January 30, 2023

Not so long ago, the fashion world was buzzing about the concept of a capsule wardrobe—the kind of compact closet that only held the minimum number of pieces that matched each other with great ease and that allowed for much time saved in the mornings. Perhaps because the economic downturn hit at the same time that a furious decade of fast fashion was taking a toll on our closets, the capsule wardrobe appeared to be the solution to everyone’s fashion woes.

Around that time in 2014, Caroline Rector, a Texan and fashion lover who’d had enough of the chaos, began to whittle down her closet to a mere 37 pieces, documenting the process on her brilliant website, Unfancy. And everyone paid attention to her method.

How to build a capsule wardrobe

“I work from home, so I spend 70% to 80% of my time at home. But something in me decides that’s not cool enough, so sometimes, I trick myself into thinking that I spend 40% of my time at home. Since I’m not being honest with myself, I end up with fantasy-life clothes instead of real-life clothes.”

Ready to get your capsule collection together? Go through the gallery below to see the kind of classic pieces that will hold anyone’s closet together, and read more of Rector’s wise wardrobe advice on her site.

Shop a Capsule Wardrobe

1. A Forever Biker Jacket

H&M Boxy Leather Jacket
H&M
Boxy Leather Jacket
£230

Wear this with everything you own.

Karen Millen Curve Leather Signature Biker Jacket
Karen Millen
Curve Leather Signature Biker Jacket
£284

The cropped length of this jacket will look great with high-waist trousers and skirts. 

2. Tailored Trousers

Reiss White Luna Regular Premium Suit Wide Leg Trousers
Reiss
White Luna Regular Premium Suit Wide Leg Trousers
£198

I love this entire ensemble. 

River Island Plus Beige Wide Leg Pleated Trousers
River Island
Plus Beige Wide Leg Pleated Trousers
£40

These will go with so much in your wardrobe. 

3. An Easy Sweatshirt

Pangaia Recycled Cashmere Crewneck Sweatshirt in Camel
Pangaia
Recycled Cashmere Crewneck Sweatshirt in Camel
£240

A chic but cool option. 

Gap Vintage Soft Crewneck Sweatshirt
Gap
Vintage Soft Crewneck Sweatshirt
£40

Ideal for wearing with jeans. 

4. A Smart Skirt

Totême Stretch-Crepe Midi Skirt
Totême
Stretch-Crepe Midi Skirt
£243
£109

Try one of these skirts to polish up your outfit. 

Gabriela Hearst Rado Skirt
Gabriela Hearst
Rado Skirt
£1690

This skirt will look so chic with camel knitwear. 

5. A Laid-Back Jumper

Allude Striped Wool and Cashmere-Blend Jumper
Allude
Striped Wool and Cashmere-Blend Jumper
£290

Your off-duty wardrobe needs this.

& Other Stories Mock Neck Sweater
& Other Stories
Mock Neck Sweater
£35

Isn’t this colour just beautiful? 

6. Black Ankle Boots

Mango Heel Leather Ankle Boot
Mango
Heel Leather Ankle Boot
£120

There’s nothing more versatile than a pair of black ankle boots.

Bottega Veneta Glossed-Leather Ankle Boots
Bottega Veneta
Glossed-Leather Ankle Boots
£940

These boots really stood out on the Bottega Veneta runway. 

7. Relaxed True-Blue Jeans

COS Straight-Leg Full-Length Jeans
COS
Straight-Leg Full-Length Jeans
£59

These look authentically ‘90s. 

H&M Loose Straight High Jeans
H&M
Loose Straight High Jeans
£18

If you don’t own a pair of relaxed jeans, try these easy-to-wear versions. 

8. A Versatile Scarf

Totême Silk-Blend Scarf
Totême
Silk-Blend Scarf
£160

Tie it around your neck for an oversized-choker look, or use it to tie back your hair. 

Gucci Horsebit Silk-Twill Scarf
Gucci
Horsebit Silk-Twill Scarf
£345

Such gorgeous colours. 

9. A White Blouse

Arket Oversized Poplin Shirt
Arket
Oversized Poplin Shirt
£59

You will wear this forever. 

H&M Oversized White Shirt
H&M
Oversized White Shirt
£15

A frugal option. 

10. Fancy Flat Shoes

Manolo Blahnik Ballerimu Flat Shoes
Manolo Blahnik
Ballerimu Flat Shoes
£535

Worth the investment.

Marks & Spencer Leather Ballet Pumps
Marks & Spencer
Leather Ballet Pumps
£35

These are comfortable, too. 

11. A Chic Wear-Everywhere Dress

COS Slim-Fit Scuba Dress
COS
Slim-Fit Scuba Dress
£59

The dress to wear when you’ve got “nothing to wear.”

& Other Stories Puff Sleeve Maxi Dress
& Other Stories
Puff Sleeve Maxi Dress
£95

Puff sleeves are still key for spring. 

12. A Posh Carryall Bag

Arket Rigid Leather Tote
Arket
Rigid Leather Tote
£235

A great classic.

Prada Cleo Leather Handbag
Prada
Cleo Leather Handbag
£1800

The bag every editor wants. 

13. A Smart, Slick Coat 

COS Belted Wrap Coat
COS
Belted Wrap Coat
£190

You’ll wear this over and over.

& Other Stories Relaxed Alpaca Blend Coat
& Other Stories
Relaxed Alpaca Blend Coat
£175

Navy makes for a chic alternative to black. 

14. Midsized Heels

LK Bennett Floret Suede Heels
LK Bennett
Floret Suede Heels
£229

These are just high enough to be flattering, but they’re not so high that you’ll start falling over your feet.

Reiss Leather Court Shoes
Reiss
Leather Court Shoes
£175

The contrast sole feels very chic. 

15. A Traditional Trouser Suit

Arket Oversized Wool Hopsack Blazer
Arket
Oversized Wool Hopsack Blazer
£135

We’ll always reach for a chic suit. 

Arket Cropped Wool Blend Twill Trousers
Arket
Cropped Wool Blend Twill Trousers
£69

Such a flattering cut. 

16. A Plain Crossbody

Gucci GG Marmont Matelassé Mini Bag
Gucci
GG Marmont Matelassé Mini Bag
£1020

So versatile.

& Other Stories Curved Leather Crossbody Bag
& Other Stories
Curved Leather Crossbody Bag
£125

This bag looks so premium. 

17. A Basic Belt

Arket Leather Belt
Arket
Leather Belt
£55

We don’t know where we’d be without our classic cinching belt. 

& Other Stories Croco Leather Belt
& Other Stories
Croco Leather Belt
£35

If brown goes better with your palette. 

Next up, these are the biggest spring/summer 2022 fashion trends to know.

This story was published at an earlier date and has since been updated. 

Opening Image: @eniswardrobe