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.
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. 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.
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 compliment 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.
Karen Williams, an expert stylist seen on ITV's This Morning, explained, "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." 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.
To help you dress whatever your lifestyle, we’ve assembled all the pieces you need to create a chic, practical, versatile, and, above all else, comfortable capsule wardrobe for 2022.
Your capsule wardrobe 2022 checklist
1. A midi skirt
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
We've had midi skirts—now, it's the turn of midi dresses, one of the best summer dresses around.
Midi dresses are incredibly versatile and can work just as well in the office as they would for dinner with friends. Williams told us, "I love a dress as they can be layered and styled differently, but ultimately they are one stop shops—and we all want easy!"
Simply swap out your shoes and jackets to dress the style up or down. And if you're wondering about the best style for work? Look to wrap dresses. Not only can they be worn loosely if desired, but they also look cool layered over t-shirts, thin knits, or even over tapered trousers for a fresh take.