A capsule / core wardrobe for Autumn 2016

Here is what Sew Over It patterns in London think are the 5 current key items (City Break e-book with download patterns, bust 33-45″).


I think these are ‘current smart’ style, rather than classic / casual / pretty / dramatic. . . which is interesting, as most patterns from this company are vintage-style dresses.

They suggest this order of sewing difficulty :
Beginner – knit top / dress, skirt,
Advanced Beginner – shirt / dress (simple style – no collar band, cuff, sleeve placket),
Intermediate – skinny jeans, coat.

Sew Over It claim to write teaching patterns.
If you like video sewing support, Tilly and the Buttons have video classes on making an easier skirt and tee.
Sew Over It have video classes on slim pants (said to be a good intro to making these jeans), more advanced pants, a knit dress and top, two shirts more difficult than this, a classic blazer, and a lined coat.

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Add items to widen the scope

Want a 6 item group of
2 tops
2 bottoms
2 layers ?
Add a moto/biker jacket, such as Hot Patterns 1207.
Goes up a level of sewing skill, though you could leave out the exposed zips and use in-seam pockets.


For my own wardrobe needs I would want a pullover top and some non-stretch pants, such as Vogue 9063.


And a slouchy top such as the Tessuti Mandy Boat Tee.


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A complete 12 item core wardrobe

Those added 4 garments shift things up from the original capsule to a 10-item wardrobe.
4 tops
1 dress
1 skirt
2 pants
2 jackets.

A commonly suggested 12 item wardrobe would add 2 more jackets or other layers, for people in a climate with that need.
If you don’t wear many jackets, you could add 2 more tops – tees in your favourite colours, or Sew Over It have several pretty blouse patterns.

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Explore the world of jacket riches !

Starting from (tee + jeans / pencil skirt) or (shirt + jeans / pencil skirt), jackets have huge potential for completely changing the style of an outfit.

Special note on sewing jackets – if you wear under-layers with sleeves, especially long sleeves, always check the armhole and sleeve width of patterns for layering over them, and go up a size in that area if necessary. Most jacket patterns assume you only want to wear a tank/cami under. (Seems odd to me, as I always wear long sleeves.)

As well as waterfall and moto jackets (examples above), there are many other current jacket types which would go well with the slim fit of the original SOI capsule.
The first three can look more current at thigh-tunic or calf-duster length.

Kimono, such as New Look 6438. Sew Over It has a kimono pattern.

Classic knit cardigan, such as New Look 6735.
Make longer and at least 2 sizes larger for a ‘boyfriend’ look. Longer ones may be called a ‘coatigan’.

Casual shawl collar/neckband, such as McCall’s 6084.

Bomber / blouson, such as McCall’s 7100.
McCall’s had a sew-along for this pattern.

Denim ‘jeans’ jacket, such as McCall’s 7729, McCall’s 8011.

Trench / safari / utility jacket, such as this from Lisette, Butterick 6361. Or this example from Allie Olson at Indie Sew can have a hood.

‘French’ or ‘Chanel’ Style :
Basic, Vogue 7975.
Claire Shaeffer couture, Vogue 8804.

Blazer with notched lapel collar :
Basic, Butterick 5926.
Claire Shaeffer couture, Vogue 9099.

Sleeveless coat / long vest, such as this from Sandra Betzina, Vogue 1528. Or Simplicity 8177 from Mimi G with video tutorials.
Sew Over It has a video class about a lined coat which could be made sleeveless.

Most of those jackets are too fitted to wear over loose fitting tops. Here are some current styles to co-ordinate with looser tops :

Modern poncho, such as Butterick 6392. Or the group from Marfy Patterns (no instructions or seam allowances, scroll down at site).

Oversized hoodie, such as Hot Patterns 1179.

Cocoon, such as the coat by Wardrobe By Me.

Slouchy, such as Cali Faye Brenna.

Or step aside from fashion.

An unstructured jacket from Loes Hinse
or lagenlook frills from Tina Givens
might not go so well with the crisp basics in this Sew Over It capsule.

But you could go for an art-shirt-jacket by
Kathryn Brenne
Louise Cutting
Diane Ericson
Linda Lee of Sewing Workshop
Marcy Tilton

Or try fabric piecing with Koos van den Akker or Fit for Art,
and quilting with Mary Ray’s Craftsy class or the Grainline Studio Tamarack with sew-along.

Well that has got us rather a long way from the practical realities of a compact wardrobe starting with the Sew Over It capsule.
If you had to choose a maximum of four jacket / layer styles which are most true to you, that make you feel at home and at your best, which would they be ?
Your choices may be very different from mine – have you got a favourite pattern company that I haven’t mentioned ?
Hmm, I managed to get my needs down to five. . .

P.S. January 2017. I now have pinterest boards for
Jacket style elements
Cardigan styles.

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Some other sources of modern classic wardrobes

Tee, shirt, jeans, pencil skirt, waterfall jacket – the capsule styles are ‘modern classics’. So the Sew Over It patterns aren’t unique, though it’s good to have such basics grouped together. 

styleARC and Burda Style are also good sources of modern classic patterns.
The disadvantage of both those companies is the minimal instructions. They tell you what to do but not how to do it. So you do need to know what you’re doing to use these patterns.

Sew Over It by contrast gives detailed instructions with clear photos. Many of their patterns have been tested in face-to-face classes before being issued generally.

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For maximum wardrobe versatility, use your best neutral colours for the first of each item. I like to use texture and tonal variations.
Add accent colours and prints when you make more of the items.
Change fabric types, change hem and sleeve lengths, omit collars, and the alternatives are almost endless. . .

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Originally written October 2016, links checked and updated November 2019

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Update 2018 :
Sew Over It now have a second e-book – Work to Weekend.
Styles included (Edie is for knits) :

Many more easy options by changing lengths. And the two groups would combine well 😀

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Explore posts in the same categories: current fashion

6 Comments on “A capsule / core wardrobe for Autumn 2016”

  1. Lynn Mally Says:

    I really appreciate these overviews! You are my go-to source for wardrobe capsule ideas.

  2. Brenda Marks Says:

    I’m glad you are still sewing and posting on occasion! Maybe you’ll share a pic of your makes. : )

    • sewingplums Says:

      Thanks Brenda. For some reason I have a complete blank about wanting to show photos of what I’ve made on the internet. Happily there are many people who do it very well.

  3. I saw that you posted a wardrobe post from the SWAP thread and was so excited to read what you’ve come up with. I love how you start basic and quickly go crazy with the POSSIBILITIES!!! I think that’s my struggle, to decide on ONE look and go with it for that capsule. I did a Mori girl one, and all the pieces were so seamless, that I didn’t look bizarre at all. Well, not much. 😉

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