Building an excellent capsule wardrobe takes time and patience. Looking at what you already have—and what you might be missing—is a good place to start (refer to Vogue’s step-by-step wardrobe detox guide for tips).
What does a capsule wardrobe consist of?
There are certain timeless staples that the Vogue editors swear by. Let’s start with the basics: white T-shirts are team Vogue’s wardrobe MVP. Find a style that fits just right, focusing on the hemline and sleeve lengths. Excellent shirting, too, is a necessity. Pair with trousers, a blazer and loafers—other essentials—for smart occasions, or jeans and white trainers for more casual moments.
Outerwear-wise, you can’t go wrong with a trench coat. Twists on the classic silhouette from Kassl Editions and Raey are worth the investment. As for bags? Opt for a sturdy tote that’s roomy enough to hold everything you could possibly need.
How do I start a capsule wardrobe?
This will vary according to what is already in your wardrobe, but a good starting point is working out what you actually wear. Our top tip? Turn all your coat hangers to face the same way, then every time you wear something, turn it around. By the end of the month, you’ll have a good sense of the wardrobe heroes that you can’t live without—be it a white shirt or straight leg jeans—as these are the pieces you should be basing your capsule around.
Here, Vogue’s guide to the clothing essentials that will serve you all year round.
The do-it-all tote bag
Tote bags are an accessory that you can trust. These roomy styles will fit anything and everything.
The white T-shirt
“I’m forever looking for the perfect white T-shirt because I pretty much wear one every day,” remarks British Vogue’s global content lead and European deputy editor Sarah Harris. Follow her lead with our pick of the best styles.
Finding the perfect jeans is no mean feat, but great ones will last you a lifetime.
The trench coat
There’s a reason why trench coats have stood the test of time. Easy to throw on, they instantly pull a look together.
No longer reserved for gym outings, let black leggings be your style companion in 2023.
An oversized blazer
When done right, louche tailoring can be exquisitely chic. Our tip? Ensure the oversized fit doesn’t swamp you.
The vest top
An undisputed favourite with the style set, the classic tank top is a wardrobe staple fit for day-and nighttime. Match with tailored trousers and heeled sandals for a versatile look.
No jewellery box is complete without a great pair of hoops.
When it comes to cold weather layering, a simple crew neck or roll-neck (be it high-street or high-end) will do the job nicely.
Facing a footwear conundrum? Loafers are your answer.
The maxi skirt
Mini skirts were a key trend for spring/summer 2022, but maxi skirts will always be in style. Pair with autumn boots and a coat for winter, and sandals with a tucked-in T-shirt or tank top for summer.
The biker jacket
Oversized and rugged or upgraded with minimal embellishments, the biker jacket was back in a big way on the spring/summer 2022 runways (not that we ever really stopped wearing ours).
The slip dress
An effortless option for an evening soirée, slip dresses can be made work-appropriate with a snug knit.
Tailored trousers are not only a failsafe office essential but a capsule wardrobe necessity. If off-the-rail styles don’t fit quite right, visit a tailor to make tweakments.
Almost any outfit can be dressed down with a pair of trainers. New Balance 990s are the ultimate “Dad” trainer among the It-girls, while coveted Nike Dunks and Jordans will add pizazz.
The white shirt
Never underestimate the quiet power of a white shirt. Be it clean and crisp poplin or breezy linen, there’s one for every situation.
Breeze your way through 2023 in a flowing pair of wide-leg trousers. If a hemline is too long, get it altered (or alter it yourself).
The classic belt
Why are simple things so often the hardest to find? Once you’ve secured your favourite, don’t let it out of your sight. A classic leather belt with an elegant metal clasp will be one of the hardest working pieces in your capsule wardrobe.
This story was originally published on British Vogue.