If you’re tired of clutter in your closet and feel like you never have anything to wear, learning how to create a capsule wardrobe can be a life-changing. Seriously—the time it will save you getting ready in the morning alone makes it worth it’s weight in gold. But, where do you start? With a capsule wardrobe checklist, of course.
Building a capsule wardrobe is all about quality over quantity. Rather than constantly buying fast fashion items that will only last a season, you invest high quality fashion. For this, you want to choose clothes that are versatile, timeless and can be mixed and matched to create a variety of outfits. Think Parisian sensibility, minimalism, and neutral colours.
To help get you started, I’ve put together a capsule wardrobe checklist of 26 wardrobe essentials that every woman should have in their closet. While this airs on the side of classy, it’s important to take what you want from this and make it your own. There’s no point in buying a blazer if you don’t wear them, right?
If you haven’t already, you can learn everything you need to know about capsule wardrobes in our post How To Build A Capsule Wardrobe.
A Capsule Wardrobe Example
If you’ve read my blog post ‘How To Build A Capsule Wardrobe‘, you should already have a Pinterest board at your disposal. Make sure to pin this image so you can refer back to it while you shop.
A capsule wardrobe is all about simplifying your closet and streamlining your style. It’s not about following strict rules or trends, but rather finding pieces that work for you and make you feel confident and comfortable. Use this checklist as a guide, but don’t be afraid to add in items that are unique to your personal style.
As a rough guide, your capsule wardrobe will be made up of 25-50 pieces, depending on your lifestyle and needs. For this example, I’ve included 6 tops, 4 outerwear pieces, 4 bottoms, 1 dress, 5 shoes and 6 accessories. Depending on your style and what your daily routine is, you may want to add in more pieces to one section and remove some from another.
The Capsule Wardrobe Checklist
1. White T-shirt
It may be a no-brainer, but a quality white t-shirt is probably the best investment you’ll ever make. You want one made from 100% cotton that will wash well (hello, coffee?) and is in a shape that suits your body. While some like a white t-shirt to be oversized, others prefer a baby tee. If you do choose a shorter style, make sure when you try it on that you can lift your arms without flashing anyone.
2. Tank Tops
So what’s the difference between a tank top and camisole? Not much, but for this capsule wardrobe checklist a tank top is a more substantial piece that can be worn on its own or as a layering piece. At the moment, I’m leaning into the Parisian style tank tops. A slight ruched detail, or a satin fitted tank top can be a whole moment on it’s own. Then when it gets cold out, they easily layer under a black blazer or cardigan. I never think basics should be boring, so don’t get complacent when finding the perfect one.
3. White Shirt
Probably the most obvious piece to see on this checklist, but also, one of the hardest to find in the perfect fit. My hot tip is to find one that isn’t remotely see through. A lot of white shirts on the market nowadays are made from terrible quality material that instantly look cheap over other clothes. Unfortunately, this means you’ll have to drop a decent dollar to get high quality cotton or linen.
4. Crewneck Sweater
Every capsule wardrobe needs something cosy that you can throw on on lazy days. This, my friends, is the crewneck sweater. While it may see boring to you, it’s actually not. It’s all about how you style this piece that brings it to life. You want one in a solid neutral color such as grey, black or beige so that you can easily pair it with other pieces in your wardrobe. Opt for a high quality material like cashmere or merino wool to keep you warm and comfortable.
Chilly in the morning or evenings? This is when a good cardigan comes into the mix. A grey cardigan gives off that Scandinavian effortless vibe, but you can choose whichever suits the rest of your capsule wardrobe the best. You’ll want a quality wool mix for this, and make sure to check the buttons before you buy it. I find that there are so many cardigans that have odd buttons that end up clashing with the overall outfit. Minimal is always best.
6. Long-Sleeved Top
Of course, we need to add layering pieces into your capsule wardrobe. A long-sleeved top is perfect for this. I suggest choosing ones that are more form-fitting because you can get the most wear out of them by wearing them under knits, jackets or even another top. You’ll also want to keep it neutral so you can get the most wear out of it.
A body suit is the perfect versatile piece to have in your wardrobe. It can be worn with high-waisted jeans for a casual look or dressed up with a skirt and heels for a night out. Look for one made from stretchy, comfortable material so that it fits you well and doesn’t ride up throughout the day. This piece you can have a little fun with and choose something ‘less minimal’. I personally think like a tank top, you can choose a ruched detailed one, or even a long sleeved boat neck for a more classic aesthetic.
8. Waistcoat or Vest
Now this one is more trendy, but it adds a little spice to a normal capsule wardrobe. A waistcoat, for example, can be a great transitional piece because you can wear it to work with a blazer layered over the top, or you can dress it up for a night out with heels and trousers. You can also layer your white t-shirt underneath for a more casual day-to-day look.
9. Classic Blazer
Ah, the classic blazer. If there’s one thing you definitely need in your wardrobe, it’s this piece. A well-tailored blazer can instantly elevate any outfit and make you look put together. It’s a versatile piece that can be worn casually with jeans or dressed up for work or special occasions. I’d suggest sticking to black when picking this, and lean more towards an oversized style.
10. Jacket or Coat
This is again, another piece you can have some fun with. Depending on your style, you’ll know whether you want a leather jacket (which is my number one pick), or something more tailored like a coat. Make sure to choose one that will keep you warm, but also complements the rest of your wardrobe. This is where I’d pick choose a colour that isn’t black to give your outfits some variety. Earthy tones like beige, deep brown or even a deep red can add some extra spice to a look.
11. Mini Skirt
A mini skirt is a great addition to your capsule wardrobe for when you want to switch things up and add some femininity. Look for one in a neutral colour like black, white or denim so it easily pairs with your other pieces. You can dress it up with tights and boots or keep it casual with sneakers. I personally like something a little more tailored, but that all depends on your style preference.
12. Maxi Skirt
To mix up your style, a maxi skirt can be the best addition to your capsule wardrobe. A flowy, lightweight material such as silk is perfect for warmer months and can easily transition into colder weather with the addition of tights and boots. Or, you can try a linen maxi or denim skirt if you want something more fashion forward. This truly depends on your personal taste.
13. Slip Dress
The key to buying a good slip dress is all in the material. I have a black satin slip dress that is made from a heavier weight fabric so you can’t see all the lumps and bumps. It’s also not too clingy so it drapes nicely on the body. This can be worn alone for a night out worn alone with sneakers during the day. You want to feel comfortable in whatever you choose otherwise you won’t go reaching for it.
14. Denim Jeans
Of course, we all need denim jeans in our capsule wardrobe. But this is another piece where quality and fit are key. Find a pair that flatters your shape and can be dressed up or down. A mid-rise, straight-leg style usually works for most body types, but feel free to experiment with different cuts and washes to find what works best for you. I love the dark blue jeans, it’s so very French chic. But, if you lean towards the Scandinavian capsule wardrobe style, you could add a white denim instead.
To add a more polished and professional touch to your capsule wardrobe, a good pair of trousers is a must. Look for one in a classic neutral colour like black or grey that can be worn for any occasion. A high-waisted, straight leg style is my personal favourite, but you can also go for a slim-fit if that’s more your style. It’s best to choose a pair that suits both boots and sneakers.
16. Black Belt
Don’t underestimate the power of a simple black belt in your capsule wardrobe. This can instantly elevate an outfit and add some interest to a plain dress or oversized shirt. Look for one with a minimalist buckle design and make sure it fits well on your waist or hips, depending on where you prefer to wear it.
Whether you’re a gold or silver kind of person, a watch is an essential accessory for any capsule wardrobe. Not only does it serve a practical purpose, but it also adds some sophistication to your look. Choose a classic design such as a white rectangle face with a chain strap, or a simple leather band with a round face. You’ll get the most wear out of it if it’s versatile and complements your personal style.
Again, pick the colour metal that suits your personal style. But, make sure to stick with a simple and classic design for maximum wearability. Studs or small hoops are great options as they can be worn for both casual and dressy occasions. I also love statement jewellery to dress up a capsule wardrobe, but this is completely up to your taste.
19. Black Handbag
A black handbag is the ultimate accessory for any capsule wardrobe. It goes with everything and is perfect for both day and night. Look for one that is functional and can hold all your essentials, but also has a timeless design. A classic tote or crossbody bag are great options as they can be worn with any outfit. If you don’t work from an office, you could choose something a little more trendy too.
Whether you’re a black winged sunglasses type of girl, or an aviators lover, a good pair of sunglasses is a daily essential. Not only do they protect your eyes from the sun, but they also add a chic touch to any outfit. Find a style that suits your face shape and personal style, and make sure they’re durable enough to last you through multiple seasons.
Whether it’s a baseball cap, a classic fedora or a cosy beanie, hats are both functional and stylish. It’s an accessory that’s both functional and adds something extra to a basic outfit. Again, go for whatever style suits you and your capsule wardrobe, but make sure to choose one that’s versatile and can easily be paired with multiple outfits.
22. Ankle Boots
A pair of ankle boots is a great way to add some edge and versatility to your capsule wardrobe. Whether they’re black leather, suede or even printed, they can easily be paired with jeans, trousers, dresses or skirts. Look for a comfortable heel height and make sure they’re durable (preferably made of leather) to last you through multiple seasons.
23. White Sneakers
No capsule wardrobe is complete without a pair of white sneakers. Choose a classic design such as the Adidas Stan Smiths or leather Veja’s, but feel free to experiment with different styles and brands until you find your perfect match. You need this to be durable though as you’ll want to keep them as clean as possible.
24. Strappy Heels
Regardless of whether you’re building a capsule wardrobe, or just shopping for yourself, you need some strappy heels. For those occasions when you need to look great in 5 minutes, they’re a go-to shoe. You’ll want a black or nude pair that can easily be worn with any outfit. A mid-heel height is usually the most comfortable and the easiest to wear from day to night.
25. Everyday Sneakers
This is like your Adidas Sambas, or whatever latest sneaker you’re drawn to. Unlike white sneakers, your everyday sneakers are meant to be worn daily and can get a little dirty. So, make sure you pick one that is comfortable and durable, but also suits your personal style and clean up well.
26. Pointy Heels
This is a very 2024 take, but a pair of pointed heels (whether they’re stilettos, kitten heels or mules) adds a touch of sophistication to any outfit. I love how they look peering out from the bottom of trousers, but also look just as good styled with a slip dress or midi skirt.
By investing in quality basics such as a white shirt, jeans, leather jacket, and little black dress, you can easily create a stylish and functional wardrobe that will last for years to come. Adding in accessories like earrings and shoes can also elevate your looks and add some personality to your outfits. But, remember to choose pieces that fit well, suit your personal style, and are made from durable materials to ensure longevity. With a well-curated capsule wardrobe, you’ll never have the dilemma of not having anything to wear again.
If you want to find some inspiration for other pieces to add to your capsule wardrobe, I recommend you check out these blog posts too: