Fashion: the classic capsule wardrobe

Capsule wardrobe concept. Clothes, laptop and color palette on wooden desk.Fashion writer Emma introduces us to the capsule wardrobe.

The term ‘capsule wardrobe’ was first coined by fashion boutique owner Susie Faux in the 1970s.

Consisting of transitional pieces that see you through the seasons, a capsule wardrobe is at the heart of a well-stocked closet.

The rules

  1. Choose a neutral colour scheme of beige, navy, black, white or grey that is going to work well with the rest of your wardrobe.
  2. Invest well and invest wisely. Buy quality items that will repay you with years of wearability. Now is not the time to sift through the bargain bin – save that for your seasonal spends.
  3. If they ever snag or stain, hand your clothes over to the professionals to mend and clean – they will soon look like new again.
  4. Ensure that your clothes fit you perfectly; this will make all the difference to the end result. Too big looks slouchy, like you can’t really be bothered, too small and you risk looking larger than you actually are.

If you don’t feel confident about choosing for yourself, it’s a great idea to opt for a Personal Stylist. Most department stores offer wardrobe stylists free of charge, or you can book a professional, independent stylist who will spend the day helping you with your wardrobe dilemmas. Book in advance of your shopping day to ensure availability.

Whether you are in your 30s, 40s or 50s plus, this capsule wardrobe will never let you down.

The essentials

Meryl Streep & Ralph Lauren White Shirt

Meryl Streep & Ralph Lauren White Shirt

The white shirt

The white shirt is the perennial wardrobe staple that can be worn in an infinite number of ways.

Wear with a blazer and jeans for the ultimate smart-casual look, under a sleeveless suit dress for office chic in the colder months, layered with a thin sweater for the ‘preppy’ you, or simply on its own with a pair of black trousers à la Pulp Fiction’s Mia Wallace.

 

The LBD (little black dress)

Audrey Hepburn &amp Coast Little Black Dress

Audrey Hepburn & Coast Little Black Dress

Whether you love wearing dresses or prefer the comfort and style of trousers, the undeniable truth is that every woman needs an LBD in her closet.

What’s more, this is one item of your wardrobe where you should take your time in getting it right. If your closet space or amount of pennies in the purse is limited, you need to ensure your LBD works hard for you and, much like Mary Poppins, is practically perfect in every way.

That means: a dress for all seasons that flatters you from every angle, takes you effortlessly from day to night and looks just as fabulous with flats as it does with heels. That’s an awful lot to ask of just one dress. For inspiration, look no further than Audrey Hepburn, who did more for the little black dress than Givenchy or Chanel could ever have prayed for.

 

Angelina Jolie & Reiss Black Trousers

Angelina Jolie & Reiss Black Trousers

The tailored trousers

Audrey Hepburn wore cigarette pants, Katherine Hepburn wore wide-leg palazzo pants – both looked equally elegant, graceful and superbly stylish.

Whichever style of tailored trousers you opt for, ensure they are cut well and flatter your figure to perfection.

 

Dita Von Teese & Karen Millen Pencil Skirt

Dita Von Teese & Karen Millen Pencil Skirt

The pencil skirt

The pencil skirt is office and evening attire gold. It is smart, sophisticated and ultra feminine.

Wear with a crisp white shirt, pretty blouse, camisole-under-blazer or a thin sweater for a never-ending array of elegant looks.

 

Diane Keaton & Ted Baker Jeans

Diane Keaton & Ted Baker Jeans

The well-fitted pair of jeans

Although jeans have a reputation for being every woman’s favourite item of clothing, they are actually quite the minefield.

There are so many styles and variations to choose from that it can be daunting not to mention tear-inducing trying to find a pair that fits you well.

As a rule, a bootcut flatters the most, but again, it is worth taking your time to find a pair that you feel comfortable in and that you can wear just as well on casual days as you can dressed up.

Sarah Jessica Parker & Baukjen Blazer

Sarah Jessica Parker & Baukjen Blazer

The blazer

Ideally in black or navy, the blazer instantly adds a new dimension to your outfit.

Not just a classic pairing with jeans, try also with pretty dresses for a contrasting look.

 

 

Felicity Kendal & Marks & Spencer T-Shirt

Felicity Kendal & Marks & Spencer T-Shirt

 

The t-shirt or camisole

Wear the simple T-shirt or camisole with jeans, under a blazer, tucked into a pencil skirt or as a layer piece with knitwear on chillier days.

 

 

 

Jane Seymour & Pure Collection Sweater

Jane Seymour & Pure Collection Sweater

The simple sweater

A thin, close-fitting (but not too tight) sweater is handy to pull out of the closet on cooler days and pairs well with almost everything from the pencil skirt to a pair of jeans.

Layer with T-shirts and camisoles to create different styles.

 

 

Gwyneth Paltrow & LK Bennett Trench Coat

Gwyneth Paltrow & LK Bennett Trench Coat

The trench coat

Synonymous with the name Burberry, the trench coat is a classic piece of outerwear that you will wear a thousand times over throughout the seasons.

 

 

 

Jennifer Aniston & Cath Kidston Sundress

Jennifer Aniston & Cath Kidston Sundress

The sundress

Your sundress should be figure-flattering yet easy to wear. Avoid showing too much flesh by ensuring you would be as comfortable arriving at the school gates wearing it as you would be strolling along the promenade on a warm summer’s day.

Team with flat sandals, ballet pumps, wedges or even Converse for understated chic.

The high heels

Christian Louboutin Shoes & LK Bennett Shoes

Christian Louboutin Shoes & LK Bennett Shoes

Every woman deserves a pair of striking high heels that make her feel utterly fabulous. It is incredible just what a single pair of shoes can do for your confidence in the split second that it takes to slip them on.

Today, there is no designer more celebrated than of Christian Louboutin and those breathtaking red-soled heels. However, high street stores such as LK Bennett also produce excellent classically-styled heels.

 

French Sole Classic Pumps

French Sole Classic Pumps

The ballet pumps

A favourite with the late Princess Diana and many other celebrities, French Sole are the epitome of beauty in ballet pumps, and are comfortable yet hardwearing too.

With so many brands launching their own version of this classic shoe, it’s tempting to buy the less expensive versions. If you’re looking for quantity, that’s fine. But for the pair that you need to look fabulous in on any given day of the week, quality should reign supreme.

Claudia Schiffer & Jones Bootmaker Boots

Claudia Schiffer & Jones Bootmaker Boots

The long boots

‘These boots were made for walking…’ and that is just what they should do. Make sure your long boots are comfortable and stylish, with a heel that allows you to walk all day in them. Team with jeans, trousers and skirts in the cooler months.

 

 

 

Aspinals of London Hepburn Tote & Anya Hindmarch Carker Tote

Aspinals of London Hepburn Tote & Anya Hindmarch Carker Tote

The tote bag

This may well be one of the most expensive wardrobe items that you ever purchase. So for that reason alone, make sure you fall head-over-heels in love with your constant companion.

 

Nine West Clutch Bag

Nine West Clutch Bag

The clutch bag

Think evening dinner dates, girls nights out and daytime wedding engagements.

 

 

 

Kylie Minogue & French Connection Silk Scarf

Kylie Minogue & French Connection Silk Scarf

The silk scarf

The silk scarf is another hardworking member of your capsule wardrobe. Choose one that compliments your tone of skin and hair colour and fashion over the head on a bad hair day, as a neck scarf or even a belt – the possibilities are endless!

 

The sunglasses

Jackie Kennedy-Onassis & Tiffany & Co Sunglasses

Jackie Kennedy-Onassis & Tiffany & Co Sunglasses

Again, another item where it pays to get it right. Our faces are as unique as our bodies and what looks good on one person can look terrible on another.

The size of the forehead, nose and chin determine what shape and style suit us. It’s always best to visit a store where trained professionals can determine your face shape and which style will flatter you most.

Emma Louise Jackson

About Emma Louise Jackson

I’m a mother, wife, daughter, sister, auntie and friend. I have an eternal love for clothes and I truly believe that they can change how a person feels about their self. The right wardrobe is much like Cinderella's fairy godmother in that it can enable a person to transform from feeling down and invisible to feeling confident, comfortable, classy and much, much more. If you don't feel good about how you look, you definitely won't feel good about other aspects of your life either. Never underestimate the power of dressing well. My own personal style is what I like to call Modern Vintage. I love how ladies of a bygone era knew how to dress for any occasion, whatever their shape, size or age. There is more information and television shows based around fashion than ever before, yet in some ways, the art of dressing well has been lost on many. We almost have too much choice and advice that it's become an information overload. I'm here to help solve the fashion dilemmas for the woman who wasn't born yesterday and I implore you to get in touch and let me know what wardrobe problems you face and what you would like to see discussed in future articles. I am absolutely thrilled to be joining the totally4women team and cannot wait to engage with the wonderful, intelligent audience of this fabulous site.