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The Basic Essentials You Need For The Ideal Capsule Wardrobe

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Mass Amherst chapter.

Do you ever feel like you have so many clothes but nothing to wear at the same time? Lately, I’ve been building my capsule wardrobe, a concept that ensures that your closet is filled with neutral, interchangeable basics that can be worn seasonally and for almost any occasion. This makes it so much easier to put outfits together since nearly everything can be mixed and matched. Becoming more conscious of the items in your closet and knowing what you wear most often will ultimately limit your closet to the necessities.

So, how do you build this kind of wardrobe? The step I would suggest beginning with is to go through what you already have and try to be strict and honest with yourself. Envision your closet and think, are there any items you find yourself struggling to match with other things? Is there anything that doesn’t fit you properly or you just don’t seem to wear? Have a fashion show for yourself to figure out what is really essential to your style. Then, consider donating or passing along what you don’t need to someone you know or someone in need. 

Capsule wardrobes most commonly incorporate neutral colors – like black, white, brown, tan, and gray. These colors can easily match each other to make your closet more manageable, as you can interchange these colored clothes in endless ways. I personally have started buying these colors more often and have definitely been having an easier time creating outfits, saving myself lots of time in the morning that used to be spent staring at my closet unsatisfied for several minutes. 

To list some of the items that I’ve begun adding to my style, here are some ideas of items that you might want to incorporate into your own capsule wardrobe:

White and Black Long Sleeves

These are great additions to a wardrobe, which can be dressed up or down by pairing them with different bottoms or jackets for various occasions. They can also be styled under t-shirts or tank tops to add some layers if that’s your vibe! I also love matching these long sleeves with patterned skirts or pants, which always creates a fun outfit.

Black, White, and Gray Tanks and Tees

No matter the season, these are the perfect clothes to pair and layer with. In the summer, they are great on their own to keep you cool in the sun. And in the winter, layering these under cardigans, hoodies, flannels, and jackets can add so much to elevate an outfit.


Jeans almost always go with everything. I typically prefer to wear white or darker-washed jeans for those dressy but casual occasions. Specifically flared, straight-leg, or skinny jeans always look great with a pretty blouse. Although, having some ripped, patterned, or “mom jeans” to pair with can also add some spice to your closet. 

Stylish Girl In Front Of Door Way
Arianna Tucker / Her Campus


Black and gray zip-ups are what I most often wear for layering. They add a nice thin layer over any kind of top, or if the weather is just a little too chilly to only wear a sweatshirt, I love layering them under a flannel or denim jacket. Pullover hoodies and crewnecks are my absolute favorites, though. I have lots of hoodie colors because I wear them so much, so it’s helpful to have some black leggings or jeans to pair them with.

Of course, this is certainly not to say that you only need neutral colors in your closet. It’s so important to be able to express yourself through your clothing, and wearing what makes you feel good. One of the reasons I began building a capsule wardrobe in the first place is because of my love for colorful patterned pants, which I used to struggle to match anything with. The journey of building a wardrobe that captures the everyday essentials has been so worthwhile for me. It makes my daily routines more efficient by giving me an overall more organized style, which prevents me from overspending on clothes I don’t need. When done right, the capsule wardrobe develops a sustainable and less overwhelming closet filled with clothing that fits you; your style, and your body. Feeling good in your clothes is the most important thing because your closet is supposed to fit YOU, not the other way around!

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Jessica Mangels

U Mass Amherst '25

Jess is a junior Environmental Science major at UMass Amherst with a minor in Education. She is from Long Island, New York, and loves being able to catch a good sunset at the beach. She enjoys sharing her passions about sustainability, saving the planet, her favorite TV shows, and music with others.