How to build a capsule wardrobe in 2022—15 chic staples to ensure you look on-trend this summer

Your capsule wardrobe for 2022 should make dressing for any occasion this summer fun and easy

collage image of three street-style shots with women wearing stylish summer outfits on a light pink background to illustrate a capsule wardrobe 2022
(Image credit: Future/Getty)

Creating a capsule wardrobe is a brilliant way to avoid dressing indecision and can make dressing for any event easy, efficient and so much more fun. You'll never feel like you have nothing to wear again and you'll get more wear out of each item you own—win-win!

If you've found yourself here, the chances are your outfits are beginning to feel a little stale after months (or years) spent mostly at home. And it's not surprising—many of us have become a bit too familiar with our comfy loungewear and our best pajamas over the past few years. But somewhat of a return to normality calls for a return to a functional and stylish wardrobe for everything from work to fun.

Creating your capsule wardrobe is all about finding pieces you love that you can wear together, in a multitude of ways. It'll give you an array of outfits at your disposal, with minimal effort required on your part. Think slipping on a roomy midi skirt with some light knitwear, or pairing your favorite summer midi dress with those classic flats. Whatever you wear, it's important that it suits you and your lifestyle. After all, we all know that an on-trend outfit that feels comfortable has the power to boost our mood massively.

Meet the experts in curating a capsule wardrobe

  • Karen Williams is an expert celeb stylist who has dressed big names like Beyonce and David Beckham, and has had her own makeunder show on Netflix. 
  • Ashley Burghardt is the UK Styling Director for personal style service Stitch Fix. 
  • Harriet Saywood-Bellisario is the founder of slow fashion brand Saywood.

What is a capsule wardrobe?

The term capsule wardrobe was coined in London in the 1970s by wardrobe consultant and author Susie Furst—but according to Business of Fashion (opens in new tab) was brought to the masses after Donna Karan made the idea of condensing a wardrobe popular.

A capsule wardrobe is essentially a curated selection of pieces that fundamentally all complement each other and can be put together to create separate outfits. It is the practice of editing down your wardrobe to your most-loved pieces only and wearing them in several different ways.

How to create a capsule wardrobe in 2022

The last decade has seen a lot of change in the fashion industry—as online shopping has made it easier to consume faster and in bigger quantities, making it easier to shop each and every trend that pops up throughout the year.

But while noughties technology took us to the peak of consumerism, the sustainable movement of the last few years has seen many of us try to be more mindful of the earth and make an effort to live more sustainably each day. So many of us are going from shopping every single seasonal trend and adding each little deal we see to our ASOS bag to trying to live more minimalistically for the environment and decluttering our minds and spaces.

Creating a capsule wardrobe in 2022 is all about curating a collection of evergreen staples that can last throughout the year (and for years to come), while peppering it with more seasonal essentials like sandals or winter coats.

1. Invest in good quality basics

Spending a little more money on good quality and minimal basics can ensure that they last for years and that they work with a number of different looks.

2. Consider your everyday activities

"To build a capsule wardrobe, you have really look at what you do in your life, and focus on a collection for your main activities—otherwise you have a pieces in your wardrobe which will never get worn," says Karen Williams, an expert stylist seen on ITV's This Morning. So for example, do you spend 80% of your time in the office, and the other 20% relaxing at home? If so, be honest with yourself and ditch most of those fancy wear-once party outfits—you just don't need them.

3. Choose trends carefully

Of course it's fun to follow trends but it's not always necessary to shop them all. If a trend pops up that seems relatively evergreen and can be worn in a number of different ways—like high-waisted trousers—then go for it. But something like cut-out dresses is probably one that won't last, so better left out of your capsule wardrobe.

Create a capsule wardrobe—step-by-step guide

1. Practice dressing from a capsule wardrobe

Practice dressing from a capsule wardrobe by picking out 10 pieces of staple clothing and then make up different outfits for the upcoming week from just those 10 pieces. Just remember to check the upcoming weather conditions first!

2. Have a clear out

A clear out of your wardrobe is essential. We'd recommend starting with chucking out anything that you haven't worn for the last year and then going from there. Try on all of your clothes and anything that doesn't fit or that you're unsure of, get rid of. Ensure that you love every piece in your wardrobe.

Try to make your clear out more sustainable too and ensure that things don't end up in landfill by giving away your pieces to friends and family who would wear them, finding a charitable donation bank or even upcycling them to sell or give away as gifts.

3. Plan what you want to include in your capsule wardrobe

Make a plan of what you want your capsule wardrobe to include. We've included a list of 15 summer basics below, so that could be a great place to start.

4. Shop slowly

Don't buy everything in one go. Take your time to consider what pieces you really want to buy and only make a purchase if, one—it ticks off a box for something that you wanted to include in your capsule wardrobe curation, and two—it's something that you absolutely love and will be able to wear in a multitude of ways.

Shop our capsule wardrobe edit

1. A midi skirt

Young woman wearing yellow midi skirt in summer standing in front of colorful buildings in Copenhagen, Denmark

(Image credit: Getty)

As we enter spring and approach summer, midi skirts are a wardrobe essential. Whatever your style, there's a midi skirt option for you. Some of our favorites include: 

  • An elegant satin midi skirt that's perfect for work or play
  • A casual linen or cotton midi skirt for the weekends
  • A pleated midi skirt you can dress up or down
  • A pencil skirt, for those who need to dress smarter for work

A great and easy way to add some color into your outfit—hello dopamine dressing—midi skirts can be paired with almost anything. This summer, your midi skirt will add instant polish to casual-looking sandals, or your favorite pair of sneakers; but we'll get to that later.

And don't discount them later in the year either! During the colder months, add a pair of tights or knee-high boots, and you'll be sure to stay warm despite the low temperatures.

2. A relaxed blazer

Julia Comil wears a pastel purple lavander linen oversized blazer by Maryam Nassir Zadeh, pastel purple lavander linen high waisted pants by Maryam Nassir Zadeh, purple bras by Maryam Nassir Zadeh, Sonia Rykiel gray tortoise sunglasses, a Cartier watch, yellow leather trimmed canvas small tote bag with round handle by Hereu, white heeled sandals square toe by By Far, on July 16, 2021 in Paris, France.

(Image credit: Edward Berthelot/Getty Images)

Every wardrobe should feature at least one blazer, but they needn't be sharply cut or made from rigid fabrics. Instead, look for fluid styles that will elevate all your attire to chic new heights.

Good staple colors to have to hand are a neutral beige or black—but any color will work depending on the rest of your existing wardrobe. A blazer is incredibly versatile. Williams said, "A blazer, depending on the cut and fabric, is timeless and versatile—styled correctly you can wear it all year round."

Top tip: look to the menswear section and size up for the cool-girl insouciance. 

3. A white t-shirt

woman in stylish sunglasses in a trendy white t-shirt in blue trendy jeans posing outdoors on the background of carousels

(Image credit: Getty)

Basic jersey tops can work with any number of outfits, and a white t-shirt really is a capsule wardrobe must-have. They can be styled with almost anything, be it a pair of trousers, a blazer or a midi skirt.

Plus, they can be dressed up or down too, meaning they work whether you're heading into the office or out for brunch. Everlane, Levi's and H&M are great places to find well-cut white tees.

4. A light jacket

Leo Eberlin seen wearing brown sunglasses from Celine, a beige cozy wool knit cardigan from Allude, matching beige cozy wool knit Allude pants, a blue denim Loewe jacket with Loewe print leather patch, denim ballerinas from Chanel and a bast basket Loewe shopper bag during Berlin Fashion Week on March 16, 2022 in Berlin, Germany

(Image credit: Getty Images/Jeremy Moeller)

As it get warmer there's less of a need for puffy bomber jackets or thick wool coats, and more of a desire to throw a casual jacket over your shoulder, lest the temperature dip during the day. That's why a light jacket is a capsule wardrobe essential—worn with everything from pleated skirts to cropped trousers, you only need to invest in one you really love to make any outfit pop. 

There are a different light jackets you could opt for, including:

  • A leather jacket to give any outfit a fun edgy look
  • A denim jacket for laid-back summery vibes
  • A suede jacket for more formal days/events
  • A khaki jacket for relaxed evenings and weekends

We'd suggest opting for a classic block color like navy, khaki, cream, or camel to ensure it'll go with your entire wardrobe. 

5. Light trousers

woman in linen pants and bare shoulders sitting on a hay bales in warm autumn day

(Image credit: Getty)

Lightweight trousers are ideal for those days when you have to go out to work or just want to stay a bit more covered up without suffering in the sweltering heat of a hot summer day.

Wider, looser trouser styles and linen options have made a firm comeback, so they would make great options, while white jeans and cropped trousers are firm favorites for the summer months.

Again, opt for a pair in a neutral block color to ensure they'll go with any dress, jumper or tee in your wardrobe. Worried a wider fit will look oversized? Pair them with a fitted top and belt them at the waist.

  • Loose-fit trousers for days at home or running errands in warm weather
  • Linen trousers, as the light material is a must for warm holidays and you can even get hold of tapered versions now which work well for hot days at work when you might need to look a bit smarter
  • Cropped jeans or trousers for smart-casual summer days
  • White jeans to offset the heat of the sun when you want to stay a bit more covered up

6. The soft blouse

Isabelle Hartmann wearing a beige trenchcoat and pants, a white blouse, a beige chanel bag and beige heels on September 27, 2021 in Paris, France.

(Image credit: Jeremy Moeller / Getty Images)

Lightweight blouses in silky fabrics both look slick and feel effortless, which is why they're a great addition to a capsule wardrobe.

Neutral colors will, of course, serve you well, but don't feel obliged to play it safe—prints and bright hues will make a big impact, and are an easy way to add a pop of color to more neutral basics.

7. Elegant flats

spring/summer outfit fashion details, young stylish woman wearing denim jeans and floral mules with a bow detail in front

(Image credit: Getty)

If you're generally on your feet for a lot of the day, a pair of heels just aren't practical, making a pair of elegant flats the perfect solution. 

A pointed toe never fails to look fancy, and a flat sole makes them almost as comfortable as your trusty Uggs. Again, it's probably best to opt for neutral colors when it comes to your shoes, so you can play more with color in the rest of your outfit.

8. Classic jeans

Aline Kaplan is seen wearing Anine Bing beige blazer, Tory Burch denim brown bag, Flattered beige mokassins, Filippa K white blouse, Mango scarf, Versace black shades and vintage Levis blue denim on March 18, 2022 in Berlin, Germany.

(Image credit: Getty Images/Jeremy Moeller)

No wardrobe (capsule or otherwise) is complete without a classic pair of jeans. They'll go with just about anything else you own, so they're a versatile basic you won't want to forego. 

Decide, based on your personal style, which jeans cut you most prefer, from:

  • Flattering high waist jeans that suit everyone
  • Mid-rise 90s-style jeans that are bang on-trend right now
  • Relaxed 'mom' jeans that are ideal for weekend outings
  • Straight-leg jeans for more formal days/events

Skinny jeans have taken somewhat of a nosedive in the style stakes recently, but your capsule wardrobe is yours for a reason—if they're still your chosen cut, go for it!

Make sure you have at least two pairs of jeans to hand, and decide on the wash you prefer too—do you lean more towards a dark or a light denim?

9. Stylish sneakers

A woman is pictured walking down a street wearing a black loose fitting suit (blazer and trousers) and white fashion trainers

(Image credit: Getty Images / Jeremy Moeller)

Fun fact: it was recently revealed that there are now more women purchasing sneakers than men. With comfort firmly on the list of requirements, no capsule wardrobe is complete without the addition of a stylish pair of sneakers. You still need to keep things looking smart though, so no tatty running trainers here please—we’re talking sneakers that stay well in the fashion lane. 

Good options include:

  • A classic pair of white trainers that go with anything—think sustainable Veja's, Vans, or Superga shoes
  • An on-trend chunky trainer, such as the Eytys Angel’s
  • A minimalist sports shoe such as Adidas' Stan Smiths

10. A 'goes-with-everything' bag

Close up of woman in summer dress gripping a small leather purse

(Image credit: Getty)

Whether you're dressing for style or practicality (or both), a bag that will match with most—if not all—of your other wardrobe essentials is vital. Adding a bag is a small detail that'll make your outfits feel more pulled together and considered, and of course, they can obviously be helpful if you're on the go all day.

Consider whether you need:

  • An oversized tote, for storing plenty of items
  • A fun cross-body bag, for storage on-the-go
  • A clutch for professional and social events
  • A backpack for laid-back chic

It's important to consider your lifestyle with this one—don't gather up a load of clutch bags if you never attend events fancy enough to warrant them. Choose the chicest and most practical options for you, and make sure you have at least two-three go-tos in your closet.

11. The midi dress