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The Fashion Memo

How to create the ultimate capsule closet

Essentials, basics, wardrobe fail-safes… Whatever you call them, these 13 key pieces provide the unshakable foundations of any capsule wardrobe

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 - and 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 Saint Laurent’s chunky designs with oversized suiting; finished with an investment watch, this combination makes for a modern take on a traditionally gamine look. If you’re after something a little more streamlined, Aeyde’s pristine loafers 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

At a time when many of us are looking to streamline, rather than expand, our closets, it makes perfect sense that this season’s most covetable bag is a hybrid that works for any occasion. Enter the grab bag. This oversized clutch – championed by Bottega Veneta, Khaite and Loewe – comes in butter-soft styles that are designed to be tucked insouciantly under your arm or carried in the crook of your elbow. 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 will be doubling as your office for the foreseeable, the ‘new normal’ has had a huge impact on the way we dress. Case in point? 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 sweatpants are the new capsule wardrobe must-have. Not only are wide-leg and tapered styles by Leset and Tom Ford perfect for lounging in, but styled up with a simple white tank, coordinating sweater and finished with ankle-tie sandals, they also turn off-duty into effortless.

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 emerging labels such as Frankie Shop for relaxed interpretations of this timeless piece. 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 Porte & Paire’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? In abundance and with aplomb – why save your stones for a rainy day when a delicate dusting will take even the most understated outfit to another level? Take inspiration from model Jasmine Tookes and elevate a simple shirt dress with a selection of layered chokers and chains. As for high-ticket items like diamonds and investment watches, don’t let them languish in your jewelry box: these envy-inducing pieces were made to be worn – and admired.

Go for gold
Don't hold back when it comes to adding jewelry, whether you choose a layered look or individual statement-making pieces
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 Totême 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…

Bigger is better
Look for generous helpings of luxurious leather when choosing a new tote

An oversized tote

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

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 – a cardigan by Alexander McQueen or a collared sweater, courtesy of Allude, will never fall out of fashion. Top tip: add a drop of baby shampoo to the washing-machine drum for extra softness.

Soft power
Timeless cashmere always looks – and feels – right
In the mix
Use accessories to set the tone for any outfit centered on a slip dress

A silk slip dress

One of those magical pieces that can go from off-duty to high-octane with a simple accessory switch-up, the transformative power of a great slip dress should not be underestimated. The trick to finding a forever piece is to opt for silk; it is less prone to creasing, which means you can wear it from dawn to dusk. This season, designers such as Dôen and Vince have debuted covetable designs in an assortment of sherbet shades. Pair yours with chunky knits and barely-there sandals for leisurely days that stretch into long nights. A capsule wardrobe must-have.

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

Combat boots

Undoubtedly one of this season’s most definitive designs, elevated combat boots by the likes of Chloé and 3.1 Phillip Lim promise to put an irreverent spin on any outfit. The perfect complement to everything from diaphanous dresses and oversized knits to micro mini dresses, 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 wardrobe. A simple way to put an effortless spin on everything from androgynous suiting to floral dresses, minimal designs by the likes of Loewe have become bona-fide closet essentials. 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. Whether you gravitate towards plush cashmere, cozy shearling or an androgynous trench, these timeless pieces promise to grow with you as your style evolves. In addition to these perennial favorites, we’d also add the elevated puffer coat, which is quickly becoming a modern classic, to the list of essential styles in your capsule wardrobe.


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