Early last year, I shared a blog about the book Project 333 in which the author, Courtney Carver, challenges you to live for three months with 33 pieces, including shoes, bags, jewelry, and other accessories. In that post, I shared what I took away from the book, while I admitted I would not be doing the capsule challenge. However, I realize some of you might enjoy knowing how to build a wardrobe capsule.
A wardrobe capsule is a tight collection of clothes and accessories that work together to create multiple outfits. The easiest way to do a capsule is to keep most of the items classic and to designate a color scheme. If I were to build a capsule, the categories below are where I would focus first.
Shop the catalog.
I have created a shopping catalog of the styles I recommend below. Please be advised that some, though not all, of the links are affiliated, meaning I receive a small commission for your purchase (always appreciated!). Shop the catalog here.
Classic straight-leg (or cigarette) jeans.
The most “of the moment” silhouette and highly versatile, you can dress up or down a straight-leg pair of jeans. Wear with flats, heels, dressy or casual, just about any shoe style works. Brands to consider: Gap, Madewell, J. Crew, Frame, Boyish and Agolde.
This can be worn under a blazer with jewelry to spice it up for work, under a leather jacket or alone for an effortless look. Brands to consider: Amazon essentials, Target’s brand A New Day, J. Crew, Hanes, Madewell and Everlane.
A great blazer.
Blazers can be the workhorse of one’s wardrobe. It takes a look to a more serious place when needed (a business meeting, for example), and it works casually, also. A blazer finishes a look, making it appear more pulled together and thoughtful. The silhouette of the moment is a long, slouchy blazer, but this can be difficult to wear unless you are tall and/or curvy. My suggestion is a style that’s a bit more streamlined to the body. Brand suggestions: J. Crew, Banana Republic, Smythe, Veronica Beard and Club Monaco.
Last fall, I was on a quest for a nice pair of pants that were not so “work-looking.” I found the perfect pair at Banana Republic called the high-rise tapered cargo pant. These pants drape beautifully and require very little maintenance. Wash, hang to dry and maybe a light ironing, if needed. It comes in six colors and can be dressed up with a blouse and jacket or down with a tee and flat sandals. Other brand recommendations: Alex Mill chinos, the Everlane Dream pants, Boden wide-leg cotton twill pants and the J. Crew patch pocket slim boyfriend chino.
Depending on where you live, a jacket may not be needed once spring/summer hits. However, a lightweight cotton jacket can be used just about anywhere in cooler months without adding bulk. I like Boden’s Carla Ruffle Collar Jacket, as well as their Belle Packaway Anorak jacket (a big piece seen at fall fashion week recently). I love the Levis Safari denim jacket at Nordstrom, and KUT makes a nice classic cropped denim jacket.
This doesn’t have to be classic white if that’s not your style. I am a big fan of denim/chambray button down shirts, as well as printed ones in lightweight cotton for spring. As with other pieces I’ve mentioned, a cotton top can be dressed up with trousers and heels, or it can be worn casually with the sleeves rolled with shorts. I have friends who swear by Athleta’s Mid-town II shirt. I love that you don’t have to iron it! Faherty makes a nice knit version, which is also low/no iron. Gap offers an organic cotton button down. The Liberty print organic cotton shirts by J. Crew have been a favorite for a couple of summer season.
Throw all your stuff in, including your laptop and go. It’s hard to beat a tote bag. I purchased the Madewell medium transport tote in the fall of 2020. I love the color and the front pocket. It has held up well. They have a style with a zip closure and one that is open (I bought the open style). Mark & Graham make several nice styles, including the Everyday Italian leather tote. A friend purchased the Von Holzhausen market tote, and she loves it. I’ve seen it, and I like it very much.
Low heel loafer.
The best toe shape is almond because it lengthens the leg and adds a touch of femininity to an otherwise masculine shoe style. Sarah Flint, who has a pop up in Dallas’ Northpark presently, makes a great one. Steve Madden makes one that is almost flat. The Tory Burch Jessa loafer is a classic.
Sneakers are basically your modern-day “flat.” There are many styles to choose from. I like a slight platform style for a running around sneaker. It differentiates it from your normal “gym” shoes. I like Sam Edelman’s Ellis Lace Up Sneaker. The slight high top Merin Sneaker by Marc Fisher is cool. Steve Madden offers a nice slip-on style.
A dress or jumpsuit.
A dress can be dressed down with sneakers these days or up with heels and a blazer on top. A shirt dress is flattering on most shapes except for the apple, which is best in a shift or a tunic style. A wrap dress is fantastic on curvy bodies. The slip dress is having a resurgence and works well on slim shapes. Regardless of the style you choose, having one go-to dress is critical. You don’t want to be shopping in a rush when a special occasion arises. If you aren’t a dress person, swap a dress for a jumpsuit or a blouse with trousers. My point: have one “nice” outfit at the ready. J. McLaughlin makes a classic shirt dress. I love the drama of the tiered wrap dress from Banana Republic. Banana’s utility jumpsuit is super cool, and their silk slip dress, too.
You must have a dressy shoe to go with the one dressy outfit, and it may as well be the open style of a heeled sandal, which works almost year-round. The Rope Heeled Sandal by Tory Burch is lovely. Schutz makes a classic strappy style. If you prefer a classic closed toe heel that is a cross between a pump and a loafer, I like Everlane’s Italian Leather Day Heel.
Rather than lug your tote to dinner, switch to a smaller bag for evening. The clutch is a hot style. While I could make a variety of brand suggestions in this category, I love the idea of you visiting a local boutique for one offered locally. Many of your neighborhood gift shops have a small selection made by local artisans. If you prefer to shop online, look at Coach, Madewell, Cult Gaia and Kate Spade.
Let’s build it together.
As you look over these categories, you can see how simple it would be to get dressed quickly and easily for just about any occasion interchanging these pieces. That’s the goal with a wardrobe! If a capsule wardrobe appeals to you, message me to inquire about a wardrobe edit and a shopping service. Imagine a wardrobe that feels supportive and is easy to work with. You can have it! I’d be delighted to help you.