Steps to build a Capsule Wardrobe that stands the test of Time

Metropolis by Jo Duck for FashionTrend

Building an excellent capsule wardrobe takes time and patience. Looking at what you already have – and what you might be missing – is a good place to start.

Step 1:Cleaning out your closet.

The secret to cleaning out your closet is to completely empty your closet. I know, it sounds like a ton of work, but it works. Take absolutely everything out of your closet and lay it out on your bed.

Step 2: Sort each item into one of these four piles:

Love it and would wear it right now – It fits. It’s right for your lifestyle. You feel comfortable and confident wearing it. Put it back in your closet.

Maybe – This is for items that don’t fit quite right. The color might be a little off, or it has sentimental value, or you’re keeping it because you paid a lot for it but don’t wear it. Put all this stuff in a box and store it in the garage. You can always go get stuff out of it, but you probably won’t. If it’s still in the box at the end of your season, it’s time to say goodbye.

Nope – Self explanatory. Donate, swap with a friend, or sell it to fund new purchases.

Seasonal – Wool coat in summer? Probably don’t need it handy, but you’d never get rid of a staple like that. If it’s not in season, but you love it, put it in a nice under-the-bed box and store it. You’ll definitely use it when the appropriate season rolls around.

Step 3: Use the rule of 3.

Typically, when I start planning my wardrobe, I start with shoes since they make the biggest impact on an outfit. I like having about 9 pairs — for example, 3 pairs of flats, 3 pairs of heels, and 3 pairs of boots. For each of these sets, I include one classic pair, one fun statement pair, and one pair that falls between the two.

I like having 9 bottoms too – for example, 3 pairs of jeans, 3 pairs of shorts, and 3 skirts. Again, in these sets, I include a classic option, and statement piece, one option that falls between the two.

Then, I like having 15 tops. I bet you can guess where this is going. I’ll use the “Rule of Three” rule here too — for example: 3 sweaters, 3 tee shirts, 3 button up shirts, 3 tank tops, and 3 vests. All broken up into basics, statements, and in-betweens.

How do I start a capsule wardrobe?

This will vary according to what is already in your wardrobe, but a good starting point is working out what you actually wear. 

Our top tip? Turn all your coat hangers to face the same way, then every time you wear something, turn it around. By the end of the month, you’ll have a good sense of the wardrobe heroes that you can’t live without – be it a white shirt or straight leg jeans – as these are the pieces you should be basing your capsule around.

The White T-Shirt

“I’m forever looking for the perfect white T-shirt because I pretty much wear one every day,” remarks British Vogue’s global content lead and European deputy editor Sarah Harris. Follow her lead.

Hard-Working Jeans

Finding the perfect jeans is no mean feat, but great ones will last you a lifetime.

The Trench Coat

There’s a reason why trench coats have stood the test of time. Easy to throw on, they instantly pull a look together.

The slip dress

An effortless option for an evening soirée, slip dresses can be made work-appropriate with a snug knit.

An Oversized Blazer

When done right, louche tailoring can be exquisitely chic. Our tip? Ensure the oversized fit doesn’t swamp you.

The Maxi Skirt

Mini skirts were a key trend for spring/summer 2022, but maxi skirts will always be in style. Pair with autumn boots and a coat for winter, and sandals with a tucked-in T-shirt or tank top for summer.

The Biker Jacket 

Oversized and rugged or upgraded with minimal embellishments, the biker jacket was back in a big way on the spring/summer 2022 runways (not that we ever really stopped wearing ours).

A classic black dress

There are no words to describe that a perfect black simple dress saves the situation every single time. Choose yours wisely.

Tailored Trousers

Tailored trousers are not only a failsafe office essential but a capsule wardrobe necessity.

Trendy Trainers

Almost any outfit can be dressed down with a pair of trainers. New Balance 990s are the ultimate “Dad” trainer among the It-girls, while coveted Nike Dunks and Jordans will add pizazz.

The White Shirt

Never underestimate the quiet power of a white shirt. Be it clean and crisp poplin or breezy linen, there’s one for every situation.

Wide-Leg Trousers

Breeze your way through 2022 in a flowing pair of wide-leg trousers. If a hemline is too long, get it altered (or alter it yourself).

Classic black high heels

Either with jeans, trousers or dress black high heels is the ultimate feminine power.

Hoop Earrings

No jewellery box is complete without a great pair of hoops.

The Classic Belt 

Why are simple things so often the hardest to find? Once you’ve secured your favourite, don’t let it out of your sight. A classic leather belt with an elegant metal clasp will be one of the hardest working pieces in your capsule wardrobe.

The Do-It-All Bag

Tote bags are an accessory that you can trust. These roomy styles will fit anything and everything.


xoxo, love

Marelle team