Choose Your Pieces Wisely

It’s hard to make a standard list, because everyone’s needs are going to be different. However, I recommend using a framework like this:

1 Bottom for Every 2.5 Tops – You can re-wear most pants at least once between washings, but I wouldn’t say the same for skirts.
4 Bottoms that Work for Most of Your Week – Whether these are jeans, trousers, maxi skirts, or pencil skirts (or some combination of these), these should last you Monday through Friday in a pinch.
2-3 Casual Bottoms that you love for weekends or play – Shorts and easy pants usually fit into this category, but they generally aren’t going to fit into the traditional category of office-wear.
5-6 Casual Tops – These should be able to work under a jacket or on their own, with a scarf, with a cute necklace… These are your basics and these are the pieces that can be a bit more trendy. I like graphic and patterned tees for this, but my absolute favorites are solid or heathered modal tees.
2-3 Dressier Blouses – These can be button-downs, layerable silk, a structured blouse, etc. These should be ideal for date night, meetings, and office wear. Bonus points if you can wear it casually, too!
1-2 Casual Sweaters – Some people like cardigans, some people like pullovers. Whatever you like, just make sure it’s something you can throw on for any situation and feel confident. And sorry to say it, but hoodies don’t count here!
1-2 Accessory Jackets – By accessory jackets, I mean statement pieces. A distressed denim jacket is always a good choice, and so are leather jackets.
1 Blazer (minimum!) – A great boyfriend jacket or blazer can upgrade almost any look, whether you’re going more casual or business.
1-2 Day Dresses – A cute dress that you can throw on with some ballet flats or sandals is always a good idea, and it’s an even better idea when you can pair it with a great jacket. Maxi dresses, skater dresses, and t-shirt dresses are great choices.
1 Winter Coat – This will be stored for most of the year, but when it does come out, it should be warm, beautiful, and great for any occasion. Peacoats and tailored wool trenchcoats are perfect for this, depending on your regional climate. This should also be a bit more of an investment – a great winter coat should last for more than just a season.
SHOES. – These also tend to depend on the season and your climate, but this is my list of absolute basics:

  • Black pumps
  • Dressy mules
  • Casual flats
  • Dressier flats
  • Sneakers (not running shoes – think Keds or Converse)
  • Boots (riding boots are my fave)
  • Booties (I like a heeled bootie, but short moto boots are great, too)
  • Sandals (not flip-flops!)
  • Casual heels (canvas wedges, wedge gladiators, etc)

A unified color palette – By picking pieces within a single color palette, you’re setting yourself up for certain success – nearly every top you have should go with every bottom. That’s the whole mixing & matching part. Keep in mind that this palette should be based on coordinated neutrals with pops of color, not the other way around!

The best part about this is that you can adjust the numbers for your own wardrobe as needed. Just going by these numbers, this is at most a close to 30-piece wardrobe (accessories notwithstanding!). You’ve taken out the overwhelming element of choice, but you’ve also opened up a WORLD of possibilities. By paring your wardrobe down to core essentials that you love, you’ve set up a system wherein you can create an outfit based on the piece you most want to wear, followed by the occasion for which you’re dressing.

What’s more is that you’ll have an easier time shopping, knowing exactly which pieces you have for coordinating and you’ll be more aware of what gaps you have to fill in your closet.

What will you have in your capsule wardrobe?

Resa is a designer, a mother, and a semi-bohemian single mom, navigating life one mess at a time. She explores life in a little-big city at, and you can also follow her on Facebook and Instagram.

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