Some corners of social media consider “outfit repeating” a fashion faux pas. But every well-dressed woman knows that the secret to having great personal style is strategically mixing and matching the pieces you already own.
Investing in a few quality pieces that can be worn interchangeably throughout the season is far from groundbreaking. In the past, building a well-rounded selection of core items—otherwise known as a capsule wardrobe—included finding complementary pieces from like-minded designers. Now, brands are tailor-making capsules and taking the leg work out of building your own.
A few names are doing it well. Niche brands like Wardrobe.NYC make the curation process easy and encourage shoppers to invest in essentials in bulk. Meanwhile, Everlane recently released a series of elevated basics—blazers, pants, and trenches—to help you dress for every occasion.
To see how far you can stretch a capsule wardrobe, our editors test-drove the capsule collections of four different brands. If you’re committed to editing down your wardrobe, you may find your starter kit here. Better yet, you’ll discover outfits you’ll want to repeat.
Aesthetically speaking, minimalism is in COS’s DNA. Now COS is approaching minimalism from a quantity-control perspective via COS Icons, its edit of wardrobe essentials.
Design director Karin Gustafsson says COS Icons is meant to evoke everyday luxury. General categories represented in the collection are familiar wardrobe building blocks—the tapered jean, the trench coat, the T-shirt—but updated tailoring and upscale finishes make them modern classics.
Three pieces made their way to my wardrobe to start: a flare long-sleeved T-shirt, a tapered jean, and an A-line striped sweater. These three pieces by themselves amount to about two outfits, but incorporated with trousers, bodysuits, and skirts I already own, they proved their versatility. The fit of the two tops? Flowy and loose, but not too boxy. Ideal for a front tuck into solid trousers in my book. And those jeans? Few pairs get “everyday” status in my wardrobe without a trip to the tailor, but for once, I didn’t have a waist gape to begin with. (Note: That might not be true for everyone.)
The most trustworthy gauge of whether an outfit works is how I feel wearing it, with outside affirmations a close second. The flare sleeve T-shirt and tapered jeans under a camel robe coat became my weekend uniform during my testing period on ease alone. Then, I wore the A-line striped sweater over a pair of black trousers to my first in-person celebrity interview in two years—where I walked away with compliments from the interviewee and our waiter. Rounded out with another pair of pants and maybe a dress, these pieces easily make a weekly wardrobe. —Halie LeSavage, fashion commerce editor
Best Wardrobe Capsule Kits 2022
On a short list of brands giving system dressing a go, Wardrobe.NYC is close to the top in terms of innovation. The elevated essentials label, launched in 2017 by stylist Christine Centenera and designer Josh Goot, is revered among fashion insiders for its thematic releases designed to fill the missing gaps in your closet. Its understated but high-quality pieces are also celebrity favorites, with Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Hailey Bieber among its many fans.
From biker shorts and plain T-shirts to tuxedo-style jackets and second-skin knit dresses, Wardrobe.NYC truly carries it all. Though the brand usually sticks close to the classic black-and-white color palette, for the new season, it’s trying olive-green versions of its surprisingly sturdy, zip-detailed leggings and hooded sweatshirts. But apart from the apparel on offer, the styling of each lineup provides shoppers with a range of inspiration for how to wear the pieces once they make the investment.
As someone who strives to find the balance between comfort and style on a daily basis, I styled the army-colored leggings and hoodie with the brand’s wool-felt overcoat from its Drop 05 Tailored Wardrobe for a polished edge, sizing up for a cool, oversized fit. The weather in New York City this time of the year can be especially frigid, so I was sure to include my favorite Italian leather gloves. To give the look a lift, I added Chloe’s heeled rubber boots, ensuring I was as practical as I was chic. —Shelby Ying Hyde, contributing fashion market editor
If you’ve ever stood in front of an empty suitcase with no idea what to pack, ADAY’s take on capsule dressing has you covered. The brand specializes in pieces that are packable, washable, and truly minimalist. (You won’t find embellishments or unconventional silhouettes here—and that’s the point.) ADAY’s tops, pants, and dresses won’t crease in your suitcase, and they’ll feel brand new even after a tumble in a hotel’s standard-issue washer and dryer. Most items also include performance qualities like temperature-regulating fabric, because even experienced travelers break a sweat catching flights.
All that said, you don’t need to travel to appreciate the line. I tested the majority of ADAY pieces shared with me—including its scuba sweater and ponte pants—while churning through a week of working from home. Flexibility is the first word that comes to mind. These pieces were so pliable, I could squeeze a 20-minute yoga session between meetings without changing my outfit. After, no one guessed that I had just broken a light sweat. They’re also the stretch pieces that hold their shape and form for a slightly tailored look.
The technical fabrics make ADAY pieces feel a touch more casual, especially shirting items like the Something Borrowed button-down and the That’s a Wrap top. Satisfied wearers (including me) say they’re an A-plus fit for dinners, errands, and just about any other casual setting. Take it from a reviewer who has some shirts in several colors: “They literally do NOT wear out, and I get so many compliments.”
Unlike some brands, ADAY wants you to have a perfect fit on the first try. If you need your items altered, ADAY will comp you a $15 gift card after sending the brand your tailoring receipt. —HL
Best Wardrobe Capsule Kits 2022
Everlane built its reputation on long-lasting staples before it formally entered the wardrobe capsule game, with its oversized blazers, drape trousers, and trench coats standing out as top sellers. Now, Everlane is packaging its three suiting-inspired pieces together into a dedicated Modern Essentials edit. All three come in neutral shades, plus a springy gingham print.
Clothing that’s a blend of tailored and comfortable is the moment. “So many people are working in a hybrid model, and the ease of these pieces to wear to the office, or more casually, is just right,” Everlane CEO Andrea O ‘Donnell tells me about the capsule’s arrival.
About that timing: The same week I took Everlane’s capsule for a test drive, I was also easing back into Fashion Week events and general commuter life. If I hadn’t had Everlane’s capsule in my closet, I would have wanted items just like it. The term essentials is maybe overused in fashion, but these items fit the definition: The blazer had the exact boxy cut I want to dress up tees and jeans for Zooming from home, while the oversized black trench felt elevated enough to wear over all my outfits for meetings and shows. Oh, and it also made daily errands, like walking my dog, feel more like an occasion. Even when I ‘m not hurrying between settings where I know I’ll be seen, I’ll still want to wear that jacket.
I also need to make a little commotion for those pants. They converted me from pants skeptic to forever trouser girl. They have the perfect high waist—over the belly button, but not up to my rib cage—and they have ample slouch without looking sloppy. (I’ll note that the pants crease easily and will need a steam after you unwrap your order.) I wore them with a tissue turtleneck, ankle boots, and the black trench one day; two days later, it was chunky sneakers and an equally relaxed sweater.
I ‘m looking forward to re-wearing the Everlane pieces I already have and buying at least two more pairs of the drape pants in different colors. I’ll need them for a spring full of IRL workdays ahead. —HL