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Back To The Future, Part 1: 5 Upper Body Capsule Wardrobe Essentials

Updated: Jul 31, 2019


Dear Katherine,


If you are reading this, you made it to age 20. Bernadette is your best friend, but kick ball camp is making you think Annie might be a better choice. As long as they both like you better it will be ok.


I think you might look pretty in a red dress if you grow your hair long.


I hope that you end up being at least one of the top 50 prettiest girls in your class.


I really hope you grow up and your head gets smaller and also that Sam likes you.


- Katherine N. 3rd Grade.


Ah, my capsule letter written to myself at the tender age of 8. The assignment was intended to be a sort of love letter to myself of lofty dreams and far reaching achievements I hoped to accomplish by age 20.


I was a very particular child with a very distinctive set of dreams and preoccupations. And while it’s impossible to have it all, I am elated that my body eventually caught up to my robust head making me the proud recipient of a semi average sized adult cranium by the age of 20.


Do you remember writing a capsule letter to yourself in elementary school? It’s designed to provide insight to your future self regarding the kind of life and dreams you had as a wee human.


And that’s where I think the idea of a capsule wardrobe is borrowed from. But rather than providing insight into the past, a capsule wardrobe is actually designed to be used over and over again for the future. Simply put, it’s a collection of a few essential items of clothing that don't go out of style and can be augmented with seasonal pieces - meaning you’ll never be forced to have to go shopping again!


There’s a dizzying amount of information out there on how to create a proper capsule wardrobe, and I’m finding that the “how to” is presented like a 100-step lasagna recipe. So, I have taken it upon myself to simplify the process and show you the top 10 things over the course of 2 blog posts to have in your capsule wardrobe.


This week I’m focusing on your top 5 upper body pieces, and next week we’ll finish up with the top 5 lower body pieces. Let’s jump in!


1. Jean Jacket


The jean jacket is the perfect accompaniment to any dress and might even make a ball gown wearable. The denim jacket is the great neutralizer, making something dressy more casual and something offensively bright suddenly wearable. When choosing your jean jacket for a capsule wardrobe, choose ones without decorative tears, embroidery or appliques as all of the aforementioned things will date your jacket. Instead, look for dark or light washed denim jackets that have a wider more generous “boyfriend cut” that will allow you to layer infinite items in your closet…like bulkier sweaters or knit dresses in the fall and winter.


2. Collared Button-Up


The button up is a style chameleon. You can wear it open with a V necked tee, buttoned and tucked into a skirt, or twisted and knotted in the front with a skinny pair of jeans or over a maxi dress. One that will go the distance with you will offer a pointed collar with a notched neckline and a bit of stretch for good measure. When you are deciding on your button-up, choose one that offers princess seams - long rounded seams sewn into women's blouses or shirts to add shaping or a tailored fit to closely follow your natural shape - as this kind of tailoring is timeless and will flatter any woman at any age. And when it comes to color, white, cream, black and navy are my top picks for button ups that will be your style friends well into old age.


3. Fitted Blazer


A blazer will add instant polish to any outfit you piece together. When choosing a blazer to be part of your day-to-day casual look, remember: a three-button blazer says you're ready for business, but a one-button can be dressed up or down. As with the jean jacket, choose a cut of blazer that has a looser boyfriend cut as it will allow for a multitude of layering options. When choosing a color, I encourage you to go the route of black, grey or navy. And a word of caution is in order when selecting a lapel (the part of each side of the coat that sits below the collar and is folded back on either side): a dramatic, larger lapel may be initially edgy, but it will prove to be outdated in subsequent years. When you choose a blazer, choose one with a conservative lapel that’s width does not exceed 2 inches. Trust me, or you will look eerily reminiscent of John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever.


4. Neutral Crew-Necked Tank


My olive crew necked tank plays nice with most items in my closet as olive green is the new neutral in the family of black and navy. When choosing a crew cut tank, choose one that sits just below your collar bone as a higher cut is less flattering to the neckline. The crew necked tank will be around for eons, and it pairs wonderfully with a jean jacket, fitted blazer or maxi cardigan. Its neckline and straight silhouette are timeless, making it your job to find one that makes you feel like a bad ass. And while you have freedom to choose from the standard neutrals, I implore you to play consider olive green as it offers a generous pop of color while still being easy on the eyes.


5. Grey Maxi Cardigan


When choosing your maxi cardigan, going button-less is key. Think of a button as an added accessory, and every added button makes it infinitely less wearable with other items in your closet. The long maxi cardigan adds a bit of whimsy to any neutral ensemble. Cardigans that hit at the waist are a cut that is dated and feels a little like Grandma, whereas the silhouette of the button-less maxi offers one unobstructed line and plays nice with infinite style configurations in your closet. It can be paired with jeans and a tee or a pencil skirt and tucked in tank. It is the key finisher to any casual outfit. It instantly makes anything you wear look more dressed up and sophisticated.


Back To The Future


Gathering these 5 items ensures that your upper half will be stylishly dressed for years to come. Simply sprinkle in exciting pieces that you obtain along the way on top of this upper body foundation and enjoy the sleek simplicity that a capsule wardrobe offers! Stay tuned for next week’s post when we go over my top 5 capsule wardrobe recommendations for your lower half!



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