Adulting 101: The Ultimate Guide to the Capsule Wardrobe

Welcome to your late teens, collegiettes! At this age, your style can be anything and everything. This age is so fun for your inner fashionista because you suddenly have different events and occasions to attend. You also may be able to buy more clothing of your choice because of a new freedom or job, and of course, you can wear clothes that will flatter your #adult figure. You might think that your wardrobe is fine as is, but hear me out. As you’re moving into adulthood, it’s essential to have a wardrobe or know the formula, that compliments a professional, mature lifestyle. Images of frumpy black dress pants and monochromatic sweaters might be boring you enough to you shy away from this capsule wardrobe, but having a few versatile items in your closet will really help you out when you’re in a stitch. Even better, you’ll be guaranteed to make a lasting impression that conveys style and your inner #BossWoman.

A capsule wardrobe, for collegiette purposes, is a collection of a few versatile and chic items that compliment each other. They are perfect for days when you have no time because the capsule wardrobe will let you virtually pull out any top, any pant and any shoe to create the perfect outfit.

The formula

First of all, you need a formula, and it’s all fun from there! This capsule wardrobe is specific for the young collegiette woman so it will be professional while still trendy and timeless yet youthful. You might be thinking that the only formula is a shirt and pants, right? Let’s take it a bit further. There should usually be something going on up to and something more neutral on the bottom, or vice versa. This goes for prints, colors and frills. This also goes for form-fittingness. If your pants are on the tighter side, don't wear a skin-tight top. And again, vice versa. These formulas are about maintaining balance and keeping things simple.


For a sophisticated yet versatile look, try to keep your tops rather form fitting. This will work well in more professional setting, as well as everyday casual settings. To have all your tops go with all your pants, stick to more neutral colors so you won’t have to spend time worrying about color coordination. Blacks, whites, greys, navy blues, dark greens and shades of khaki will all work. Burgundies and warm colors might be harder to pair, but the easy thing about capsule wardrobes is that they’re built by YOU and you select the pieces that work best. If you can’t handle the idea of a neutral wardrobe, you don’t need to make it all neutral! Just stick to a color scheme like blues or pinks to make sure pieces match. Also, have at least one of each type of shirt- formal, button-up, sweater and a classic tee. Don’t be afraid to layer to create new looks. A collared shirt under a sweater will give you major #adulting vibes, but will actually be a low maintenance, lazy day outfit.

Image via Too Polished


Again, go for colors that are staples and blend well! Dark jeans are so versatile that they can be dressed up or down depending on the top and shoes you wear. Loose boyfriend jeans are not only trendy, but again, versatile. Try having fun down there ;)! Cigarette pants are super classy and fashionable right now. They can be worn casually or to a job interview. Skirts are welcome, but make sure their style can be paired with almost any top in your wardrobe- that’s the whole idea, grab and go!

Image via JanelleWitty  


There are three essentials for footwear in a capsule wardrobe: fancy heels/flats, sneakers, and another kind of shoe. The third kind can include booties, mules, loafers, or any other kind of daily footwear that can be paired with almost any outfit. Those fancy heels/flats should be more classy and subdued for the professional world, but still chic enough to wear with your favorite party look. It’s all about balance! Sneakers can be used for running, days you have to walk a lot and even just for the style. As you have probably seen, white minimalist sneakers can turn almost any outfit from drab to fab (excuse my 2010 lingo). Lastly, your choice of everyday footwear is up to you! Choose something that can generally be worn in almost all seasons, like booties or loafers. And make sure they don’t make too much of a statement on their own. The more personality something has, the harder it is to pair with other things.


Image via Bay to Baltic


For coats, go for something more stiff or loose. If your outerwear is tight, it might look sloppy and reveal bulges of clothing underneath. Trench-coat styles tend to be more sophisticated and have an #adulting vibe to them, while down jackets are not only a little more juvenile, they are not as dressy and fall on the tighter side.

Image via Jayde Archives

Disclaimer: This capsule wardrobe is not saying to toss your trusty winter coat or never buy boots again because you can’t make them work with an outfit every single day. You are still totally allowed to retain your own style, however flashy or subdued. Keep doing you and dress the way you want, whenever you want!

Capsule wardrobes are meant to help you survive hectic mornings and maintain your style. It’s a common “rule” that as we age, we find our style and stick to it. If you’re looking for that transition, then give capsule wardrobing a try! If your time is not now, and might never be, that’s totally alright, too! If you don’t want a capsule wardrobe but want a few tips and tricks to reduce some stress-induced headaches over your outfits, remember to buy a few items that can be easily mixed and matched with other items in your closet already, then reach for those when you’re running late.

As your capsule wardrobe progresses, start to select “investment” items. Although a bit pricier, they will last for years and ensure your timeless style doesn’t have an expiration date. Coats and dresses work better for this trick, but nice tops can also be kept and utilized. I had a high school teacher who wore a Calvin Klein dress she bought from the 90s! Because it was such good quality, it did not pill or look worn out. The secret: she considered the style and versatility when she bought it over twenty years ago.

Good luck with your style, budget and wardrobe, collegiettes!