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Ask Allie: Capsule Wardrobes

By Wardrobeoxygen @wardrobe_oxygen
I keep reading that I should have a capsule wardrobe, but I don’t really know what that is. How do I make a capsule wardrobe for me, I work in a business casual office and am a mom to two boys ages 6 and 8. Thank you.
Your recent post really resonated with me; I find I purchase too many things and then am at a loss as to how to make outfits. While I love the idea of a uniform, I am not one to wear all neutrals and I like adopting current fashion trends. Is it possible to have a pared-down closet and be trendy?
I need to build my wardrobe, starting from scratch. I have read through many of your posts but am still unsure where to start. What are the minimum items I need to buy to get started?? Could you suggest about 10-15 items I need to get started?
I want to look professional but still youthful , however, most of my closet consists of plain t-shirts, cardigans, and dresses. I only have one pair of dress pants and one suit. Anyways, I'm basically just asking what type of outfits I can pull together? What type of clothing should I be on the look out to add to my closet?

I love that you are thinking about smaller, quality wardrobes. A smaller wardrobe is surprisingly easier to work with than one that overwhelms you with options. When you shop smart, a few pieces can go a long way in creating many outfits for a variety of situations. My wardrobe staples list is a good starter guide for multi-use classic pieces, but below I made two sample wardrobes for two different women’s personal styles and lifestyles to show how a few pieces can be extremely versatile, and don’t all have to be black and gray.
Ask Allie: Capsule Wardrobes[via]The first capsule wardrobe is for a woman who occasionally needs to dress up for work or events, but has a more casual lifestyle and office environment. The pieces used are ones that will travel well – ponte pants, dress, and blazer, refined knits, machine washable garments. A bag large enough to be a plane carry-on, or to stow sippy cups and Goldfish crackers for a trip to the playground with your kids. While the base is black, there are warm pops of colors to keep it from being dreary.
Weekend or Casual Looks
  1. Jeans, striped tee, flats, pashmina
  2. Jeans, chambray shirt, boots
  3. Jeans, chambray shirt, sweater over it, flats
  4. Jeans, sweater, pashmina, boots
  5. Jeans, striped tee, cardigan, flats
  6. Jeans, blazer, tee already in your closet, flats
  7. Skirt, chambray shirt, tights, boots

Business Casual Work Looks
  1. Black pants, striped tee, blazer, flats
  2. Black pants, sweater, orange belt, boots
  3. Black pants, striped tee, cardigan, flats
  4. Black pants, cardigan, tee in your wardrobe, boots, statement necklace
  5. Black pants, blazer, tee in your wardrobe, boots, pashmina
  6. Shift dress, tights, boots
  7. Shift dress, leopard belt, pumps
  8. Shift dress, cardigan, flats 
  9. Shift dress, blazer, leopard belt, pumps 
  10. Shift dress, pumps, statement necklace 
  11. Skirt, sweater, flats 
  12. Skirt, sweater, tights, boots 
  13. Skirt, striped tee, cardigan, pumps 
  14. Skirt, blazer, simple tank or tee in your current wardrobe, pumps 
  15. Skirt, cardigan, leopard belt, tee you already own, boots

Ask Allie: Capsule Wardrobes[via] The second capsule wardrobe is for the woman who has a professional position in a creative field, loves to incorporate current trends, and possibly has an active social life or does a lot of business entertaining. The collection is primarily neutrals, with pops of color to add interest. While the pieces are pretty classic, they have a modern edge to keep the wearer looking on-trend and contemporary without being a fashion victim.
Casual Looks:
  1. Jeans, turtleneck, boots
  2. Jeans, sweater, scarf, flats
  3. Jeans, white shirt, sweater, booties
  4. Jeans, tee shirt already owned, blazer, booties
  5. Jeans, tee shirt already owned, jacket, boots, scarf
  6. Jeans, white shirt, necklace, flats
  7. Jeans, turtleneck, jacket, booties
Work or Night Out Looks:
  1. Pants, turtleneck, belt, booties
  2. Pants, white shirt, belt, necklace, flats
  3. Pants, sweater, scarf, booties
  4. Pants, turtleneck, blazer, booties
  5. Pants, turtleneck, jacket, booties
  6. Pants, tee shirt already owned, blazer, booties 
  7. Skirt, turtleneck, tights, boots 
  8. Skirt, sweater, necklace, booties 
  9. Skirt, white shirt, boots 
  10. Skirt, turtleneck, jacket, tights, booties 
  11. Skirt, blazer, tee shirt already owned, boots 
  12. Dress, white shirt underneath, tights, booties 
  13. Dress, blazer, boots 
  14. Dress, turtleneck underneath, tights, boots 
  15. Dress, scarf, boots

These capsule wardrobes are simply examples - such wardrobes can be created for any lifestyle or personal style. The key is to have neutral basics and a single color story - all jewel tones or all warm shades or some combination of colors that place nice together and with your neutral shades. That accessories can completely transform a look - cinch a shift or sweater, fill a low neckline for the office, dress up or down a pair of wide-leg trousers.  Choosing classic basics and just one or two trendy pieces is kinder to your wallet, and provides more versatility.
Capsule wardrobes require the owner to be careful in her purchases - quality fabrics and construction, textiles that complement other textiles, and understanding that each piece may have to be professionally tailored to get a custom fit that makes any pricepoint look more luxe.  A small wardrobe means attention to detail, and caring about your clothing.  This is not the type of wardrobe that you throw on the bedroom floor at the end of the day or ignore the laundry instructions on the garment tag.  However, with care this is the type of wardrobe that can give you years of wear and take you through most any situation with style!
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