We all wake up in the morning wishing we were walking into a closet the size of Carrie Bradshaw’s on “Sex and The City”—or really, any celebrity for that matter. But too often we look into our wardrobe only to find that there isn’t anything to wear. It’s not that we don’t have plenty of clothes. The problem is simply that we can’t put together the right outfit.
The solution? Stock up on the basics and create a capsule wardrobe. This strategy ensures that you have the best essentials to make getting dressed something you look forward to in the morning.
I have also found that these basic pieces cost significantly less to purchase—especially if you invest in high-quality pieces secondhand—and should give your bank account enough padding to spend your money elsewhere. And in the long run, you’ll spend a lot less on impulse purchases. After all, there’s no need to constantly add to your wardrobe once you’ve carefully built a closet of versatile pieces and go-to outfits.
Edit Your Current Wardrobe
First things first—clean out your closet! Sift through your drawers, go through your hanging pieces and set aside anything that you do not fit into or wear anymore. Do the environment a favor by donating your unwanted clothes to be resold or repurposed as textiles. Don’t throw anything away! If you want to make money in the process, take them to your local consignment shop or send them into resale websites to earn a little cash for your troubles. You’ll be left only with the pieces you love and wear regularly, making it easier to grab an outfit and go in the morning.
Build Up Your Basics
Next, you can begin filling in the gaps in your wardrobe. I’m sharing the pieces that I prefer to have in my closet, but feel free to tweak my tips to fit your preferences. If you tend to lean more toward building your outfits around skirts, then you can ignore the part about finding the perfect pairs of pants, and so on. For each of my ideas, make sure that you cater your choices to your body type and preferred silhouettes. You don’t have to change your basic style to get a capsule wardrobe—the goal is to build a curated closet of pieces that you can wear over and over again. Most importantly, stick to a general color scheme so that all of your clothing can be mixed and matched.
Here are a few of my personal favorites:
- White button down. One of the best staples to have in your closet is a nice white button down. This can be worn as a casual blouse, buttoned up for a business meeting or as a simply classic top dressed up with a statement necklace or earrings. In the transitional months, wear it layered over a tank top or dress for a more laid-back look. (This is my favorite way to wear it!) Once you have found your perfect white shirt, feel free to add another with prints or other colors that will fit into your capsule closet with ease.
- The perfect dress. A combination of maxi dresses, slip dresses and tunics are essential. You can easily build outfits around these classic styles, layering them with your blouses, pairing your favorite pair of heels with them, or simply staying chic while running your daily errands. Each style will serve a different purpose for everyone but I have found these translate best with a capsule wardrobe.
- Well-fitting pants. Next up, narrow down your pants selection. Do you have old colorful jeans or printed pants still hanging around that you don’t fit your current style? Replace those with simple slacks and the perfect pairs of denim that will match all of your shirts and tops.
- Comfy t-shirts. My personal can’t-live-without-pieces are t-shirts. There is simply nothing better than finding the perfect white tee. I tend to lean towards loose-fitting v-necks that I can wear with jeans, skirts or layered under slip dresses, and build my outfit out around that. Honestly, I have four or five go-to tees in rotation, and I think you should too! Add on to your tee collection with whatever color, graphic print or style suits you. You’ll feel great in this classically simple piece, and when you feel great, you look great.
Add Pieces with Personality
You might be thinking that this all sounds very boring. Wrong! These are simply the basics for starting your outfit. Add in your own personality your favorite jewelry, bags and shoes to these pieces to create looks that will make a statement but are easy to put together. Rather than trying to match a crazy abstract printed shirt in the morning, it’s much simpler to add a bold, eye-catching necklace to your capsule look.
From these basics, feel free to supplement your wardrobe with other pieces like shorts, skirts, blazers and the like. A traditional capsule collection contains 24 to 30 items of clothing, so there is definitely some wiggle room and space for creativity! Work within your budget and start with the pieces that best fit your lifestyle.
Rebecca Piersol, a stylist and fashion blogger, shares easy, budget-friendly fashion tips for building stylist-approved outfits. Rebecca writes for her own site, The Crystal Press, and thredUP, an online and offline thrift store that has a selection of fabulous pre-loved women’s clothing.