Build Your Own Capsule Wardrobe

The idea of “must-have” fashion products in and of itself is a cautious zone because dictating what one “should” or “should not” wear is not the kind of language we’re employing in 2021. Style, like individuals, is malleable and subject to change over time. So, what exactly qualifies as a “closet staple”? Certain items have stood the test of time, providing safe havens for us to return to again and time again. We’ve put together a list of 30 essentials to assist you narrow down what matters to you, as well as hold us accountable; after all, the most sustainable fashion decision is to stick to what you own and wear it for decades.

Consider this an attempt to be as objective as a fashion editor can be. For example, I’ve never met a ruqun hanfu denim jacket I didn’t like, therefore despite the fact that it’s included in this roundup, I don’t own one. If it doesn’t seem right, don’t put it in your closet! We also provided recommendations that span from top-of-the-line designer options to budget-friendly alternatives that are long-term investments.

A Simple Coat

Whatever your style, a winter coat is a must-have (unless you live in a warm weather climate). The ever-flattering double-breasted coat has a certain ease about it—genderless it’s and basic in the best manner possible. What’s our recommendation for locating the greatest one? First and foremost, examine the fiction. Wool reigns supreme throughout the winter.

Max Mara is an honorable pick for those looking to splurge on the very best. & Other Stories makes wonderful silhouettes that are both classic and current for wallet-friendly outerwear.

A Jacket Made of Leather

Few people aren’t fans of moto leather jackets. It defies fashion fads and tastes, looking just as at home in a hardcore punk look as it does in Taylor Swift fan fiction.

Honorable mentions: The All Saints Balfern Jacket ($489) has received a lot of positive feedback. Vegan alternatives are plenty at Stand Studio.

Jacket made of denim

As I previously stated, not all “wardrobe classics” are suitable for everyone. Despite the fact that I don’t own a jean jacket, I’m well aware that it’s the type of piece you should imagine wearing over anything, be it a spring dress or a Texas tux. This Everlane style was created with eco-friendly and sustainable techniques in mind.

Honorable mentions: The original is Levi’s. If you can’t resist a designer frock, Balenciaga is the way to go. You’ve earned it.

A nice hoodie

If the epidemic taught us anything about fashion, it’s that a good hoodie is now a must-have. This isn’t the shirt you put on when Netflix asks if you’re still watching. Consider it an upscale sweatshirt that you’d feel comfortable wearing to a restaurant.

Honorable mentions: Champion if you’re going for a vintage vibe (i.e. something that might mistake you for a Gen Z-er). My particular fave is Aritzia’s shrunken hoodie ($70). Pangaia creates sweatshirts that are both fashionable and ethical.

Sweater with a Transitional Look

The style of this sweater is entirely up to you, but having one that is equally warm for breakfast and lazing at home is essential. I have two of these H&M sweaters and they get a lot of praises.

Honorable mentions: The Elder Statesman’s knits are a fashion insider favorite for their high-quality cashmere and semi-psychedelic takes, but they come with hefty price tags. Victor Glemaud, on the other hand, designs knitwear that both you and your mother will like (a true feat).

An Elegant Black Dress

The LBD, ah, the LBD. It’s the quintessential piece of clothing. What’s the one thing that’s uncertain? The meaning of the term “little.” It’s all in the eye of the beholder when it comes to finding the perfect length.

Honorable mentions: Are You Am I is a fan favorite among influencers (but has limited sizing). ASOS has a wide selection of LBDs in a number of sizes and styles, but choose one that isn’t single-use.

A Simple Slip Dress

A slip dress is one of those items that you think is too much but wind yourself wearing all the time. Choose a color or print that complements your everyday attire.

Honorable mentions: I’m not sure how many Silk Laundry ’90s dresses ($265) I have.

A Dress You Can Wear Anywhere

This isn’t a dress for a particular event. Rather, this is the dress you wear too often and carelessly because it makes you feel good. It’s a tried-and-true option for days when you’re unsure what to wear.

Hanifa for the bold, and COS for the minimalism get honorable mentions.

Trousers with a Tailored Fit

Black slacks are deemed casual even if you don’t work in an office. From going-out clothes to oxford shirts and band tees, I wear this exact pair with everything.

Honorable mentions: Fashion editors are always on the lookout for Old Celine trousers on secondhand sites. The Row is a tried-and-true brand for designer trousers. If you prefer a slimmer cut, J.Crew has plenty of possibilities.

Jeans that are flattering

This may seem like an endless search, but you’ll know when you’ve found your perfect pair of jeans. This might range from straight to slender legs, but having denim that compliments your assets instantly boosts your mood. Good American produces excellent mid-priced denim.

Honorable mentions: AGOLDE is the gold standard for those looking for a straight leg style that isn’t a mom jean (Levi’s Wedgie fit is also worth mentioning). For slender styles, check out Frame’s popular Le High ($190) or, surprise, surprise, another Levi’s design with over 60,000 Amazon reviews.


Another pandemic-inspired pick: stylish leggings. We now live in these, so having a good pair may just motivate you to work out. Not only is the quality of Alo Yoga’s leggings excellent, but so are the variety of colors and matching pairs.

Beyond Yoga’s spacedye leggings are an honorable mention for a pair that feels like a second skin. Just to let you know, TikTok’s viral leggings work. Check out our roundup for additional ideas.

A Shirt from Oxford

Consider an oxford shirt to be a light cardigan. It’s appropriate for the beach, the office, and over a slip dress.

Honorable mentions: Alex Mill ($125) cuts a good figure. Try L.L. Bean’s inexpensive styles for a heavier weight (I prefer the men’s models, which are cut a little wider).

A Crossbody Bag in Black

Is it really necessary for me to persuade you to own a black bag? Most likely not. A Chanel classic flap is the ultimate investment (they resell for a lot of money), but you don’t have to spend that much money to obtain the same effect in your life. We also recommend taking a look at the styles listed below.

Madewell’s crossbodies are strong, inexpensive, and classic, and they’ll get you compliments just as easily as a Chanel (true story). Brandon Blackwell, JW Pei, and buying a used designer handbag are some more affordable names we enjoy for a simple crossbody.

A Handbag

Carrying around NYC merch or an A24 tote bag is a flex, but invest in a non-canvas design that won’t break down or become super dirty. Telfar is without a doubt the best option.

Cuyana’s heavy-duty leather totes will see you through the apocalypse. Honorable mentions: The stylish fashions of Yvonne Koné are designed in Denmark, but with the Ivory Coast in mind.

Formal Shoes That Are “Comfortable”

These are the heels you wear to every special occasion because you know you’ll be able to stand all night in them. Simply pay attention to your feet and stick to a style that makes you feel good, whether it’s a stiletto or a block heel. The Nudistong heels by Stuart Weitzman are a celebrity favorite for a reason.

Honorable mentions: Salone Monet has a cult following thanks to its diverse color palette, which allows you to identify your real nude hue.

Ankle Boots with a Simple Design

A classic ankle boot is a year-round staple, whether you’re a fan of brown leather or black leather (yes, we sometimes wear ankle boots in the summer too).

Special mentions: By Far boots are a favorite among Bella Hadid fans since they are less traditional. Khaite creates high-fashion boots that are well-liked in the market. Look to COS, Free People, and Dr. Martens for a high-street budget without sacrificing quality.

Flats with a Simple Design

When you have to rush into the office, a flat shoe that isn’t a sneaker or a sandal comes in useful. If you’re not a fan of ballet flats, loafers are a great alternative.

Honorable mentions: For those on a budget, H&M is a good alternative, but the styles aren’t likely to last a lifetime.

Sneakers in White

A pair of white sneakers makes an impression. They go with just about anything in your closet, whether they’re a touch scuffed or freshly buffed. Meghan Markle is a big fan of Vejas, which are created in a sustainable way and she wears them all the time.

Nike, no of the style, gets an honorable mention.

Sneakers for Athletics

It’s critical to spend money on your workout sneakers. You want a pair that won’t hurt your body while you’re doing burpees. Take it a step further and try a well-made sneaker that makes you want to go to the gym because it looks as wonderful as it feels.

Honorable mentions: The iconic Adidas Ultraboost gives you the sensation of walking on marshmallows.

Shoes for running errands

With this outfit option, you can go either minimal or strange. These are the shoes you wear when you don’t give a damn about anything.

Honorable mentions: What can we say? Crocs are having a moment right now, and it doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon.

Jewelry for Special Occasions

On a night out, jewelry can change not just your look, but also your mood. Consider anything that brings a smile to your face every time you wear it, whether it’s a necklace your grandmother gave you or a pair of earrings you bought yourself.

Honorable mentions: Irene Neuwirth’s intricately cut stones will be passed down through the generations. The Last Line makes beautiful jewelry fun to wear. BaubleBar’s demi-fine collection is also a terrific option.

Earrings with Hoop

What’s not to love about hoop earrings in their most basic form? Jennifer Fisher’s striking styles are popular with celebrities like Selena Gomez and Rihanna, but if you don’t take your earrings off much, you can choose for thin hoops.

Honorable mentions: Mejuri produces some of the nicest jewelry on the market, and it’s also very reasonable. Win-win.

Jewels for Everyday Use

You have jewelry that you replace once a year and jewelry that you forget to remove. Cartier’s Love bracelet is pricey, but it’s literally screwed onto your wrist, making it more than worth it in terms of cost-per-wear.

Honorable mentions: Mejuri deserves to be mentioned one more. Oma the Label, ByChari, and Tiffany & Co. all have great fundamentals (if you can swing the latter).

Sunglasses with a Face-Framing Design

95 percent of the time, I’ll choose a pair of simple sunglasses over trendy ones. You won’t be sorry if you choose a timeless frame.

Honorable mentions: Celine sunglasses are well-known among fashion editors as an investment piece, while Ray-Ban sunglasses are a safe bet. Meanwhile, both Le Specs and Aperçu are Instagram-friendly companies that are just becoming better.

A Belt Made of Leather

A belt can really make an outfit come together. That’s all there is to it!

Honorable mentions: Frame belts are an underappreciated treasure. They’re pricy, but you’re unlikely to need one again.

The Ideal Bra

The way you dress will change once you find a bra that helps you feel your best. ThirdLove gets it down to a science when it comes to fit.

Honorable mentions: We’ve compiled a comprehensive list of our top bras.

Underwear Purchased in Bulk

We’ve all had the experience of feverishly rummaging through your lingerie drawer for that one pair of well-fitting, basic underwear that feels like nothing. Purchase it in bulk to save money.

Honorable mentions: Cosabella is known for producing some of the nicest (and most comfortable) lace underwear on the market. Parade’s cult is newer, but it’s catching on fast. While Rihanna’s Savage X is most known for her scandalous lingerie, the fundamentals are just as good.


It may seem superfluous to suggest that you own socks, yet having decent socks can change your life.

Honorable mentions: Bombas should sponsor me at this point because I always promote their socks to people. However, there are excellent alternatives available everywhere. Look to Cross Colors for more playful styles, and Hypebaes will notice you in Kapital calf-lengths.

A Swimsuit That Fits

It’s crucial to have a classic bathing suit alongside your collection of wilder styles if you want to feel at ease at the beach or pool. Jade Swim is one of our favorite brands because all of its styles achieve the perfect blend between current and traditional.

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