How to Build a Capsule Wardrobe

With increased scrutiny on the clothes we buy, where they come from and how much they cost – building a capsule wardrobe may be one of the best decisions you make.

Discover how to build a capsule wardrobe and the pieces you need to include to help you elevate your style and live more sustainably.

But first, we explain what a capsule wardrobe is…

What is a capsule wardrobe?

A capsule wardrobe prioritises quality over quantity to maximise the number of outfits you can create from a minimal amount of clothes.

Capsule wardrobes are a collection of timeless pieces that won’t go out of style, in similar colours that are easy to pair together.

Building a capsule wardrobe promotes sustainability by minimising the number of clothes you own while also simplifying your life and reducing stress when it comes to picking out what to wear. Investing in high-quality, durable pieces is also much more cost-efficient in the long run.

First, have a clear out

Before you start buying new pieces to build your outfits around, assess the clothes you currently own. Identify what you wear most often and would therefore like to keep, and which pieces you want to upgrade.

If you struggle with clearing out your wardrobe, think about what you haven’t worn recently. A good rule of thumb is that if you haven’t worn it for a few months, you’ll probably never wear it again. Depending on the condition, either sell it or donate it to charity.

How to build a capsule wardrobe

While there is no set amount of clothes in a capsule wardrobe, it’s recommended to have between 25 and 50 pieces, though this will vary depending on how many staple items you already have, and how many you’re planning to invest in.

Regardless of your style, building a capsule wardrobe means choosing pieces that can be worn all year round, and that aren’t defined by seasons or trends.

It’s good to remember that shoes and accessories are not considered part of a capsule wardrobe. Accessories such as bags, hats and sunglasses are a great way to refresh and add variety to your outfits, without taking up lots of wardrobe space.

Building a men’s capsule wardrobe

To build out your men’s capsule wardrobe, start with classic pieces – staple items of clothing that will always look good. Consider a high-quality white T-shirt, versatile sweatshirt, durable pair of jeans and a timeless jacket, like a Harrington or hooded jacket.

Other essentials include shirts, polos, a smart jacket, a pair of chinos, and two pairs of shoes, e.g. white trainers and then a smarter pair, like moccasins. You could also invest in some new knitwear, like a lambswool jumper or an Argyle V-neck. These pieces will help to elevate your style and dress smarter for those special occasions.

Once you’ve got the high-quality essentials in your capsule wardrobe, you can start to add more casual pieces, like sweats for lazy days and an overshirt or cardigan.

Building a women’s capsule wardrobe

Once you’ve decided what to keep and what to recycle in your current wardrobe, it’s time to start shopping for those staple items that you can wear week after week.

Classic items like oversized sweatshirts and T-shirts are important pieces in a woman’s capsule wardrobe and can be worn for both casual days in the office or at the weekend.  Similarly, a Ribbed Jumper can be worn on smart and casual occasions, thanks to its understated design.

It’s also worth investing in a versatile coat or jacket – the shacket is a great place to start, as it serves as both an outer layer in the warmer months and as a midlayer in winter.

If you’re looking for a cosy jacket for the cold season, the Shearling Jacket will keep you warm when the weather turns.

What’s next?

Now you know more about how to build a capsule wardrobe and dress more sustainably, it’s time to get started…

Explore our Lyle Essentials collection, which features everything you need to start building a capsule wardrobe, such as men’s and women’s hoodies, polo shirts and jackets.

Shop the Lyle Essentials collection

Lyle & Scott

Lyle & Scott

Writer and expert