How to build a capsule wardrobe that’s unique to you

Women wearing trench coats
Olivia Lidbury,-Fashion Editor

Time to simplify. Make getting dressed a breeze by compiling a personally edited collection of pieces

Stripping back your wardrobe to the essentials certainly makes life easier, but classics such as camel coats, white shirts and court shoes aren’t always the right building blocks for everyone to start with. When it comes to editing your own personal capsule wardrobe, it’s all about determining the foundation pieces that are suited to you. 

‘When you’re considering buying something, ask yourself if you can style it multiple ways,’ advises Bianca Snowie, Partner & Personal Stylist. ‘If the answer is no, then it shouldn’t make the cut.’

This is a view shared by fashion writer Virginia Chadwyck-Healey. She shops by filling in the gaps around what she already owns, and swears by this simple rule: ‘My magic number is three. If you can envisage three scenarios where you’d wear a piece – everything from lunch, to work, to meeting the parents – that is justification enough.’ With this in mind, here’s a guide to get you started. 

A great pair of heels

A pair of smart shoes that make you feel good can transform your posture. A block heel can act as the full stop to your outfit while still remaining comfortable. Likewise a pair of versatile heels, such as strappy sandals, are a timeless style you’ll revisit time and time again. 

A jacket that makes you feel pulled together

Find one you love and even the most basic of outfits will be instantly refreshed. ‘Whether it’s navy, checked or oversized… throw a blazer on with a pair of jeans and a T-shirt and you’ll feel polished,’ says Virginia.

A bag that’s fit for purpose

Mini bags have novelty factor, but then there’s the accompanying tote bag you inevitably require for all the stuff that you actually need. A practical bag doesn’t have to be boring, but it should be able to hold a water bottle, your essentials and have a bit of space left over. A classic shade, such as black or khaki, will be versatile enough to work with a multitude of looks.

A coat for when the weather is confused

A boyfriend coat is the perfect thickness for layering up and down with scarves and knitwear, while the trench coat is essential for shower-prone days. Lightweight and eternally chic, you can throw it on over thick layers or double up with a cropped jacket underneath. 

A 9am-9pm dress

It can be tricky to decide what to wear at 7am when you know your day won’t end until 9pm. So you don't regret that early morning choice, reach for a dress. Whether that’s a shirt dress you can team with a statement necklace, a sleeveless style that you can layer tops underneath, or a printed chiffon dress that works with tights, versatility is the name of the game.  

Layers you can mix and match with everything

‘Silk shirts or T-shirts keep you warm and everything else just glides on over that,’ says Virginia. Bianca is all for a white shirt: ‘You can layer them under dresses, wear with trousers or under jumpers,’ and also rollnecks: ‘They look great under a dress.’

Colourful cashmere to beat the air-con

From central heating that’s verging on tropical to Arctic blasts outdoors, cashmere will see you through. Yes, it’s an investment, but it’s light enough to slip into your bag, and a colourful stripe or colour block will add some joy to your wardribe while guaranteeing warmth and breathability. 

Trousers that work as hard as you do

There’s nothing more flattering than a pair of beautifully cut trousers. Whether you go for black and long or calf grazing and bright, creating outfits is much easier when you have a well-cut foundation as a starting point. ‘A wool pair of navy cropped trousers are a winner for me,’ says Virginia. ‘I wear them all year round – they look great with both flats and heels.’

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