If there’s one thing that 2023 has shown us, it’s that elevated basics are having as much of a moment as trendy pieces are. After photos of Sofia Richie and Gwyneth Paltrow in label-free, basic ensembles had quiet luxury trending this summer, it felt like the fashion sphere took a collective step back from the cycle of having the latest and greatest trends, and started focusing on adding timeless investment pieces to their closets instead.
For those of us already subscribed to the concept of a capsule wardrobe, this was music to our ears. But if you’re toying with the idea of starting your own capsule wardrobe—a closet full of high-quality, timeless items that can be mixed and matched with one another seamlessly—you might be wondering where to start.
Whether you’re starting your capsule wardrobe from scratch or just want to make your already existing one more functional, this 10-item checklist will make figuring out which gaps you need to fill in your closet easy. Our editors also spilled their most tried-and-true versions of each, so you can live out your capsule wardrobe dreams without needing to figure out which items are actually worth spending your coin on.
Here’s a little secret: You don’t need to spend a ton of money on a white T-shirt. Tees get a lot of wear and tear—don’t let anyone convince you armpit stains are avoidable, they aren’t—and aren’t something that tend to last an insanely long amount of time. That said, you still want one that fits you really, really well. Instead of just buying one, I recommend finding one you love and buying a couple so you have backups in case one gets a stain on it (or is in the laundry). These options are great for wearing alone and layering alike.
In a world of ever-evolving denim trends—skinny, baggy, low-rise, cargo—a constant, flattering option is a good straight-leg pair. One that’s not too skinny (but not too baggy, either), full-length, and unripped will quite literally never go out of style, and will inevitably serve as your most-worn base to the majority of your outfits. Take the time to find a pair that you actually like putting on, and that you don’t mind sitting around all day in. Take into account that if a pair has a cotton makeup, they’ll likely take a few wears to mold to your body, but once they do, it’ll be well worth your time.
Regardless of if you work from home or for an office, a fact of womanhood is you need to own at least one giant bag that you can fit everything from your laptop to a change of clothes in. A great quality tote that can withstand wear and tear will cost you far less in the long-run than needing to replace a lesser quality one constantly. If you took a peek around our office, you’d see each one of these totes, all of which are worn and loved by our editors (and have taken and survived many, many commutes).
While 10 years ago, a blazer would have been on a list of workwear must-haves, they’ve evolved into something a whole lot more versatile than that. With more oversized fits and less business-casual vibes, a good blazer can take you from the office to the weekend with a change of pants and accessories. Whether you want to go classic with a black option or opt for one in a more statement-making shade, your cost-per-wear will be down to mere pennies after a few months of owning these.
If you live somewhere where the temperature drops beneath 60 degrees, a wool coat should be at the top of your capsule must-haves. Not only will a good one keep you warm, but it’ll make everything—even a sweat set—look effortlessly chic. They’re a staple that will truly never go out of style.
For the times you’re running out the door with just the essentials—your phone, wallet, a lipstick or two—a tiny, going-out bag is a must. You want yours to check a few boxes: it should add to your outfits (not detract from them), be a reasonable size so you can fit a few things in it, and be versatile enough to wear all year round.
Even if you consider yourself to be someone who isn’t a sneaker girl, certain events in life just call for them: running to the grocery store, you morning hot-girl walk, grabbing a morning coffee. If you are a sneaker girl, the limit to how many you can own simply doesn’t exist (or so I tell myself as I add my literal 20th pair to cart). These are elevated enough to dress up for going out, but casual enough to wear on athleisure days—and will never leave you with a blister or beat-up heel.
If you’re a heel person, hats off to you, because I simply cannot relate. But I know that even as a person who absolutely hates wearing heels—I only wear mine a few times a year—I still need a good pair in my closet that I can turn to when a special event rolls around. Choosing a neutral pair that can work with anything from holiday parties to weddings is ideal, but even more important is that they’re comfortable. Our editors swear by these four pairs for their comfort and walkability.
You might think a cashmere sweater is a luxury you can’t afford, but over the past few years, brands have made it more accessible to buy one without shelling out half your paycheck. In the cooler months you probably wear sweaters more days than not, which means you want yours to be ultra-soft and to last you years to come.
I never thought I’d see the day where I reach for a pair of trousers as often as I do my beloved denim, but the last two years have absolutely proven me wrong. Relaxed, wide-leg trousers have proven to be one of the most versatile pieces in my wardrobe, as I make mine work for the office as often as I do my weekend plans.