Capsule Wardrobe Basics: High Quality Items To Build On

February 14, 2022

& Other Stories Coat

Many years ago, as I got older and as my lifestyle evolved as well, I really leaned into building a capsule wardrobe of high quality items. I made a list of capsule wardrobe essentials and decided to hone in my shopping on quality over quantity. I began to spend less at fast fashion spots and instead build a closet largely made of investment pieces that would lend themselves to many outfit ideas. It led to a functional wardrobe of foundational pieces that I love and wear again and again. 

So, what is a capsule wardrobe?

For me, my successful capsule wardrobe is built around a neutral color palette largely. Camel, black, gray, ivory, white. It allows for me to mix and match pieces endlessly and these are also the colors I feel most confident in.

Ann Taylor Casual Blazer I wit & whimsy

Of course, I sprinkle in prints and patterns and some color here and there (typically in the summer when I add florals into the rotation or I’ll wear more red during the holiday season) but largely I stick to a neutral color story. It also makes packing a breeze as so many of my clothes are interchangeable! 

Now is as good of a time as any to start building your dream capsule wardrobe. You’ll feel more prepared to get dressed for every day and for special occasions and you’ll have less decision fatigue when it comes to picking out your outfits.

A capsule wardrobe will save you time and energy and eventually money, too. Below are my best tips for capsule wardrobe basics and high quality items to build on for your wardrobe foundation.

Business Casual Outfit I wit & whimsy

Capsule Wardrobe BasicsHigh Quality Items To Build On

Stick to a color palette

As mentioned, a capsule wardrobe really functions best when you have a color palette. For me – that color palette is neutrals but for you it may be pastels. No matter what it is, stick to it and try and really only purchase items in those colors that spark joy, make you feel confident and can easily be mixed and matched with a variety of pieces in your closet.

Show your personality through statement pieces

Not every piece you own needs to be a capsule wardrobe item of course. And not every item you’re going to own is going to be a statement piece. But if you love showing your personality through vintage jewelry – continue that. For me – my statement pieces are my bags and shoes. They’re what draw my looks together.

Begin buying less fast fashion

Sales and inexpensive items can give you that rush of dopamine we all love when we shop but taking advantage of them is the antithesis of curating a capsule wardrobe. You will likely end up not wearing those pieces much and eventually give them away because they can’t stand up to wear or you tire of them quickly. 

Think critically before you click Checkout or stand in line to purchase a bunch of items that won’t contribute to your capsule wardrobe.

Take climate and your work environment into consideration

If you live in Florida you likely don’t need a great wool coat. And if you’re in the Northeast you may not consider a sandal something you’d invest in. So think through what makes most sense for you for both climate and your work environment as well.

You don’t want to be making loads of wardrobe investment in pieces you will only wear Saturdays and Sundays and the occasional evening out. So think through what pieces make the most sense to your day to day life and build a list from there.

Styling Winter Classics I J.Crew Double Breasted Coat I Cable Knit Sweater and Suede Rag & Bone Boots

Use a tailor

A tailor is one of the most underused items when it comes to a great functioning capsule wardrobe in my opinion. Shorten sleeves, chop hems, take in waists – a great tailor will have you feeling excellent in your clothes. And knowing you have a tailor in your arsenal will also make shopping less of a pain at times.

Don’t sacrifice your personal style

Successful capsules are built around pieces you’ll actually wear…and enjoy wearing! So take the recommendations of pieces below with a grain of salt. If you’re never going to wear a blazer – nix it from the list. For me personally a blazer is a piece I always, always feel confident and put together in so it’s always going to be a part of my capsule wardrobe.

Wrap Coat

Build out your essential items

Make a list of what essential items you want to be a part of your capsule wardrobe. And don’t go running out to buy them all at once.  Use your list as you would any to do list and get to the items as you can. Bit by bit you’ll build up a beautiful wardrobe full of pieces that excite you.

For me, my capsule wardrobe includes these essential items:

Denim Jacket

My go-to layer in Spring and Summer I love how iconic, timeless and classic a denim jacket is.

Heeled Boots

For me living in New York there are six months out of the year when I am looking to wear a pair of heeled booties. I live in my Loeffler Randall Isla Boots and style them a myriad of ways. From skirts to jeans to dresses.

Make sure whatever heeled boot you choose works for you and your lifestyle. And ensure they are comfortable! Buying cheap shoes means less comfort which means less wear.

Best of Lisbon, Portugal I wit & whimsy

Sleek Sneakers

There’s nothing better for a capsule wardrobe than a sleek white sneaker. Endlessly versatile when it comes to styling, you can pair it with jeans, black pants, dresses, skirts – you name it. For me it is my Common Projects Sneakers but there are plenty of similar styles for less. Just read the reviews if you’re not going to invest on sneakers.

Bodysuit

A bodysuit is a great foundational layer. They can be really flattering under blazers or cardigans or make for a great date night look. I like to buy bodysuits from Agolde and Madewell and I always size up. The Zara ones are also pretty good.

Kate Spade Dress in Paris

Black Dress

A little black dress is iconic for a reason. It almost always makes you feel great. Spend money on one that truly makes you feel great and can be dressed up or dressed down for a variety of occasions on your social calendar. M.M.LaFleur has a variety of great styles no matter your personal taste or age.

Well Fitting Blazer

A well tailored blazer can make you feel ready to conquer just about anything. I style mine casually often with jeans but from time to time I’ll pair them with a black pant, too.

I buy most of my blazers at Veronica Beard, Everlane, Ann Taylor, J.Crew, & Other Stories, Mango & M.M.LaFleur.

Ankle Crop Pair of Jeans

Ankle crop jeans are almost universally flattering. They elongate the leg and they’re versatile when it comes to the variety of shoes you can pair with them. 

My Favorite and Most-Worn Jeans

Cashmere Sweaters

Good cashmere is worth the money. I’d rather a few beautiful, investment cashmere sweaters than a handful of itchy or poorly made, poorly fitting sweaters hanging my closet. You can read all about the brands I think are worth investing in here: My Favorite Cashmere.

Quality T-Shirts

The M.M.LaFleur Leslie Tee is a favorite of mine and I also like the tees from Everlane for more casual outfits. The Sezane Conrad T-Shirt is a great option, too.

Silk Tank

A silk tank has been in my capsule wardrobe for years and years as it is the first thing I often reach for when going on first dates.

Belted Coat or Car Coat

Depending on your style and size you may have a preference when it comes to coats you like. I’m one who loves both a classic car coat for more casual looks and a belted, slightly oversized coat for more dressed up outfits. 

You can check out My Favorite Coats for some styling inspiration and to see all my favorite brands to buy from.

Cute Trench Coats for Fall - the Drapey Trench

Trench Coat

You can’t go wrong with a beautiful trench in your coat arsenal. I wear my favorite trench coats all spring and all Fall.

How to Style a Trench Coat

Classic Pumps

The right pair of heels  and you’ll feel you can conquer the world. I was so glad when I discovered the Sarah Flint Perfect Pump because it is as stylish as it is comfortable. 

Timeless Bag

I’ve never been one to buy trendy bags. It’s just not the way I shop. Instead, I think critically often for a year+ of what I want in a bag and what can be styled a myriad of ways in my closet. I want the bag to never go out of style and I don’t want it to be instantly recognizable to everyone. Start a bag fund and save up for something you utterly love and won’t tire of. Contribute a little each month.

Black Skinny Jeans

I wear my black skinny jeans year round. They can be styled so many ways and always make me feel good when I slip them on. Audrey Hepburn, can you see me?

Ballet Flats

A beautiful flat is well worth the investment as you’ll wear them time and time again. It’s also time to say goodbye to wearing beat up, seen-better-days flats. One of my favorite pairs is the Sarah Flint Natalie bow flat.

Button Down Blouse

There’s a reason this style staple has passed the test of time. If you don’t have one that fits well, now is the time to trade it in. No gaping buttons, no sad fabric. My favorite versatile one is by Sezane.

. . .

So what do you think? Do you subscribe to the idea of a capsule wardrobe? Do you have items in yours that I should consider? Are you ready to begin your capsule wardrobe journey?

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9 comments on “Capsule Wardrobe Basics: High Quality Items To Build On”

  1. I’ve been doing a major closet cleanout and it is just proving that sticking to a color palette is so important. I need to commit to shopping less fast fashion, such a good reminder. And I finally got those Loeffler Randall booties, they magically came back in stock. Think they’re the answer to my straight leg with bootie dilemma I’ve been having. Love this post!

    xo Jessica
    an indigo day

  2. Thanks for sharing this, Meghan! You’ve inspired me to create a capsule wardrobe, and I can attest to how much it can change your life. As you mentioned, it makes packing and getting dressed SO much easier! It also helps me justify spending more for quality and special items because I’ve not spent money on lower quality items. I also feel like I now have a personal style brand, and while that rarely aligns with the latest trends, I feel confident in owning my style. Thank you again for helping me achieve this!

  3. Dear Meghan,

    This was very helpful and the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. I wanted to do a massive clothing toss this month and focus on a simple capsule wardrobe that I can mix-and-match. I’ve also come to a point where I’m tired of cheap, flimsy pieces that don’t last or breathe on the skin. It’s just money thrown in the bin because you have to constantly replace them. I’ve started investing in higher-priced, but better-made items. I’ve saved this to help build my list – it’s brilliant. Many thanks!

  4. Dear Meghan,

    This was very helpful and the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. I wanted to do a massive clothing toss this month and focus on a simple capsule wardrobe that I can mix-and-match. I’ve also come to a point where I’m tired of cheap, flimsy pieces that don’t last or breathe on the skin. It’s just money thrown in the bin because you have to constantly replace them. I’ve started investing in higher-priced, but better-made items. I’ve saved this to help build my list – it’s brilliant. Many thanks!

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