By Janet Kelly
DESPITE an overflowing closet, you’ve got nothing you want to wear again. Perhaps you’ve heard of a “capsule wardrobe.” In the 1970s, London boutique owner Susie Faux came up with the term to describe the concept of investing in a few quality basics to wear interchangeably and then supplement with seasonal pieces. In 1985, Donna Karan had a similar idea with her famous “Seven Easy Pieces.”
Fast-forward to the 21st century for a peek into the offerings of five different brands that have created their own capsule wardrobes.
Everlane and Cos have introduced focused edits—”Modern Essentials” and “Icons,” respectively—of wardrobe staples, like button-downs, trench coats and tailored jackets. Eco-conscious Aday concentrates on sustainability with performance fabrics and clothing that can be styled multiple ways.
Niche brand Wardrobe.NYC sells four- and eight-piece sets of clothing, based on key pieces for “urban minimalists”—blazers, windbreakers and leggings. While other companies offer suggestions, Net-a-Porter asserts that the 15 pieces it has chosen for its capsule are your sine qua nons.
In any case, if you’re committed to slimming down your wardrobe, you’ll find some starter pieces below and possibly an outfit you’ll want to wear over and over again.
Everlane’s Modern Essentials consists of coordinated basics—neutral-colored blazers, pants and trench coats—along with T-shirts, jeans and leggings—to help you dress for every occasion.
From left to right: The cotton-blend ’80s blazer (also available in khaki and a gingham print) with a relaxed, roomy silhouette and defined shoulders is meant to be worn over leggings, jeans or pleated pants. It’s $175. This high-rise pleated pant ($118, also in black and a gingham) meets its match with the ’80s blazer, and just like that, you have a suit, a welcome comeback to the wardrobe. The label’s classic trench ($198, also in black, gingham and smoke)—with storm flaps and gathered detail at the shoulders—can complement any combination of Everlane Essentials underneath.
Wardrobe. NYC, designed in New York City and made in Italy, offers a choice of seven capsule wardrobes. A four-piece sportswear set with a long-sleeve T-shirt, crop top, bike shorts and sport leggings is $400, while the eight-piece, Dune-inspired utility collection sells for a spendy $3,000. You can purchase individual pieces, but the price gets pricier.
From left to right: The über- functional utility parka that’s also available in black is cut in a water-repellent textile with a flattering cinch waist, roomy sleeves and practical patch pockets. A straight skirt, available in midi or mini lengths, comes in the same technical fabric; so does the zippered, voluminous, hooded raincoat. The utility pant, which can be nicely dressed up, is shown here with the collection’s knit long-sleeve T-shirt. A midi-dress and stirrup leggings round out the wardrobe.
Cos’s wheelhouse is minimalist, everyday clothing. Its entry into the capsule wardobe concept is Cos Icons , “a curated selection of pieces that will form the foundation of your wardrobe.” Although seventy-four items—at last count—which rotate according to the season, add up to more than what I’d call a capsule, pieces in neutral shades can easily be combined with their fellows. For example, these three pieces, from left to right: tapered jeans ($120), a flare long-sleeve T-shirt ($49) and an A-line striped sweater ($120) add up to at least two outfits and incorporated with pants and skirts you already own, multiply your choices.
Aday offers eight capsule collections, each of which includes six or more pieces. Packable, comfortable and machine washable, the clothing is meant to be worn on repeat. Traveling this summer, maybe? The eight-piece Cool Weave capsule is made from moisture-wicking fabric with a UPF 50+ rating.
From left to right: The Twist + Chill Wrap Top ($140, available in black, too) can be styled in five ways by tying the fabric or using the attached snaps—probably not for the directionally challenged. The relaxed-fit Something Cool Button Down ($170, also in black and forest green) has side slits, dolman sleeves and cuffs that can scrunch up stylishly. Both tops go with wrinkle-free Ice Pop dress pants ($200), appointed with handy snaps at the ankle for adjusting the fit.
Net-a-Porter is laser focused on the 15 pieces you should own in its 2022 “Ultimate Capsule Wardrobe.” The collection is a high-end designer curation of loafers, ’90s shoulder bags, trophy totes, classic coats and everyday embellishments, plus timeless watches ranging in price from a couple of thousand to more than 25k. A few of the more practical and less expensive pieces we liked:
From left to right: Agolde’s dark gray, straight-leg jeans ($200), categorized under the “new jean shape” will look great with Allude’s black-and-white wool-and-cashmere sweater ($315)— under the staple knits section. And Anine Bing’s oversize, transitional wool-twill jacket ($380) is the quintessential closet evergreen. Pair it with black leather or faux leather pants—another one of Net-a-Porter’s must-haves.
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