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The Fashion Memo

How to create the ultimate capsule wardrobe

Essentials, basics, wardrobe fail-safes… Whatever you call them, these 14 key pieces provide the unshakable foundations of any capsule wardrobe

Fashion
STEP UP
An eternal classic, the penny loafer’s allure lies in its versatility

Penny loafers

The first essential for any capsule wardrobe? It’s the enduring classic with a history that stretches back almost a century – not many pieces can boast the same style mileage as the penny loafer. Originally designed for men, they have since become a staple of women’s closets, too. Play up to their masculine connotations by pairing Christian Louboutin’s sleek pair with an oversized blazer and everyday denims; finished with a chunky watch, this combination makes for a modern take on a traditionally gamine look. If you’re after something a little more streamlined, Loewe’s butter-soft loafer will prove the perfect off-duty staple, while Khaite’s pristine versions will make the perfect finishing touch to floral dresses, blue denim and everything in between. Just beware of puddles.

Grab bag
The size of this season’s essential clutch makes it a stalwart for night and day

The new clutch

In this new era of what constitutes an essential, our bags have not only shrunk, but become ultimately softer as we’ve held our possessions closer to our body. But smaller doesn’t mean any less statement this season. Loewe’s accordion-inspired drawstring pouch looks like a feat of artful architecture but feels like a pillow, while Alexander McQueen and Bottega Veneta up the hardware ante with statement metal straps that will add an urban edge to relaxed outfits. Traditionally, the clutch has been considered an evening bag, and while these understated designs make the perfect addition to silk separates and all-black ensembles, their generous proportions mean they’re also an effortless way to add a fashion-forward edge to your everyday look and are a capsule wardrobe go-to.

Luxe sweats

Whether you’re preparing to return to work or your dining-room table is doubling as your office for the foreseeable, the ‘new normal’ has had a huge impact on the way we dress. Comfort has now become the number-one priority for many people, including the most ardent fashion fans. So how do you satisfy this new need for practicality without letting your sartorial standards slip? Luxe loungewear is the new capsule wardrobe must-have. Cashmere and cotton tracksuits from Olivia von Halle and Les Tien are sumptuously chic and perfect for lounging in, but styled up with a simple turtleneck underneath, they turn off-duty into effortless. For something a little lighter, look to Skin’s travel set – in a blush-hued pima cotton, the matching robe, tank and track pants are as perfect for weekends at home as they are packed into a suitcase for maximum comfort on the go.

DOWNTIME ELEGANCE
Cozy and considered sweats can be styled up or down to suit your mood
Big on style
Lend a nonchalant vibe to your look with a long-line, oversized blazer

A blazer

In an age when Silicon Valley’s biggest power players wear hoodies to work, it was inevitable that the lines between on- and off-duty style would begin to blur. Case in point? The blazer’s transition from corporate classic to capsule-wardrobe essential. Look to fashion powerhouse Saint Laurent for chic double-breasted designs, or New York stalwarts The Row and Gabriela Hearst for timeless pieces that will prove perennially polished. Pair with denim for a truly modern hi/low mix to add to your capsule wardrobe.

Best foot forward
Explore the versatility of this season’s must-have shoes and their simple silhouettes

Barely-there sandals

This season’s most covetable sandals leave little to the imagination. From Bottega Veneta and Gianvito Rossi’s strappy ’90s-inspired sandals to Jimmy Choo’s color-pop mules and Gianvito Rossi’s elegant flats, these barely-there designs are a minimalist’s dream. The best bit? They work with everything so are the ultimate addition to any capsule wardrobe. After-dark denim? Slip dress? City shorts? Check, check and check.

Everyday embellishment

The modern way to wear jewelry? As an everyday dusting to your downtime outfits. Stone and Strand updates the classic alphabet pendant with a smattering of diamonds that will add a feminine edge to crisp boyfriend shirts and simple white T-shirts, while Spinelli Kilcollin has your layering look covered with a multi-band ring interlaced with sparkles. Didn’t think diamonds could be discreet? Maria Tash’s silver hoop is an understated choice – but as a singular earring, will add a sense of polished rebellion to even the most demure looks.

Go for gold
Elevate everyday outfits with a smattering of jewelry
Easy does it
Embrace the more relaxed look of the new jean shape by teaming it with off-duty classics

The new jean shape

After what seems like a lifetime, skinny jeans have officially lost their stranglehold on your closet. Consider high-rise, distressed and straight-leg styles your new denim default for your capsule wardrobe. Cool and universally flattering, retro-inspired jeans by denim specialists such as Agolde, Slvrlake and Frame will put a laid-back spin on your off-duty look. Pair with second-skin knits or play with proportions (and tick off two trends in one) by adding statement sleeves. Minimal effort, maximum impact? It’s all down to good jeans…

Tick tock
A classic watch will lend instant elegance to any outfit

Watches

A trusted timepiece is a lifelong investment. Combining precision craftsmanship with contemporary design, Jaeger-LeCoultre’s bracelet-style watch is studded with diamonds, ensuring it will be forever treasured; the rose-gold hue perfectly offsets chunky cream sweaters and tonal pants. For something a little more masculine, look to IWC Schaffhausen or Cartier – these classic pieces will elevate the everyday.

A cashmere knit

Contrary to everything you’ve been told, cashmere does not need to be dry-cleaned – in fact, even if your washing machine doesn’t have a hand-wash setting, you can simply pop your woolens into a pillowcase and a cold wash will do the job. So invest in a sumptuous cashmere sweater now and you’ll wear it on repeat for years to come – classic knits in muted hues from Extreme Cashmere and Khaite will give serious wardrobe mileage, or go bold and opt for Gabriela Hearst’s rugby-stripe sweater that is sure to brighten any mood. Top tip: when washing, add a drop of baby shampoo to the washing-machine drum for extra softness.

Soft power
Timeless cashmere always looks – and feels – right
Bigger is better
Look for generous helpings of luxurious leather when choosing a new crossbody bag

Practical bags

Championed by in-demand brands Bottega Veneta and Gucci – not to mention the industry’s most discerning dressers – this season’s crossbody bags strike the elusive balance between pretty and practical. Capacious enough to carry the essentials, while also promising to elevate every look in your existing closet, a butter-soft leather satchel is a worthwhile addition to every woman’s accessories capsule wardrobe.

Effortless style
The chic sweater dress is the perfect trans-seasonal piece

A knit dress

Nothing is quite as cozy as a sweater — but a sweater dress? That’s even better. Swathe yourself in warming knits by Bottega Veneta and Proenza Schouler, with midi-length styles that are comfortable enough for days spent at home but look seriously smart when stepping out — and, best of all, they require no styling. Chloé’s sporty stripe dress in a popping tangerine hue will prove the ideal trans-seasonal staple; simply throw on a trench coat and a pair of ankle boots come spring for a failsafe look that is ultimately fuss-free.

Large and in charge
Chunky boots work with even the most unexpected styling combinations, thanks to their authoritative effect

Chunky boots

Undoubtedly one of this season’s most definitive designs, elevated, chunky boots by the likes of Bottega Veneta and Gianvito Rossi are perfect for stomping the streets in. Jimmy Choo’s military-inspired hiker boots, meanwhile, promise to put an irreverent spin on any outfit. The perfect complement to everything from diaphanous dresses and oversized knits to loose-cut pants, invest in a pair and they’re sure to become one of the most-worn pieces in your capsule wardrobe. Teaming yours with blue denim? Stay one step ahead by tucking your jeans in – next season’s fail-safe styling trick.

Essentials only
Use stripped-back sneakers to complement understated outfits

Minimal sneakers

After seasons of ‘ugly sneakers’ and chunkier styles, streamlined trainers feel like a sartorial palette cleanser for your capsule closet. A simple way to put an effortless spin on everything from androgynous suiting to floral dresses, minimal designs by the likes of Golden Goose have become bona-fide closet essentials – while masters in the art of the understated, The Row, offers a slip-on pair for when even laces feel superfluous. Of course, it’s impossible to comment on the huge popularity of these classic sneakers without mentioning Veja, the French footwear brand proving that sustainability and style are not mutually exclusive. Get your kicks.

The big cover-up
Outerwear is a styling essential, even in the warmer months

A classic coat

An investment piece of the highest order, a classic winter coat will stand the test of time. Belted woolen styles from Totême and Isabel Marant will prove a joy to pull out of the closet every winter season, while Bottega Veneta updates the classic trench in sumptuous leathers the brand is renowned for, promising to luxe up the everyday. In need of a hug? A cozy shearling coat by Joseph gives enveloping comfort that is so undeniably chic, it will become a modern classic in your capsule wardrobe.

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