A guide to sewing your own Classic, Core Capsule

Me Made May was really informative for me this year. My goal was to emulate the cute capsule wardrobes I see on Pinterest and start re-wearing my clothes before washing by using them in more than one outfit a week. To say this has been a game-changer would be an understatement.

I’ve reduced my personal laundry by half (still working on the rest of my family) and re-discovered the joy of finding creative ways to wear my clothes. I’ve realized that I don’t need duplicates of things and can instead just make it once and wear it constantly (For example, I gifted two of my four pony tanks to my Sister in Law). I’ve also realized that I much prefer a classic cut in a solid neutral because it makes me feel more polished.

I’ve also hit a point in motherhood where my body has stabilized and I feel I can finally spend time making more tailored pieces and they will continue to fit me for several years. My youngest is now three and we are getting to a place where my kids are more independent which means I have regained some of my time and brainpower. I feel more like myself than I have since I started having kids. I actually have a solid, almost-guaranteed 15 minutes to get myself ready in the morning (I am in no way being facetious – this is a huge, new development for me) and I get to enjoy putting together a look I feel great in.

It feels like time to upgrade my wardrobe and, as always, the powers of Pinterest guide me.

What is a Classic Core Capsule?

If you search Capsule wardrobe on Pinterest, you will see endless posts with checklists, trench coats and blazers. You will definitely see guides with “what every woman should have in her closet.” You will absolutely be assaulted by a litany of black, white and beige. I’m not going to lie when I say I looooove scrolling these images. These wardrobes are often called “Core wardrobes,” “Four-season wardrobes,” or a “Five-piece French wardrobe.” The idea is the same: they contain a list of classic, basic garments that form the base of your wardrobe to white you can rotate in occasional, fun, colourful, or trendy items.

These wardrobes vary somewhat, but are always neutral and include many of the same garments. They’re always geared towards women who dress femininely and assume you work in some kind of professional setting (I’ll be rectifying this in my version below). I rounded up the 25 items you’ll most commonly find on these lists:

  1. Cross body purse
  2. tote bag
  3. loafers
  4. ballet flats
  5. ankle boots
  6. heels
  7. white sneakers
  8. camel overcoat
  9. leather motorcycle jacket
  10. blazer
  11. trench coat
  12. white button up
  13. white t-shirt
  14. camisole
  15. striped Breton sweater
  16. cashmere sweater
  17. cardigan
  18. chunky sweater
  19. silk blouse
  20. well-fitting jeans
  21. slacks or dress pants
  22. pencil skirt
  23. little black dress
  24. gold necklace
  25. silk scarf

My more inclusive and realistic list:

  1. small bag for nice occasions (for me, this is a black cross body bag)
  2. large bag for every day (I’ve got a tote for this)
  3. every day shoe (I’m going to invest in a nice loafer)
  4. second every day shoe (I’m a black ballet flats kinda gal)
  5. nice boots for weather (I have Blundstones and I love them)
  6. fancy occasion shoe (I’m going to try to find a comfy black heel that will work for my high arches)
  7. sneakers (Mine are white converse – I have an actual athletic shoe I use for walking and biking)
  8. nice, warm coat (I do have to agree with the online lists that a camel coat is a classic. I love the one I made last year)
  9. casual coat (I’m not much into moto jackets or leather, so I’m going to find something else that works in the same way)
  10. professional top layer (Not everyone needs a blazer. I like my Fulton Sweater Blazer for this because it’s super comfy but looks a little more dressed up that I usually dress. Basically, think of what you would wear to a job interview for a promotion – what’s just a bit more professional to make it look like you’re trying, but you don’t feel like you’re wearing someone else’s clothes.
  11. nice, light coat (I think I’m going to make some variation of a trench in the spring)
  12. button up (I do sort of feel like everyone should have a while button up in their closet for just in case, but I feel like you can make it feel your own by choosing a silhouette and fabric that feel like you.)
  13. knit t-shirt (I’m gonna go white for this one. I kind of astounds me that I don’t have one)
  14. date night shirt (The internet wants us to wear a spaghetti strap tank top, but that isn’t me. I think I’m going to make a River Top in a luxe-feeling fabric)
  15. striped sweater (I do love a classic Marinière and am counting my button-hacked Mandy for this one)
  16. cashmere sweater (I may not buy cashmere, but I am going to buy something that feels really nice. I am going to make sure this is a light sweater though, because I get really hot and I want to be able to layer it.)
  17. cardigan (I feel like we all have a cardigan we like so stick with that. I’ve got a black Blackwood that I’m going to count)
  18. chunky sweater (I’ve had the same RTW cable knit sweater for years. It’s cotton so it’s washable and I find that makes all the different.)
  19. nice top in a nice fabric (All of the Five-Piece French Wardrobes insist this should be a silk button up in a “colour” so I’m interpreting this as kind of a free-space on my bingo sheet for a fun top)
  20. great jeans (I’m trying to tell myself that one well-fitting jean is better than many not great ones. We shall see how my jeans-making adventure goes)
  21. nice pants (I am going to make myself some slacks, but comfy ones in a ponte. Probably the Sasha trousers)
  22. nicer bottom (This was originally the pencil skirt, but I have no interest in one. I’m going to make a black wrap skirt, but you could definitely do pants. Just make them slightly elevated with a detail or texture.
  23. special occasion outfit (I am definitely making myself an LBD, but you could easily do a jumpsuit or a straight up suit. Just make sure you’re ready for a wedding or a gala)
  24. nice piece of jewelry (I like the idea of buying myself a nice, gold pendant, but this could be earrings, a watch, cufflinks… you choose. Just make sure it makes you feel swanky)
  25. nice accessory (This is usually a silk scarf, but I honestly don’t know how I would wear it. I may count my felt hat for this one, but honestly, I think you should just have some kind of accessory to jazz up a look when you feel so inclined.

Check out my downloadable planner guide and worksheet on Patreon.

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