Written by: Lisa Patulny
With every new season comes the urge to get stuck into your wardrobe and clear out what’s no longer working. Pieces you’ve fallen out of love with are placed aside, ready to be donated or re-sold, and anything out of season is stored away. While finessing your closet is a great practice, it can result in regret. (What’s the opposite of buyer’s remorse? Reseller’s anguish?) If you’ve ever felt the sorrow that is reaching for a particular shoe only to suddenly remember you sold it online in a spring cleaning frenzy, you’ll know this to be true.
This is where the idea of a capsule wardrobe that’s built on classic style and timeless essentials comes into its own. When you’ve mostly invested in forever pieces in a colour palette that won’t date, your cost-per-wear skyrockets, and when you’re wearing these pieces on the regular, you won’t feel the urge to cycle them out of your closet. Basically, you’ll no longer be falling out of love with trendy buys that only last you a few seasons. (Worry you might get bored of what you’ve got? For ideas on how to style your wardrobe standbys, go here.)
So when you're curating your pile that bring you joy, aka your clothes to keep, make sure you include these timeless wardrobe essentials that make getting dressed in the mornings a whole lot simpler.
The high-rise straight-leg jeans
While it’s fun to try on different denim trends, you can’t go past a clean-cut style that fits perfectly. Look for crisp blue denim with light distressing, and you’ll have a pair that’ll take you anywhere. (Well, most places.) Darker denims can be made office-appropriate, and white and black jeans can sometimes sub in for a trouser.
The classic white t-shirt
Your keywords here are: well fitting and quality fabric. Whether you prefer a slim cut or a boxier fit, or a short or longer sleeve, choose a tee that works back with the rest of your closet. Fabrics like soft cotton and breezy linen elevate this simple style so that it works just as well with jeans as it does under a suit jacket.
The simple black tank
An unexpected wardrobe workhorse, the black tank works hard all twelve months of the year. It can hold its own tucked into chinos or a pleated skirt, but it’s also a versatile layering piece when worn underneath an unbuttoned shirt or blazer. Choose thinner straps and a knit or ribbed fabric for a little extra interest.
The perfect white button-up shirt
Crisp white shirting is never not in style. (Classic colours like black, neutrals and blue and white stripes will also never date.) If you’re after a shirt for work purposes, look for fabric that has some structure to it for instant polish. Linen is a beautiful choice for a more breezy feel – it’s the perfect fabrication for summer.
The wear-anywhere black blazer
There's no denying that a well-cut black blazer is a cornerstone of any minimalist wardrobe. The key to finding the right one for you is to think about fit. A classic cut with structured shoulders will dress up whatever you wear it with. A blazer with dropped shoulders does the same thing but retains a relaxed vibe.
The black trousers
Once you’ve found a pair of black pants you love, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without them. It’s never been easier to find a fit that suits you – from pleated and high-waisted to low-slung and linen. Wear with a tee, a shirt, a tank, a bandeau, anything. Buy them with a matching jacket, and you’ve got an instant suit, too.
The fail-safe black coat
Timeless outerwear does a lot of heavy lifting in your wardrobe in the cooler months. A classic black coat can dress up (and warm up) everything from jeans and a long-sleeved tee to a cocktail dress. Look for timeless styles for maximum wear, like a trench, a wraparound wool coat, or even a longer-line double-breasted blazer.
The everyday black leather tote bag
Classic, trend-free bags can be tricky to find, but they’re worth their weight in gold. Enter: the black tote. The right size (small but not too small) can be carried from boardroom to bar and everywhere in between. Look for one that comes with a handle and a longer cross-body strap so you can wear it multiple ways.
The go-to black event dress
Like everything else on this list, a black event dress will never do you wrong. Unlike its bright, patterned and embellished counterparts, it’s got versatility in spades, meaning you’ll wear it again and again. Fit is personal, but it pays to look for a timeless cut so that it always feels fresh. Special fabrics and details are encouraged.
The simple black heels
What does the perfect black heel look like? Not too tall (stilettos need not apply) and not too elaborate. The rest is up to you. Sandals add the illusion of skin, which can help to balance out a masculine or sporty outfit. Pumps are a given for a workwear-heavy closet – choose a pair in a textured leather for an elevated basic.
Want more capsule closet ideas? Shop our curated edit of wardrobe essentials here.