Capsule Wardrobe Tips

Every person reading this will have different wardrobe basics in mind. Your lifestyle, climate, and personal taste will determine what you wear most often and what suits you. I’ve been asked many times to share a list of the items one should have in a capsule wardrobe, but the answer will vary from person to person.

This white denim jacket has been perfect to wear on cool mornings. I bought it here. It took me a while to realize that a fitted, mid-hip-length jacket works best for my shape. I was purchasing a looser fitting, longer style in the past and rarely wore them.

The straight-leg jeans are the best choice for me to wear in the fall with loafers since they touch the top of the foot and skim the body. The jeans in this year’s color are here.

The white cotton tank is the perfect layer under jackets, cardigans, or v-neck sweaters. I am wearing a size medium, and I bought it here.

These three clothing items are must-have basics in my wardrobe. I take these with me when I travel, and I reach for one or all of them at least twice per week. When these pieces start to wear out, I will look for something similar in the best quality I can afford.

The statement animal print loafers are a couple of years old, but similar ones are here. My no-show socks are here. The Kate Spade bag is also not new. The color is anthracite, and I bought it about three years ago. Here is a similar style of bag.

I enjoy having versatile basics in solid colors to mix and match with different accessories since it removes the stress from putting myself together. For example, it took me three minutes to get dressed, and I felt confident and comfortable when I wore this look to the grocery store. That’s why I started planning my retirement wardrobe a few years ago. I want getting dressed to be easy, but I always want to look my best. Shopping for trends or changing my style frequently seems a waste of time and money, so I stick with what I know works for me.

I pulled the white pieces I wear most from my wardrobe as an example of building part of a capsule to suit you. For instance, while wearing any top shown with a pair of jeans or even black slacks, I can create looks from super casual to going out to dinner. Focus on having a few pieces in a light color, medium, and dark color. This variety will allow for numerous combinations.

White is my base light color; if I add a few more base pieces in a medium color such as denim blue and a few in a dark color such as navy or black, my wardrobe would be stocked for the year. The items included by number are 1. Knit tank. 2. Long-sleeve knit tee. 3. Silk blouse. 4. Eyelet summer top. 5. Long-sleeve oxford cloth shirt. 6. Denim jacket. 7. Straight-leg jeans.

I hope that this exercise answered some of your questions about building a capsule wardrobe.

I stopped at one of our city parks to take outfit photos on the way to Fresh Market today. Fall colors haven’t arrived yet, but the vivid blue skies are free of the haze that lingers for most of summer.

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  1. Hi Susan, Thanks for tips and the lovely scenic pic 🙂 You look lovely as always!
    I recall some time ago, you shared about N52 Strong Neodymium Disc Magnets that work well with wearing scarves (keeping them in place). What size magnet have you found that works best? I’d like to get a few to keep on hand. Thanks!

  2. This was a very helpful post. I have been working on putting together my retirement capsule wardrobe this past year.

  3. Your tips in this post are very helpful. I have finally acknowledged that I must stop buying long jackets. Your comments made me try some things in my closet and the shorter are much more flattering. In reviewing some of your past post I observe you carry a bag much more than a shoulder strap bag. Bags will be the next project I tackle…… I have more shoulder straps than ones I can hand carry so this may be a big leap for me. But at 73 it’s time to get it correct. Thank you for your time to post and nice photographs of Mother Nature.

    1. I have never liked wearing a shoulder bag since they always fall off and make my necklines wonky. I try not to add any visual weight to my bust or tummy. Wherever that bag rests is going to look bigger.

  4. Hi Susan,
    Your thoughts on all the Autumn colours that are being shown everywhere when you have cool colouring like you and I have. Do you follow the recommended seasonal dressing or keep true to yourself ?

  5. Hi! I loved this post on a capsule wardrobe. May I ask, do you wear prints? Or do you prefer solid colours? Often in capsule wardrobes they tell a person to wear a print, but I don’t have many. I prefer solid colours myself. Thanks for sharing

  6. Susan, thank you for making our lives less stressful with your ideas and links to shopping sites that carry the best basic and classic items. I find your suggestions to buy better quality and fewer pieces works for me.
    I look forward to your easy to view, beautiful uncluttered blog. It is so relaxing and refreshing. I don’t want more stress just trying to navigate through a blog!!!!!
    I don’t know regulations about copyrighted information and you may not be able to print my email, but the following quote fits my life now and your encouragement matches the thought.

    It is a blessing to live a quiet life. To find joy in the ordinary, to see beauty in the smallest of things, to be excited about little moments, to not require grand acts or gestures, to keep drama + offense to a minimum, to go against the pressure to prove your life is impressive or great-–to be content with pleasing God and loving like He does–A quiet life is a profound + peaceful life. @cleerelystated

  7. Hi Susan, as a fellow retiree, I have been following you for a few years. Your blog is the best one out there! I ran across a clothing website recently called Kettlewell Colours in the UK and I’m wondering if you have seen it. You can shop for your best colors year round. They sell everyday wardrobe essentials in 300 shades. They also have an online style quiz and color quiz. Shopping by color or style makes it easy; it’s mainly solid colors with a few prints. I thought you and your readers would be interested.

    1. Thank you, Janelle. I have seen that website, but I haven’t ordered anything yet. However, I love the idea of being able to shop for the colors that are right for you quickly.

  8. Hi Susan, great post but quick question-can you tell us about the hangers used in the last photo? I thought you used velvet hangers. Do you buy these or collect them from the dry cleaner? Thanks!

  9. Hi Susan

    It is always a pleasure to find a blog from you! Your personal style journey had yielded many tips that have helped me on my way to developing a comfortable wardrobe that I love.

    I admire the way you consume with consideration and moderation.

    Thank you for sharing your positive outlook and beautiful smile, the beauty of your home and area, and the little visits with the delightful Mr. Mickey.



  10. Thank you for the great tips! Now I will be putting together a capsule wardrobe too, starting with my white tops.
    Lucky for me I already have a few in my closet..

  11. Your column is so helpful especially this article. I retired two years ago and thought I had my retirement wardrobe ready, but my lifestyle has changed. I can arrange what I have to work better by following your ideas. Thank you.

  12. Thanks for showing yr basic tops, very helpful for wardrobe planning.
    Question: Find it challenging to coordinate the necklines of t-shirts & sweaters for outfits.
    Do you recommend having a range of tops with different necklines or stick to only a few?

  13. Hello Susan. Thank you so much for this helpful information. I always love to read your blog. Could you talk a little about how you care for your white tops ? Best regards, Melissa

    1. I wash white items on the gentle cycle or according to the label instructions and avoid using the dryer. I iron or steam everything before putting it away, and since my closet is not stuffed, I can leave about an inch between each item for airflow, and nothing gets crumpled.

  14. Dear Susan,

    A dear friend shared your blog with me and I enjoy each post so much!

    One reason your posts are so much fun, is that my husband and I spend over a week each month in Asheville in a sweet little “mother in law suite” apartment we have furnished just for us so we can have great visits with our son and his family there. We love this area but since we have another son and his family here in Memphis we will keep our home here too! Lots of places you and Mr. Mickey go are so near us in Asheville! So with sightseeing through your eyes and with your wonderful wardrobe tips, well…I just love your blog!

    Today’s is maybe the best yet because it gives me a point at which to start organizing my clothing which is way too much for covid-life and even retirement. Love seeing your “capsule” wardrobe. I will work to create this from my over-crowded closet (one for warm weather, another for cold weather). There is way too much in each closet–I don’t wear the dressier things any more, but it is hard to know what to give up!

    My question today: I have never felt I look good in white! So what are your suggestions for a base white color(s) other than white?

    With joy in this wonderful clear, cool weather, even in Memphis today!
    Evelyn Mosley

  15. Thanks for this post! I really like how you put this one together showing the white items you wear most. It has me thinking of different ways to organize my closet!

  16. Good morning Ms. Susan,
    The city park and sky is so pretty, thanks for taking the picture and sharing.
    Sending you smiles,
    Katherine in Arizona

  17. Hi Susan,

    Greetings from Massachusetts! Thank you for your “capsule wardrobe tips”, most helpful. As I dress for any occasion I ask myself, “would Susan wear this”? Those four little words really set me straight! Thank you!
    Leaves here are just starting to get ready for their autumn extravaganza as they don their bright colors. No doubt, choosing shades, tones and hues that work for them from their personal wardrobes!!!

    All the Best to you, Mr. Mickey and your families!

    Julie Johnston

  18. I love your blog, Susan, but rarely comment. I’m 61 and slowly trying to put together a capsule wardrobe based on your tips. Unfortunately, my shape and size aren’t the same as yours, but I still am finding so much helpful information. I just learned about the magnets for wearing scarves in this post that I had missed before. Brilliant! Thank you, thank you!

  19. Thank you, Susan, for this clever tip with white clothing when organizing one’s wardrobe. I’ve been trying to figure out how to start sorting/purging the ridiculous amount of clothing I have. We wear the same colours, so starting with white works for me. Please keep offering these tips with the visuals because I can make an immediate connection with what I have/similar and proceed with the process. Your tips on flattering types of handbags and jacket lengths are really appreciated.
    Maybe you could continue through your wardrobe via colour or item, like casual pants/jeans, and guide your fans through building a more meaningful and concise wardrobe. Would you consider some posts on supportive, orthotic friendly dress & casual shoes? Your blog is high quality, Susan!

  20. I don’t know how I accumulated so many clothes since I retired, I still love blazers but the only “dressy” place I go is church However, I am now moving them to more casual usage with jeans and leggings. If I donated half of my wardrobe I still would have too much. Shoes and purses for every possible event (which are few and far between now) My clothes are only 4 years and less in age and I hate to part with some. I admit I am in a mess. I just went through jewelry yesterday. Trying to keep only a few fashion pieces and just keep the fine jewelry. Love your blog…

  21. Happy Fall, Ya’ll!
    Love your blogs and am headed out now to do a little shopping. Your capsule wardrobe ideas is going to keep me focused.
    Keep up these wonderful blogs!!
    Best to you,

  22. Thank you Susan for so many helpful, attractive and cost saving hints. My closet is over flowing and overwhelming but by following your suggestions and example I’m managing to clean out and hopefully look much better.

  23. Hi Susan,

    Thanks for your fabulous help in creating these capsules
    I have just finished my latest one for summer which in Queensland Australia can be really hot.
    Best wishes Marie

  24. You always look so chic. Thank you for sharing your common sense yet very smart looking tips! I have two requests.
    1. You change handbags often. Any tips for keeping this simple and organized? Easy?
    2. Your hair is so becoming. Very smart looking. Would you mind showing us the back so we can find a similar cut?

    Thank you.

    1. Hi Ann. I shared a video about how I use little zippered pouches to keep my bag organized. It also makes switching them very easy. If you would like to watch the old video, it is here. I also shared photos of my last haircut here.

  25. Like the ideas you suggested. I love the wild shoes!! AZ is cooling down a little, not enough for jackets though. Really, like your hair cut, it is perfect for you.

  26. You always seem to be able to look chic and sophisticated, even for something as simple as a trip to the grocery store.
    I’m newly retired and am looking for inspirational ideas to get me motivated to dress in something other than comfy sweats all day long. What keeps you so attuned to always looking your best?

    1. Getting dressed for the day is social politeness, and it brings me joy. However, if I stay in my PJ’s or wear leggings and sweatshirts all day, depression and weight gain are inevitable for me.

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I share tips and inspiration for using what you already have in contemporary ways. Defining words include effortless, classic, refined, discreet, and elegant. My style is chic, minimal, and timeless with a bit of edge.