Effective wardrobes, and wardrobe capsules, use four essential building blocks. This has recently been a hot topic on the forum, so I thought I would summarize the way I think about this in a post. 

1. Wardrobe Basics

Basics are items like underpants, bras, camisoles, thermal underwear, shapewear, leggings, sleepwear, loungewear, socks, hosiery and workout wear. Many of these items are not visible components of your outfits.

Extremely bold versions of socks and hosiery can sometimes qualify as statement pieces in an outfit. But for the most part, they’re wardrobe basics.

2. Wardrobe Essentials

Essentials are usually versatile, current and simple in design, but they are not wardrobe basics. They are the “glue” that makes other items in your wardrobe work together. They can be clothing items, footwear or accessories. They often form part of your signature style. They are a specific item within a wardrobe category, but are not the entire wardrobe category. They are not statement pieces themselves, but often create a pulled together look by complementing a statement piece. They are PERSONAL. What is essential to one person is not to another.

3. Wardrobe Statements

Statements are wardrobe items that are eye-catching, memorable, and stand out in some way. They are full of personality and often somewhat unique. Where basics and essentials are the support act, the statement piece is the star of the show. They can be simple in design, yet bold or shiny in colour or pattern. Some prefer their statements exceptionally maximal and loud, whereas others prefer a quieter statement piece.

4. Wardrobe Completers

Items that are neither basic, essential nor statement are what I call completers. If your wardrobe is a movie set, the lead actors are the statement pieces, the supporting actors are the essentials, the film crew and the director are the basics, and all the extras in the background are the completers.

Any item — regardless of whether they are a basic, essential, statement piece or completer — can be a wardrobe workhorse. All of your building blocks evolve over time as you move through the current leg of your style journey.

I wish I could give you magical correct percentages for each of the building blocks, but that depends on your style and sartorial preferences. Generally though, maximal dressers tend to have a greater percentage of statement pieces. Minimal and “simple uniform dressers” tend to have a larger percentage of essentials and completers. You might wear lots of statement dresses and skirts in Summer, but keep things simpler in Winter, and vice versa.

I tend to have roughly equal quantities of each wardrobe building block. I have all my bases covered, and can easily create outfits that make me feel fab across a range of settings and occasions. I adore pretty bras, knickers, camisoles and loungewear, so I have a lot of undies and comfies. I have a wardrobe rich in essentials, and will happily dress in essentials from head-to-toe. I also have a wardrobe rich in statement pieces because of my love for bright colours, gold, and bold patterns. I have brightly coloured items across all wardrobe items because I crave a change in colour more than a change in silhouette. Completers are represented in about the same quantity as the other building blocks.

It can be helpful to assess your wardrobe across these building blocks if you’re struggling to create fab outfits. Maybe you need an injection of statements to amp up your look, or a slew of essentials to tone down the statements. Maybe you need to marry your essentials and statements with the right completers. Maybe you need to get your undies and socks sorted because they’re affecting the comfort levels of your clothes and footwear. It’s quite the delicate balance to get right.