7 Easy Staples in Every British Girl's Capsule Wardrobe

The UK is a wonderfully eclectic place, boasting a wide spectrum of personalities and tastes—sartorial and otherwise. It's one of my favorite things about living here. There's outfit inspiration to be found wherever I go. Even a quick bus journey can leave me frantically searching online for the vintage bag I spotted on a stranger or wondering if I could pull off a pair of printed flares.

That being said, there are certain markers of British fashion that feel unique, and I'm not just talking about the impressive dossier of talented designers. The culmination of weather, history, and the ever-changing zeitgeist has filtered out the items that just don't feel quite right in a British wardrobe, and a select few have emerged as nonnegotiables. They are pieces that make getting dressed for the climate and lifestyle easy and that work together season after season to create an endless array of polished looks.

As someone who works in fashion, I spend an alarming amount of time analyzing and deconstructing outfits I like. In doing so, I've identified the pieces that crop up time and again. If you're a Brit who's in the process of building a capsule wardrobe or a curious non-Brit, scroll on to see the wear-with-everything staples that should be added to your wish list.


(Image credit: @styleidealist)

1. Striped Sweater

This one might be borrowed from our French neighbors, but British women have wholeheartedly embraced the Breton sweater, particularly the monochrome variety.


(Image credit: @francescasaffari)

Style Notes: I love the idea of top-to-toe cream for autumn.


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Style Notes: A striped knit can be styled in myriad ways. Exhibit A: this cute pinafore look.

2. Longline Coat

The UK's weather is responsible for this necessity. Just because we have to put up with a year-round breeze and consistently cloudy skies doesn't mean we can't look good doing it.


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Style Notes: Layering is an art that's worth mastering, especially as we enter fall. 


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Style Notes: A trench coat is a great year-round option. And yes, our French neighbors also inspired this look.

3. Chunky Footwear

Be it loafers, combat boots, or derby shoes, when it comes to footwear, the chunkier the better. While Parisians typically reach for dainty pumps and heeled boots, Londoners love a thick sole and bulky silhouette. We're truly indebted to the original Dr. Martens.


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Style Notes: The contrast between sheer tights and heavy shoes is incredibly chic.


(Image credit: @francescasaffari)

Style Notes: This is a perfect transitional outfit to pull out between seasons.

4. Straight-Leg Jeans

Really, straight-leg jeans belong in capsule closets globally. No matter where you live and however you describe your personal style, this easy essential offers unparalleled versatility. 


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Style Notes: Fuss-free and effortless, this is the perfect everyday outfit.


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Style Notes: A deep charcoal wash is ideal for low-key nights out. Think jeans and a nice top. 

5. Leather Jacket

The leather jacket has undergone a renaissance in recent years, with fashionable Brits trading in their biker silhouettes for blazer iterations. While the former is still a staple, this more refined take has proved immensely wearable with all kinds of outfits.


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Style Notes: Emma's lighter-wash denim breaks up the black jacket and loafers, while the distressed hem complements the edgy feel. Big yes from me.


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Style Notes: This elevated jacket can be worn casually on a day-to-day basis.

6. Printed Midi Dress

With sandals in the warmer months and boots when the chill hits, a printed dress is a foolproof all-in-one option. Make it a midi to defy the seasons, and slip it on when you want to feel put-together.


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Style Notes: A flowy shape that's nipped in at the waistline will suit every body type. Note to self: buy a pair of white boots.


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Style Notes: An easy way to toughen up your romantic dresses? Add a pair of chunky boots.

7. Black Slip Skirt

Every capsule wardrobe should have a day-to-night option. For Brits, slinky maxi skirts have proved to be endlessly versatile. This simple staple looks just as good worn with an oversize knit and Converse as it does with heels and a matching silk shirt.


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Style Notes: When in doubt, stick to a monochrome pairing. Black, white, and tan will always look good together.


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Style Notes: Black on black on black. Why complicate things?

This post originally appeared on Who What Wear UK. Next, A Viral TikTok Just Confirmed Everyone in France Is Wearing This One Sweater

Freelance Fashion Editor

Bébhinn Campbell is an Edinburgh-based fashion and lifestyle writer and editor. She started her first blog at age 14 and went on to intern at print and digital publications in Berlin and London, including Dazed & Confused and Indie magazine.

A job at a fashion startup took Bébhinn from Ireland to Scotland in 2019, where she now works as a freelance journalist and copywriter covering everything from travel and interiors to styling advice. As a contributor to Who What Wear, Bébhinn always keeps her eyes peeled for emerging trends and looks worth writing about. She prides herself on her ability to cut through the noise and identify solid investment buys, exciting new brands and fresh takes on classic design.

In her spare time, Bébhinn enjoys perusing Edinburgh’s best vintage shops, working through her out-of-control book collection and watching dog reels on Instagram.