This Formula Will Help You Create Your Very Own Capsule Wardrobe

Streamline your wardrobe will make getting dressed in the morning so much easier!
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Janet Sahm Easter
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Streamline your wardrobe will make getting dressed in the morning so much easier!
capsule-slider

As fun as it is to contemplate a new season of outfits, it can be a tall order to clean out our closets and get organized when our dressers are stuffed to the brim and drawers are akin to sardine cans. But the start of the new season is the best time to buckle down and do a bit of wardrobe cleaning. 

Not sure where to start? After you've stored away last season's clothes and sent the rarely worn pieces off to Goodwill, rethink what you really need in your closet. Knowing that you have the most basic items on hand to mix and match (and wear again and again) is liberating and still allows you to be creative when it counts.

Stylists call this cache of basics a capsule wardrobe. It can be any number of items, but a good place to start is with sixteen essential pieces. The formula looks like this:

Four Tops + Four Bottoms + Two Dresses + Two Layering Pieces + Four Accessories

capsule-intro

It’s not a rigid formula, but this will create a solid foundation to work from. Below are examples of versatile, universally flattering pieces to inspire you. Because these are staples, we think they are items worth investing in, so find options that fit you well and look great. And yes, we left out shoes because, sigh, that may be a whole other article (we do love our shoes!).

FOUR TOPS//

capsule-tops

1. H&M, $30 / 2. Oasis, $36 / 3. Gap, $27 / 4. Gap, $50

Think basic, staple items that can be dressed up and down. We suggest: a white button-down, a striped shirt, a chambray shirt, and a pretty blouse in a print that makes you happy and suits your shape.

FOUR BOTTOMS//

capsule-bottoms

1. H&M, $25 / 2. Gap, $70 / 3. Topshop, $35 / 4. Oasis, $65

This category includes trousers, skirts, and jeans. How dressy or conservative these pieces can be will depend on your office environment. Pick a great pair of black trousers in a skinny or boot cut, your favorite jeans, a pretty midi skirt, and a wild card, like comfy and stylish loose sweats or another cute skirt.

TWO DRESSES//

capsule-dresses

1. Boden, $148 / 2. Joe Fresh, $59

OK, we know this is pushing it because there are tons of scenarios when we need to wear a dress. But, having one go-to for more dressy occasions and one for a casual affair is ideal. The trick is really playing up accessories depending on the event—even switching from patent pumps to sandal wedges makes a big difference. An LBD is an obvious must-have, but a white or printed dress for the summer can be fun!

If you’re a dress-lover, you could also opt to add in another dress that plays nice with layers (think: your chambray shirt tied over it or a cardigan), and take out one of your bottoms.

TWO LAYERING PIECES//

capsule-layers

1. Warehouse, $214 / 2. Topshop, $90

A leather jacket, sharp blazer, cardigan, or knit sweater should be able to layer on top of all the pieces we've laid out. Because you'll wear them so much, it's best to really invest in quality and fit. Look for good materials such as leather, suede, wool, and cashmere in versatile neutral colors like black, brown, navy, soft gray, cream, and ivory.

FOUR ACCESSORIES//

capsule-accessories

1. Accessory Concierge, $22 / 2. Zara, $80 / 3. Sole Society, $35 / 4. H&M, $13

An awesome purse, a fun scarf, a handful of your favorite fashion jewelry (or a few more expensive items you wear every day), and a great belt you can wear with your denim or over a dress are best. While it might also be nice to have an evening clutch and a few scarves you love, keep these to just a handful, not a closetful!