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Elevated Basics – How to Super Charge Your Capsule Wardrobe

One thing my personal styling clients often ask me about is the capsule wardrobe. It’s a concept that was devised so that you have up to forty interchangeable “basic” pieces that can be combined in a number of configurations, maximising your outfit possibilities. Purists would say that it consists of ten basic, and very hard working, pieces. But because I get easily bored with my wardrobe, I would argue that it consists of up to forty pieces. And those forty pieces result in more outfits combinations that I care to mention. You can read my complete guide to the capsule wardrobe here.

Once you’ve mastered the concept of your capsule wardrobe, there’s more you can do to take it to the next level. To super charge your capsule wardrobe. Its about looking polished, stylish and above all else, interesting. And it’s all about elevated basics…

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First off, the “basic” I’m talking about here is a piece of clothing. The basic building blocks to your outfits. Trousers, skirts, a white shirt, a black blazer, loafers etc.

Everyone’s wardrobe consists of these pieces. They’re the hardest working items in your wardrobe. The things you wear every day. And funnily enough, they are often the items that we spend the least amount of money on. Instead, we spend a fortune on that dress or good top that we only wear on special occasions.

So what I’m about to tell you might just blow your mind, because it’s about reversing that situation. Those everyday items need to be the ones that are the best quality. They have to stand the test of wearing on public transport, in the office, to the bar, to brunch, to your mum’s place, over and over again. They’re worth investing in.

And this is where the “elevated” element comes into the equation. Because elevated basics are items of clothing of exceptionally good quality for starters. But it is also so much more than the quality.

What makes a basic elevated comes down to a few things:

1. Quality

As mentioned above, the primary feature of your elevated capsule wardrobe is the quality of the garment. Look for natural fabrics that are beautifully made, and have that obviously luxurious finish to them. Check for lining on jackets and coats. Look at the seams, are they straight?

It’s these pieces that will stand the test of time, look the most polished, as well as take your outfits to all levels of epic.

2. Details

The details are so important when it comes to elevated basics. It could be an asymetrical hem, striking-looking buttons, a quality leather belt, a dramatic sleeve, a crop of the trousers, a chic print on the fabric.

Think about how you can add a little more drama or interest to a piece yourself through alteration. Could you replace the buttons with more eye catching ones? Can you replace the belt with a better quality one?

3. Fabric

Fabric is key to your basic pieces. And to take them from standard to fabulous, think about the fabric. Natural, quality fabrics will last so much longer as well as ooze luxury.

Keep this in mind when purchasing new pieces. Instead of you average pair of camel trousers, why not get them in a soft buttery leather? How about a silk shirt instead of cotton? This distinction will make all the difference.

4. Cut and Fit

This is where it can get difficult and you may need to enlist the assistance of a good tailor. Inevitably with my own clients, we end up getting pieces tailored to fit them perfectly.

It helps enormously if you start out with a piece that is beautifully cut and fits you well (better to go larger rather than smaller). From there, if you do need alterations, it’s only a matter of a nip here and a little tick there.

But a beautifully cut item is a thing to behold, and should flatter you in all the right places. And that is the difference between a capsule wardrobe and a super-charged wardrobe.

The final element of your elevated basic is attitude. You’ve got to wear it with confidence and the kind of attitude that says, “Yes, I’m wearing camel, leather culottes, and I feel amazing.”

In this outfit, I’ve elevated my trousers by going for a cropped pair in the softest, butteriest of leathers. The slogan tshirt is a little more interesting than a standard white tshirt, and this blazer is all levels of polished with its buttons, sharp cut and excellent quality fabric. And when it comes to stilettos, instead of plain black, they’re leopard, which makes a conservative outfit much more interesting.

If you are interested in personal styling services to help you super charge your wardrobe, find out more about my services here.

Leather trousers: John Lewis & Partners; blazer: previous season Camilla & Marc (similar here and here); Shoes: Sam Edelman

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