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The capsule wardrobe

Capsule in your closet

THE TRENCH A versatile classic for wet weather, warmer winters, cold springs and everything else in between. Burberry's version has become the benchmark, with its 156-year heritage and sturdy gabardine, cut to flatter any shape

The capsule wardrobe may sound complex but it's a shopping strategy that will see you through hard times and last for years to come.

If you're an average fashion follower, your income will probably not allow you to make expensive mistakes. The solution: the capsule wardrobe. It's a vaguely threatening phrase often used to admonish the more haphazard among us, like photos of houses with no clutter or socks on the floor. But don't let that scare you off: a well-selected capsule of clothing can see you through all seasons and occasions without looking stale. In fact, you'll be more chic for not slavishly following the trends.
Initially popularised by Donna Karan, who launched her '7 Easy Pieces' range in 1985, the concept was devised to make life as a busy, working woman and mother as easy as possible, segueing seamlessly from office scenarios to weekend wear and back again. While tastes may have moved on (the selection opposite contains a few more pieces for versatility), the formula and logic have not.

Clearly there are budget constraints - and the items here are perfect world picks - but these are universal and ubiquitous pieces available at all prices. Spend as much as your budget allows, as the logic of a capsule wardrobe is undercut by false economy. And don't forget to enjoy your new found fashionable freedom. HARRIET WALKER/ THE INDEPENDENT


Cashmere may seem excessive but it lasts, as long as you take care of it. V-neck styles are classic, but plain crew necklines are easier to layer over other pieces;navy is the height of elegance, but black would work just as well


The fast-fashion formula of simply buying the cheapest T-shirts doesn't work in the long run, as seams go wonky and hemlines shrink. Instead, pay for quality (grey will work with anything) and handwash to lengthen lifespans


A catwalk favourite almost as much as it is a wardrobe staple, a quality shirt works for every occasion. Silk softens things abit, and if you feel white is too starchy and severe, try a very pale pink or cream


The shoe de nos joursthanks to Kate Moss and Sienna Miller, this cult Repetto model was favoured by Brigitte Bardot in the Fifties, and anything worn by a beautiful French woman is fashionable forever

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