Capsule wardrobe: The essentials everyone needs in their closet

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The capsule wardrobe is not for everybody, but if you believe that you’d do much better with versatile, simple clothing in your closet, it might be just the thing you need. There are many benefits of adopting this approach for your garments, including having an easier time deciding what to wear each day, saving time on laundry and being more organised. According to recent studies, roughly 20% of the clothes you own get worn 80% of the time. That leaves the rest to be barely worn, if at all. Research also shows that approximately 30% of the clothes in UK wardrobes are unworn.

As the fashion environment becomes faster, and trends become microtrends, people shop for more clothing that feels obsolete in just a few months, and which ultimately becomes either clutter or ends up in a landfill where it contributes to the growing greenhouse gases. Changing your wardrobe a little bit won’t only free up some time in your daily routine, but it can also add to the fight against climate change.



It might seem strange to start off with the accessories, but a timeless wardrobe that still feels fresh all the time needs some suitable accessories. You shouldn’t feel limited by a colour palette or a particular style. Although the capsule wardrobe is typically associated with minimalism and neutrals, that’s not a rule you must follow. For instance, you can get a backpack or tote bag depicting your favourite characters or series. If you want to build your own Pokemon collection but also maintain a capsule wardrobe, you can get backpacks and wallets depicting Pikacku and Bulbasaur. The key is to choose something high-quality that will maintain its shape and colours with repeated use.

Apart from the bags you use every day, you must also get a clutch for special occasions. A pair of sunglasses, a silk scarf, a premium-quality belt and a few pairs of cashmere socks should also be part of your wardrobe. For gloves, both leather and cable-knit work, depending on your preferences. You’ll need a classic hair clip for your hair and a scrunchie set. Choose a set made of silk to protect your hair. As for jewellery, go for simple, classic designs like hoop earrings, dainty rings and necklaces. The key is to choose items that will always be in style and which you know you won’t get bored of wearing.



It takes almost 3,000 litres to make only one cotton t-shirt. However, most people are not aware of the resources used to make this ubiquitous item of clothing, hence why t-shirts are frequently considered among the most disposable clothing items in a wardrobe. Apart from the water, pesticides are used to grow the cotton, and chemical dyes are used to colour the fabrics. Workers are often exposed to these potentially toxic substances that sometimes leach into water sources and pollute the air. You don’t need an endless amount of t-shirts, especially if you have no plan to wear them.

The white T-shirt is the standard staple you must have in your wardrobe, as it goes with everything. You can also get t-shirts in beige, black, sage green or classic blue in order to create beautiful styles. You must also have a few shirts. The ones made from poplin are ideal for everyday use, and you can also try silk for a softer, luxurious feel. And, of course, you must own a linen shirt, a summer staple that is breezy and lightweight, as well as moisture-wicking and able to inhibit bacterial growth.

As for jumpers, you should also aim for versatility. Wool-blends, alpaca and cashmere are the perfect materials for the colder season, as they’ll keep you warm no matter how chilly it gets outside. Just be careful when you wash them, as you want to use cold water and let them air-dry on a rack, preferably in a horizontal position. Using a dryer or hot water can permanently damage the garment. If you want to choose jumpers of various colours, you can go for different designs as well, like a brown roll-neck, a cream cardigan and a grey V-neck piece. You might also prefer items in brighter colours, such as red, yellow or pink, to add some brightness to bleak winter days.



The classic jeans remain timeless no matter how time passes, and with proper care, a pair can last for decades. Make sure yours are a proper fit so they feel comfortable for running errands and chores. The type of jeans you should have in your wardrobe depends on your personal taste. Luckily, there’s no shortage of options on the market nowadays. Skinny or baggy, high -, mid- or low-waist, with raw hems or selvedge and in a wide array of colours and prints, you should nonetheless make sure that the jeans you choose are made from 100% cotton, so they’re more resilient and won’t lose their shapes.

You will also need some tailored trousers that can be worn with blazers at the office or on formal occasions. A pencil skirt is also a standard of office wear. For lounging and days when you want to feel more comfortable, the classic black leggings, a pair of knitted trousers and tracksuit bottoms will do the trick.



Having too many pairs of shoes and keeping the ones that have become damaged are common problems many people deal with. Even if you’re not very sporty, having a reliable pair of trainers in your wardrobe is a must. The timeless designs in crisp white look good with everything, but you can also choose styles that include pink, orange, green, silver or dark blue accents. With how big of a market athleisure is, you’ll have no trouble finding the pair that is perfect for you.

Ballet flats have come back in style as well, and are another example of a classic shoe that looks good both dressed up and down. As for heels, you should have a pair that feels comfortable, is not constricting, and looks good with all types of evening wear, from dresses to palazzo trousers. Loafers are another classic that has been around for a long time but will never go out of style.

Aside from these items, you only need some classic outerwear like a trench coat and a wool coat for the winter, and you’ve assembled the perfect capsule wardrobe. Of course, you might want to add a few extra pieces as well. That’s not against the ethos of the capsule wardrobe, whose main purpose is to build a solid base on which to create your daily outfits while minimising the number of clothes you need and reducing the number of times you go shopping.


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Written by Lola McQuenzie

Lola is one of our busiest writer. She has worked for Catwalk Yourself since 2007. Lola started working with us after she graduating from Central St Martins

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