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November 28, 2017


Rebecca Sullivan, "GOT a wardrobe full of clothes but nothing to wear? It’s a problem stylist Wendy Mak encounters all the time in her clients.

“Most of us have way too much stuff that we never wear and for some people, getting dressed everyday causes a lot of angst,” Mak told

“I found myself recommending the same pieces over and over again to clients so I decided to create a guide that can help people to edit their wardrobes down to the crucial essentials that we actually wear day in day out.”

That guide is Mak’s new book, The Capsule Wardrobe: 1000 Outfits From 30 Pieces. It’s a list of 30 basic items every woman should own as a starting point to building a full wardrobe.

“I find that shoppers fit into two categories,” Mak said. “The first is a ‘Sparkling Sally’. She’s attracted to beautiful, fancy things and loves special pieces, but she doesn’t have enough basics to round out that wardrobe. She has lots of random one-off pieces that are lovely, but struggles day-to-day.

“But the opposite is ‘Boring Betty’. She’s got all the basics, but she doesn’t have enough of the interest and to make it modern and contemporary and make it work.”

Mak says we wear only 20 per cent of our wardrobes and tend to buy the same pieces over and over, without thinking about what we actually need. Not convinced? Mak has a great trick to help you figure out what you actually wear.


1. Jeans: Choose an alternate shape to skinny, if that suits you best

2. Casual pant in taupe or mushroom: Look for a casual pant without external pockets or embellishments, such as stitching detail, so you can dress it up if needed

3. Tailored pant in black: Select a style and cut that flatters you best

4. Tailored pant in stone or taupe: Stone or tape (essentially a few shades darker than your stone jacket) will work best, but you can also select cream, off-white, pale grey or a very light brown in a more casual fabric than your tailored black pants

5. Tailored shorts: Stone, taupe or mushroom shorts that are tailored and not too casual in style will enable you to take these from day to night

6. Casual skirt: Although a straight or pencil cut will be the most versatile, select an A-line or a drop waist if these flatter you better

7. Black skirt: Look for a skirt that has some detail so it can take you from office to play


8. Basic black tank: If you aren’t a fan of black, select a dark charcoal instead

9. Basic white tank: If white doesn’t suit you, an off-white or cream will do just the trick

10. A colourful blouse: Choose a bold colour that makes you look and feel good, and that works with both black and tan or cream items.

11. Another colourful blouse: Look to retail stores for colour inspiration and see what’s on-trend this season in terms of colour

12. A coloured long sleeve top: Select a colour other than black or white to add interest to your wardrobe

13. A black long sleeve top: A dark charcoal will also work for those who don’t like black


14. A casual day dress: Keep any prints or patterns small and congruous, with a mix of light and dark colours in the print for maximum versatility

15. A little black dress: For both work and play, ensure the hem and neckline are modest enough for work and ideally look for a short or cap sleeve


16. A trench coat: A classic coat or trench in a stone or beige will complement everything. If you live in a warmer climate, choose a lighter weight fabric and shorter length coat.

17. A black cardigan: Make sure this gives you plenty of shape. It should not be too baggy and slouchy-looking on you

18. A black blazer: A blazer with a three-quarter sleeve will be easiest to match with jeans, as well as dressier items. It will keep you looking contemporary and young

19. A stone blazer: Once again, select a three-quarter sleeve. Ensure the shade of stone you select is lighter than your casual and tailored pants above

20. A casual jacket: There are many options here in terms of colour, so select in a relaxed style that will complement your accent-coloured blouses.

21. A black parker: Ensure that this is a proper, winter-weight parker for super cold days. Black works best or choose navy or charcoal if you prefer.


22. A black, everyday tote bag: Patent leather will make this tote easy to dress up or down, as the shine adds depth and formality to the bag.

23. A tan everyday tote bag: For maximum versatility, don’t go overboard with detailing and hardware on your bags

24. A small black clutch: If a clutch isn’t your thing, a small shoulder bag is a great alternative.


25. Black knee-high boots: A pair in patent leather will add pizzazz to any outfit. If you live in a warmer climate, select a small boot instead.

26. Black pumps: Once again, patent leather is your friend, taking you from daytime to night-time in a cinch. A rounded toe is more versatile and easier to match with opaque tights than a pointed toe.

27. Tan wedges: Co-ordinate the shad of tan to complement your tan tote bag. It doesn’t have to be an exact match but it should be a shade in the same colour family

28. Black strappy heels: A T-bar is usually the most flattering style as it elongates your leg and foot

29. Dressy sandals: A flat pair of sandals in tan or bronze will complement your tan tote nicely, and it is much more flattering than rubber flip flops or sneakers

30. Black ballet flats: Whether you chose patent leather, a croc print or classic plain leather, you need a comfortable and reliable black ballet flat to run around in.

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