Time for a fashion moment. I’ve been putting together a new capsule wardrobe to last for at least the next couple of months or so, as I find it saves a lot of money but still allows plenty of room for being chic. The new season is about to start (exciting!) but the weather is still freezing (boo), so I’ve gone for plenty of cool weather clothing that can be lightened up if/when the weather improves. The picture above shows everything I’ve picked out.
This is being put together using my five classic capsule wardrobe rules for beginners, which is a practical guide for streamlining the process that takes the hassle out of it. Have a peek at that if you’d like a few pointers or want a speedy refresher.
Limiting the amount of clothing I buy means that I get more use out of each piece, which saves money in general and also reduces the amount of cost per wear. Making the most of everything means that there’s a lot less waste too, and although I’m not a complete minimalist I do like the idea that nothing’s gathering dust, or sitting forgotten at the back of the wardrobe. No ‘regret purchases’ here – it’s all being used.
As usual, many of my older clothes have been pressed into service this time around as some styles stay current for several seasons, but’s it’s nice to ring the changes with a few new pieces here and there. Quite a lot of the clothes I own have been thrifted, bought second hand, or found at sample sales, and I’m aware that’s not very helpful for you, the reader, so I’ve hunted around and found similar items that are more readily available on the high street, in case you feel like giving it a go yourself.
This 20-piece wardrobe is designed for wearing Monday to Friday, and there are 25 basic outfit combinations possible for the tops and bottoms. The jackets, boots, bags, scarves and jewellery allow you to take each basic shirt-trouser combo and style it up or down at least two different ways (sometimes three or four), which gives you a minimum of 50 different looks. That’s plenty of variety, so you’ll get your money’s worth out of those clothes over the next couple of months without ever being bored.
My first set of choices
It’s generally best to start with a general theme before you start picking things out or going shopping, as a theme pulls the whole lot nicely together and makes it easy to style. Have a think about your everyday lifestyle and personality when you’re coming up with a theme so it’s practical and it makes you feel good and stylish too.
My general theme: casual city wear, with some ready-to-wear catwalk influences.
My base colours: There’s a lot of dark wash denim around for SS18, so I’ve picked dark indigo blue, and also black, khaki and darkish grey for base colours. My neutrals: I chose ivory/cream and medium grey for the light and medium tone neutrals. Accent colours: I picked beige-brown/leopard, red, pink and lilac for some variety.
Feel free to adjust these variables to suit your own lifestyle, personality, skin tone and body shape.
The capsule wardrobe ‘equation’
As I mentioned in my capsule wardrobe basics article, there’s an easy ‘equation’ for picking clothes for a 5-day working week that will give you plenty of variety into your capsule wardrobe looks, without making it too difficult to mix, match and style. If you’re creating your own capsule wardrobe, try these numbers out after you’ve picked your theme and see how you get on.
- 5 skirts / pairs of trousers: Choose 4 or 5 of them in your base colours – here I’ve used indigo blue, black and mid-dark grey for four base colour items, then the fifth is a khaki green.
- 5 tops: Tops 1 & 2 in light neutral colours, top 3 in a mid-toned colour (neutral or accent), top 4 in a base or second accent colour, and top 5 with a pattern or print – I’ve used off-white and cream bases for the first two, medium grey for top 3, top 4 is indigo blue, and the fifth is a bold check pattern on a pink background.
- 2 or 3 jackets: At least one in a base colour – I’ve picked a long cardigan in medium grey, and the second is khaki.
- 1, 2 or 3 bags: At least one in a base colour and big enough for all your work stuff – this particular capsule wardrobe has a large black tote, plus a more fun leopard print bag in a smaller size. The budget didn’t stretch to three bags this time around, but never mind!
- 2 or 3 pairs of shoes: At least 2 in a base colour – here we have black boots and mid-dark grey/gunmental trainers, plus some colourful burgundy red kitten heels.
- 2 or 3 accessories: 1 or 2 necklaces or scarves containing accent colours, and 1 plainer one containing a base colour – I chose a lilac/blue/green scarf and a leopard/red scarf, plus a mainly black necklace.
This formula isn’t set in stone, by the way, but I’ve found that it works really well for beginners and it also saves quite a lot of time shopping and styling.
The clothes and accessories
I tend to start with trousers and skirts when putting together a capsule wardrobe, and build it up from there. We have a mixture of different colours and cuts.
- UNIQLO U wide leg navy trousers by Christophe Lemaire, £34.90. A designer look at high street prices.
- M&S mid rise slim leg jeans in dark indigo, £25. Perfect for catwalk-inspired double denim looks, not too skinny and loose enough to turn up at the ankle.
- H&M Conscious straight leg black jeans, £24.99. Pictured with a turn-up above, but can easily be rolled down. Straight leg jeans are back this season, and these add some variety to your silhouette if you usually wear skinny jeans.
- Darby dark grey skinny biker jeans, Mint Velvet, £79. Really lovely quality, but if your budget is smaller, try the grey zipped-hem skinnies at Zara, £29.99.
- Khaki Lily jeans, Oasis, £45. Nice quality sculpting skinny jeans for a reasonable price.
Next, I found five different tops that can all be mixed and matched with the bottoms, with enough variety to keep things interesting:
- Denim blue shirt with wrap back, Oasis, £29. Attractive wrap detail on the back, also doubles as a lightweight denim jacket when worn unbuttoned.
- Striped jumper with bow sleeves, Tu @ Sainsbury’s, £18. Breton style top with detailed sleeves
- Polka dot blouse, Dorothy Perkins, £23.80. Nails the polka dot trend brilliantly, and currently reduced in price.
- Light grey metallic button detail jumper, George @ Asda, £12.50. Versatile top with a bit of sparkle.
- Pink check longline shirt, Next, £28. Pastel pink and checks, similar to some Burberry SS18 pieces.
There are two jackets, this time both in base colours so each one can work equally hard with the other clothes. The three shirts in the tops section above can all be used as jackets too, especially the denim one, giving even more options.
- Light green long sleeve embellished utility jacket, Mint Velvet, £129. There are plainer, cheaper ones at H&M too.
- Longline rib knit mid grey cotton cardigan, H&M, £29.99. A versatile cover up for cooler days.
Each item of footwear has to be wearable with each pair of trousers for maximum versatility. Here we have:
- Dune Pontoon black nubuck stacked heel ankle boots, sale prices from £59 – £74. Also at House of Fraser and Selfridges. Love these for a low key everyday boot with just a bit of height.
- Allie gunmetal low top trainers, Mint Velvet, £89.00. Thick, comfy soles and a subtle metallic effect. Alternatively, there’s a low cost version at Peacocks for only £15.
- Dark red kitten heel boots, George @ Asda, £18.
The main bag is roomy and practical, and the smaller bag is more for fun and casual evenings out.
- Black structured shopper bag, New Look, £15.99. Roomy goes-with-everything bag for a bargain price.
- Leopard & black camera bag, Tu @ Sainsbury’s, £16. A fake fur bag in this season’s hottest style, looks more expensive than it is.
Finally, I picked out the accessories for the neckline, two colourful/patterned scarves and a base colour necklace. It’s easiest to choose these last of all: they aren’t needed for every outfit, and they don’t have to go with every single top. They are, however, a way to add interest/complexity to plainer clothes, or balance the overall tone out in an outfit helping you to style things up or down in a more versatile way.
- Lilac/blue stripe casual long scarf, Lovarzi brand via eBay, £5.99. Goes with denim and khaki, adds a pop of new-season lilac.
- Black & gold pebble necklace, Oliver Bonas, £36. Works well with all the tops, has a little sparkle and can toughen up pale colours.
- Leopard square silk scarf with red trim, Mint Velvet, £45. A feminine accessory to add a chic touch to plainer clothes. If that’s a little pricey, there’s a similar non-silk scarf at Fashion World for £18 that comes with a free matching tan tote bag.
I’ll be back tomorrow with a few sample outfits to show how many versatile and varied looks you can easily make out of just 20 items.
Have you ever tried creating a capsule wardrobe before? Seen anything you like here today?