How to: The Basic Capsule Wardrobe

capsule wardrobe

aAn essential element to a minimalist lifestyle (a beige life) is a small but effective wardrobe – a capsule wardrobe. Just think of the advantages:

  • Save time and abolish the morning panic because you will always know exactly what to wear.
  • Save money because you will, for the first time, feel like you have enough clothes.
  • Free up so much space in your home.
  • Your wardrobe will look like Pinterest porn.
  • Know exactly what to take on holidays, and pack in five minutes flat.

Here’s how.

Get a portable hanger and put it out in the middle of your living room. Go digging in your wardrobe and pull out one or two pieces which fit the below categories. Hang them on the rack – anything missing? Put it on the wish list. And the rest? Cull!


Stick with the basic of basics and steer away from frills, bright colours and prints – the more decorations something has, the less versatile it will be. I recommend button down shirts because they can be easily dressed up or down, and basic T-shirts in black, white or neutral colours. It’s always worth paying a little more for good quality natural fabrics. Mine are Equipment Signature silk shirt and T-shirts by Laura Ashley and T by Alexander Wang.

The Knit

Apart from their obvious practicality of keeping you warm,  knits are a magical item because they can be worn as is, under, or over, and look amazing every which way. One little jumper can go a very long way. I recommend a lightweight style that can be worn through multiple seasons. Mine is a classic breton striped jumper by Lilya.

The Jean

Having a perfectly fitting pair of jeans is worth 100 unflattering ones. Understand the style and cut that suits your body and style, and always try them on. Ignore trends. If you find a brand that makes the perfect fit for you, make it yours. Mine are J Brand Aidan distressed boyfriend jeans.

The Skirt

Look for a simple and cleanly tailored skirt that’s comfortable for everyday, like pleated, stretch or A-line styles. I would stay away from any restrictive styles that don’t pass the ‘sit down’ test. I love this fit and flare skirt by POL Clothing.


The Little Black Dress definitely lives up to its hype. The key is to pick one that’s a simple but flattering design that can be worn during the day with a pair of sneakers, and dressed up for special occasions. Mine is an occasion neutral silk mini dress from Decjuba.

The Jacket

A jacket can take your outfit to the next level. Perfect choices of versatile jackets for your capsule wardrobe include relaxed blazers, cashmere cardigans and light weight trenches. For me, though, it’s got to be the leather biker jacket – it will change your life. Mine is from the Alexander Wang x H&M collection.

capsule wardrobe-3

Styling your capsule wardrobe is as easy as pulling two or three pieces together. Here is just a small number of the many possible outfit combinations you can create with this 8 piece capsule wardrobe.

  1. The white T-shirt and jean combination is the classic of classics. This is the perfect Sunday market going outfit.
  2. Pair up a button down shirt and skirt for something a little bit refined for a smart casual function.
  3. A button down shirt and jeans, topped off with a leather jacket creates an off duty look with an edge.
  4. A sweater and skirt make a comfy-cozy outfit with a feminine spin.
  5. Layering the leather jacket over this simple T-shirt and skirt combination takes this outfit to the next level of put-together-ness.
  6. Get cost per wear mileage out of your LBD with clever layering for cooler days. Inject extra cool with Converse sneakers.

capsule wardrobe-outfits

JJust remember, this is only a basic capsule wardrobe. The aim of the exercise is to reacquaint yourself with your personal style, and to re-educate yourself on which pieces are essential and which are not only unnecessary, but clutter up your life. Once you are ready to expand, it’s simply a matter of injecting some fresh styles in the same categories. However, avoid venturing back into hoarder territory – only add pieces which can be paired with at least 50% of your current wardrobe.

To adapt your capsule wardrobe for the seasons, all you need to do is swap in key season specific pieces, like your denim shorts for summer and your thick camel coat for winter.

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  • KaiLe Chung
    24 March 2015 at 6:21 pm

    Love this post, it’s never redundant to explain and show the necessity of basic wardrobe pieces!

    • Jiawa Liu
      25 March 2015 at 10:13 am

      Thanks so much! I think everyone already knows all these things, but it’s just hard to put them into practice when you’ve got so many other things to think about.

  • Mandana
    24 March 2015 at 11:13 pm

    This blog post is perfect. I love basic pieces that I can use over and over and add exclusive items to mix it up x

    • Jiawa Liu
      25 March 2015 at 10:11 am

      Yes exactly! Once you have your basics worked out, it’s so easy to work in more exclusive items!

  • Ellen Faith
    25 March 2015 at 8:55 am

    While I love the idea of a capsule wardrobe, it’s just not practical for myself considering I work in retail and I need to wear what’s new. However, I’m in the process of building a foundation “capsule” wardrobe where I only need to buy more on trend pieces or items that I really love. It’s minimalist that suits me which I think is important to note that there are no “rules” per say and that it’s to how you want it to be 🙂


    • Jiawa Liu
      25 March 2015 at 10:11 am

      That’s so true! It’s like how us bloggers also have to always wear what’s new, so it’s also very hard for me to keep to a very small, consistent wardrobe. But it’s exactly as you said, it’s still possible, and probably essential, to have a foundation capsule wardrobe (maybe ‘foundation’ is a better word than ‘basic’!), which has your basics to mix and match with your new season pieces. I do find that it’s usually those current season pieces I end up selling or donating later on, and what I tend to keep are all my quality basics.

  • Giha
    29 March 2015 at 11:28 pm

    Great thips!
    I wish I could do it as simple =)


    • Jiawa Liu
      30 March 2015 at 9:05 am

      I’m so sure you can! I love your style 🙂

  • Tegan
    31 March 2015 at 10:30 am

    Perhaps one day I can be this organised!
    Tegan xx – Permanent Procrastination

    • Jiawa Liu
      2 April 2015 at 2:01 pm

      Haha for me it’s maintaining it that’s hard. It’s organised for maybe one day and then slowly it all unravels until I have to organise it all over again!

  • Amanda Renee
    7 July 2015 at 2:01 pm

    LOVE this post! I’ve been working on building a capsule wardrobe for awhile and am finally beginning to figure it out thanks to your posts. It’s especially helpful to see how you layer pieces. In my opinion, we’re rarely taught how to use a capsule wardrobe here in the States – hence the giant wardrobe/closet everyone seems to covet. Now, rather than buying myriad inexpensive pieces I’m focusing on purchasing good quality pieces that layer well and weeding out the rest. Getting ready in the morning has never been easier or more fun! 😀

    – Amanda Reneé at

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