Are you looking for an easy and affordable way to build a year round capsule wardrobe from scratch? If so, these are the exact (and only!) pieces that you need.
Capsule wardrobes are exceedingly popular for a variety of reasons and the concept garnered popularity through fashion makeover television shows like What Not To Wear and Queer Eye. The hosts and stylists on both of these shows hooked desperate contestants, riddled with poor fashion sense, with capsule wardrobes.
A capsule wardrobe usually consists of 20 to 40 pieces, including accessories and shoes, which can be easily mixed or matched over time. People with capsule wardrobes spend less time planning their outfits and avoid the stressful, all-too-familiar feeling of “I have nothing to wear”.
How To Build Your Own Year Round Capsule Wardrobe
When it comes to building your own year round capsule wardrobe, there are several things to consider. You want to reflect upon your own personal style, the desired color palette, what types of items you need to fit your lifestyle, and your budget.
Before going shopping, it’s wise to go through your current closet as there may be some pieces hidden in the back that are perfect for the capsule wardrobe you’re trying to create. Plus, there are few things better than a tidy and organized closet.
After you’ve started creating your year round capsule wardrobe, try to build it around a few of your favorite pieces and stick with purchasing items that aren’t covered in loud prints.
Neutral-colored pieces or items with subtle prints are more likely to stay in style for longer. Once you’ve selected a handful of favorites (perhaps a beige wrap dress or some distressed high-waisted jeans), focus on finding some basic pieces that will fill out the rest of your capsule wardrobe.
The Must-Have Capsule Wardrobe Staples
If you just don’t know where to start when building your capsule wardrobe, we don’t blame you. This ongoing project can feel a little overwhelming and intimidating, especially if you don’t enjoy shopping or spending your free time at the mall.
To help you get started, we’ve selected 36 items, both clothing and shoes, to use as a reference as you embark on your own capsule wardrobe journey.
Tops For Your Year Round Capsule Wardrobe
Black Tank Top | When people say they are going to wear “jeans and a cute top”, it’s almost always a black tank top. Like other neutral tank tops, it can be paired with denim shorts for a casual look or a pencil skirt and a structured blazer for a more formal look.
Tan Tank Top | Over the past couple of years, tan has had a serious comeback in the fashion world. A beige or tan tank top is the perfect base for any outfit. In warmer weather, wear your tan tank with a white linen skirt or pants.
White Tank Top (with crochet details) | You can never go wrong with a white tank top, especially if you have a sunkissed glow. If you’re looking to elevate your tank top collection, find a white knit version or one that has some frill details. A white tank top matches virtually anything and you can jazz it up with a neck scarf or layered gold necklaces.
Simple Black Tee | Simple t-shirts are perfect for spring and summer but they can also be easily layered under a cardigan during the chilly fall and winter months. Pair your black v-neck or crewneck tee with high-waisted jeans and crisp white sneakers.
White Basic Tee | A white basic tee is a staple in everyone’s wardrobe. It’s easy to match with other items in your closet but it’s a little less easy to keep clean. When it comes to keeping your tee looking white, only wash it with other white pieces and add some baking soda into the wash.
Neutral Tee (with pocket) | This should be the most playful of all the tees found in your capsule wardrobe. A neural tee could be beige, taupe, sage green, ivory, or gray. It doesn’t have to have a pocket but it definitely brings some detail and flair to your outfit.
Blouses, Sweaters & Jackets
White Blouse | There’s a white blouse to suit every personality. But currently, oversized white button-up tops are very trendy when layered over a bralette or ribbed tank. The white button-up can also be thrown over a curve-hugging tank dress.
Black Blouse | While black blouses can be paired with anything, they look particularly beautiful when worn with distressed denim jeans or white pants. Search for a black blouse with a flattering neckline or one that is made out of lightweight chiffon or silk.
White Cardigan | A white cardigan can be thrown over any outfit when you get chilly, even mom jeans or a dress. If you want to be extra fashionable, try to find a cardigan with some added lace or crepe detailing. When wearing your white cardigan, be sure to toss your Tide To Go Pen into your purse before leaving the house.
Tan Sweater | If you’re confused about the difference between sweaters and cardigans, here it is: cardigans have buttons up the front and sweaters should pull over your head. A tan sweater is a must-have and can be worn with black slacks or jeans with over-the-knee boots in the fall and winter.
Black Long Sleeve Top | This should be different from the black blouse. A black long sleeve top can be made from cotton and doesn’t have any bells or whistles. It can be dressed down with a pair of jeans or dressed up with black pants and a statement necklace.
Denim Jacket | A denim jacket is essential and can be worn all year round. It can be thrown over a dress or worn with distressed denim shorts and a white or black silk corset top for your girls’ night out. The best thing about denim jackets is that the more you wear it, the better it looks, which makes them last forever.
Brown Sweater | Brown sweaters are great for fall and photoshoots at the nearby pumpkin patch. The color warms up any complexion and looks particularly great on those with blonde hair. For a trendier look, find an oversized version.
Faux Leather Jacket (nude or black – your choice!) | While we love denim, there’s something about a leather jacket that makes us feel totally wild and bad to the bone. If you’re vegan or on a tight budget, a faux leather jacket is an affordable alternative to real leather. Opt for a nude or black version, depending on your personal style.
Black Hoodie | Unfortunately, it’s time to throw out your old and tattered university hoodie. A brand new black hoodie will be just as comfortable. It can be worn with matching black sweatpants for a monochrome set look or with jeans.
Jeans, Jumpsuits & Shorts
Denim Jumpsuit | Jumpsuits are great for people who don’t enjoy matching tops and bottoms. Denim jumpsuits, particularly ones with a utility vibe, are very popular right now. To dress it up, wear it with wedge sandals but to create a more casual look, rock some platform sneakers. Make sure the jumpsuit you purchase has a somewhat tapered waist.
Black Jumpsuit | Similar to the denim jumpsuit, a black jumpsuit is just as easy to style and can be worn to almost any occasion. If you feel self-conscious wearing a jumpsuit that shows your shoulders, layer a white baby tee under it for some extra coverage.
Wide Leg Jeans | Wide leg jeans are certainly making a comeback this fashion season and give the illusion of longer legs. There are tons of different lengths to choose from but we recommend cropped jeans in the summer and floor-length wide-leg jeans in the fall and winter. They can be worn with heels or sneakers, depending on the occasion.
Black Skinny Jeans | Even though Gen Z’s told millennials to ditch skinny jeans this year, they are still a staple in every capsule wardrobe. They are incredibly versatile and can be worn with anything. If you prioritize comfort, search for a high-rise pair made with some cotton and elastane for stretch.
White Jeans | White jeans are crisp and dressier than blue denim jeans. They also match well with pastel-colored tops and feminine blouses. But if you wear these to a BBQ, beware of ketchup or mustard dripping off of your hamburger!
Mom Jeans | Mom jeans (otherwise known as high-waisted jeans) are great to pair with shorter tops and cropped sweaters. They also give you a perfect peach-shaped booty.
Black Linen Shorts | Black linen shorts are perfect for the summer as they are lightweight, allow for a bit of airflow, and can be dressed up or down. Plus, the color black goes with everything. Try pairing your black linen shorts with a white button-up or white tank top.
Denim Shorts | Denim shorts are exceedingly versatile and come in a variety of different washes and styles. Distressed or bleached jean shorts are cute for casual outings and darker denim shorts are great for dressing up.
Dresses & Skirts
Tan Dress | Tan dresses are great for sunny days and can be worn with sneakers and a denim jacket for an effortlessly cool look. If you want to look less casual, pair the dress with black strappy sandals.
White Dress | Every capsule wardrobe needs to have a basic white dress, especially for summer. If you’re wanting a fancier look, wear your white dress with nude heels or sandals as this will elongate the look of your legs.
Black Dress | Black dresses are classic. You can opt for a simple black tank or wrap dress or one with some shirred detailing. They can be worn day or night and with almost every type of shoe. We have yet to find a shoe that looks horrible with black dresses.
Midi Skirt | It’s important to own a few skirts, especially if you work in an office. A midi skirt doesn’t show off too much skin but it is still very fashionable and comfortable. Midi skirts that wrap around your waist are extra slimming.
Maxi Dress | Maxi dresses are perfect for wearing to wineries, backyard parties, weekend brunches, and even to work. If you’re wearing a maxi dress out with some friends, pair it with some clean white sneakers and a denim jacket.
Black Vegan Leather Skirt | A leather skirt is really fun to wear layered in the fall or on its own in the summer. In the fall, pair it with some black tights and a chunky knit sweater. In the summer, wear it on a night out with a black crop top, a matching black leather jacket, and black strappy sandals.
White Denim Skirt | White denim skirts are great to wear when it’s warm and sunny outside. Opt for a style that isn’t too short and pair it with a black blouse or neutral tank top.
Tan Heels | Tan, nude, or beige heels are a staple in every woman’s shoe closet as they pair with everything while elongating the appearance of your leg. Before purchasing a pair, make sure that you wear them around in the store for a bit. There is nothing worse than buying a pair of shoes that you can’t even walk in.
White Sneakers | White sneakers can be paired with mom jeans, black slacks, denim shorts, dresses, and everything else on this list. Keep your white sneakers clean by scrubbing them occasionally with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser.
Slide Sandals | These are perfect for casual outings like meeting your friend for coffee or running errands on the weekend. When searching for a pair of slide sandals, stick with neutral colors or black as you’ll get more use out of them.
Loafers | Loafers are a great alternative to wearing heels in the office. They look super chic with dresses, skirts, and work slacks. Plus, your feet won’t be throbbing by the end of the day!
Platform Sandals | For those who weren’t vertically blessed, heeled sandals are a godsend as they can give you a little extra height. If you’re not super comfortable walking in any shoe other than sneakers, try to find a pair that have a platform or wedge heel instead of a stiletto heel.
Ankle Boots | A classic pair of black or brown booties should be one of your top priorities when building your capsule wardrobe. These pair perfectly with mom jeans and black skinny jeans, and are good to go all year round.
We hope that these ideas were helpful for building your own year round capsule wardrobe! If you’re looking for more fashion ideas, check out the posts below!