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How to Build a Capsule Spring Wardrobe

As Spring has finally sprung, you might have started thinking about personal styling, changing over your wardrobe to some lighter pieces, and getting together a capsule wardrobe for this in-between time. But what exactly is a capsule wardrobe? Well, it’s a collection of pieces that work together... you can mix and match them to create different looks for various occasions and ideally, you’ll also be able to dress them up or down for work and casually. You’ll also be able to layer them with each other to accommodate the erratic British weather, and you’ll have enough variation in colour to keep it interesting but so, all the pieces can still be combined easily.

The aim is to get maximum mileage from each piece, enabling you to create multiple different outfits, to take you through the colder days to the warmer ones that are (hopefully!) coming. So how do we do this? Here are some tips on what to look for as general guidance, followed by some specific pieces to build your capsule wardrobe for Spring 2023.

- Foret
- Foret

Stick to a limited colour palette 

In order to mix the pieces together easily, stick to a limited colour palette. Go for neutrals (navy, white, black, grey, beige) along with one or two other colours that work with them and can also be worn together. It might be instinctive to shy away from patterns, but they can be really useful in tying the colours together, so don’t dismiss them. Use some of the colours in the pattern to guide what your other purchases will be… the colours don’t have to match exactly but could be a shade or two lighter or darker. If you love patterns and plan to mix them, the best way to do it is to combine busy patterns with widely spaced ones, and large with small, so they don’t fight each other. It helps to have some cohesion between the colours too, and this can work well if they’re inverted e.g., a navy & white check shirt with more white in it, with a navy & white check jacket with more navy in it.

- Adam Katz Sinding
- Adam Katz Sinding

Choose things that can be layered 

When you’re thinking about what to buy – ask yourself if you can wear something underneath it or something on top. For example, if you’re going to get a shirt with flap pockets on the chest, you’ll be able to layer a t-shirt under it and a jacket over it, but you won’t be able to put a fine knit sweater on top as then you’ll be able to see the pockets through. Instead of that perhaps you could wear it as an overshirt and put a light sweater under it. As a very general rule, it tends to be easier to have the lightest colour as your base layer, getting darker as you get to the top. 

Think about the weight 

You’ll want to choose items in a mid-weight cloth which don’t look either too summery or wintery. Cotton, merino wool, or cotton knit sweaters, plus lightweight wools and jersey are the type of fabrics to look for. Avoid things like mohair, chunky knits, moleskin or tweeds, or summery linens or super lightweight trousers which are more season specific.

- Pitti Uomo
- Pitti Uomo

Here’s what to get for your Spring 2023 wardrobe

2 x Jackets 

Choose one like a bomber or zip up style, and one that could be a bit smarter like an unstructured blazer or a chore (workwear) jacket. Though a chore jacket is traditionally a more casual style they also work well instead of a blazer, if your lifestyle doesn’t require much formality. These two jackets should cover most scenarios and either of them can be worn with either jeans and a t-shirt or lightweight sweater, or dressed up. with a shirt and chinos. Look for neutral colours for the easiest combos or a pattern with colours that you frequently wear in it, and a midweight so you can wear it over layers now and a t-shirt later in the season. If you go for an unstructured blazer (no lining, padding or structure) then make sure you get the fit right – start from the shoulders and have the waist tapered in if it’s too boxy. You need to be able to do the button up (top one if it’s 2 buttons or middle one if it’s 3 buttons) without it pulling or bowing out at the chest area. And make sure the sleeves aren’t hanging down to the base of your thumb either – it has the effect of making the jacket look too big even if it’s not. 

3-5 x Shirts 

You can’t go wrong with classic Oxford shirts in white or pale blue which you can wear tucked in for a more formal look with the chinos, Chukka boots, and blazer/chore or left out for casual with the t-shirt, jeans, and bomber. Corduroy is often thought of as a wintery fabric but if you go for a baby cord (or needlecord) shirt in a light or pastel colour, then they can be worked really well into your Spring wardrobe too. Layer it under a sweater for now, and then wear it on its own with jeans for the warmer weather or over a t-shirt as a lightweight jacket in late Spring. Add to this a chambray shirt, that’s in a different shade to your jeans, so you can wear them together and a garment dyed cotton shirt and you’ll have a good variation. Add in a pattern if you feel like it and it goes with the other pieces you have.


3-5 x T-shirts 

You’ll need a selection of these in neutral colours and then one or two in other colours that tone well with your other things or pick out colours in a pattern you’ve chosen. 

2-3 Jeans / Trousers 

Go for one pair of trousers or jeans in a darker colour like navy, dark olive or charcoal, and one in a lighter colour such as beige, off white or light grey. You can then create different looks by switching up the combinations – a pale blue, white or pastel cord shirt with the darker trousers and then a darker sweater or t-shirt with the lighter trousers. If you haven’t already, you might want to think about moving away from slim legs to a wider silhouette, but if a classic look is more your thing, then stick to a slim cut, and perhaps introduce some pleats for a new look this Spring. 

2 x Knitwear 

A selection of crew neck knitwear in merino or cotton mixes are perfect for this time of year – you can layer them over t-shirts or shirts, and put them under the blazer, bomber, or chore jacket. A neutral will be easy to put with everything, maybe with a bit of texture like a honeycomb knit to add some interest. And then choose a colour for the other one – something that goes with all your bottom halves and tones with your shirts, and any patterns you have.

- Wax London
- Wax London

2 x shoes 

A pair of trainers and Chukka boots will be a great starting point for your Spring shoe wardrobe and could well be all you need. Depending on your style you might prefer to go for a clean leather trainer in white, navy or brown, or a chunkier more colourful style. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s going to go with all the other pieces in your capsule spring wardrobe and avoid having the colour of your trainers too similar to the colour of your trousers. Suede is great for Spring and a pair of chukka boots in a light brown will go well with most trousers or jeans. Go classic or for an updated look, check out the “apron” front styles. 


A couple of cotton or lightweight wool scarves will add personality to your outfits and ward off the chills on the colder days. An umbrella is a must to contend with Spring showers, and a pair of marl socks can add a bit of texture and interest to simple outfits. When you’re putting together your capsule wardrobe this Spring, before you buy, ask yourself the following questions… can I wear it for 3 different occasions? Can I wear it with 3 other items? Can I layer it in 3 different ways? That way, you won’t just be buying random pieces but will have a collection of items that all go together and make up great outfits for Spring.

Sarah Gilfillan

Sarah works within personal styling, shopping and wardrobe management. She helps men upgrade their appearance and achieve a stylish image that works with their lifestyle and personal style.

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