8 Essential Items for a Capsule Wardrobe After 60, According to Style Experts
These items are the perfect base for an "edited, mini wardrobe."
If you've ever struggled to get ready, panicking that you have "nothing to wear," you might truly benefit from a capsule wardrobe. Let's set the scene—you've planned an outfit in your head, but when you try it on, it doesn't look like what you envisioned. Trying on different tops and bottoms can be exhausting, but if you're over 60, it can be that much more tiring to find a flattering yet fashionable look. Thankfully, a capsule wardrobe eliminates all of that fuss.
"A capsule wardrobe is an edited, mini wardrobe that can be mixed and matched for maximum outfit combinations using the minimum number of garments," Elizabeth Kosich, certified image stylist and founder of Elizabeth Kosich Styling, tells Best Life. "The concept can apply to an entire wardrobe or be used to curate wardrobes within a wardrobe—e.g., career capsule, travel capsule, seasonal capsule, weekend capsule, etc. It's a formulaic way of dressing that removes frustration, dread, and exasperation for those who suffer such emotions."
While the capsule wardrobe recently became trendy, the term actually dates back to the 1970s, when Susie Faux, owner of a boutique in London, asserted that a few staple items could be adapted and supplemented for all-season wear. Fashion designer Donna Karan capitalized on this idea with her "Seven Easy Pieces" collection in 1985, which featured "interchangeable workwear attire," per The Washington Post.
The capsule "formula" is flexible, but the trick is finding the right items for you and your lifestyle—and investing in well-made pieces that fit to a T. If you've spent the last few decades acquiring a closet full of clothes, you might even have the perfect pieces hiding in plain sight. Read on to find out the eight essential items you need for a capsule wardrobe after 60.
A quality blazer
Across the board, stylists say that a quality blazer is essential for your capsule wardrobe, and you should aim for versatility. Kosich recommends looking for colors like black and navy and trying on different styles to see what suits you best. You might opt for something oversized or go a bit retro and look for a blazer with shoulder pads or metallic buttons. Style coach Angela Foster says that a cropped option could also be great for those over 60, as the longer styles "can turn frumpy fast."
If you don't go into an office or dress up regularly, you may not think that a blazer is necessary for your day-to-day life, but Tara West, fashion stylist and lifestyle blogger, notes that a well-fitted blazer is great to pair with jeans. "I love a good blazer and always find a reason to dress up my denim with a tailored jacket," she says.
Both Foster and West advise experimenting with different options and finding the style option that works best for you.
"Take the liberty to redefine 'suiting,'" Kosich explains. "For some, a sweater coat or shrug instead of the traditional blazer or jacket better suits their lifestyle. Or, for a high-style look, consider a cape (daytime) or kimono robe (evening) instead of traditional outerwear pieces." Another option can be trading a blazer for a denim jacket, Foster says.
To pair with your blazer, you should also invest in a quality pair of trousers. West recommends going for a mid- or high-rise style. Again, you'll want to choose a neutral color like navy or black, Kosich says, and if you're looking for denim, she recommends looking for a trouser cut, which has a fitted waist but a wider leg.
The key here is quality, so don't be afraid to seek out a tailor if you find a pair that you like but find that the fit could be better.
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A statement skirt
Kosich also includes a statement skirt on her list, which is where you can introduce more of your personal taste in terms of colors and patterns. Your skirt should make a statement by standing out, but be sure you select one that's "trend-proof" and made in a fabric that's not going to fall apart after a few wears. If you select the right one, Kosich says that you'll be able to keep it in your wardrobe even as you "redefine [your] needs and personal style with age."
"Capsule collections are built for the long-term, so investing in quality pieces is critical," Kosich explains. "Look for brands with elevated basics or, for a high-low mix, make sure quality and style will last two to three years."
A timeless sweater
Winter will be settling in soon, meaning you're probably pulling out your sweaters to get ready for colder weather. Stylists say that sweaters are a style must, but you don't need as many as you might think.
West recommends a classic cashmere sweater in—you guessed it—a neutral color like black, white, off-white, grey, beige, or navy. When your key pieces match everything, you're free to supplement with the colorful or patterned pieces that you love (like that statement skirt).
If you prefer a turtleneck to stay extra warm, cozy, and fashionable, Kosich agrees with West that cashmere is your best bet. A bit on the pricier side, cashmere is notably softer and more lightweight (without sacrificing warmth), giving you an elegant and elevated look that'll withstand the test of time.
READ THIS NEXT: 5 Tips for Wearing Boots Over 65, According to Style Experts.
A flattering dress
Your capsule wardrobe should definitely include a dress, and Kosich asserts that a classic wrap style is best for women over 60. This flattering fit ties at the waist, literally wrapping from one side to another, and can be tightened or loosened depending on how you want it to fit.
In addition to the freedom to adjust, these dresses are timeless and can be dressed up or down. Check the label to make sure it's made from a breathable fabric, per Kosich's suggestion, namely cotton, silk, or linen that are "essential in 60+ capsule collections."
If you find that a wrap dress overwhelms your figure, or you just don't like the look, shop around—chances are there's an LBD (little black dress) that'll be the perfect addition to your versatile collection.
A selection of blouses
When it comes to tops, blouses are another capsule wardrobe necessity. Grab one in white, per Kosich's recommendation, which can be worn on its own or used to layer under sweaters and even crewneck sweatshirts.
Similar to Kosich, West advises those over 60 to look for a few different blouses, preferably those made from "quality fabrics like silk and cotton." A neutral color is best, but you can experiment with a subtle color like pale pink or blue. If you want to add a statement blouse, that would be a welcome addition, and Kosich suggests selecting a colorful option in silk.
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A classic jacket
When the air is colder, you'll also need a jacket, of course. There are a few different options for your capsule wardrobe, and depending on where you live, you might be used to sporting different coats in different seasons. However, if you find a coat that's somewhere in the middle, you'll get the most bang for your buck.
To accomplish this, Kosich suggests a "menswear-inspired overcoat of medium weight for maximum versatility" or a trench coat that is either full-length or a bit cropped. A leather jacket is always a go-to for a night out on the town or to dress up jeans—and it's one fashion staple that truly never goes out of style.
A fun scarf
Accessories are really where you can let your style sing and accentuate your capsule wardrobe. If you're looking to introduce one key player, stylists suggest a scarf. These can be silky or knitted, leveling up a dressy or casual outfit, Foster says. For those over 60, it can also keep you feeling confident in your look.
"The neck and décolletage are two areas a lot of women aren't crazy about showing off as they get older," Foster tells Best Life. "Scarves are a great solution. They camouflage AND are a brilliant way of adding a pop of seasonal color."
You can go for a neutral here, but you can also follow Foster's "80/20 rule" when building your capsule wardrobe. "Eighty percent of your closet should fall into your staple palette, but have fun with the other 20 percent," she says.