As we inch closer to the holiday season, I’ve started thinking about how many pieces of clothing I end up giving away each year around Christmas to make room for the new.
On a large scale of how much energy was wasted to produce those giveaways, or a smaller scale of the money wasted on them, I am thinking more and more about picking out pieces from the best wardrobe brands that will last more than just a season!
Part of the problem is in the quality of the brands I’ve shopped at in the past. Even if I like the piece longer than the six months trial period in which I’ve purchased it, some brands (ahem– Shein, H&M, Zara, Forever 21), just completely dissolve after a few washes.
So in addition to looking for timeless styles, I am now only looking for quality pieces too. Clothing that I can feel good about both in the amount of use I’ll get out of it, as well as the ethical practices behind making it.
Why Build A Capsule Wardrobe?
That’s the idea behind capsule wardrobe clothes– a compilation of high quality basics (or not so basic!) that will last you many, many years. I am obsessed with this concept. I wish I’d started compiling years ago. I’d already have my capsule collection by now!
This is a list of some of the best capsule wardrobe brands. They are all priced in the mid to higher range, but rather than because of brand name recognition or an exclusivity ploy, it’s because of the high quality.
My mom has this *amazing* trick I think about when considering whether or not to purchase a more expensive wardrobe item. The trick is, divide the cost of the item by the number of wears you think you’ll get out of it.
If a pair of timeless jeans cost $150 but you’ll wear them 300 times, it’s like paying 50 cents a wear. That always feels worth it to me.
15 Very Best Brands to Build A Capsule Wardrobe
From conscious fashion brands and simple wardrobe staples to timeless pieces you’ll wear forever, here are some of the best capsule wardrobe pieces and brands while building your forever closet!
Sezane is one of the best wardrobe brands to look for knitwear, pastels, florals, and anything quilted. The brand is heavily influenced by Parisian street style, and is the perfect mix of unique and classic.
As a New York girly, I am not immune to the spell of Paris. Can’t help that we all just want to be sipping cappuccinos on Parisian street corners.
In addition to style, Sezane has a strong moral compass. 10% of all proceeds are donated to an education fund for low-income students, and all of their raw materials are sustainably sourced.
They have a wide range of sizes, and while they don’t go up to extended sizes (which is a mistake), they do have 3XL. The fitting is as expected, too.
As one would expect from a Paris fashion brand, these pieces are crafted with a high level of quality and attention to detail.
I am very into the Jose jumper as the perfect seasonal sweater to center a cozy wardrobe around. The cable knit design is always in fashion, and the color options allow it to be multi-seasonal.
Darling came onto the scene in 2012 as the first magazine not to retouch models’ pictures. That really sets the tone for their entire brand, which is centered around sustainable fashion with a conscience.
This is not a company that bends to trends or fast fashion. Darling is all about staple pieces that will last you years and years.
The price point for most pieces is definitely higher than the range at a site like Zara, but you’re paying for top quality that won’t fade while washing or disintegrate after a few months.
The Saunter Trouser is one of my favorites, in no small part due to the pleats down the front of the legs. I love this look– it’s been around since just about forever, and isn’t going away anytime soon. These pants are versatile as well. They can be dressed down with a t-shirt or dressed up with a nice blouse.
This past summer was *the* summer for linen. Brands were keying in to the desire for breathable, comfortable material that looks effortlessly put together.
But let me be very clear– nice linens are not just for the summer! If paired with a cozy cashmere sweater and some boots, a good pair of sturdy linen pants are excellent for the fall, too. Mongolian cashmere sweaters that our team reviewed on three different body types!
Quince is a company dedicated to sustainability. They work solely with factories that pay fair wages and utilize eco-friendly factory habits. Besides the amazing linen, most other pieces are made in certified organic cotton.
This style of chore jacket is the perfect staple piece to add to your sustainable capsule wardrobe. Made from 100% sustainable European flax, it’s ethical and stylish. I love a simple look embellished with large buttons and some front pockets. It adds flare to an otherwise simple, timeless look.
Quince also offers a decent selection of Italian leather bags and other items to complete your perfect fit check!
4. Girlfriend Collective
There’s nothing more important than a pair of spandex that doesn’t lose all elasticity after a month or two. Girlfriend is a cute af athletic and athleisure brand that holds themselves to a high moral standard in terms of production and marketing.
As opposed to similar brands (I’m thinking of LuLu, Athleta, Nike), Girlfriend is one of the most size inclusive, body positive fitness brands on the market.
Rather than an eye-rolling “plus sized” section with few variety and options, every single item ranges from XXS to 6XL. That should be the absolute bare minimum requirement of every brand, but we still love to see it.
The materials themselves are not only sustainable, but incredibly sturdy according to site reviews. These are pieces you can comfortably workout in for years.
I’m a runner, and one of my top concerns as fall begins every year is how to stay cozy on outdoor runs. I’m in love with these compressive high-rise leggings. There are a ton of different color options and a hidden back pocket to hold keys and phones.
I am an Everlane girly till the day I die. An Everlane capsule wardrobe is the only wardrobe I aspire to have. Simplicity is my favorite trend of all time, and they do it better than any of the other clothing brands.
Neutral colors are the key to the simple cleanness of Everlane’s style. I am a huge fan of high waisted pants. They are timeless, and these corduroys are among my favorites in terms of classic pieces.
The clothing is high quality and made with attention to detail. I own multiple pairs of jeans from Everlane, and they’ve lasted years with absolutely no wear.
Shoes are also an excellent choice from Everlane’s collection. The hype surrounding the Day Heels is completely warranted. They are classic, adorable, and go with pretty much any outfit. Or if you’re looking for a warm, classic trench coat, I have my eye on this cozy wool coat.
6. Universal Standard
Universal Standard gives NorCal, Pacific Northwest in the best way possible. Forget about the Patagonia vests of the Marina– Universal Standard pieces are the next to add to your capsule collections.
The standard of the company is to ensure that their clothing stands the test of time. One of the main goals is to create clothing that lasts. That’s pretty much the exact goal of a sustainable capsule wardrobe, so Universal Standard should be on your radar!
Pants can be one of the most challenging things to purchase online. Some brands run too small, some too tight, but the sizing on Universal Standard runs on in betweens, which is perfect for someone as indecisive as me.
I love these High Rise Stretch Twill Pants. Comfortable, high rise, and twill rather than denim, these are built for a comfy everyday wear.
Touted as one of the most size inclusive brands in the world, they run sizes 00-40, which is a slay.
ABLE is one of the best clothing brands for capsule wardrobes. Not only are all the clothing materials ethically and sustainably sourced, but the designs are classic and high quality.
The vibes of ABE are giving relaxed preppy. These are great looks for an office or more dressed up events.
Some of the basics are interchangeable with any vibe, too. The Maha Leather Jacket is one of my favorite pieces on the website. Leather jackets are perennially in fashion, and this is an item I’m inclined to splurge on rather than save. You want a high level of quality with the leather, and to know that it’s been procured in an ethical way.
8. Big Bud Press
I love unisex clothing brands so, so, so much. I am someone who finds herself frequently in the men’s section of most stores, and while that’s all fine and good, unisex fits much better. Men’s cuts typically are too broad in the shoulders and narrow in the hips!
Big Bud Press is one of the best brands for capsule wardrobes, especially for nonbinary and gender nonconforming people who have a difficult time deciding which “side” of the store to shop in. I relate, and I’m thankful for brands like Big Bud.
Pants in particular are difficult to shop for when going for a gender netural look. I love these heavy weight trousers for fall. They’re not only well-crafted, but the pleats are a nice detail. The heavy cotton will keep you warm through winter, too.
9. Measure and Made
Measure and Made is the future of clothing sizes. This should be an absolute keystone capsule clothing brand, as it is sizing literally tailored to you.
The idea behind Measure and Made is that clothing cannot ever perfectly fit anyone unless it’s been tailored. Our bodies are so different! How could one size ever fit all?
Rather than spend a bazillion dollars a year at the tailor, Measure and Made allows you to take a Shapelogic quiz that determines the best size for you based on your body type, height, and the areas in which pants most often fail to fit.
Once you have a Shapelogic size, you are good to go! The brand guarantees you’ll be satisfied with the fit, or your money back.
Personally, jeans are the most difficult item for me to find in a perfect fit. For that reason, I strongly suggest the Measure & Made jeans selection. Super cute, and built to last in your exact size!
Vetta slays. Hands down, this is one of the best, best capsule wardrobe brands for sustainability.
Using a family run factory in NYC, Vetta believes that you can create an entire wardrobe of five versatile pieces. They claim that just five high quality, well-picked pieces can be mixed and matched for a month’s worth of outfits.
That is not only sustainable for Mother Earth, but for your wallet too.
One of the coolest parts about Vetta is that they actually curate five piece capsule wardrobes for you. Classic, edgy, and casual are the three overarching themes with variations throughout. It’s like having your own stylist.
When picking a Vetta capsule wardrobe, I would start with the casual capsule. In the post COVID landscape of the world, I find myself most often wearing casual clothing. This is a good way to get your feet wet.
ARQ has worked to earn consumer trust. If the best brands for a capsule wardrobe were ranked by nothing more than ethical practices, ARQ would be a head above the rest.
Mainly for comfy underclothes or sleepwear, ARQ is killing the game. Think SKIMS but without the bad taste in your mouth from questionable business practices.
For fall, my favorite thing in the world is a good quality sweatshirt. One that doesn’t pill immediately, and can take a few snowstorms without wearing thin. New York City winters do not let up, and I’m planning ahead!
The turtleneck on this sweatshirt is what makes it stand out to me. It’s giving Princess Di circa mid-90s. Paired with a pair of Nico shorts and a pair of sneakers, and you’ve got a look that can be worn in the house or for a quick grocery run.
Rothy’s shoes belong on the capsule wardrobe kit list because these shoes are machine washable. Read the full review to get a feel for just how machine washable they are, but it’s definitely a step up from scrubbing with a Clorox wipe.
I’m a loafer girly till I die, so I’m always going to plug the Driver loafer. Especially one you can (kind of) stick in the wash.
And yes, these are just shoes, so it’s not an entire capsule wardrobe in the box. But it’s definitely a good start from a sustainable fashion brand!
13. Modern Citizen
Modern Citizen is what the New York girlies are wearing these days. High fabric quality, classically stylish, and well put together, this is a quintessential capsule wardrobe brand.
The vibes are definitely New York street style. Lots of leather, dark neutrals, and an eye for warmth as winter approaches.
An oversized turtleneck sweater is a great addition to capsule wardrobes because it is so versatile. It can be dressed up or dressed down. And a neutral color ensures it can be paired with absolutely anything.
Cos is a brand I feel like I only just became aware of. It’s kind of exciting– it’s a whole new world to explore!
Cos is a very chic, upscale take on modern loose fitting classics. Baggy jeans, loose Oxfords, and cozy sweaters are the name of the game here.
Personally, I think every person in the world must own at least one, genuinely nice white button down. They go with just about everything, and are an easy way to dress up a pair of jeans. Definitely a staple of capsule wardrobes.
I also am very drawn to these baggy jeans. I worry that these are a little too ~trendy~ to be a capsule wardrobe staple, but I’m going to link them just because I like them so much. And a pair of jeans that are worthwhile can be impossible to find.
Reformation is my absolute ride or die, end all be all when it comes to jeans. I trust this brand with any denim issue I have. Every pair of jeans I’ve bought has lasted a lifetime, regardless of the number of washes or where I’ve worn them.
A good pair of jeans goes a very long way. Black jeans are particularly versatile and built for a capsule wardrobe because they can be considered dressed up, depending on the occasion.
This pair of high rise black jeans are exactly what I’m looking for in a pair of forever jeans. They are well-tailored, high-waisted, and straight legged. That’s the type of look that doesn’t go out.
Building a capsule wardrobe is about so much more than just saving yourself the time, money, and effort of rebuilding a new wardrobe every time the seasons change. It’s about sustainability– the less clothing consumed, the less clothing winds up in landfills. And yes, the more money in your pockets. It’s a win-win.
When thinking about my perfect capsule wardrobe, I am going to continue to apply the genius rule my aunt taught me. Dollar amount divided by how many times I think I’ll wear it. It’s the original girl math rule, and you should definitely use it while picking through these clothing items.