Wardrobe Building: Capsule Foundation Dresses & Outerwear

Welcome to the fourth post in our series on building a capsule wardrobe.  Today’s focus is on dresses and outerwear.  We’ll wrap up the foundation pieces next week with shoes and with a strong foundation in place, we’ll move on to the fun stuff!

Spring/Summer Casual Capsule Foundation Dresses
  • Dark Neutral T-shirt Dress
    • Budget: Old Navy jersey swing or fitted v-neck tee dress
    • Mid-Range: Gap Softspun A-line tank or tee dress
    • High: Eileen Fisher ballet neck dress
Casual Caspsule Foundation Tee Dress
Eileen Fisher Ballet Neck Tee Dress
  • Shirt Dress in a solid, denim or stripe.  NOTE: A style that buttons all the way down (as opposed to a popover) increases versatility by letting you style it as a dress or unbuttoned as a layering piece over trousers.
    • Budget: Lulu’s chambray shirt dress or Target Merona shirt dress
    • Mid-Range: Madewell striped shirt dress, J. Crew shirt dress, Everlane striped shirt dress, Mango cotton shirt dress
    • High: Velvet by Graham & Spencer shirt dress
Casual Capsule Foundation Shirt Dress
Madewell Striped Shirtdress
Spring/Summer Office Capsule Foundation Dresses
  • Neutral Sheath Dress (a fit & flare style works if you find sheaths a difficult silhouette to wear)
    • Budget: Liz Claiborne sheath and NY & Company 7th Avenue sheath, Target Merona sheath and Old Navy sleeveless sheath
    • Mid-Range: J. Crew offers several good options including the cap-sleeve v-neck, the buckle dress, the portfolio dress and the resume dress
    • High: Theory Eano sheath, Theory Betty sheath, Boss Dirusa sheath and Kate Spade Sicily sheath
Office Capsule Foundation Sheath Dress
J. Crew Resume dress
Office Capsule Foundation Sheath Dress
J. Crew Cap Sleeve V-neck
Spring/Summer Capsule Foundation Outerwear
  • A sporty, lightweight jacket.  This could be a denim jacket, lightweight moto or bomber in either a cropped or just-at-the-waist length for layering over tees and dresses.
  • Capsule Foundation Jackets
  • Neutral Trench in black or tan/taupe.  Mid to upper thigh lengths are most versatile.
    • Budget: Old Navy trench
    • Mid-Range: London Fog Heritage trench, Michael Kors hooded trench or Calvin Klein trench
    • High: Burberry Kensington or Sandringham
Capsule Foundation Trench
The Iconic Burberry Trench
Friendly Reminders for Capsule Foundation Pieces
  • You don’t need every recommended piece but should work toward  collecting at least a few of them.
  • For most foundation items, buy the best you can afford.  These will be the workhorse pieces that get a lot of repeat wear.
  • Keep foundation piece silhouettes clean and minimal.  Decorative details are fun but limit versatility.
  • Commit to a primary color palette for the season – a dark base of either black/charcoal, navy or brown with a light base of either light grey, white or ivory for black/charcoal and navy or either tan or ivory for those choosing a brown dark base.

Author: Betsy Ramsey

Betsy Ramsey is the author of Natty Gal. Born and raised in Northeast Ohio, she now lives there with her husband and Bichon-Frise, Dolce. A mindful fashion & capsule wardrobe enthusiast, she travels extensively, visiting 56 countries to date. Betsy is committed to helping others live their most fulfilling life!

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