Building a Capsule Wardrobe

No matter what your lifestyle, every woman needs a capsule wardrobe. Those basic, go-to items that you can build your entire wardrobe around.

Classic wardrobe pieces for a capsule wardrobe

This post may contain affiliate links – meaning I receive tiny commissions for purchases made through those links at no cost to you. Please read my disclosure policy for more information.

How to build a capsule wardrobe

When you cleaned out and then shopped your closet, did you find that you gravitated toward one colour for the basics? Or are you all over the place with a bunch of separates that don’t go together?

Pick one colour

One of the fundamentals of a capsule wardrobe is to choose a base colour.

My go-to is black in the winter, and white in the summer. Other great choices are charcoal grey, chocolate brown or navy since those colours can pair up with many others. But you can choose any colour you truly love!

Start with the basic – and the classics

To be most cost-effective, it’s a good idea to stick with the classics.

  • a straight or pencil skirt
  • tailored pants
  • classic blazer
  • an unstructured jacket
  • turtleneck or a crew neck top
  • tank top
  • sheath dress

Why classics? They never go out of style. Like ever.

A black sheath dress from the 70s still looks like a sheath dress today. Although the length of the dress varies, the cut doesn’t. It should be so simple, that it remains timeless. As in no trim, exposed metal zipper or any features that will put a date stamp on it. 

It’s the same with blazers, tank tops, tailored trousers, T-shirts (without logos please!) and tank tops. Each of those items will stand the test of time.

Buy quality

It is best to buy quality pieces for your capsule wardrobe. Seriously, these pieces will be items you will wear over and over again, so quality is key. Unless you anticipate gaining/losing weight in the near future.

Shoes too!

I happen to love the look of a high, thin heeled pump. But you can choose any classic style that you find comfortable. Some heels will look dated after a while though – like a thick, chunky heel – so choose wisely.

It’s the same with boots if you live in a climate where you wear those in the colder months. Another good addition is a simple pair of flats.

Once you have a few simple basics in your closet, you will always have something appropriate to wear to any occasion. Those panicked moments of having to run out shopping because you have a spur-of-the-moment event to go to (or the unfortunate funeral) will no longer happen!

Add to the basics

Once you have your basics, you can add colour and prints. At this point, it’s best to choose just one accent colour. Maybe two.

Tip: when you choose your accent colour, find a paint chip in that same shade. Keep it in your purse so you have it to reference when you shop.

Items to add:

  • blouses/tops
  • belts
  • T-shirts (long sleeve and/or short sleeve)
  • sweaters
  • tank tops
  • turtlenecks
  • sheath dress in a solid or a print
  • scarves
  • reversible jackets

Again, keep to classic cuts. In doing this, your basics will all go together – both in colour combinations and in cuts.

Prepare to shop

Now before you run out to buy everything, you need to prepare! You made your list, right? What I like to do is create a book of items I want to add to my wardrobe – wheter I am buying them or making them myself.

Magazine picture of a pencil skirt
Cut out photos of classic wardrobe pieces from magazines, and compile them into a personalized look book

Make a Look Book

My method is to go through magazines and rip out pages as picture above.

Note: I make a lot of my own clothes, so this is where I get ideas of styles to create. Also note that outrageous store price! I made that skirt for under $5! All I bought was the thin red belt – for $3 from the H&M clearance rack.

Tear out pages of items you love, and paste them into a journal, sketchbook or notebook. I also like to write notes along side of the picture of items that this piece will coordinate with.

Other ways to create a look book are Pinterest, Evernote, or any one of the million smartphone apps available. I have a board on Pinterest with all sorts of capsule wardrobe ideas – check it out!

In Pinterest, you can add items to a secret board if you don’t want to share your finds with the entire world. The main thing is that you want to be able to access your look book when you shop.

What base colour are you choosing for your capsule wardrobe?

Two closets of clothing and one of shoes
Three page shopping list template

Leave a Comment