The 12 Basics You Need To Build a Capsule Wardrobe
Capsule wardrobes are so hot right now, yes? Have you tried one? Perhaps you’ve been thinking about it but have yet to pull the trigger. If so, before you start let me give you a hint: if you want to try a capsule wardrobe method, or simply edit your closet down to a thoughtfully curated selection, you will need some solid closet basics in order to achieve success. Capsule wardrobes change every season, but always require a foundation of wardrobe essentials to create effortless style time after time.
Capsule wardrobes vary for everyone. You get to choose the colour palette and number of items that suit you and your lifestyle. But I do think there are a set of wardrobe essentials to create a perfect basic wardrobe for effortless style. I go through the perfect baisc wardrobe for effortless style in the video above, and am sharing some more in depth thoughts on capsule wardrobes, how they work, and which wardrobe essentials are so important for a chic, effortless style every time. Yes – even if you are a maximalist!
Capsule Wardrobe History and How it Works
Although it feels new, the capsule wardrobe concept was debuted in the 1970’s by Susie Faux, a boutique owner who came up with the idea that a capsule closet is a collection of essential items that never go out of fashion and can be augmented by seasonal pieces. In the 1980’s, the designer Donna Karan popularized this concept even further by launching a 7 piece capsule collection of versatile, interchangeable garments. (wikipedia)
Today, there are many varieties of capsule wardrobes, as well as capsule closet challenges like the 10×10 challenge made popular by Lee Vosburgh (a fellow Canadian!) where you can only wear 10 items for 10 days. The beauty of a wardrobe though, is that you can build it in such a way that suits you – what’s important is that you stick to the small collection you’ve built for yourself for that season, and years to come. In order to not be wasteful and purchase a new set of capsules every season and every year (which is silly because of the high consumption rate and subsequent harm to the environment and resources), a core set of wardrobe essentials is key to making this work.
Another tip to curating perfect capsule wardrobe essentials? Stick to a colour palette – typically a base of neutrals (that are flattering to you of course!) plus a few pops of colour and/or print allow everything to work together seamlessly.
My 12 Capsule Wardrobe Essentials & Why
My own personal opinion about capsule wardrobes is on the fence to be completely honest. I don’t like the idea of only limited our closets to a certain number because the we do not use and appreciate everything we have. On the flip side however, limitation is the greatest avenue to creativity (in my opinion), and therefore a capsule wardrobe is a great excercise in appreciating and using what we have. With all that aside, there is one thing I definitely take from capsule wardrobe theory, and that is: the importance of wardrobe essentials for effortless style.
So, in no particular order, here are my 12 capsule wardrobe essentials for effortless style. These 12 wardrobe basics are made up of garments, which I’ve kept as general as possible so that each garment can be adjusted to suit your body type and personal style. If you’d like specific visuals, as well as a catalogue of outfits created from these 12 wardrobe essentials, watch the video (nb: it does contain a sponosred ad from a brand I love!)
I tend to have more essential tops than bottoms because they need to be changed out more often.
A fitted camisole: I had a lot of silk tank tops but having a camisole with thicker straps and a fitted silhouette makes it more versatile for every day and elevated wear. I love this one from Organic Basics. Whether you choose a scoop neck, spaghetti strap, slightly looser fit is entirely up to you. I’ve also got a discount code for Organic Basics – use ALYSSAOBX for 15% off your order 😉
A plain tee: I think everybody needs a plain tee (in a dark and light colour) for every day use – even in colder climates as they can be layered easily. This is the ultimate casual piece, however if you prefer more elevated looks, this can easily be achieved by choosing a more luxurious fabric, cut, and neckline. I enjoy an andorgynous vibe, and love this Organic Basics men’s tee.
A button down shirt: This has to be my absolutely wardrobe staple for every season. If I had to live on a desserted island forever this is what I would wear. The button down shirt has limitless potential – I prove it in this video. HOWEVER – I totally understand that a button down shirt can be difficult for certain body types. I have often found that purchasing a men’s shirt and have darts added at the back works best. Alternatively, if a button down really isn’t for you, a cardigan or light weight sweater with a neckline of your choice is equally verstile. I love Power of My People button down’s for their boyish silhouette. And I also have a discount code! Use ALYSSABELTEMPO for 20% off your order 😉
A silk shirt: The beauty of this one is that it can be in any shape or form you like. What makes it a wardrobe essential is that it provides a perfect elevated piece. I love this clean silk blouse from Ganni for its subtle personality.
A long sleeve tee: This is the perfect every day piece provided you get one with a neckline that suits you, and a silhouette that you are comfortable wearing. It can easily be dressed up or down with the right pairing and accessories. I love this one from Organic Basics.
A long sleeve turtleneck: A turtleneck for all seasons? Yes – this one is tencel so is lightweight and breathable but the reason why I love it so much as a capsule wardrobe essential is that it is the ULTIMATE layering piece. Even when layered under a sweater, the higher neckline is still visible, providing a more dynamic look without the bulk.
A sweater: Depending on the climate you live in, your sweater might be thick or thin, but I think it’s important to have a wardrobe essential that provides warmth and texture. I am loving this classic sweater from Everlane.
Classic jeans: Classic jeans are different for every body type but these are the timeless cuts that suit many: high waisted straight, boyfriend, bootcut (with mid or high rise, depending on the body), high or mid rise tapered. Always, always make sure your essential jeans are in a medium wash so they work with everything in your closet and are seasonless.
Trousers: The exact cut of a classic pair of trousers will depend on your body type, but a solid pair of all season wool trousers are incredibly versatile for all types of situations. Wear them in work scenarios, or to make a basic outfit feel on-point. I’ve had mine from Club Monaco for ages but these from Everlane are a great dupe.
Skirt: I’ve only included one skirt in my capsule wardrobe essentials, but if you’re more of a skirt or a dress person you could definitely alter the ratio. Like all of these pieces, your essential skirt should show off what you like best about yourself and flatter your body type. Mine is an ancient A-line number from Zara but a chic pencil skirt is another universally flattering style.
Dress: I prefer separates over dresses because of their versatility but a timeless and flattering dress is a capsule wardrobe essential for elevated outfits that make you feel great. Choose a silhouette that suits your body type and lifestyle best. In my opinion, the two most versatile styles of dresses are a classic sheath dress, a wrap dress, or a shirt dress. (Need inspiration for shirt dress styling? I’ve styled one 20+ ways here). Because your dress is often a standalone piece, I usually inject a fun colour or print into my wardrobe essentials with this piece.
Don’t let the title fool you – this could be any light layering piece like a moto or denim jacket, but I chose a blazer because the structure instantly brings polish to any outfit. Of course, depending on your personal style and lifestyle, you may opt for something a bit more edgy, which is totally OK! Just ensure that your top layering piece is in a neutral colour with a classic silhouette so that it stands the test of time, and works with everything else in your capsule wardrobe.
And there you have it! My list of wardrobe essentials for effortless style. With these 12 pieces, feel free to mix and match your accessories and outerwear to create looks full of personality. I’ve linked to some similar items below, and don’t forget to Pin the image at the bottom so you can refer back to the video for endless styling ideas!
Thanks so much for reading! xx