Common Wardrobe

The Common Capsule Wardrobe

I started using the term ‘Common Wardrobe’ back in 2012 to describe a core wardrobe of basic clothing items most of us already own.

I used to work in advertising, and thus I have hung around with some of the most eccentric, exotic and extraordinary people imaginable.

Flash back to a large conference room in a major European city (this happened at LEAST three times...).  The room is full - a couple of hundred advertising professionals from around the world.  There are amazing haircuts, astonishing eyeglasses, jewelry you've never seen before or since, scarves of every possible description, tied in every way you could envision.  Shoes?  The mind reels just at the memory.  And the socks were a thing of beauty...

But the most interesting thing, to my mathematical, always analyzing mind, is literally 90% of the people in the room, male and female, were wearing at least one of these twelve garments:

  • A black cashmere turtleneck
  • A grey, white, or black tee-shirt
  • A white or blue button down shirt
  • A black cardigan
  • A denim shirt
  • A long-sleeved black shirt
  • Khakis
  • Jeans
  • Black pants

A Core Common Capsule Wardrobe

They were wearing other things WITH these garments - snazzy jackets, or a brilliant silk top - but they almost always had one or two of these garments in their ensemble.

Yet at no point would you have noticed that Elena from Greece was wearing essentially the same outfit as Lars from Brussels... The devil is indeed in the details!

Meet the French 5-Piece Wardrobe

These core wardrobe items become a canvas for unlimited possibility when added with accessories in your chosen color palette. This is where the French 5-Piece Wardrobe concept comes into play. Begin with a core wardrobe of high-quality, classic, basics, like those listed above. Each season you invest in only five new statement pieces to update your look.

The capsule wardrobes in the articles below demonstrate how to bring your own personal style and flair to a common capsule wardrobe. [The articles appear with the most recent at the top of each list.]

Common Capsule Wardrobe Basics

Common Capsule Wardrobes Inspired by Art

Common Capsule Wardrobes in a Warm Color Palette

Common Capsule Wardrobes in a Cool Color Palette

Common Capsule Wardrobe Meets French 5-Piece

Mega Guide - The Common Capsule Wardrobe and 5-Piece French Wardrobe
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  1. This is so pretty, But I have noticed as I have gotten older, that the me who was so stunning in black, now looks infinitely better in pastels especially whites and creams and a splash of pale limey green. But somehow the pastels can look old ladyish, and I am a bit sick of older women in black slacks with a top of some sort. I still look nice in jeans. What can you suggest. The thought of mauve capris pants with an elastic waist is quite terrifying.

    1. Hi there! I noticed there hadn't been a response to your comment, so I thought I'd throw my two cents in...
      It's very common to look better in lighter hues as we age and our features soften. If you're still feeling confident in a nice pair of jeans, I say rock on! Avoid the elastic waistbands, as you mentioned, and look for well fitting pants (or take them to a tailor) to keep them comfortable and stylish. Remember to look for flattering back pockets on your pants to avoid a saggy looking bottom.
      For tops and dresses, pastels can look lovely and very stylish (not "granny") if you look for timeless cuts. Nothing too boxy or super trendy. I would avoid pleats and anything too flouncy. Also, I would recommend being a little adventurous with your accessories. A simple white or cream top can look amazing with a fun statement necklace or fashion scarf.
      Hope this helps! Take some time to peruse a couple department stores without feeling pressure to buy. Just look around to see what attracts your eye and flatters your features. Another hint: You may find that if you are now looking more alive in pastels and softer colors, fall and winter will NOT be the best time to try and shop, as the color schemes will not be as flattering. Prepare to make larger wardrobe purchases in the late winter and early spring when the seasonal hues will be readily available.
      Hope this helps! Best of luck!

  2. Help! I received a Hermes scarf as a gift, "Jardins d'Hiver", silk twill. It is the most beautiful thing that I own. I don't know how to build a wardrobe around it, I have avoided blues because they seemed difficult to match, I have been stuck in a "black" mode for years. This is a good time for me to "break out" of that. Can you take a peek at this scarf and use your considerable talents to make some suggestions? Thanks.

    1. Oooh, can you send me photographs of it - to I'm always happy to tackle an Hermes scarf wardrobe, but I need to know exactly which color-version of this scarf you have.

      I've seen that scarf, and it's gorgeous - lucky you!


  3. I would love the pattern for this costume. They are very common and can wear often. Thank you for sharing this article.