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  • Rachael

Notes On A Capsule Wardrobe

Leather jacket: Acne Studios, Jeans: Vintage Levi's, Boots: By Far, Jumper: A Day's March, Stripe top: Saint James, Basket: Ebay and beret: Fanclub

Recently I came to the realisation that, after seven blissful years, my Macbook was sadly dying a death and a new younger model needed to be purchased iminenetly. Queue the mammoth sort through everything I had managed to accumulate on there over the past 7 years.... including what can only be described as a wardrobe history dating back to 2010. Outfit snaps from the uni days revealing that, actually, I’m basically still wearing the same things (or versions thereof) almost a decade down the line. Now I’m not gonna sit here and and pretend I have a small wardrobe without fifty seven varieties of the same thing squished in there, however that’s exactly my point in this post, the same thing.

Essentially, and if you scroll back in my Instagram far enough/ have been following me from the beginning, I’ve basically been wearing the same thing for about ten years. I know what I like. Polka dots, navy jumpers, a good pair of vintage Levis, ankle boots, anything star print, dungarees, stripe tops and Bella Freud jumpers to name the main ingredients. I have a certain style and it’s been lingering for a while now - so as much as I buy stripe after stripe, all of the variations under the sun of a black ankle boot, I know I pretty much already own said items. There’s something about newness though, the perfect stripe (even though I already have a drawer full of ‘the perfect stripe’ tops at home) without fail always seems to lure me it that I just forget the last six years of buying, the 312 navy blue jumpers already at home waiting for their day, or is it the sheer thrill of buying a new one? Either way, a capsule wardrobe is the dream and will make your (sartorial) life a whole lot easier (and your bank balance a whole lot heftier tbh). If I had a pound for every time I pluck something out of the wardrobe and think to myself oh I forgot I even had that, well, i'd be very rich indeed.

So, without further ado, I thought I’d share with you my opinion on the 20 key pieces you need within a capsule wardrobe - the pieces that are worth the investment, the pieces that that will stand the test of time and ultimately the pieces that will be more versatile than a Birdseye potato waffle.

1. A leather biker jacket

One of the few things in your wardrobe that gets better with age - ladies and gents - the leather biker jacket. I'd go as far as to say that my ACNE Studios boxy leather biker jacket is one of the best investments I've ever made. I bought this when I worked at Liberty many moons ago, but even with staff discount it was a hefty sum. About five years on though, it's still going strong, has worn in wonderfully and cost per wear is now probably down to about 3p...100% worth investing in a decent one.

2. Check suit

A versatile wardrobe staple is most definitely a check suit. You can wear them as separates or together, dressing them up or down too. My current fave is my new Paul Smith monochrome houndstooth suit. Love.

3. A good pair of jeans (to be substituted for denim shorts come Summer)

A good fitting pair of jeans is the basis of my wardrobe. I probably wear the same pair of vintage Levi's jeans least three times a week. My favourite pair that I own are these ones that I'm wearing here. I got them in Beyond Retro and loved the colour/ style but they were a little big on the waist so I had them tailored to fit. Literally made for me and quite possibly my number one capsule wardrobe essential.

4. Slogan tee

I LOVE a slogan tee. I own more than I'd care to admit to be honest but really, get yourself a goodun' and there's no need to ever invest again (she says). Sezane are a fave brand of mine for great slogan tee's.

5. Long sleeve Stripe top

Ahh forever searching for the perfect stripe when in reality I have three thousand of the perfect stripe sitting right in my drawer at home... Fave brands for stripes include Saint James, Petit Bateau and comme des garçons play.

6. Black ankle boots

Does any female on planet earth not own a pair of black ankle boots in some shape or form?! I can’t get enough com rain or shine, bare legs, tights, jeans or otherwise - they work with everything. My By Far Lada boots are basically on par with my right arm at the moment, I can’t remember what I ever did without them to be quite honest and they are averaging about a four day a week wear at present. So yes, invest in the perfect pair and they will have paid for themselves within a fortnight.

7. A fur coat

I own a handful of (faux) fur coats and come winter I basically live in them on rotation. One of my faves I found in a charity shop about ten years ago for a fiver and it’s STILL going strong! This winter my go-to has been my black & Other Stories fur and it’s seen me through day and night outfits and everything in between...

8. Dungarees

On those days when I 'have nothing to wear' or 'hate everything', I can always rely on my good old dungas to fit the bill. I always feel good in dungarees - whether thats with converse and stripes, a silky shirt and boot combo, or somewhere in between they never let me down. Recently I've been loving my Alexachung ones but my first ever pair were vintage and I was obsessed with them.

9. Star print dress

Orrr whatever your print (or no print) of choice may be. For me it's stars or polka dots and I probably have about seventeen variations of the star/ spot print mini dress. If it anti broke... My fave ever is the navy star wrap Realisation Par number, yes they're pricey but I've worn it so many times (come rain or shine) it was worth every penny.

10. Converse

If you don't own a pair of converse I suggest you hot foot it down to your nearest all-star outlet immediately. Or, of course, just click here...

11. A navy jumper

I don't know what it is with navy jumpers but I am obsessed. I just think a navy jumper thrown on with blue jeans and black boots looks so simple but effective.I can seem to stop buying them but in reality one decent one would do, right?! My current faves include a cashmere one I have from perfect essentials brand A Day's March, and a chunky slightly oversized version from Me + Em (linked below).

12. Ruffle blouse

A vintage (whether that be a genuine article or just a look of) ruffle/ frilly blouse with jeans or denim shorts is such an easy-and-always-looks-good look that has been working for the last fifty years and beyond. They also look perfect under dungarees, with skirts and poking out from beneath a navy jumper. A capsule wardrobe is all about those versatile pieces and this bad boy will give Birds Eye a run for their money.

13. A-line leather skirt

A-line is my fave (and the most flattering IMO) style of skirt and something that works through all seasons and all occasions. it's the classic business meeting at 4, drinks at 8 piece and Whistles do a perfect one that I have had my beady eye on for some time now.

14. A Mac/ Trench

This has been working forever and will probably continue to do so long into the future, therefore let me tell you, a Mac/ trench coat is so essential within a capsule wardrobe. There are some beaut ones out there on the high street to be snapped up, but if you're about spending a little more and making a good investment then obviously Burberry is your point of call. Mine is vintage Burbs and wasn't too expensive and there's also a Burberry outlet near me in East London so it doesn't always have to mean breaking the bank either, you can be savvy and a good investor at the same time.

15. A beret

Cute AF and keeps your head warm too. I've been a beret fan since I was about 4 and that's not about to change any time soon. So very necessary.

16. Black/ navy cross body bag

Almost every time I invest in a designer bag I go with black or navy. Why? Because they are the most versatile, season-less and hard working options. I got my APC half moon about three years ago now and it's still going strong (scratched to bits obvs but still strong regardless). I always think a bag you can wear with pretty much any outfit, that you can fit a decent amount in and that you're still going to love years down the line is worth your hard earned cash more than almost any other sartorial choice.

17. A silky shirt

I've said it before and I'll say it again - jeans and a cream silk blouse always looks good and should, heaven forbid, I only be able to wear one outfit fir the rest of my life, this would be it. So yeah, I'd deem a silky blouse a capsule staple indeed. It will work under dungas and with skirts too.

18. Gold hoop earrings

My chunky gold hoops by Jane Koenig barely leave my lobes, I'm obsessed.

19. Loafers

Another easy essential wardrobe staple is the humble loafer. Wether it be Gucci, Russell & Bromley, Churches, Topshop or otherwise, if you invest in a decent pair they will last you well and usually get better with age.

20. A basket bag

Just in case you didn't know, I am OB-SESSED with a basket bag, my collection is getting a bit OOC to be honest but alas my capsule collection would not be complete without one. I think vintage baskets are excellent, this one I got on Ebay and it's one of my faves. I also love Fonott baskets and Cult Gaia too but let's be honest - I don't think I ever met a basket I didn't like...

And there you have it - by no means an exhaustive list - but the top 20 items if I had to choose that are the most essential and versatile in creating a capsule wardrobe. Tried and tested by me over the last ten years, still going strong today, and definitely seeing me into the next ten years and beyond...




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