The 4 Truths of Building a Timeless Capsule Wardrobe

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It starts with one refreshingly simple idea: If you only buy pieces you really love, you’ll have 100% of your closet in rotation 100% of the time. Here’s how to make it happen…

Just imagine: Instead of a closet explosion, you get a breathable rack of favorite go-tos that you can easily mix a zillion different ways and get out the door pronto. And now, drumroll please: four capsule wardrobe truths to help you create your own version.

Truth 1: Neutral colors are your building blocks.
That’s because the no-clash factor means the outfit combinations are nearly endless. Plus, filling your wardrobe with what we consider to be a calm palette—blues, whites, greys, browns and even low-key stripes—is a quick way to master the art of looking put together (especially helpful on those abuse-the-snooze-button days). Another upside: Neutral hues are a solid foundation for any flashes of bright color you toss on here and there.

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Truth 2: Certain silhouettes are timeless.
Whether it’s a clean leather loafer, a classic slim-fit jean, a long button-down cardigan or a streamlined motorcycle jacket, certain shapes will never be rendered obsolete because they’re free of trendy details. How to spot such a thing when you’re browsing? You should be able to imagine yourself wearing it in five years, 10 years, whenever.

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Truth 3: For something to last, it’s got to be—pardon the phrasing here—made well.
You need to know what to look for: Leather should be soft but sturdy; sweaters should be made of soft, beautiful yarn; jeans should be comfy but still hold their shape (you can tell even in the dressing room). Then, it’s all about taking care of these staples so they only get better with age. (Read our tips for caring for white jeans, black jeans, leather bags and sweaters.)

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Truth 4: Special extras can take your outfit from perfectly nice to perfectly awesome.
The right add-ons, like unboring sunglasses and a wide-brim hat or wear-everyday jewelry and killer shoes, are an uncomplicated way to send a simple jeans-and-tee combo—or anything else in your closet—off the style charts.

And now, The Very (Sort-of) Official 10-Piece Madewell Capsule Wardrobe*

1. High-Riser Skinny Skinny Jeans
2. The Ultimate Leather Motorcycle Jacket
3. A White Oversized Boyshirt
4. A Striped Whisper Cotton Tee
5. A White Whisper Cotton Tee
6. A simple silk dress (like this)
7. The Transport Tote
8. A pair of Billie Boots
9. The Orson Loafer
10. Those extra-special little things (scarves, hats, a clutch…)

*AKA what to wear right this minute, and all year long.

Your future capsule closet, right this way…shop our newest arrivals here.

Photography by Jennifer Trahan.