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Your Basic Capsule Wardrobe Checklist: What You Need to Get Started

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Every woman wants a wardrobe that expresses her personal style and boosts her confidence. But like many women, you might feel frustrated, not knowing where to start. When looking into your closet – whether it’s overflowing with pieces that no longer excite you or it’s barer than you’d hope for – it can feel overwhelming and you might wonder, What pieces are most important to buy first? How do I find items that really showcase who I am and make me feel empowered to take on the day?

I have answers to those questions and more! To start, I recommend building a basic capsule wardrobe, which is a collection of core pieces that mix-and-match with ease and open up a wide range of possibilities from casual to professional to classic and beyond. (To learn more about what a capsule wardrobe is and why it’s beneficial for everyone to build one, read my post, What is a Capsule Wardrobe? here.)

Capsule wardrobes can take on any theme to fit any profession, lifestyle, or set of passions and interests. For example, an entrepreneur working from home might need a wardrobe focused on keeping things fresh for a schedule full of Zoom meetings (aka a waistup wardrobe!), while a 4th-grade teacher, a stay-at-home mom, or someone who works out every day of the week would need entirely different pieces to get them through their days with comfort, style, and flexibility. For this post, we’re focusing on building a basic capsule wardrobe, which includes essential basics for anyone, regardless of their profession or daily routine.

When you’re ready to begin building, whether you want to work directly with a stylist like me, or perhaps take a more DIY approach, this post outlines what to do to get started on your journey toward unleashing your personal style. I’ve worked with many clients just like you, who are ready but uncertain, and who have a lot of questions. As you read through this post, you’ll find answers to some of the frequently asked questions I get from clients. I hope the answers help you, too, and never hesitate to reach out if additional questions arise!

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Looking to create your very own capsule wardrobe? Here's where to start.

How to Get Started on Your Own Basic Capsule Wardrobe

A basic capsule wardrobe consists of essential items that can mix and match to create a defined, but still comprehensive, selection of clothing and accessories to suit whatever your days have in store. These core pieces will help you feel more confident, ready for anything your day brings, and will give you the most bang for your buck. When you think about it, they’re the gifts to yourself that keep on giving, because you can wear them in several different ways, tweaking them to diversify the range of your style.

If you’re looking to get your capsule wardrobe started, I recommend focusing on one item at a time, including the following:

Choose an always-versatile Little Black Dress.
Here’s something every woman needs! It’s versatile, stylish, and classic all in one. An “LBD” can be worn in so many different ways that in many cases, it becomes the most versatile item in your capsule wardrobe!

This LBD from Zara is not only great for your wardrobe but for the environment too. It’s made of cotton grown using natural fertilizers and pesticides and used no genetically modified seeds.

For more on the many ways to wear your LBD, check out my video, 10 Ways to Wear a Little Black Dress!

jade. top ten ways to wear your little black dress
A capsule wardrobe is made up of the right pieces curated just for you.

Also, just a note: if you’re not a fan of the color black, think Little Navy Dress or Little Brown Dress. No matter your color preference, you can still utilize a solid-colored dress in a multitude of fun, practical, and exciting ways.

Find a dependable, basic white or black tee.

One or more solid-colored t-shirts are an important base for any basic capsule wardrobe. They can be dressed up with layers or can be the dependable, comfortable tops you need when you’re in the mood to throw something on with your jeans and an accessory to start your day.

This lightweight, soft, short sleeve V-neck t-shirt from Etcetera is made of soft Peruvian combed Pima cotton with a hint of stretch. It’s all set and ready to be the foundation of your next outfit. 

One or more solid-colored t-shirts are an important base for any capsule wardrobe.

Get yourself a jacket (or two).
Jackets add style, layering, and an ability to transform an outfit into something more elevated or casual, depending on your plans for the day. For example, something like a blazer can dress up your LBD for work, while a leather jacket can take that same LBD and spruce it up for a fun night out! And either could be worn with those new great-fitting jeans and a t-shirt to elevate your look for the day.

Wrangler knows denim. This jacket is made from a soft cotton blend, designed to flex in normally restricted areas for all-day comfort.

Don’t forget a dressy blouse.
A blouse can elevate an outfit in an instant. And most are comfortable, too! Find a dressy blouse you like, no matter the color. Invest in one that has a good weight and that feels luxurious to you. This top can be used for work, nights out, special events, or just on days where you want to spice up your look for any reason at all!

I love this Sheln Women’s Puff Sleeve Blouse because it’s not only beautiful and affordable, but it’s so versatile. It easily transitions from work to home, out shopping to a restaurant, and the list goes on.

Choose a pair of great-fitting jeans
Here’s a universal truth: there’s nothing quite like a pair of great-fitting jeans. You can dress them up with your leather jacket and flats, or dress them down with a shirt and sneakers. Taking the time to find the right pair for your body is a worthwhile pursuit, because when you feel good in a pair of jeans, the world is yours to take!
These stylish, full-length jeans from Etcetera are made from fine Italian denim and feature a comfortable stretch engineered into the colorfast polyester yarn. 

These full-length jeans in fine Italian denim feature a comfortable stretch engineered into the colorfast polyester yarn.

Add in a black pencil skirt.
Every woman needs the perfect pencil skirt! And regardless of rumors, you don’t need to be a size 2 to wear one. You just need the right one. This skirt will help widen the scope of your capsule wardrobe by acting as another upscale option to pair with your jacket, accessories, blouse, and more.

This form-fitting and flattering pencil skirt is perfect for a night out, a day at the office, and so much more! Remember, this is a capsule wardrobe basic, so you’ll want to dress it up or dress it down according to the occasion.

Prioritize basic capsule wardrobe shoes.
A versatile black ballet flat can go a long way. They’re professional if you need comfort and class on a workday, or they can slightly elevate a casual look, no matter what you’re up to.

These soft suede ballet flats are adored for their comfort and elegance. This pair boasts premium high-grade leather sock lining and an extra-durable, supple suede midsole for superior flexibility and softness with every step.

Sprinkle in some accessories.
This is where you can add elements that really show off your personal style! Add some color to your basic capsule wardrobe with a beautiful scarf, a fancy statement necklace that you love, or those earrings you’ve been eyeballing for weeks (or longer). You can start with just one accessory to make the process of building your wardrobe more manageable, and you can add to your collection as time goes on.

Find beautiful accessories for your capsule wardrobe on my featured page.

Your basic capsule wardrobe checklist is the perfect place to begin building your capsule wardrobe.

Frequently Asked Questions About Creating A Capsule Wardrobe

While this article has primarily covered how to create a basic capsule wardrobe, I believe every woman should have at least one customized capsule wardrobe that suits her profession and lifestyle and elevates her spirit. I absolutely love building these for my clients! Here are some of the most frequently asked questions I get about capsule wardrobes.

Will a capsule wardrobe actually make my life easier?

A capsule wardrobe is easy, effortless, chic, curated, well thought out, and aligned with your line of work, lifestyle, and personal brand. It makes your life easier because you’ll have the right pieces in place. You’ll have around 10 or more items and everything in your collection will match with everything else. Your downsized wardrobe will offer a convenient, stylish, and upscaled selection for your daily life, helping you save time and energy. You won’t have to worry about what to wear because it’ll start happening organically as your wardrobe develops. No more stressing when you go to your closet every morning!

Who needs a capsule wardrobe? 

Every day is a special occasion to use your best clothes. A capsule wardrobe will help you do that.

Everyone, no matter their careers or daily routines, can use a basic capsule wardrobe! Basic capsule wardrobes help anyone build a dependable, comfortable, and stylish collection to suit their daily lives.

When it comes to careers, people in various professions can use additional capsule wardrobes to fit their unique workplace needs. For example, beyond a basic capsule wardrobe, if you’re a teacher, you might want to build a professional capsule wardrobe to suit the classroom. And the wardrobe of a teacher will be different than an attorney or CEO, and the list goes on.

What if I’m a stay-at-home mom? Do I really need a capsule wardrobe?

Yes! I love building capsule wardrobes for stay-at-home moms. 

It’s rewarding because, as one of my professional philosophies, I believe that getting dressed up and feeling put-together instantly elevates our emotional vibration. Stay-at-home moms need this! In particular, stay-at-home moms often spend their days with their children, doing one of the most essential jobs in the world: raising human beings. But this can feel lonely and bring emotions down, so getting up in the morning and getting dressed using a capsule wardrobe is an act of self-care that can help elevate these emotions while not wasting your precious time! 

Whether you style your capsule wardrobe yourself or you choose to have a stylist, like me, assist you (yes, I work with clients remotely!), creating a closet of timeless pieces is worth every penny.