How to build a capsule wardrobe for women over 50 according to style experts

Looking to create a capsule wardrobe for women over 50. These are all the tips you need

three women showcasing ideas for an over 50 capsule wardrobe
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Compiling an over 50 capsule wardrobe is a great idea. Regardless of whether you're a fashion-savvy woman who knows their style, or one who still struggles to work out what to wear every day, creating a capsule wardrobe over 50 will help to edit the items in your closet and makes putting outfits together a no-brainer.

We all want to get dressed with less stress and this is particularly important if you simply don't have time for the sartorial meltdowns. Many women in mid-life often find their capacity is at breaking point, whether that's thanks to pesky hormones, looking after elderly parents and children or working in a full-on job. The joy of an over 50 capsule wardrobe is that it frees up valuable brain space for more important things, yet still allows you to look and feel your fabulous best. Just because you're a certain age doesn't mean you can no longer have fun with fashion, but a capsule wardrobe allows you to be stylish, without the fuss.

There are other advantages as well. It can save you money in the long run, preventing those emotional purchases that never get worn. And it's great for the environment too. Fast fashion and our need for constantly changing looks have contributed a great deal to the issues we're facing with the planet. A smaller, and more considered wardrobe will ensure you're really maximizing what you own and can wear it for longer.


If you've kept hold of items for a number of years, instead of having regular clear-outs, you've probably got a pretty good basis from which to start your capsule wardrobe.

A capsule wardrobe for over 50 women doesn't necessarily mean a sea of plain basics - unless that's your bag of course. It's about finding your style personality and choosing a select number of pieces that all go well together. Each item should really work with at least four other items in your wardrobe. Meaning you'll have both wardrobe essentials - like the best sweaters and well-tailored pants, alongside funkier pieces, like statement blazers or bold jewelry.

So, how many items should a capsule wardrobe for a woman over 50 contain? It all really depends on personal taste, but QVC fashion presenter and stylist, Evey Amery Kurlander says between 40 and 50 is the optimal amount.

"I tend to look at them over a year, so pretty much, I'd say you're looking around 40- 50 items in a capsule wardrobe, which probably does sound a lot, but if you break it up across seasons, it's not huge," she says.

While Evey looks across the year, it may be easier to separate your capsule wardrobe out into seasons, as it will make it easier to organize your closet as your spring capsule wardrobe will be different from your fall and winter one. Regardless of the seasons though, there are some basics that should live in your over 50s capsule wardrobe. If needs be you can just change up the fabrics or patterns to make them more summer or winter friendly.

For award-winning personal stylist Lisa Talbot, it's all about how interchangeable your clothing items are.

"When you start to create a capsule wardrobe, the aim is to see how many outfits you can create from the items you have in your wardrobe e.g. 15 items of clothing that can be interchanged to create perhaps 30 outfits," she says. 

To begin your wardrobe, Lisa also suggests choosing basics - such as the best t-shirts - in neutral tones such as black, grey, beige or navy, and then you can add in print and color as you go along.

Here are the starter items every capsule wardrobe for women over 50 needs…

  • T-shirts and sweatshirts: Round neck and V-neck styles, both short and long-sleeved 
  • Shirts: White oversized shirt, a silky blouse, a short-sleeved blouse 
  • Winter coat: Tailored wool coat, casual style, such as a quilted or puffer coat
  • Spring/fall coat: Trench coat 
  • Jackets: Leather, denim, blazer
  • Jeans: Straight, high-waisted jeans in dark, black and white denim 
  • Dresses: A little black dress (in a thicker material for winter and light cotton for summer), wrap dress, sweater dress, evening dress 
  • Skirts: Leather skirt, denim skirt, pencil skirt, pleated skirt 
  • Pants: Slim-legged tailored pants, wide-legged high-waisted pants, joggers 
  • Knitwear: A simple v-neck or round-neck cashmere sweater, a turtleneck, an oversized cardigan 
  • Shoes and boots: Trainers, ankle boots, courts, loafers, knee-high boots, evening shoes, sandals 
  • Bags: Crossbody bag, clutch, shoulder bag, large tote 
  • Accessories: Scarf, belt, hat, hoop earrings, simple necklace, sunglasses 
  • Swimwear: The best bathing suits for women over 50 will offer all the support and style you need and can be a one or two-piece, it's all about what makes you feel confident and comfortable. But having good quality ones that you can always rely on means vacation packing is easy.

Once you've got your items, Evey recommends having a play around styling them up and then snapping the looks that you love.

She says: "If you love yourself in an outfit, take a picture of it and have it in your library of style looks because sometimes you can't be bothered with actually thinking about an outfit. If you know that you've had compliments or good feedback with something, you can always go to it and feel good."


The basics are the building blocks for your over 50 capsule wardrobe, helping you to put together smart and casual over 50s outfits and once you get the foundations right, you can inject elements that show your personality. If you are starting afresh, buy the best quality you can afford. They'll wash better and last longer, meaning you can get much more wear out of them. 

To ensure your wardrobe still feels modern, it's also great to include a couple of trend pieces each season. Not only will it bring your look up-to-date but will also stop you from getting bored with what you have in your wardrobe.

Don't think of your capsule wardrobe as a finished masterpiece, it will evolve over time. You'll want to remove some items and add new items as your lifestyle and trends change and that's OK. The premise is just to stick to a simplified wardrobe. As soon as getting dressed feels like hard work again, you may have to go back to editing and have a clearout.


Tops you need in an over 50 capsule wardrobe

(Image credit: Boden / H&M / Whistles)

"Some really good layering pieces like a simple t-shirt, both short-sleeved and long-sleeved are essential for a capsule wardrobe," advises Evey. 

Layering is key, enabling you to utilize your wardrobe fully, so plain, simple basics are important, however, don't forget to include a couple of fun pieces as well. A sweatshirt with a graphic print or a silky chiffon blouse will all add interest to your basic pieces.

Whether you choose round neck or V-neck tops all depends on personal preference and your body type. While V-necks are universally flattering, they're especially good if you have broad shoulders. And if you've got a larger bosom, you may prefer a less revealing round-neck or boat-neck top.

For cooler months, don't forget the best cashmere sweaters. While fashion blogger Jacqui Berry goes for neutral tones, she also believes color has a place in an over 50s capsule wardrobe. 

"Good quality jumpers in neutral colors like black and cream go with so much and work into most wardrobes, but I'd also pick a brighter jumper that would complement a patterned or floral shirt in the same tones," she says.

The types of tops you need in an over 50 capsule wardrobe include: Round/scoop neck (plain and patterned), V-neck (plain and patterned), white shirt, dressy blouse, sweatshirt or jumper.



(Image credit: M&S | Me+Em | Abercrombie)

The right kind of pants can take you from work, to play to chill out time! While you can have a wild card of a bright pair of pants, if you want versatility, go for neutrals such as grey, navy, black or even khaki.

When it comes to the styles to choose, this is again down to personal choice however, you cannot go wrong with slim, straight pants as these will always look neat. Teamed with a blazer they're office appropriate, and by adding a simple t-shirt and your best white trainers you immediately have a stylish weekend look.

Jacqui's personal go-to is a pair of wide-legged pants. She says: "They are so elegant and very flattering for most body shapes." When it comes to how to style wide leg pants just make sure to keep your top half fitted to balance out the silhouette. Wondering what shoes to wear with wide leg pants? The options are pretty endless, but a heel will add a touch of glamour, while sleek sneakers will offer a relaxed feel.

You can also play around with fabrics. A pair of leather slim pants will inject a touch of rock and roll into your wardrobe, while a brightly colored pair of pants will definitely encourage some dopamine dressing.

There's one style of pants that all over 50 capsule wardrobes need and that's the best jeans for women over 50. Evey recommends that high-waisted jeans are a good choice as they're universally flattering and allow your silhouette to be supported, while Jacqui says it's really all about trial and error.

"There are so many fits around, it really does depend on what suits you," she says.

"Take a load of styles into the fitting room and just try them all on to see what suits you. Another option is to order online, then you can try them on at home and see what 'goes' with them from your wardrobe."

The types of pants you need in an over 50 capsule wardrobe include: Slim-legged tailored pants, wide-legged high-waisted pants, joggers or elasticated relaxed pants.


dresses for over 50 capsule wardrobe

(Image credit: Next / COS / Boden)

When it comes to finding the best dresses for your over 50 capsule wardrobe, choosing those with structure over loose-fitting, baggy dresses will make all the difference.

You need dresses that can literally be worn in various ways so it's good to stick to basics that fit well. Saying that there's also space in your closet for special evening dresses, however, try to resist overly statement styles, if you want pieces you can still wear it in a multitude of ways and re-style for different functions.

For Lisa, it's all about including dresses that make you feel good.

"With many styles of dresses available, you can really choose the perfect one for you, your personality and your lifestyle," she says.

"Whether it's a block color or print, mini, midi or full length, empire line, shirt dress or tea dress, have the dress style in your wardrobe that you love and want to wear."

The types of dresses you need in an over 50 capsule wardrobe include: A little black dress, a wrap dress, a jumper dress, a denim dress, and a cocktail dress.


best skirts for capsule wardrobe for over 50

(Image credit: Monsoon / M&Co / Oliver Bonas)

Even though dresses are easy to throw on in the morning, an over 50 capsule wardrobe works best with lots of separates as this allows you to create different looks easily. Skirts, therefore, are essential, but you don't need to go crazy. Choose the right two or three styles and you'll be able to wear them for lots of different occasions.

For Jacqui, the obvious first choice for an over 50 capsule wardrobe is a pleated skirt.

"They are timeless and very versatile and can be dressed up with a nice pair of heels or teamed with trainers or chunky boots for a casual street style," she advises.

When it comes to length, Evey says midi is best, as it's flattering for nearly everyone.

"I do think midi skirts are good because they tend to hit the balance if you are different heights and also body proportions," she says. "They can be quite slimming and also elongating as well."

Mix and match the fabrics and patterns you choose for your skirts to add extra interest. Sheer layers add a romantic touch to any outfit, while leather gives a cool edge.

If you don't choose a cocktail dress to add to your over 50s capsule wardrobe, then an additional evening skirt, such as a sequin skirt or a floaty, ruffled number, will work for a more formal occasion.

The types of skirts you need in an over 50 capsule wardrobe include: A pleated skirt, a denim skirt, an A-line skirt, a dressy skirt.