How to Build a Capsule Wardrobe

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If I were to add up the amount of money that I’ve spent on my wardrobe over the past 30 years I could probably buy myself a very nice home. With that being said, why is it that every time I need an outfit other than black leggings and the t-shirt du jour, I am left in frustration that I have nothing to wear?

This is my expert opinion: I’ve spent too many years of my life trying to be trendy rather than trying to find clothes that are quality, timeless and fit my personality. I had continuously fallen into the Instagram worm hole of buying what others were wearing in some vain attempt of being more like them. I wasn’t staying true to who I was as a person and what I wanted my clothes to says about me. Because let’s be honest, clothes are one of the first things that we notice about people.

On top of all that, I regularly purge my closet of anything that doesn’t fit, is too worn or doesn’t spark joy. Thanks Marie Kondo. All of this has left me with a very depleted wardrobe when it comes to being ready for any sort of event that requires more than jeans and a semi nice t-shirt. But none of this is Marie Kondo’s fault. If I had been purchasing timeless pieces that never go out of style, I wouldn’t have had this problem to begin with. Over the years I had been so concerned with being cute & trendy that I forgot to buy the staple pieces that will get me through life.

Every person should have an outfit for a funeral, wedding, or business casual event in their closet at all times. Before I started my capsule wardrobe, I had none of these.

I do want to clarify that it has taken me over a year to finally commit to this. It has been a topic on my mind over and over. So if you feel that you’re not quite ready to jump on this wagon, at least let this be the start of your thought process towards the idea.

There are a few things about building a capsule collection that we need to discuss.

  1. Know your body. Do you have wide feet? Do you look better in a hip length coat vs a long coat? Do boyfriend jeans work for you? I have wide feet and I cannot wear boyfriend jeans no matter how many times I try to make them work. Knowing what looks good on your body type will alleviate a ton of stress and narrow down your shopping field.

  2. Know your style. Do you tend to steer towards bright colors or neutrals? Are you a solids or a print person? A capsule wardrobe does not have to be boring, but it does need to reflect your style at all times for years to come. The point of a capsule wardrobe is to build a wardrobe that you’re comfortable in and that you can keep for as long as possible.

  3. Remember that all of these pieces do not need to be purchased at one time. Building a wardrobe can take a long time. Even years if we’re being honest and you’re picky about what you want. Which is not a bad thing! The beauty of knowing that you’re working on a capsule wardrobe is that you can constantly be on the lookout for what you need, and be on the lookout for that item to go on sale.

  4. Your capsule wardrobe will only last as long as the care you give it. Quality clothes are meant to last a lifetime. More often than not, their lifespan is greatly reduced because we don’t care for them properly. Make sure that you are willing to do the necessary care for each item before purchasing. If you know you’ll never take it to the dry cleaner, then find something that is machine washable.

Here is what my capsule wardrobe will end up looking like:

*Note that some things will be exact pieces and some things will vary slightly. Everything on this list I already or own or am going to buy. Most of the products on this list are produced by sustainable/ethical companies.

Tops:

Tank bodysuit

I’ll admit, I wasn’t crazy about this bodysuit trend. But as a layering piece, having a tank bodysuit at your disposal is a necessary genius! There’s nothing more irritating than constantly pulling down your tank top.

Classic Black Turtleneck

This is a must, especially if you travel often. Throwing on a black turtleneck will keep you warm and comfortable, and it looks chic.

White Blouse

A crisp white button down shirt is a piece that will never go out of style. It can be worn with jeans, slacks, skirts, etc.

Wool sweater

There’s nothing better than a good wool sweater in the dead of winter. Plus, they can be dressed up or down for any event.

Everyday Quality Tees

For everyday tees, find a fit that you like and buy it in multiple colors. It alleviates a lot of future headaches when getting ready for the day.

cashmere sweater

Trust me, once you buy a cashmere sweater, you’ll never want to wear anything else. These never go out of style.

Bottoms:

quality denim

Whether you’re into skinny, bootcut, wide leg, etc., quality denim is a must. Your capsule collection denim shouldn’t have any holes in them. You need one pair of jeans that can be worn to nice places.

Black Jeans

A pair of black jeans will take you anywhere. They’re perfect for concerts, dates or even casual funerals.

dress pants

This one always gets me since I no longer work in a professional setting. The key is to find a pair of dress pants that can be dressed up or down. They need to be comfortable!

Shoes:

Comfortable Sandals

I love Birkenstocks but if you’re not into them, that’s ok. Find yourself a pair of sandals that have support and are comfortable. I cannot stress the support part enough!

Loafers

Loafers are great for traveling through the airport or long car rides. They look polished but are comfortable and easy to take off.

White Sneakers

Adding white sneakers to anything will make your outfit look more refined. Yes, they’ll get dirty so you don’t need to find the most expensive pair. Just make sure that they’re comfortable.

Nude Pumps

I’m not even kidding when I say that these are the most comfortable heels I’ve ever owned. They come in wide widths and lots of colors. Having a nude pair of heels is very versatile.

Black Heeled Ankle Boots

I have to have a heel on my boots so that my legs look longer, but you can find ankle boots without a heel too if you prefer. But having a black pair to go with everything during the winter is a must.

Snow Boots

Stay away from trends when it comes to snow boots, instead find a pair that will last you forever. Unless you live somewhere where it snows all of the time, you’re probably only wearing them 1-2 months out of the year.

Coats:

water resistant coat

When picking out a water resistant coat, make sure the color can be worn in spring and fall.

wool coat

I have been searching forever for a camel wool coat that won’t break the bank. They’re either $10 and crap or $1,000 and out of the question. This one from H&M is finally one I can stand behind!

*It’s not from their conscious line, but I couldn’t find a camel coat in any of the sustainable brands that I shop. It’s a little early in the season for them so I’ll keep checking.

denim jacket

Denim jackets are perfect to go over any outfit, especially dresses when you don’t want to show your arms.

Puffer Coat

Winter is cold, enough said.

oversized blazer

Having a blazer at your disposal is a great way to make any outfit more professional. I love to travel in blazers so that it looks like I’m going somewhere important!

faux leather jacket

Another great option to wear over dresses. Also, a great coat to wear on date nights.

Dresses:

T-Shirt dress

T-Shirt dresses have saved me more times than I can count when it comes to attending events where the dress code is not clear. They can be dressed up or down.

black dress

A black dress in a timeless cut is necessary. Weddings, funerals, events, etc. Always keep a black dress in your closet.

wrap dress

This one is a splurge but if you’re going to buy a wrap dress, then you should buy a Diane Von Furstenberg. If spending that much on a dress isn’t for you, that’s ok. You should still have a wrap dress in your closet that can be worn to any occasion.

Accessories:

everyday earrings

Your outfit isn’t finished until you add a pair of earrings. That’s my life motto! Find some simple earrings in the color you prefer and take good care of them.

quality sunglasses

I love Ray Ban’s but you can find quality sunglasses from so many places. Quality doesn’t always mean expensive. Just don’t drink too much tequila and lose them in a bar in DC.

leather tote

Totes are a great bag for everyday errands or traveling.

Do you have a capsule wardrobe? What’s in it? What do you recommend having in a capsule wardrobe that I didn’t hit on here? Let me know!

xx, Dani