How to Build a Capsule Wardrobe

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I recently had the joy of taking partnering up with Coquitlam Centre’s to build my ideal capsule wardrobe. I built it around their theme and had a ton of fun narrowing down styles which would really suit my life. Based on their 34-piece Capsule Wardrobe list, Krystin (from Girl in Betsey), Sharday (from Sharday Engel), and I all set out to find items that worked within a capsule wardrobe yet were reflections of our individual styles. It was interesting to find how differently we all interpreted basics such as a white button down, a pair of jeans, or a leather jacket. None of us chose any of the same items which were surprising, and it was a true testament to how personal each of our styles are.

I loved the idea so much that I thought I would share with you my ideal capsule wardrobe. I’ve condensed my wardrobe even further and made it a 30 piece capsule wardrobe! If you’re like me and live in an apartment then you likely already appreciate the idea of a condensed and versatile wardrobe. Capsule wardrobes are made for apartment size closets! Scroll through to see my ideal capsule wardrobe, and to learn how to create your own!

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The 30 Item Capsule Wardrobe

You may be asking “What is a capsule wardrobe?” and basically it’s a collection of classic items that work together and never go out of style. The idea is to build a wardrobe of quality items that can be worn throughout the year with just minor changes or additions. When you create a capsule wardrobe, you’re embracing minimalist fashion and you’ll find that you’ll only need to shop a few times a year for pieces that are seasonally needed (like heavier sweaters, scarves, etc).

The Shirts You’ll Need

Let’s get started with shirts. Now, when you’re building your capsule wardrobe you’re going to need 7 types of shirts. I know, it doesn’t seem like a lot – but I promise you, these shirts all pack a punch! They are versatile enough that you can wear them with pretty much everything else in your capsule wardrobe, and most of these work for your professional life and personal life. Yep, these 7 items are a total win-win.

1. Simple Camisole

A camisole is a basic everyone should have in their wardrobe. It’s comfortable to wear on it’s own with a pair of jeans for a casual look, or you could wear it under a blazer for a more professional outfit.

2. White Tee Shirt

A white tee shirt is a total essential. You can wear your tee with jeans, a midi skirt, a pencil skirt, a…. Well, you get the idea – it’s super versatile. Whenever I travel, one of the items I am always sure to bring is a white tee shirt because I always find myself reaching for it on the go. It’s a easy and mindless style item that works with everything!

3. Graphic Tee Shirt

Don’t feel like wearing a basic tee shirt today? No biggie, rock a graphic tee shirt instead! While these are just as neutral as a white tee shirt is, it has a been more interest and “attitude” to it. (Also, the world needs to know how I feel about rosé: Rosé All Day!)

4. Striped Shirt

A striped shirt is another great essential that you’ll find yourself grabbing for time and time again. Stripes always have a laid back sophistication to them, and this sort of style works for both work and play. You can wear this with slacks for an office-friendly look, or jeans for a more relaxed weekend vibe. (Plus, don’t you kind of  feel like a super chic Parisian when you wear a striped shirt? I know I do – Oui oui!)

5. White Button-Up Shirt

Is there anything more classic and effortlessly chic than a white button-up shirt? I think not! In particular, over-sized white button-up shirts are seriously gorgeous when worn with jeans, jean shorts, leather leggings, slacks – well, anything!

6. Printed Button Up Blouse

To brighten up your style, grab a printed button-up like this Dynamite Satin Button-Up Floral Blouse. This will be just as versatile and practical as a chambray or white button-up shirt, but will add a bit more interest and colour to your outfit.

7. Denim shirt

If you want a more relaxed take on the button-up, try a denim button-up! They are casual, versatile, and look great when paired with black slacks.

The Outerwear Essentials

Regardless of the season, there are a few outerwear items that are totally essential. I for one am always cold, and that means rain or shine – I need a jacket or knit on hand just in case a breeze comes by.  There are 8 outwear items that you absolutely need if you’re building a capsule wardrobe – but just like I mentioned above, these items will all be super versatile and wearable for your work and personal life.

8. Blazer 

While a blazer isn’t my favourite thing to wear day to day, it is a pretty big style essential. It’s great to have on-hand for work and meetings. If a simple neutral blazer isn’t for you than no worries, there are tons of options available – colours, and fabrics (like this pretty blush boyfriend blazer) – so you don’t have to feel stuck in a basic blazer.

9. Cardigan 

If you work in an office, than you likely already know how essential a cardigan is. I personally love cardigans, they layer nicely and they add a little bit of coziness that is so nice in over air conditioned offices!

10. Sweatshirt 

One thing you may not know about me is that I pretty much live in my “But first, coffee” sweatshirt. I love graphic sweatshirts, and I think they are so fun to wear on the weekend or after-work. Oversized sweaters and tunics are especially fun because they don’t appear as basic or sloppy as a simple sweatshirt – they have a bit more “style” to them (but are just as comfy!)

11. Long Tunic / Oversized Sweater

Oversized sweaters and tunics are my jam! I love oversized tunics for the office – they can be dressed in a super sleek and professional way while also being super comfortable. Plus you can easily wear them over some ripped jeans for a more casual off-duty look.

12. Jean Jacket

To instantly make any look more casual, add on a jean jacket. To me, a jean jacket is a total spring and summer style essential. They layer up and give that super carefree and effortless look that is just so perfect for those sunny seasons.

13. Leather Jacket 

Is there anything more classic than a leather jacket? Leather jackets pair perfectly with pretty much every look. They add an edge to your professional style and they work beautifully in casual looks. To refresh your spring style, grab a blush leather jacket. It’ll add a pop of colour to your style, and work with everything that a black leather jacket normally would.

14. Neutral Coat 

A neutral trench or wool coat is always a great item to have on hand. They look extremely professional and sophisticated and they will keep you nice and cozy on those chillier days. I always believe in investing in a quality jacket because chances are it’ll be a piece that’ll stick around for a while. To me, a neutral jacket is completely timeless and a 100% style essential.

15. Raincoat 

Depending on where you live, a raincoat may or may not be a total must-have. Living in Vancouver, I can tell you it’s a complete necessity. Here, when it rains – it pours, and getting caught in the rain without a rain jacket or umbrella is no joke!

Cover Your Bottom With…

We’re not done yet! We need to find some bottoms. In my opinion, there are 5 styles of bottoms that are total must-haves. Now, these you can switch around to suit your style – for example if you don’t wear leather leggings than swap them out for something you’d wear regularly. The main thing with creating a style capsule, in general, is that you want pieces that you’ll A) truly want to wear constantly, and B) be able to mix and remix within your wardrobe.

16. Jeans

If there is one thing I am obsessed with in my closet, it’s my jeans. I love jeans – the way they style, the variety of fits and looks, and the fact that nowadays you can actually get denim that is super comfortable. Denim is such a style staple and yet is one of those pieces that is constantly changing – last year boyfriend jeans were all the rage, and now this year it’s frayed hemlines, high waist “mom” jeans, and ombre bottoms. Ah, denim – always refreshing in fashion, and always an essential.

17. Black Slacks

For the office, there’s nothing that’s more of a no-brainer than black slacks. In those foggy early AMs, when all you want is to snooze your alarm one more time, you need a pair of black slacks on hand. They are a great style go-to and since they are such a simple basic, they go with anything in your wardrobe. So go ahead, snooze that alarm one more time.

18. Leather Leggings 

One of my absolute style essentials has to be leather leggings. Whenever I am in doubt of what to wear, I tend to turn to my leather leggings. They are super comfortable, pair with a tunic sweater amazingly, and add a bit more interest to even the most basic looks.

19. Pencil Skirt

A pencil skirt isn’t something I turn to often (and honestly – I usually find a great pencil skirt challenging to find for my body type, having curvy hips is not pencil-skirt friendly!) but I do believe it is a very staple item to have. Pencil skirts are classy and classic, and if you find one that truly works for you and your body type then it can also be one of your most versatile items. You can either go the professional route of the classic black or neutral pencil skirt, or you can get a bit more trendy and try a denim pencil skirt. Lately, I’ve been finding myself more intrigued by denim skirts and I am thinking I may need to add one into my wardrobe.

20. A-line Skirt 

More in my comfort-zone is the a-line skirt. I love the fit and flare styles in general, so it makes sense that when it comes to my skirt-of-choice that I go for an a-line. They are comfortable, feminine, and they tend to style easily with a variety of items. (Lately, I’ve really loved the look of an a-line paired with a graphic tee shirt!)

Get all Dressed Up

It’s time to get dressy! There are 3 styles of dresses that I wear constantly, and I feel are the most versatile styles in my closet. I wear dresses pretty much every day during the spring and summer, and I always miss them during the fall and winter. To me, dresses are the “holy grail” item when it comes to finding pieces that truly work from work to play. The main things you want to look for in your dress are a versatile color, a practical length and neckline, and that must-have comfort factor!

21. Little White Dress

One thing I’ve considered an essential for some time now is the little white dress, and I am particularly enamored with this Guess Marina Lace dress. As soon as the sun comes out, I begin turning to my favorite LWDs more than anything else in my wardrobe. They are versatile, stylish, and refreshing for the warmer seasons.

22. Little Black Dress 

There’s no denying that the LBD is a style essential. I think everyone, their mother, and their mother’s dog knows that an LBD is a total must-have. A classic fit and flare little black dress is one of the most versatile pieces you can own. It can be dressed up, or down, and they are always in style. The bottom line is – it’s an essential, so go grab yourself one – you’ll see the magic in it soon enough!

23. Shift or Shirt Dress

A shift or shirt dress is something you may not have thought to be an essential, but it is. These styles tend to be very versatile and often great for both the office and for after-hour styling. In particular, I have been obsessed with chambray shirt dresses.

To Complete Your Look

To complete any look you need a great bag and a pair of comfortable shoes. 99% of the time, I wear neutral shoes and that’s why I am typically drawn to nude, black, and metallic shoes. I am also not one to wear high-heels often, typically I opt for either flats or a low block heel. To me, these are practical and they can often be worn with a ton of different looks.

For my go-to capsule handbags, I would consider the cross-body, mini bag, and a large bucket-style bag to be my must-haves. They are practical, stylish, and work with a variety of looks.

24. Nude Heels

Nude heels are the Ghost Busters of shoes – I mean, when you don’t know what to wear with an outfit, what ya gonna wear? Nude heels! They are an easy go-to and they wear beautifully with pretty much every look you could come up with. These Sole Society Jenn Pointy Toe Pumps have a practical size heel and would look great with pretty much everything in this capsule wardrobe!

25. Black Heels

Just like nude heels, black heels are an easy style go-to. They pair great with basic looks and also can be worn with more wild and trendy styles. Pretty much what I am saying is: if you’re building yourself a versatile wardrobe, you’ll need a pair of black heels. I can’t get over how cute these ASOS Sugar Baby pumps are – and the fact that they are only $30!

26. Flats

My go-to shoe style? Flats. Always, flats. If I am heading out for a day of adventure (ie. no plans, just going with the flow), I will always wear my favorite flats. I love heels, but let’s be honest – heels aren’t great for going on long walks, shopping for hours, or doing anything that requires a lot of standing. I like to have the freedom to walk, stand, whatever – and so that means 99% of the time, I turn to my favourite flats. (PSST – did you notice these adorable metallic flats are only $19.00?!)

27. Sneakers

Another go-to for me: sneakers. After years of not wearing sneakers, I rediscovered my love for them – and there are no signs of a break up in the future. Sneakers are comfortable, stylish, and they add a super chic athleisure sort of vibe to your style. I particularly love them paired with leather leggings and a graphic sweatshirt.

28. Clutch / Mini bag

Everyone needs a “dressy” bag. You may not use this item every single day, but it’s an item you’ll turn to when you’re going for a nice dinner, at a work event, or when you just want to look fly AF at brunch. Lately, my go-to dressy bag has been my Nat and Matt Mitsuko Mini handbag – it’s a beautiful colour for spring, and the mini style is super cute.

29. Large bag

We all need a large bag (like this super chic bucket bag) so that we can carry our lives around with us like we’re nomads. I mean, I for one know that during the weekdays, I need a lunch, water bottle, workout wear, makeup, slippers, and a change of clothes (this is actually no joke, I spill coffee and my food on myself way too much to go sans-change of clothing) all on hand. Wait – is this just me?

30. Cross-body Bag

I love a good cross-body bag. It’s basically the laziest bag alive since it allows you to carry what you need, without you actually… needing…to carry it. You just sling it across your body, and voila – you’ve got all the junk you need right by your side!

PSST – By the Way….

If you liked today’s post then you’ll also LOVE Coquitlam Centre’s 34-piece Capsule Wardrobe list. Plus, right now they are hosting an amazing giveaway where you could win $2,500 to spend on your own ideal capsule wardrobe at Coquitlam Centre. Giveaway ends May 15th, 2017 so be sure to enter in now!

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5 Comments

  1. adjen5009
    April 24, 2017 / 3:23 pm

    Loved how easy your post was to read! Capsule wardrobes haves always been something I’ve wanted to do, but have always seemed pretty intimidating. Your post totally inspired me and I may need to do that for my next big project 🙂

  2. April 24, 2017 / 11:39 pm

    I need to do this. It’s such a great way to keep your items in check and to make sure you’ve got the basics to mix and match!

    Jessica | notjessfashion.com

  3. Melissa
    April 25, 2017 / 2:04 pm

    This is a great post! You really covered everything! Perfect for mixing and matching!

  4. April 25, 2017 / 2:32 pm

    LOved reading this post, this totally inspired me . I loved those nude heels

  5. April 26, 2017 / 4:13 pm

    These are some great tips! After having my second baby, and getting back to my pre pregnancy size I am slowly starting to build my wardrobe again. I got the blazer down and plain black tees becaus white and nursing…accidents lol

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