When it comes to a capsule wardrobe, your focus ought to be on everything being quite plain, not dry-clean and a good fit.
Don’t give any of your clothes an excuse not to be worn. When I open my wardrobe I always hesitate over anything that a) needs dry-cleaning b) is tight c) is in anyway slightly the wrong fit or size d) wacky.
You may look over some of the following recommendations and be boggled by their boringness.
But I am here to tell you that this is not boring! This is CAPSULE. There is no such thing as a “boring” item of clothing, only a boring or frumpy way of wearing it. If you don’t have any of these items, get them. If you have them but they are in any way shabby or old or worn out, replace them.
In no way am I saying that you are never going to dress excitingly or madly or fashionably again. You are! You will! You will have your Studio 54, white patent-boot, jumpsuit fabulosity.
But life isn’t just about Studio 54, it’s also about doing the school run or visiting friends or having breakfast with your kids in a cafe without feeling like something that got caught in a drain. This is the answer.
1 T Shirts
You need 2 white t-shirts and 2 grey t-shirts. And that, I reckon, is all. Plain as you can – no gold pineapples on the front, please, or diamante round the neckline. Just plain old t-shirts. You can add colourful accessories and glittery shit if you really want later (more in another post).
I get my t-shirts from Hush, because they are a good length, great value at £27 and don’t cling at the middle. I have yet to meet anyone who doesn’t look good in a Hush t-shirt.
The sizes at Hush are very generous – I am a size 12 on top with quite big boobs and I take this T-shirt in an XS! If any sizes are sold-out, just hang on for a re-stock as they always get more in.
Remember, 2 grey and 2 white. Don’t suddenly go mad and get a turquoise one, thinking “Esther is just wrong.” Turquoise is not capsule.
T-Shirts are a bit like jeans in that every body shape has their go-to shops for favourites. PLEASE – leave a comment in the comments box if you have a favourite T-Shirt, where it is from, how much and what kind of shape you are for the enlightenment of fellow Spikers.
I have done a lot of research on this and the perfect merino crew neck wool sweater is by Uniqlo. Merino wool doesn’t bobble or pill, it drapes and falls nicely and these are cut not to cling. I have three of these, in camel, navy and grey, all in XL. Three is slight overkill, just because I love a crew neck sweater. If you reckon you look better in a V-neck, get V necks.
The two shirts I wear most often is a khaki one from H&M and my denim “Keeper” shirt from J Crew. I’m assuming that you’ve already got a check shirt in there somewhere, so apart from that, these are the only extra ones you need.
I occasionally come across people who insist they are not a “denim shirt” sort of person, and if that’s the case, then any chambray or pale blue blue/white striped shirt will do.
Make sure the shirt is slightly too big it ought to be in no way tight or fitted. Check for stiffness of fabric, which will add bulk. You want this to fall nicely and have no hint of starch or crackle to it.
People may bang on about how brilliant a “crisp white shirt” is, but that’s more to look at than to wear; I’ve got a “crisp white shirt” and it sits crisply on its hangar and very rarely gets worn.
Baujken shirts are good.
There is this blue and white striped one:
Or this Coco shirt:
J Crew does 2 denim shirts, the Keeper and the Always, both sold out just at the moment -but they will restock I guess towards the end of summer and they are worth waiting for.
I’m delighted that H&M are still making my army green shirt. It’s pleasingly long, so you can tuck the front in and leave the back open, or wear it open over something. It’s very tactile and drapey and I wear mine all the time with a shitload of gold jewellery and a scowl.
Relax – I am not going to make you get rid of your Breton. Keep your Breton! Buy another one! There is nothing wrong with Bretons or stripes in general. The problem comes with wearing them every fucking day with the same pair of fucking skinny jeans. No capsule wardrobe would be complete without a standard Breton. I have 3 for different moods and I also have 2 sleeveless striped tanks.
This looks to me like a really good one from John Lewis
Or this one. Weekend by John Lewis is actually very brilliant quality – I have a sweatshirt from there I have worn for 5 years and if I ever lost it I would, well, lose it.
If you want something a bit longer, this one from Seasalt via JLP will do the trick.
Don’t be too clever with the colour way, just go for simple dark blue on white, it looks best.
A plain black swing camisole top like this one from TopShop comes in very handy. I mean, they’ve made it impossible to see what it looks like in this photo, but it looks like a decent one to me. Remember I said BLACK, don’t get a purple one.
And that’s it! I told you you’d worry it was all “boring”. But stick with me and it will all make sense in the end.
Tomorrow: Trousers and skirts.
thanks for this- so useful! question: thoughts on best places for tshirts for petite people? i am 5 foot & the hush tshirts look lovely but would be a dress 🙁 am on a lifetime quest for the perfect petite tshirt *BEGS HELP*
Hi – I have the same problem with hush t shirts as I am super-tiny! Jigsaw Pima t shirts are good I have four in different colours for work and weekends. They can be shortened too as I have to with all my tops – knitwear is another story!
argh!!!! our perennial petite wardrobe problem…PLEASE HELP US 🙏🏽
Esther L says
I am 5’3 and I love uniqlo tee shirts. Decent quality, great price and washes well.
CINTRA THORPE says
thanks! LOVE uniqlo- will investigate asap
This may sound random but do you ever get small holes in your t shirts where they rub against the belt/button on jeans? A few of my friends have this problem but taller friends don’t (def not moths as same place all the time). I bought hush t shirts hoping for better quality and still experienced the same thing after only a few wears. have you ever had this and if so have you had with the unique or shirts?
Jess yes this is a problem – both my husband and I get it and other people I know. It happens I think with thinner t-shirts as my husband’s Sunspels don’t do it. I honestly don’t know what to do about it!
Do you really mean XL in the Uniqlo sweater?
I really fucking mean it matey
I buy the Uniqlo men’s merino jumpers in a medium; they have properly long sleeves rather than hitting the knobbly bit of your wrist. I think I might have imprinted on Ally Sheedy in Breakfast Club at a impressionable age.
nothing wrong with that
i love these (any) uniqlo jumpers, am petite at 5 foot but mumsy round the tummy. i buy a M and the fit is near perfect!! drapey without highlighting flabbiness x
Do you not find the Hush T shirts look a bit tragic after a few washes? I’ve loads of them as I love them (and the white is not too see-thru but they end up as pyjamas after a few months unfortunately.
Oh dear! Well, I mean yes I suppose after 18 months or so they don’t look great but not after a few washes. Do you wash stuff very hot???
you could try this AllSaints one – https://www.allsaints.com/women/t-shirts/allsaints-malin-silk-tee/?colour=1579&category=824 also good but more expensive
I’m LOVING this series. And off to order four t-shirts online.
Zara do a nice flattering v-neck t-shirt with a seam down the middle of the back but it shrank like absolute buggery.
Yes Zara is a total bitch for shrinking
Oh good I thought it was just me Zara had it in for.
This is perfect. I’ve had two kids in two years, have worked hard to get my body looking vaguely like it used to but my wardrobe is heaving with clothes that don’t fit or aren’t practical for scutting about on the floor with a toddler.
I’ve spent the last few weeks really paying attention to what other mums are wearing trying to work out what I need to buy and I hadn’t realised but mostly they all look as shabby and shapeless as me! Which is heartening but didn’t help me look any better. So thanks for the shopping list.
Do the t-shirts and jumpers wash well? Between a vomity baby and a snotty toddler I’m lucky if an outfit lasts the day –which is why I mostly wear fleeces–
Kim Waite says
Whistles are doing a fantastic job with tshirts at the moment. The linen ones are particularly good – bit pricey but there’s a sale on. Sort of boxy shapes but they’ve managed to make it flattering. Not too long, but obviously longer than your jeans waistline and to tuck the front in a bit without adding to tummy mass with fabric down your jeans.
But I am breastfeeding my second child, now 3 months, and so generally my criteria for A Good Top is anything I can semi-discreetly whip out a boob in. Also, sleep deprived. With a 3am shopping addiction. Which is probably why I have 6 whistles tshirts when 2 months ago I had none.
I love love this series (and your Instagram stories) thanks!
This is a marvellous series! After three children in 4 years I am finding myself terribly unchic and unfashionable. I don’t even want to be fashionable, I just want my clothes to look like I feel, as I’m not frumpy mum. I’m young! I’m cool! I’m making a list of all these things I need as I don’t have really any of them, I too often go for patterns and colours with tops. So thank you for passing on your hard researched knowledge. Today I’m buying that H&M shirt, I saw you wear it on you insta stories recently and loved it.
I LOVE that shirt xxx
I am feeling a bit chuffed with myself, I have the JCrew Forever shirt (✔️) and the Breton (✔️) Think I’ll get the khaki. I tend to agree about Hush t-shirts not lasting well. 80%of my wardrobe is Hush so I’m a huge fan just not the tees. Uniqlo does good plain t-shirts, I buy S in the men’s section and roll the sleeves a few times. Mens ones are just a bit more slouchy. So many womens t-shirts are too see through – no one needs to be able to SEE my muffin top.
I agree. I mean I’m sure your muffin top is cute, mine not so…
I’ve a couple of cotton jigsaw tshirts from years ago that get wheeled out every summer.
Tshirts from everywhere else end up as pjs by end of a summer.
This series is the BEST. Any advice on sizing for the khaki shirt? Am a 14 (big boobs). Thanks.
It’s generous so I’d take what size you normally are and it ought to size up a bit. get a 12 and a 14 and see how you go
I bought the khaki shirt after Esther wrote about it last year (a while ago) and had to return it as it was too tight in the wrists – I’ve never had that happen on any clothing in my life before, wasn’t even sure it was possible. I’m a 12-14 with apparently gargantuan wrists.
Kristy the cuffs are a little big tight, yes, which some people don’t like but I don’t find them a problem and they keep the shirt sleeves rolled up rather than flopping down. But I’m sorry it didn’t work out for you 🙁
Liz B says
Vote for J Crew Vintage t-shirts here – many different variations on neck line etc and they size long which is good for me as I am 5’10 only thing is some of them come up a little sheer – it seems to vary, I often wear with a camisole underneath. Sizing is generous I take a small despite being so tall but fit is amazing, I am off to buy another grey one now!
As soon as I do not look like I am shoplifting a beach ball under my jumper I am going shopping with all your recommendations (I am pregnant- not an actual criminal). I am guilty of occasionally buying something a bit ‘jazzy’ to try and look a bit more down with the kids and then instantly regretting it/ not wearing it because I live in the countryside and there is no room for jazziness round these parts. BTW I have always quite liked GAP and Muji for linen tees/ vests that are decent lengths and pleasingly roomy. Only downside is they *sometimes* let your bra peak through if it is not totally nude.
Sharon Chambers says
Just wondered if you had any advice for the larger Spiker? I’m a 20 and mainly wear cheapo tops from M&S. I have always wanted a capsule wardrobe, like a grown up 😉
Lots of XS gals chattering around you but I am also blessed with much of the curve.
I would recommend if you want t-shirts, Boden do great upper sizes (especially their Bretons) and GAP’s 18/XL has always been voluminous. My best white tshirt was actually from River Island. Again an 18 is generous. Shirts-wise, big love for ASOS, look terrible on the models but great on. I’ve also discovered that the tall range goes up to a 20 so you get much cooler pieces than the pretty grim Curve range.
Most of all, wear what you’re happy and comfy in. Wear bright colours or stripes or whatever you want because real style is about your personality.
errr. .yes it IS… but first make sure you have your capsule shit sorted for those days when you don’t want to have a personality
Yes! Definitely no personality days.
I just meant against those people who say you can’t wear things because you’re a larger size.
no quite right, that is rubbish – like all clothes for all people they just have to be well made
Bit late but here’s my input – I’m a size 16 with 36EE boobs and I rarely wear shirts or t shirts, but I find polo shirts very helpful as the placket kind of distracts from my massive chest area. Gap, Ralph Lauren, Lacoste all pretty good – men’s not women’s though. Go to an outlet village because honestly, who pays full price for RL???
Horizontal stripes minimise a big chest, so the Breton is good news. Mine is from Armor Lux, the original French brand, which ships to the UK, and I take a size 5 (XXL) which is fairly generous, and they go up to an 8. Armorlux.com
Also Marina Rinaldi, same family as MaxMara and Marella, for expensive smart stuff – scour sales/Bicester Village.
Hope that helps (and that you see it!) x
Sophie thank you for this very useful comment. Polo shirts in navy, black and white are of course the ultimate capsule item.
Sharon Chambers says
Thank you so much, I really appreciate all the advice everyone has given here
I have recently discovered these T shirts from M&S.
They are very cheap but are surprisingly good – long enough, thick enough material etc. My Mum bought me one and then I went out and bought a load of them.
I also bought this but it was a mistake and is on its way back to the shop:
The material was thin and the weird bottom just made me look absolutely appalling.
Brilliant series especially the advice to SIZE UP. I am small and I keep buying things that are really small (eg two Uniqlo sweaters in XS) but then I realise they are far TOO SMALL! Especially once washed. Annoying. Anyway, now I’m going to have to explain to my husband why I have bought four identical jumpers from Uniqlo in different sizes. By the way I think Uniqlo also do v. good t-shirts and bretons.
Lucy Tallon says
I’m totally with the Hush and J Crew vintage t-shirt brigades. It’s worth remembering (and you probably all do this anyway) that you should wear a nude bra under a white top, not a white one. A white one shows through much more. I’m amazed at how many otherwise stylish people I see in changing rooms getting this wrong.
I practically skipped through the school run this morning because I was so excited about getting home to read this.. Am online ordering RIGHT NOW!! (also, have been shamed, I have a pile of breton tops and a pile of jeans and just mix and match, sigh! Must try harder)
no shame!!! but let’s move on together xxx
I get my white, grey and navy t shirts from Gap in the men’s section. They are great as they are not see through and long in the body so great for layering.
Great series Esther! Thank
I also agree about the Hush t-shirts. I have a few and they do slightly lose themselves after a few washes. I love the M&S basic range of t-shirts. They’re good quality cotton, don’t cling in awkward places and have a slightly longer than capped sleeve to cover wobbly arm tops and are incredibly cheap. I have in grey, white and black http://www.marksandspencer.com/pure-cotton-slash-neck-short-sleeve-t-shirt/p/p22499070?image=SD_01_T41_1348_Y0_X_EC_90&color=BLACK&prevPage=plp&pdpredirect
Off to buy that Khaki shirt now before it sells out!
we need to find a new name for capsule though. that’s like “curated”.
Frame denim do very good grey t shirts. They do not cling. They are usually available in sales/reduced as full price they are too expensive (clearly other people also think this)
This series has come at the perfect time for me. My 3 kids are well out of toddlerdom but as the youngest is about to leave Infant School I feel like I’m entering a new phase of my life. I’ve never been into fashion and have never been technically overweight (but I could lose a stone and a half and still be in the ‘normal ‘ BMI range) so I feel like I’ve been drifting along for years being dull and never making a proper effort! Sorry, I’m rambling… Anyway, I love this series for being about normal women who do normal mum stuff & want to look and feel better. I’ve realised I have a clog- shaped hole in my life that I never knew existed but Lotta are out of stock in the ones I want! A quick question please on Cardigans. Can anyone recommend a brand that does long line ‘boyfriend ‘ type cardigans in a neutral wool that washes well? Do Cardigans count as Capsule or are they a deliberate omission? I haven’t a clue xx
Carrie I don’t really suit cardigans so don’t have many – I DO have a really massive long grey one from Uniqlo which I love but it washes like utter shit and gets really bobbly. I will keep a look out though. If you suit cardigans, I don’t see why they can’t be capsule x
Fab. Thanks for the affirmation! And I must say how helpful/ encouraging Spikers are in their comments whatever the subject x
i know my readers are the best, most intelligent and kindest around x
This is handwash 😱 but I have worn it all the time since April and had no need to wash it as long as it gets hung up again and aired, brilliant as a sort of light jacket, cover up for a British summer. The shape is so good and not dowdy at all which is a bit of risk with long cardigans. No need to worry about piling because of the mohair.
Laura OC says
You could do worse than check out Kettlewell Colours for their long length cardigans (and basics)! Also, I think there’s a sale on…..
This is my best of t-shirts. Have in grey, navy and black, it goes out of stock all the time, but keep checking, will come back in. Looks good with everything, not tight on tum, size up for big of boob. http://www.stories.com/gb/Ready-to-wear/Tops/T-shirts/Cotton_T-Shirt/114066426-0278372010.2
I am such a sheep. I have literally just ordered everything on this list, except the Breton tops, and that is only because I bought two at the weekend.
Liz B says
Me too 🙂 if I keep this up all week my husband will have some comments to make 😆😆😆
What is the sizing like for the khaki shirt Esther? I find H and M sizing quite hit and miss. Am a flat chested 12? Thanks. Loving this series.
Thanks Charlotte! Get it in a 10 x
OK I am bookmarking this series for when I have pushed this baby out, got back to what used to resemble my body and stare at my wardrobe wondering what the HELL I wore before I was pregnant. Such sanity in these posts. I took your advice months ago and bought the khaki H&M shirt and it is brilliant and I wore it to death before I got up the duff.
THANK YOU ESTHER.
no no THANK YOU EMILY for being my reader! that khaki shirt will still be wearable post baby. it’s CAPSULE
Love this series. I haven’t had kids yet but I definitely had a point around turning 30 and changing jobs so my shopping browsing time disappeared when I completely lost the plot clothing wise. I remember reading your piece on recipe rifle about not buying piles of stuff from H and M. Been trying to follow this advice but still big practical holes in my wardrobe. I have the white shirt that has come off its hanger twice… Practical advice thank fuck. Xxx
white shirts are a red herring
THE KHAKI SHIRT HAS INEXPLICABLY BEEN REDUCED SINCE THIS MORNING TO £11.99!!! For anyone who is undecided – your decision has just been made x
sophie b says
After (quite obsessive) research, I found this to be my personal fave Breton: https://www.uniqlo.com/uk/en/product/women-striped-boat-neck-long-sleeve-t-shirt-400152COL01SMA006000.html I size all the way up to an XL as I like Bretons to be kind of loose and boxy, not fitted.
Esther I LOVE this series. It’s inspiring me to organise my wardrobe and make it look like those incredibly chic and minimal hanging-rail images on Pinterest. At the moment it is stuffed with Studio 54 pieces and I can’t always find the capsule stuff. I know it’s there, though; just hiding behind something insane.
I, like a previous commenter, am up the duff at the moment and thoroughly sick of it. The thought of burning all the SHIT i am currently wearing and getting back to a full range of outfit options makes me feel genuinely emotional. Being pregnant is the fucking worst, isn’t it. (Soz for swearing on your blog xoxoxo)
that’s fine sophie. being pregnant is the worst worst worst worst like being stuck on a long-haul flight IN ECONOMY.
Oh god I second that. My current shopping frenzy is due to finally being back to my previous size, post-preggo. The thought of maybe doing it all again in a year or so makes me want to cry, hard.
May I recommend Just Polly (http://www.justpolly.co.uk/) for a capsule up-duff/breastfeeding wardrobe? Those clothes SAVED me.
Thanks Sarah I don’t know Just Polly. HAVE FUN buying all your new shit! Don’t chuck out your old stuff no matter how much you loathe it, just wash it and laundry bag it as it will come in useful later… duhn duhn duuuhhhnnnn
tracey davies says
Loving this Esther! Which necklace are you wearing with the denim shirt on instastories please? Also second j crew t shirts.
that is some old family trash, but you can find similar at Butler & Wilson
tracey davies says
sophie b says
Sarah I can’t reply to your post for some reason but wanted say thank you for the useful link. I am SO JEL you’re aren’t pregnant anymore. Buy everything. Buy the world. It’s so nice to hear that other people hate it too. I feel like I’m surrounded by insane earth mother types who say things like “i loved being pregnant! I would be pregnant permanently if I could!” (FUCKING MENTAL) And don’t worry/think about #2 – at least you’re one down, you’re so nearly DONE with it all.
I know I sort of want to pinch anyone who says they enjoyed being pregnant. I mean I DON’T but I want to. I know you’re not talking to me btw, I’m just butting in. HI!
sophie b says
Hey – we’re in YOUR house babes, of course we’re talking to you. x x ps have been re-reading RR posts from your pg days – makes me feel less alone/mental/livid
I used to really struggle with all the “it’s such a special time” people. When you say how you’re really feeling about being pregnant, they somehow hear that you hate babies, puppies, ponies, and ice cream, so you have to smile and say nothing. One person said to me “how are you feeling? Pissed off?” and I will always love her for it. I could have hugged her (if I was a hugger and not in so much discomfort)
Newborns can be hard but the good news is you don’t have to deal with them while pregnant xx
sophie b says
Ha! I love her too. The other day, when it was really hot, someone came and did the head tilt at me and was like “how are you? you must be struggling with the heat?” and i just shrieked like a crazy fatty: “The worst bit of being pregnant in the summer is NOT THE HEAT. The worst bit of being pregnant in the summer is not being able to drink 16 litres of cold rosé and smoke 100,000 fags in a pub garden.”
they looked fucking aghast
Everlane do the absolute best t-shirts ever, and they are relatively cheap too. My NY friends are evangelical about them, and now I am too. All of Everlane is very capsule wardrobe actually. They ship to the UK sometimes, otherwise it’s worth ordering some to be delivered to your hotel/a willing friend next time you are in the US.
I love how you say they ship to the UK “sometimes” like… “if they feel like it”
It literally is! Or that’s how it seems. They grandly announce about twice a year that they are shipping to the UK this weekend.
I fucking loved always booting the suits off seats on the tube. That was the best thing about being pregnant. Even better when no one offered me a seat and i could look about until someone did. Now I am more exhausted and have to stand…
Actually, I did kind of enjoy being pregnant. But in the same way that some people like being whipped.
sophie b says
this made me properly LOL x
Thanks. My greatest aspiration is to amuse 🙂
I mean… that’s all we all ought to aspire to surely
Ha ha Elena! Xx
I have a Boden t shirt that I love and has worn v well. This is is. They also have a longer length one that I have . I am 5’8 , size 12 with a post twins mum tum,still, after 3 years :*(
Also, just on the bra thing, someone told me that RED bras don’t show under white?! Don’t know if this is true as haven’t tried it.
I like this series Esther! I like being given specific and practical clothing suggestions. After all, what mum or middle aged ish woman walks round looking like a Reiss mannequin?
*Whispers* You know, I really don’t care if my bra shows under my top. I have nice bras and other things to worry about. Everyone’s judging me now. I can feel it.
I’m not judging you, Cindy. I can’t abide flesh coloured underwear of any kind. Its a vile colour. I’d rather mine show through. And if it’s a nice one that fits then that’s even better.
Love all advice this so far Esther. Great advice and all the comments are really helpful.
That,Cindy. *That*. My soul shrivels at the thought of a nude T shirt bra.
Also, Esther, I will fight to the death for the crisp white shirt- I just don’t iron them myself. And I wear a red bra under ’em. Loving your work here.
aha Madeleine so YOU’RE the person wearing them… keep on keep on x
I love these Boden t shirts just couldn’t be bothered to find the link! I am 9 months pregnant, 3 stone heavier and fantasise about being able to sling this back on with some skinny jeans and breeze out the door. Although helpfully reassured by all friends that breezing is over for some time. I do NOT enjoy being pregnant or being asked by strangers “are you excited???”
NO I AM NOT EXCITED I AM GASSY AND ANXIOUS
Oh God. I’ve just ordered three cotton Ts in white, grey and black, and going in for the jumper. I don’t know how these are going to work in the office but I don’t care. I’m going on the journey …
Not that i don’t love this, I do, but my question is urgent even if it is off topic – who cuts your hair?
this is a very important question!!!! and the answer is Nadia Dean at John Frieda in Mayfair in London. She is amazing. she has grown my hair from a sad mess into lustrous locks. She is ££££££££ but I only go twice a year. if you are in/get to london and are willing to splash a bit on a haircut she is the best
… unless you were like “who cuts your hair… is SHE BLIND?”
Thank you and I love you. She is clearly a genius, I must invest.
tell her I sent you!! she always loves it when she has a client I’ve recommended xxx
I lovel JIGSAW and HUSH t shirts. I hated being pregnant more than anything and never where my white shirt??? Weird as I would have thought that a white shirt was VERY CAPSULE? It doesnt make sense but Esther you are RIGHT about this!
I know! I am so right about it! It just sits there and I look at it and think “not today”
love not lovel
I shall! Xxx
oh dear, tee-shirts and breton tops…………..36 H, I tend to hide behind shirts with a bit of weight to them, I don’t do clingy, but looser fitting tees?……… I look like, (and feel like) a beached whale. Any ideas for a flattering v necked top, not expensive and ideal for work? x
Oh Sharon that is a blessing and a curse
Sharon, I’m going to mostly repeat what I’ve just written to another Sharon further up, and it’s not totally helpful, but – I’m a size 16 with 36EE boobs and I rarely wear shirts or t shirts, but I find polo shirts very helpful as the placket kind of distracts from my massive chest area. Gap, Ralph Lauren, Lacoste all pretty good – men’s not women’s though. Go to an outlet village because honestly, who pays full price for RL???
Horizontal stripes minimise a big chest, so the Breton is good news. Mine is from Armor Lux, the original French brand, which ships to the UK, and I take a size 5 (XXL) which is fairly generous. Armorlux.com . They are not inexpensive but the quality is excellent, as is the cut. I too always go for a v neck as I have a short neck and that mountain of boobage, but we were in the Armorlux factory shop in Brittany last summer, and I was whingeing that all those round necks wouldn’t do, and my husband basically said, you have dragged me here to shop while I am on holiday – try the fucking top on and see what it looks like! So I did. And because of the stripes, even though it’s sort of shallow round neck, it looks really good. So if you are like me and just ignore all round necks completely, it might be worth seeing if a stripe and a round neck works for you. Obviously we still look completely pneumatic from the side, but I’m happy with a 50% win!
Hope that helps (and that you see it!) x
The best Uniqlo jumpers are the men’s cashmere crew neck. I’m quite tall though. Sizing erratic (as Uniqlo often is): I’m a busty 14 and have one men’s L that is too small, one M that is too big and one M that is just right.
Feel a bit embarrassed to wear my bretons these days. A thing a lot of women do is keep wearing the things that were fashionable the year they turned 30. I’m 36 so feel I need to be hyper vigilant with all that Alexa Chung bollocks.
Tess this is very true about the turning 30 thing. same goes for hair and make-up. we must evolve! (but how I’m too scared!!)
Yes! I’ve actually got rid of all my Breton stripes. Stopped replacing them and now have none. Quite freeing. I’ve got a couple of tops with retro 70s style triple stripe for those times when only stripes will do, but otherwise we’re on a break.
Cindy I did that for a while too and it was good – I went back to a classic stripe and now use it only in moderation
Esther, I’m 5’9 with a massive rack and a long, fat abdo. Do these t shirts come in huge? The amount of shirts I have bought that just fit until I wash them (on 40) and they become BOOB TUBES has made me give up on proper t shirts and just wear longline vests with checked shirts over the top like I’m in NIRVANA. And now youngest is two and my uterus is closed pending removal, I desperately want to look less “is she pregnant??”. Sorry for the slightly manic tone of desperation.
No Dex of course you are fucking manic and desperate! I too have for long periods had a “long fat abdo” – also dressed like Nirvana, it’s no bloody fun. My advice for the moment is … try a different shirt – the khaki one I recommended from H&M is very long and flattering, doesn’t shrink. AND – find some long necklaces and/or earrings and/or hair shit to put in one’s hair to distract yourself from everything else. worked for me until I starved myself back to a workable shape. sorry too much.
I always wait until I am in France, am now in Paris, and just raid the Monoprix. Incredibly cheap, there is always a sale, and very good quality and French designy fit.
Also, for tall people with mum waist, Malene Birger makes good high quality t shirts.
damn the french and their insouciant affordable goddamn style!!!!
Caroline F says
I think you may be having something of a “Delia Effect” – I have tried to buy several of the lovely capsule wardrobe things only to be thwarted at every turn by stuff being sold out! You must warn these retailers in advance…..
Caroline! Alas, no, some things were sold out already – hence advice in the copy to wait for a re-stock. If it’s items that I HAVEN’T warned to wait for a re-stock then actually yes Spikers have sold them out. though judging by my click-throughs everyone has been going pretty bananas…
Love this series. My top tip is to buy everything from Zalando. They have an absolute shit ton of stock so if you’re looking for a specific kind of white t-shirt they have 3864 slightly different white t-shirts. I got the most perfect slouchy/drapey, long in the body and non see through navy t-shirt from there for £4.80 and a pair of well fitting unmumsy jeans for £13. Fuck yeah! Free delivery and returns too so I can shop guilt free by thinking I’ll just send it all back (I’ve never sent anything back) xx
fuck yeaH!!!! what is this Zalando?? *googles*
Ooh it’s so good. I mean you have to ignore the shit/mad stuff natch but for a good range it’s great xx
I LOVE this capsule wardrobe stuff! It is so so helpful. Cannot wait to start shopping xxx
I’m enjoying this all so much!
And 104 comments?! It’s like the James Bond post on RR.
ha ha! jesus that was a monster… I suddenly had a glimpse into giles’s life and it wasn’t pretty
Caroline F says
Ps I know I don’t have to follow the suggestions slavishly but it always goes wrong otherwise
they’re tried and tested… x
So I had my first baby a week ago (fucking agony but that’s another story..,) and desperate to dress less Seraphine. My question – should I buy capsule stuff now in some rough approximate size of what I might be or wait a bit? How quickly does this baby tummy actually drop off? It just happen naturally, right…?
Oh god Mills well DONE… My advice would be buy as little as you can stand just for the moment because a week postpartum you will be roughly eighteen times your normal size, bloated and puffy with water retention and all sorts of awful shit. If you just want to spend some anger money, blow it on some new accessories, which I will cover in another post. Stick around!
Mills, I basically lived in big t-shirts with vests underneath (lift the top up and pull the vest down for breastfeeding without flashing the mum tum) and leggings for about six months. It was a dark time, sartorially, but it does pass. Whack some lipstick on in the meantime.
Sarah this is amazing advice. I would add getting an extra ear piercing helps
Ha, yes! Totally agree: I got my tragus done just before getting knocked up and am planning a daith piercing imminently as have just finished breastfeeding (you’re supposed to wait to reduce risk of infection, I believe).
and the tummy yes it all just goes away on its own as long as you don’t *massively* overeat in the next 9 months. the last bit might need a bit of spinning to get off. but yes it pretty much melts off on its own
I’m worried now I’m encouraging anorexia – obviously absolutely stuff your face with whatever you like for the next 3 months if you feel like it, but when shit starts to calm down, leave the biscuits alone
Thanks for the tips all! I’m loving how wonderfully supportive everyone is. Just the thing to get through the long, nipple wrenching (not that breastfeeding is supposed to hurt, bla bla) nights. And don’t worry, Esther, I’m sat here with a massive chocolate chip cookie so no danger of anorexia! Just maybe the odd vegetable every now and again.
Further to the J Crew denim shirt thing, I honestly find “just as good” ones at Gap, and they’re always on spesh – even cheaper if you look at the mens ones. I am a huge fan of J Crew and bought it slavishly when I lived in the USA, but the prices are just mad here in the UK. That said, I’m having a seriously PMT day and have just rage shopped their sale. I’ll have to conveniently hide that credit card bill when it drops though the slot. 🙂
Thanks Esther. Loving this capsule wardrobe series and probably am thinking about each chapter far too much when meant to be concentrating on something else VERY IMPORTANT (work..pah!) I have just ordered “the” khaki shirt and have clicked through from your site so I hope that adds to your very well deserved click through coffers 🙂 It all adds up! Btw, I am LOVING my Hush black jacket recently purchased on your recommendation, so thank you for that recco too! Capsule ROCKS.
yes! the black jacket will be on the capsule jackets section. so jealous!!! looks like such a great jacket xxx
I bought the jacket too and love it. The girl in the Hush photo pushes up the arms of her jacket and looks v cool. But presumably that will rumple the fabric and ruin the effect of having a smart jacket? Are we Spikers leaving our jacket sleeves long??
This series has been such a treat btw Esther, thank you
No no no you must always push the sleeves up of any jacket, only exception is if it is very very cold
Thank you from this post twin-pregnancy Mum (41 yrs) I am struggling so hard with clothes.
Just blown £££ on Jigsaw t-shirts as 1)Whistles sold out of my size 2) Agree on Hush as pyjama-tops-in-waiting and c) didn’t spot the M&S tip til it was too late. I am so excited I have never purchased from Jigsaw and I’ve signed up to the email and everything.
Slightly concerned that I’m going on holiday on saturday for 2 weeks, how much for you to postpone the trousers/jackets/skirts instalments til I’m back please?
ha ha! omg… trousers and skirts today and jackets not *that* relevant right now as so hot! I’ve got a deadline as kitty breaks up from school mid-next week and then I’m on full childcare until a temp nanny arrives 7th August! But don’t worry this has been so popular that the subject will come around again – I will do an autumn/ winter one xxx
Already read and ordered requisite trousers (culottes tho? Satin culottes?) so thank you everso much for your work so far it’s life-saving stuff.
My thoughts and prayers are with you through this difficult childcare time xx
thank you that is much appreciated. just TRY the culottes… you can send them back xx
Cat K says
Esther, loving this series (actually I love your blog full stop – am a long-time, including Rifle, reader). My only dilemma is with the khaki stuff (shirt and utility jacket) – I am blonde-ish and pale and I don’t think the colour does much for me (suggests a slightly green tinge to the hair and pallor to the skin). I tend to buy the blue/navy version of such things but can’t help thinking it looks much less ‘cool’ (for want of a less vomit inducing word)? I am a new mum, just about to turn 40 and I could really do with the boost of looking just a little bit cooler. What do you think??
Cat I must say I think colours not “suiting” anyone is a tiny bit of a myth. I am a redhead and was told for years I couldn’t or shouldn’t wear red and should go about always in emerald green. Then I started telling everyone to fuck off and wore whatever I wanted and life improved.
Yes absolutely, there are certain colours that don’t look great on certain people (I can’t really wear pastels for example) but khaki… I struggle to se how khaki wouldn’t suit you.
Try it with gold accessories- or very bright ones, pinks and oranges, that really lifts it. It also looks better with paler jeans rather than a dark wash.
I will as soon as I can do lots of picture posts about the capsule wardrobe so you can see it on and what I wear it with xxx
Cat K says
Aye, aye cap’n. I am, of course, slavishly following your advice and have ordered pretty much everything (including the mad pink earrings for the purpose you describe above). I now realise that I have a wardrobe full of fifteen years worth of ‘jazzy’ stuff (and nothing to wear) on account of always delaying the purchase of clothes until I am thin again but just not being able to resist, every now and then, that must-have jazzy thingummy. I go back to work on Monday (after maternity leave) so am thrilled that I will at least LOOK like I’ve got my shit together.
My clogs arrived today – I bloody love them! Who’d have thought. Looking forward to your picture posts.
ps Thank you for taking the time to reply – it made my day!
Any time Cat! My readers always come first x
Cat I know what you mean but I really think Khaki ought to suit pretty much everyone. The key is to wear it with gold or bright accessories, that will lift it from its tendency to be a bit pondy and murky. Give it a whirl anyway and if you hate it send it back!!
Thinking of getting the Uniqlo jumper…do you seriously buy the XL?? What kind of fit is it on you?
Really nice, relaxed and drapey. I *could* have got an L but was feeling a bit sensitive about my tummy that day. If you are a 10-12 you can go for an L
Great – thanks! I am a 10-12 with a tummy i am sensitive about sometimes too.
Hmm…..what if you are *ahem* larger than a 10-12? Say 16-18 am I too fat for Uniqlo?
Not at all – try an XL and see how you get on. it really is massive on me. I am resolutely 10-12.
this series is AMAZING! well done Esther 🙂
what do you suggest for those of us who are more boobie so little camisole tops and no bras is a DEFINITE no?!
sleeveless tanks in sort of floppy viscose?!
Uniqlo jumpers; say you are more 8-10 but have a tummy that has had 4 children (turns out skinny fat is actually a thing!) should I go for a medium? Oversized tends to drown me but fitted items stick to my stomach.
Also- just discovered blog. LOVE it! Thanks for helping to turn my wardrobe into real life rather than a pre child, work based, maternity nightmare.
AGHGH!!! 4 children you are a lunatic. Go for an M – it’s not clingy so you should be alright.
Haha yes! I require copious amounts of gin to cope!
Will try hush xs again and get m uniqlo jumpers
Shit, forgot to ask- t shirts- m&s? Hush sizing and I don’t really get on.
Boden tee’s are massively crapola in my experience aka seriously require ironing.
is a hush XS still too big on you?? not sure about m&s. there are loads of t shirt recs on this thread. which I now cannot recall because to be completely honest I’ve gone a bit mad
Liz B says
I like J Crew vintage t shirts but they are pricey. Heather graphite is my go to. But a style of Boden one has been recommended on here and I ordered two at £14 each in the sale and they are fab and half the price of JCrew! I am tall, around a size eight- ten, not busty and have broad shoulders if that helps.
Am wearing my new uniqlo crew neck which I LOVE ( and husband approves too) good thing as I bought grey and navy! Also can confirm the John Lewis weekend breton is good. Am I allowed to have navy or grey t-shirts rather than white as I have a 10 month old and everyhing seems to get covered in red food even when she hasn’t had red food? This series has been amazing and I am sad it’s over! Xx
Ha ha! Have whatever you like!!!! Maybe one white t-shirt for spesh when tiny kid not about x