Creating a capsule wardrobe for 2023 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!
And with a month of becoming a bit too familiar with our comfy loungewear and our best pajamas, now that January is nearing its end and we're heading into the rest of the year, 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. Our team of expert fashion editors have detailed exactly how to create a capsule wardrobe in 2023 to make it your most stylish year yet.
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.
Why you should have a capsule wardrobe
There are many benefits to having a capsule wardrobe:
- It will help you spend less money on clothes—if you have go-to options for every eventuality, you're much less likely to panic-buy that ASOS purchase right before a big event.
- It'll take you significantly less time to get dressed—a capsule wardrobe means you have stylish options whatever you're dressing for, so you can find an outfit much faster than if you had to sift through racks of clothes. And, less clothes means your wardrobe will also be much less cluttered.
- It's better for the environment—a considered wardrobe means you're far less likely to buy new or throw away any items, unless they really no longer match your personal style. This is much more sustainable—and the opposite of damaging fast fashion.
How to create a capsule wardrobe in 2023
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 2023 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. While there are no hard and fast rules, we have a few helpful tips on building the best capsule wardrobe for you. Overall, it's more about personal style than it is about fashion trends. Your closet should help you feel confident and ready to face the day.
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.
MIL's step-by-step guide to creating a capsule wardrobe
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. Our guide on how to declutter responsibly has a wealth of suggestions for where you can donate and recycle.
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 made some suggestions in our list, but all those pieces might not be necessary for everybody.
You don't need to stick to a number, but around 37 items is a popular choice—the idea is to have 37 items in your closet which you'll wear for the next three months. In this period, you won't shop for new clothes until the last two weeks of the season. This is when you'll plan for the next capsule.
4. Identify your wardrobe gaps
Having a capsule wardrobe is about being sustainable and living with less rather than more, so it would be counter-intuitive to just head out on a big shopping spree of everything you want to include.
Stitch Fix’s (opens in new tab) UK Styling Director, Ashley Burghardt, advises, "First, locate the items you love and wear the most and remove all of the unworn pieces. You’ll immediately have a clear idea of what may be missing." For example, do you have tons of jeans, but very few dresses for the winter months?
5. 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.
Choose quality items that work for you, not that follow trends—Harriet Saywood-Bellisario, founder of slow fashion brand Saywood, says, "Timelessness is different for everyone; we are not talking about trend pieces. Try things on, find what fits you best, what works for your body shape, and look for good quality fabrics that will last. You want these pieces to be versatile; pieces that will work with multiple items in your wardrobe, outfits and occasions.
Saywood-Bellisario also suggests taking time to experiment— playing about with your capsule wardrobe initially, to see what works. She said, "Take some time to try on your wardrobe, testing different pieces with each other. See what works for you and what brings you joy—because that's what will radiate each day.
We've included a list of autumn/winter basics below, so that could be a great place to start.
Shop our capsule wardrobe edit
1. 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.
2. The light sweater
Light sweaters are great for pairing with other pieces for a chic but easy look—wear with skirts, trousers or even cami dresses.
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.
3. Chunky knitwear
Knitwear season it back and we love to see it. Pair your chunky knits with skirts or trousers or wear over dresses for work days.
Or wear with a pair of your favorite jeans for a more casual look.
4. A midi skirt
Midi skirts are great for dressing up an outfit in the colder months—wear with boots and tights and your go-to top or sweater. A great and easy way to add some color into your outfit—hello dopamine dressing—midi skirts can be paired with almost anything.
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 pleated or floaty midi skirt you can dress up or down
- A pencil skirt, for those who need to dress smarter for work
5. 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?
6. Tailored trousers
Tailored trousers are ideal for those days when you have to go out to work but you can't deal with a skirt or dress and just want something comfy, warm and easy.
Wider, looser trouser styles have made a firm comeback, so they would make great options, while white jeans and cropped trousers are firm favorites for more casual looks—even in the winter 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.
7. A midi dress
We've had midi skirts, now, it's the turn of midi dresses—not just one of the best summer dresses around but perfect for winter too.
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.
8. A stylish 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.
9. A quilted jacket/coat
In the autumn/winter months, a quilted jacket and/or coat is an essential to keep you shielded from bad weather like wind and rain and keep you warm at the same time.
A jacket can be great for grab and go days but a longer coat will keep you more protected from the elements—though the often straight shape of those kinds of coats could be unflattering, so we'd opt for something that ties at the waist for a more wearable shape if that's something you're concerned about.
10. A going out jacket
It's always helpful to have a cool but warm jacket for evenings out or fun day occasions. There are a different jackets you could opt for, including:
- A leather jacket to give any outfit a fun edgy look
- A borg-lined denim jacket for laid-back vibes while staying warm
- A suede jacket for more formal days/events
We'd suggest opting for a classic block color like navy, khaki, cream, or camel to ensure it'll go with your entire wardrobe.
11. A warm coat
A tailored coat can add a touch of sophistication to any outfit, even if you're only wearing a slouchy jumper and relaxed-fit jeans.
For fall and winter, be sure to choose warm options, such as:
- A chic lined trench coat
- A long wool coat
- A warm pea coat
As practical as they are stylish, they'll also be super beneficial if you get caught in a spring-time downpour!
12. 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.
13. Smart 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
14. Cool boots
It's vital to have a pair of boots you love when fall and winter months roll around. We'd recommended keeping the following as part of your summer capsule wardrobe:
- Wool-lined boots for laid-back dressing and running errands
- Dressy leather boots for work and events—extra style features like a pointed toe, stylist studs or chic heel can be a bonus
- Chunky boots for a trendy edge
Be sure you have both flat pair of b and a heeled pair to hand, for more dressy occasions.
15. Timeless stylish jewelry
Never underestimate the way well-chosen jewelry—especially from the best sustainable jewelry brands—enhances your outfit and your mood. A pair of simple gold hoop earrings can make you feel more in control (it works for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, after all). Additionally, a chain necklace is ideal for dressing up your more simple basics, and for injecting a bit of your sartorial personality into your outfits.
A pair of the best huggie earrings—whether gold ones or silver huggie earrings to suit your style—are great for wearing everyday. Try and opt for something from one of our best affordable jewelry brands if you're on a budget.
16. 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.
There you have it—a guide to building your 2023 capsule wardrobe that reflects your personal style. Choose the items in your capsule carefully, remembering that the selection should be as slim as possible. If you can't quickly pair something with other items on the list, it probably doesn't belong there.
You'll likely have a lot of trial and error when building your capsule wardrobe—don't panic; just keep it simple and enjoy the whole process without being too hard on yourself!