enough for an epic dress up day like the races - adding heels, a chic wide brimmed hat and oversized sunglasses to bring the drama, but you also need to know it will work with your favourite strappy sandals and a basket bag for your next BBQ. Choose a print that won’t date – florals, paisleys and animal prints are forever-stylish.

The Everyday Summer Dress

The ultimate throw on dress, everyone needs a summer day dress in their wardrobe. It’s one you can always rely-on, look great in, and over and above everything else it makes getting dressed simple that day.

Choosing a longer length means it instantly become more office appropriate; throw an oversized blazer over your shoulders, add chunky sandals and some gold huggie earrings to this dress – voila, it works for the office. Come the weekend wear with your flip flops, hair up and your favourite tote and you’re ready to go to the park.

Leather Trousers

Leather trousers should be considered as an alternative to your jeans, don’t just wear them sporadically, instead wear them day-to-day with a classic white tee, blazer and trainers. You can also wear them with a knit and stomper boots or dress them up with a silky blouse and heels. Fit them into your wardrobe as though they’re your favourite black jeans and you won’t go wrong. Leather pieces are a great luxe addition to your capsule wardrobe.

A White Shirt

Like the white t-shirt, the classic white shirt fits into your everyday wardrobe seamlessly, it goes with everything, looks put together and will never date. You know how to wear this one – with everything in your capsule wardrobe of course, but make sure it’s oversized, has long sleeves and a sharp collar.

The Midi Skirt

More practical than a maxi or mini, the marvellous midi is an essential and works throughout all of the seasons – try with a knit and knee-high boots in the winter, or come summer with your t-shirt and sandals. Dress up this style with a silky top and heels, choosing a soft satin fabric is subtle yet statement, low-key luxe at its finest.

A Pair of Strappy Sandals

Footwear should also be considered when discussing a capsule wardrobe, a chic black pair of strappy heels will go with everything in your wardrobe and never date, these are a must-have and will work with all the items listed above.

The Stomper Boots

The stomper boot came out of nowhere a few seasons back, and now we are hooked! Whether you’re going to a festival and teaming with your summer dress or you’re wearing with your jeans in winter, they’re trans seasonal and will ultimately add an edge of ‘cool’ to any look.

The Perfect Pair of Shorts

Shorts can be a marmite style, but when talking about a capsule - i.e. a true edit of 20 things you really need - shorts are certainly one of them. Choose a tailored style as they look more grown up and not too beachy. They’re perfect for summer in the city; simply add a classic white shirt and loafers. They’ll also transition well into your holiday wardrobe, just team with a silk cami and strappy sandals.

So now you know what a capsule wardrobe is; how to clear out your wardrobe to create the perfect edit, and what key items make up the ultimate capsule wardrobe. This will lead you to make better sartorial choices and shopping smarter will save you some money. Making your wardrobe work that bit harder for you will also help you to establish a clear fashion identity, taking the drama out of getting dressed everyday by relying on the quality staples in your wardrobe – it really is a win win.