When people hear the term ‘capsule wardrobe’ it can often put the fear of death in them. Worrying about how to style multiple looks around limited items or having enough of the basics to cover yourself is a common concern, but it’s actually a lot easier than you think.
Really, it all comes down to knowing and nailing those essential items. A really good pair of black boots, a reliable pair of blue jeans and a few other pieces that you can build timeless outfits around. And, when you give it some deep thought, you’ll realise that there’s actually far fewer of those must-have pieces than most people would think.
Below, the 12 essential items you need for a capsule wardrobe that’ll stand the test of time.
Coat trends come and go but the black blazer is an undisputed must-have. Whether its accompanying a minidress for an elevated look or paired with jeans and boots, its versatility and ability to be layered makes it the perfect trans-seasonal piece.
AERE Oversized Linen Blazer, $150 from THE ICONIC
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No explanation needed. A classic pair of blue jeans are an essential for anyone, whether they be wide leg, mom or boot cut. While the jeans world feels heavily trend driven, certain styles (like the high-waist straight-leg) will never go out of style, so when you’re choosing a pair, make sure they’re one of those more classic cuts that you feel really comfortable in.
Note: a wide leg is often better as they look good with boots and heels, whereas skinny legs don’t always work.
Carrie Jean Maggie Organic, $139.95 from Abrand
Made for those warmer seasons, a slip dress can be worn on its own or layered with an oversized jacket for some added dimension. If you go for an understated colour over a wild pattern, you can re-wear it for years to come — plus it can be dressed up or down depending on your chosen shoe.
Linen Bias Slip Dress, $160 from VENROY
While you might think white shirts are more business/formal, they’ve actually become a staple piece in most people’s casual wardrobes. You can layer a knitted vest over the top or pair it with a mini skirt and boots or, there’s really no limit on the ways you can style this piece.
Margit Oversized Shirt, $139 from Henne
Black trousers are a non-negotiable capsule wardrobe item, or actually, any wardrobe. Perfect for work, date night, going out and everything in between, they’re a trusty piece that you can reach for every single day.
Harriet Pant, $250 from Bec + Bridge
There’s a reason everyone loves a trench coat, and it’s because it’s the ultimate trans-seasonal piece. You can wear it on a warm day for an added layer that won’t cause you to overheat, or you can wear it in winter with a few layers underneath.
The camel colour is the most popular as it goes with almost everything and has a more upscale vibe than your average black coat, so you can bet you’ll be reaching for it year-round.
Theory Trench Coat Tan, $240 from Ksubi
While most people fill their shoe space with dressier options like heels and boots, no capsule wardrobe is complete until a pair of trusted sneakers have been added to the fold. You can choose an all-white option if you’re looking for something lowkey, or opt for a style with a little more colour if you’re keen for a statement option.
New Balance are leading the way for lifestyle shoes right now (which is proven by how quickly they fly off the shelves). They have options to pair with pants, dresses and everything in-between — so when you’re looking for just one pair that can do everything, you’ll definitely find it here.
BB480, $140 from New Balance
You never know what occasion might call for a matching suit set, and now that it’s moved down from high-end to accessibly casual, there’s more and more uses for it. A vest with tailored trousers is something that everyone needs, particularly for those events where you’re wanting to give off a casual yet polished vibe.
Little Black Dress
No matter the event or dress code, you can never (ever) go wrong with the little black dress, or LBD. Universally flattering, timeless and able to be dressed up and down for the occasion, it’s the one style and colour of dress that you can safely assume will stand the test of time.
For a casual date night look you can pair it with sneakers, or opt for black heels and tights for a more formal approach.
Lover Lola Mini Dress, $220 from THE ICONIC
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While black leggings have become synonymous with working out, they’re actually as practical as they are functional. Wear them with a pair of sneakers and a puffer jacket or a singlet top and you’ve got a full outfit for those laidback summer and winter days.
Align™ Super High-Rise Pant 28″, $119 from lululemon
A basic t-shirt is an essential item in anyone’s wardrobe, particularly for those days when you’re looking to keep things a little more casual. Throw a blazer over the top for a more upscaled aesthetic or let it stand solo, but a white t-shirt is a ride or die for everyone for a reason.
Australian Cotton T-Shirt, $69.95 from Country Road
Black boots are like the little black dress of the footwear world — a necessity. Paired with sheer tights and a mini skirt or more hidden under a pair of flared trousers, there’s no need to worry about clashing with a staple like this.
When it comes to aesthetic, it’s all down to personal preference. Some people prefer a more rounded toe while others like something with a point, and then you’ve got to suss out the heel length and shape. Once you’ve nailed that, then you’re good to go!
Saveira Black Boot, $139.95 from Billini