Designer Amanda Wakeley’s 5 golden rules for a capsule wardrobe

Designer Amanda Wakeley’s 5 golden rules for a capsule wardrobe

Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Lawrence and model Sofia Richie Grainge are among the celeb frontrunners of timeless fashion, or what’s now known as ‘stealth wealth’ dressing.

Their styling of classic pieces and repeated outfits ushered in an era of understated minimalism and an ode to sustainability.

Despite trends ebbing in and out, this way of dressing never ages, and luckily for us, it’s the foundation of a capsule wardrobe.

Gwyneth Paltrow frequently sports tonal monochrome looks (Ian West/PA)

Having received patronage from Princess Diana, Amanda Wakeley OBE is best known for her “clean glam” signature styles. We spoke to the British designer about the key pieces you need in order to start building a timeless and sustainable wardrobe.

What should a capsule wardrobe consist of?

Made up of well-curated versatile classics, a capsule wardrobe should contain pieces that can be mixed and matched, for a variety of looks. “Typically, it consists of between 10 to 30 items,” Wakeley explains, “including clothing, shoes and accessories, focusing on quality over quantity.”

What you constitute as a classic item heavily depends on your lifestyle, says Wakeley. “Items such as a well-tailored blazer, crisp white shirts, a little black dress, and versatile shoes are integral. The idea is to create a cohesive wardrobe that simplifies dressing and maximises style with minimal effort.”


Tu Stone Textured Coord Waistcoat, £22

Nobody’s Child Black Satin Jacquard Selma Midi Dress, £49 (was £85)


Reformation Classic Crew Tee, £38

Where do I start with my current clothes?

Starting your capsule wardrobe is all about finding your true style. “It’s worth starting with reviewing what you already own – ideally pull it all out, be prepared to do a massive try on, and only keep the clothes you love, fit you well and make you feel good,” says Wakeley, “don’t forget, if you love something but it doesn’t fit you well or flatter you, it is worth taking to your local tailor to see what the options are in terms of altering it.”

1. Find the shapes that suit you

Finding the right silhouette for your shape involves understanding your unique body type and what flatters you. “I would start by making sure you have some well-fitting lingerie – a good bra can be transformative!” laughs Wakeley, “then determine your body type – whether it’s pear, apple or hourglass. Experiment with different cuts and styles to see what accentuates your best features.”

Cameron Diaz flatters athletic build in strapless jumpsuit (Ian West/PA)

“For example, if you have an hourglass figure, look for clothes that accentuate your waist. If you have a pear shape, A-line skirts and wide-leg pants can balance your proportions, or if you’re bigger chested opt for a flattering V neckline to elongate your neck and chest.”

Wakeley recommends taking a mirror selfie to be objective about the person in the picture as opposed to the mirror.

(Nobody’s Child/PA)

Nobody’s Child Cream Linen-blend Wide Leg Mika Jumpsuit, £48.30 (was £69)

2. Find your colour palette

Determining your colouring in order to identify which hues and tones compliment your skin and hair is imperative for forming a base wardrobe.

“I am not a big fan of being too prescriptive about what our ‘colours’ should be,” says Wakeley, “our skin tone can change according to the time of year, not to mention our hair colour! If in doubt I always revert to – what makes me feel good?”

The late Queen Elizabeth II was known for her bold use of colour blocking (Steve Parsons/PA)

The Colour Code’s founder, Anna Curtis, notes, “When you shop from a tonally cohesive palette, half the work is already done for you and you’re building a wardrobe that coordinates perfectly.”

Wakeley recommends going in-store as opposed to online shopping and having a “big old try on” to experiment with colours outside your comfort zone that make you feel vibrant and confident.

“You should prioritise creating a wardrobe that brings you joy, makes you feel confident and reflects your personality,” says Curtis. “We can make an impact and represent ourselves when we walk into a room before we even say a word!”

(Nobody’s Child/PA)

Nobody’s Child Blue Linen-Blend Bernadetta Blouse, £55


Boden Alice Linen Top, £52.50 (was £75)

3. Prioritise versatility and quality

The Duchess of Sussex is known for her versatile and high quality basics (Chris Jackson/PA)

“Pick pieces that can be styled in different ways and worn for various occasions,” Wakeley states. “Invest in high-quality items that are durable – they will last longer and maintain their appearance over time. Make sure each piece fits you well and makes you feel confident.”


Reiss Tailored Wool Blend Double Breasted Suit Blazer, £148 (was £298)

Do I have to pick between function and fun?

When the term ‘capsule wardrobe’ is mentioned, basic white T-shirts and plain blue jeans spring to mind – but Wakeley assures us this doesn’t have to be the case.

“A well-curated capsule wardrobe strikes a balance – while your wardrobe’s foundation should include versatile, functional pieces, there’s always room for items that can be transformative – a statement belt, shoes, jewellery or a bag, not to mention a pop of unexpected colour,” Wakeley explains.

Singer, Eve, accessorises with a pop of colour (Ian West/PA)

“The key is to ensure that even your playful pieces blend seamlessly into your overall wardrobe. Fashion should be enjoyable, and your capsule wardrobe should reflect that and who you are.”


Parfois Leather Shoulder Bag, £29.99 (was £35.99)

The bottom line

Not only does forming a capsule wardrobe lessen decision fatigue and help you save money, it is ultimately a move we must be making for our planet.

eBay’s Pre-Loved style director Amy Bannerman notes that starting a capsule wardrobe is a good opportunity for a clear out. “It helps you see what you’ve got and, in turn, what you need,” she says.

“Plus, selling your old clothes can make you some extra cash to invest in good quality, long-lasting garments.”