The Ultimate Capsule Wardrobe
August 7, 2006 11:51 AM   Subscribe

What items should I have in the ultimate capsule wardrobe?

I have a wardrobe full of clothes that I don't wear, that I don't like or don't fit. I want to give the whole lot to charity and start from scratch, with the smallest, most versatile, fashion proof wardrobe that I can get away with. What are the key must-have items that I should buy? Links to actual items (rather than just "black suit") would be great.

Additional info: I'm female, thirties, don't need to dress smart for work and live in UK.
posted by janecr to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (13 answers total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
fitted black shirt - old navy perfect fit
straight leg gap jeans
posted by pieoverdone at 12:02 PM on August 7, 2006

No Old Navy in the UK.
posted by k8t at 12:19 PM on August 7, 2006

The Lucky wardrobe guide is divided into categories by clothing type (skirts, shirts, outerwear, etc), and discusses essentials and extras based on climate, casual vs. smart, etc.
posted by scody at 1:00 PM on August 7, 2006

posted by The corpse in the library at 1:03 PM on August 7, 2006

I'm not sure what's available to you in your area, but I'm pretty sure you must have stores like The Gap or Eddie Bauer (or something very similar).

What I think are essentials include:
- A nice fitting pair of jeans that are not tapered and not distressed. This will allow you to dress them up or down.
- A nice fitting pair of black trousers that are comfortable and can be dressed up or down.
- A pair of wide leg or straight leg khaki pants of a sturdy twill/cotton fabric that you are comfortable in.
- A good quality sweater set consisting of a long-sleeved cardigan and a sleeveless shell in the same color, preferably black or camel. You will be able to wear these pieces separately or together.
- A long sleeved cardigan in your favorite color.
- A pullover v-neck or scoop neck sweater to layer.
- A camisole (or two) for layering in a neutral color.
- Three t-shirts, either v-neck, scoopneck, or crew neck - one in white, one in black, one in your favorite color.
- A couple of button-down shirts to wear alone or under a sweater or blazer.
- A very well fitting blazer in your favorite neutral color (I would choose black).
- An outfit to exercise in.
- A pair of pajamas.
- Plenty of underwear.
- A pair of basic black pumps.
- A pair of medium-heeled boots.
- A pair of good-looking sneakers.
posted by tastybrains at 2:21 PM on August 7, 2006 [3 favorites]

Don't forget a little black dress.
posted by ottereroticist at 2:27 PM on August 7, 2006

the size and body shape of an individual is so important to wardrobe choices as to make this question unanswerable.
posted by Megafly at 2:46 PM on August 7, 2006

Response by poster: UK size 14, 5' 3", pear shaped if that helps...
posted by janecr at 1:04 AM on August 8, 2006

I find a lot of things from Chico's look quite snazz, while being completely comfortable, and flattering for many shapes. They dress up and down; the v-neck top and flouncy top I'm wearing right now with jeans has also seen me to the symphony with a skirt. They're very interchangeable, too; like Grranimals for ladies. The "travelers" line is very excellent for smooshing up in a teensy bag with a scarf and jewelry and you still look nice on the other side of two weeks of travel.

With their more flexible sizing, if you're a US 14, you'd probably be a 2 or 3 with them.
posted by mimi at 7:35 AM on August 8, 2006

What do you wear now? What among your current wardrobe do you find yourself pulling out of the closet to wear? It's hard to answer this question unless we know whether you usually wear a suit and shirt and pumps, or jeans and t-shirt, or lace skirt with clever top, or...
posted by jaed at 12:47 PM on August 8, 2006

Is Real Simple available in the UK? The September issue just came out here in the states, with a feature that basically addresses this exact question.
posted by scody at 3:18 PM on August 17, 2006

Response by poster: No, I don't think it is. Anyone have it and know what it says?
posted by janecr at 5:30 AM on August 18, 2006

Best answer: Actually, I happen to have written down the entire list of items from that magazine article in my Moleskine as a checklist. And my Moleskine happens to be less than a foot from my keyboard right now. Must be fate.

Here's the list (with some of their comments in parens).

- Black tank top (White is too wife-beater-y)
- Crewneck sweater (In a neutral color)
- Jeans (It's worth it to buy good quality here)
- Long-sleeved white t-shirt (Cheap is better, you'll need to replace when it stains)
- Khakis
- Black turtleneck
- White button-down shirt
- Long sleeved black t-shirt
- Cardigan
- Short-sleeved white t-shirt (Again, cheap is fine here)
- Black pants
- Denim jacket (Dark and fitted will work better for casual and dressier times)
- Short-sleeved black t-shirt

- Printed dress
- Patterned fitted jacket
- Bold-patterned blouse
- Graphic sweater
- Tweed pants (Cream-colored can be fun or businessy)

THE STAPLES (Dressier basics)
- Wool skirt (Lined, with pockets is best)
- Black suit (It's worth it to buy good quality here) [My comment: get a 3-piece - jacket, pants and skirt]
- Pin-striped Oxford shirt
- Black dress
- Silk blouse (In a jewel tone)
- Gray trousers
- Fitted jacket (Neutral color)
- Camisole (Keep it simple, minimal lace/decoration)

EVENING (Dressy)
- Velvet jacket (Fitted)
- Ruffled shirt
- Cocktail skirt (Something you can pair with a fitted top and heels, think full and 50s-ish)
- Sparkly top
- Velvet pants (Not to create a velvet suit, though)
- Party dress (Something that you feel GORGEOUS in)

I'm not following the list to a T but it has made me consider article of clothing I never would have otherwise. Long-sleeved t-shirts are a welcome revelation now (Old Navy is your friend here, cheap and easily replaceable). Jackets, especially, are my new favorite article of clothing.
posted by nessahead at 1:18 PM on September 11, 2006 [8 favorites]

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