Apologies, dear reader, for leaving you in the lurch for so long before concluding this definitive list, but hopefully the pause has given everyone time to stock up on their jeans, bretons and trenches whilst debating furiously with friends and avid fashion fans what the next five items on the list could possibly be. Well the wait is finally over, as I give you the final five pieces to complete your timeless capsule wardrobe:
6. The Leather Jacket
The leather jacket is everyone's best friend, but men beware this should not be a suit jacket crafted in leather (danger), rather a biker-style jacket. Think Marlon Brando, think Erin Wasson. Think Black and cropped, by which I mean no longer than your waist. Girls for you it's so easy, throw your leather jacket over a floral dress or a long tee and tights and you are good to go - it adds an edge to anything girly. Or embrace the rock-chick vibe with a tight trouser (not more leather) and some chunky jewellery. Men, team yours with jeans and a simple tee. And please don't think that the leather jacket is only for the young; just don't choose one with too many zips on show if you're older than 40, say, and you're good to go. And one last rule, they virtually always look better open rather than closed - don't ask me why, but zip up at your peril - wear with a nice scarf in winter instead. Diesel and Zara are good places to start.
7. The Boot
Chelsea, biker, riding - the boot comes in many a guise, and all are acceptable, yes all! If you are a preppy guy, go for a Chelsea boot. A bit more rough around the edges? Go for a Doctor Marten or a biker boot. As long as you avoid the JLS jeans-tucked-into-an-open-lace-All-Saints-boot look, you're fine. Ladies, A nice mid-calf riding style boot in black or brown looks great with a pair of slim trousers and a crisp white shirt, but beware the Kate Middleton "I wear my knee-high black suede boots with everything" curse. Perhaps safer, go for an ankle boot. It has all the practicalities of a taller boot, but less of a Russian roulette element. I bought a pair of Russell and Bromley black slouchy biker boots for £200 two years ago and they are the best investment in my wardrobe - pay per wear I must be on ha'pennies by now. And I still get compliments on them. For real hand-crafted leather boots, equivalent to a Savile Row tailor places like Grensons are great, otherwise Office has a great selection of brands right across the board, for both sexes.
8. The LBD or Suit
Perhaps the most obvious item on the list, but on the list nevertheless, and with good reason. Firstly we have the LBD - ever since Victoria Beckham asked in the Spice Girls movie "What shall I wear tonight, the little black dress, the little black dress or the little black dress?" I knew that this was the failsafe wardrobe option for women everywhere. (I may or may not have had an inkling before this point as well).
The fact is that black is slimming, the best colour to show off a tan (not white as many think), and the colour that makes women feel the safest. So do the legwork and find the cut that suits your body shape, invest as much as you can and keep it in your wardrobe forever. Roland Mouret and Antonio Beradi cut the most incredible silhouettes for women, otherwise head to any high street store and get trying on. Persevere until you find "the one" and then wear it over and over again in different ways. The LBD can be worn to work, to parties, to funerals, just change the accessories, add a jacket, take it away, and change your hair to create never-ending options.
The male equivalent of the LBD has to be the suit. And like the LBD it's all about getting one that fits your body, and your personality. My boyfriend and I have both had bespoke suits made, and they couldn't be more different. His is a beautiful blue-grey in a classic cut, with a matching waistcoat, mine is a pale grey with black silk labels and trim on the pockets, but both are perfect for us. A bespoke suit can be expensive, but not as much as you might think. Whilst Savile Row has the top names, hunt online as well - this is how we discovered October House where my boyfriend got his suit made for around £500. We both saved up long and hard, but it was worth it.
Otherwise it has to be Topman for a great selection with more than just black and navy options. Again wear your suit to work, and then take it out by dressing as a modern-day dandy - add "jaunty" accessories like a bow tie, cravat or pocket square. And a coloured sock goes a long way, let me tell you.
9. The Blazer
This really should be my number one; I cannot wax lyrical about the blazer enough. They are outfit - and life - changing. I'm not just talking about a Ralph Lauren or Jack Wills preppy blazer, I'm talking a yellow and purple peony print blazer, a turquoise blue 80s blazer, a hot pink blazer with built-in shoulder pads, an old school blazer, a black blazer with a studded lapel, a white blazer with black silk lapels, a brown tweed blazer, a neon orange blazer with double lapels, a cropped black blazer - and these are just the ones in my wardrobe (that wasn't a joke).
The blazer lets you wear any old trousers with any old top and then completely make your outfit by putting it on. It's a hero piece, a trophy piece, a piece that means you WILL go to the ball! Or the pub, or your mother-in-law's or wherever you happen to be going. Collect them like me, it soon becomes addictive. Zara, Topshop and H&M have a plethora of options for men and women - and for both sexes my top tip is to shop in both departments. Girls you will find some great slouchy boyfriend blazers that you can buy for yourself from the men's department instead of actually borrowing from your boyfriend, and boys for those who dare...where do you think I got my purple peony print number from?
10. The Party Piece
The last piece in this capsule collection started out as a slight cop-out and way to round the list up to a nice number ten, but actually the more I think about this one the more important I think it is. Indeed, everyone should own at least one piece that never fails to make them look and feel amazing, that they can put on and go to that party in when everything else in their wardrobe is making them want to self-harm. Or is that just me?
This piece for me, is my black sequin blazer from Primark. Yes I said it. It cost me ten pounds, I bought it with my Mum as we were rushing through to the homes department to try and furnish my first London flat on a shoe-string. I tried it on in the women's section (cf number nine for most of this post), and my mother was mortified, but I could see from a few envious stares that I had struck gold. Two weeks later I wore it to my birthday party and got so many compliments I'm surprised my head got back through my front door at the end of the night.
If I am ever having a wardrobe crisis or a personality crisis for that matter, I know I can wear this jacket and I will win best dressed of the night, hands down. So I urge everyone to go out and look for that one special piece - you'll know it when you see it - and keep it in your wardrobe alongside those other nine items as your secret weapon. As long as it's not a fascinator, I'm on board.
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