Editing your wardrobe is essential to make your morning routine as smooth as possible and to eliminate any tricky decisions about what to wear. Building a capsule wardrobe around these ten trans-seasonal pieces will mean you are covered with a solution for every occasion. Choosing a tonal palette, where the colours of all the pieces work with everything else, is key.
These pieces can be tweaked to accommodate your personal style. Perhaps you’re just not a trouser person, so you should replace this piece. But the goal of this capsule wardrobe is to make a variety of outfits that all work together instantly and let your brain get on with other things. Disclaimer: you will need a few seasonal updates, such as a warm coat for winter, plus another sweater. When it gets warmer, bring in a light cotton bohemian summer dress plus of a couple of camisoles or vests. You can’t survive on ten pieces alone, despite what some style bloggers profess. However, for the majority of the year these are the items you will turn to again and again for the refreshing ease with which they go together, and they will all alleviate morning wardrobe rage. Guaranteed.
#1: The Biker Jacket
It’s the shortcut to ultimate cool. The leather Perfecto-style jacket is the last word in versatile outerwear. It will make a ball gown look modern and give your downtime outfits streetwise style. Recommend investing in a classic leather style — in navy, black, dark chocolate or khaki — and you’ll be covered for every eventuality.
#2: The Denim Dress
Layered over a T-shirt it looks relaxed at the weekend, and when sharpened up with a blazer, bold belt and a handbag that means business, it brings an unexpected edge to your working wardrobe. A-line silhouette that are easy to layer. Denim shirt dresses are particularly versatile, but steer clear of floor-sweeping maxi versions that can look a little too festival-ready, unless you are actually heading to Coachella.
#3: Good Jeans
Ignore whatever’s in fashion, whether it’s spray-on skinnies or the recent craze for cropped boot-cuts. Your perfect jeans should flatter you and fit your lifestyle. Choose a mid- to high-waisted style for longevity and pick a pair that finishes above the ankle, whether hemmed or when rolled. This will give the most versatility when you’re choosing your shoes and will let you work a heel, flat or trainer. Darker denim shades are always smarter and can take you through to evening with more dash than a snow-washed ripped pair. Paler washes always look more casual, even when they are pristine, and they are certainly more summery. Your perfect jeans can even do double duty as dressed-down workwear if you choose immaculately pressed indigo and team them with a blazer or reworked shirt.
#4: The Sweater
A sweater that you can throw over T-shirts is a layering must and, as knitwear goes, will always be more useful than a cardigan. A crew neck with full-length sleeves and ribbed cuffs and collar is the ultimate buy. Pick a colour that will lift your mood and go with every- other item in your wardrobe. Cobalt blue, rust or emerald green are shades that are one step away from being a neutral but give your look a little boost. Choose wisely and you can wear this piece with jeans at the weekend, at night with a statement skirt or to the office with tailored trousers.
#5 The Statement Skirt
This is the piece I rely on when I need to make an entrance or do the straight-out-from-work dash. It always feels special and considered but isn’t as flashy as a ‘going-out’ top or cocktail dress. Depending on your personal style, brocade midi or lace pencil will work best. Mixing something fancy like this skirt and something casual (try a T-shirt) is the ultimate in High—Low dressing (see here) and every stylist’s secret method for looking pulled together without trying too hard, which is also my personal style nightmare.
#6: Polished Pants
When I want to look chic, my black cigarette pants are the only answer. They work hard as a professional saviour with shirts and blazers, as well as looking elegant after dark with the sparkle of costume jewellery and a half-unbuttoned silk blouse. Choose a slim-fitting pair for the most long-lasting style. Wide legs will date faster than a fit that skims your body, and cuts that stop above the ankle are the ultimate in flattering silhouettes. This will also give you the freedom to choose any shoe shape instead of worrying about excess fabric draping on the floor, which is so not chic.
#7: The T-Shirt
Where would we be without the humble T-shirt? The classic t-shirt’s sheer versatility means it wins a place in our capsule wardrobe. Choose V-neck or crew, as suits your body shape, and pick a neutral colour. I particularly like wearing T-shirts under a blazer with jeans, or with a statement skirt as a surprising take on the evening wear dilemma (with a little extra sparkle from my jewellery box!).
#8: The All Day Dress
Once you’ve found the one, it will change your life. This is the dress that you can throw on without a thought at 6 a.m. before dashing out the door for a day of school runs, coffee runs and supermarket runs. With just a change of shoes and perhaps an earring swap, the right all-day dress will take you through cocktails, dinner and even dancing. This dress should almost be a blank canvas, as you will need it to be ultra-versatile. Some of my favourites include a khaki twill, cap-sleeve knee-length version from Zara with drawstring ties at the waist, and a black broderie anglaise shift.
#9: The Blazer
Far more effective than a cloak of invisibility, slipping on a perfectly tailored blazer will give you infinite power and polish. Taking a high-street jacket to have the sleeves nipped in is an affordable shortcut to demi-couture style. Double-breasted designs are having a moment, but a single-breasted blazer will be eternally chic. Find a style with slim, detailed lapels in satin or leather and mix with contrasting colour bottoms — never the same shade — or it will look like you’re wearing a split-up suit.
#10: The Dress Shirt
Crisp and clean, a dress shirt is the ultimate hardworking piece. Tucked into sharp cigarette pants and worn with point-toe stilettos, you mean business; pop the collar, add chandelier earrings and a ball skirt and you’ve got an individual way to do black tie. Designers have been creating clever ways to transform the classic button-down and give it extra edge. Your shirt should go with every item in this capsule wardrobe (even the dresses, if they are layerable) so while there are a huge array of belts, cut-outs and lengths to choose from, keep the styling relatively simple. I would always choose white to get the most mileage from this piece.