Creating a capsule wardrobe can be challenging, especially for women who dress modestly. We have to ensure that certain parts of our bodies are covered no matter what we wear and in a way that isn’t attention-drawing, and that can be hard to boil down to just a few pieces that can work for many women with different body types.
I like to think of capsule wardrobes as undeniable, core pieces of clothing that you repeatedly wear. Key features are accessibility (these pieces should be relatively easy to find online or in-store) and versatility. Based on your body type, height, culture, lifestyle and what level of modesty you ascribe to, narrowing down to a few pieces that can relate to all women is tough.
To be more inclusive, I asked five diverse women in my network what they would consider to be their capsule wardrobe pieces. Some had similar non-negotiable pieces, even though size and lifestyle were varied. I asked them, “If you had to choose three pieces for a capsule modest wardrobe, what would you choose and why?” Here are their responses. Hopefully their advice can help you, depending on the variables of your body and life, choose long-lasting pieces for a core capsule wardrobe!
(Oh, the best part about this? For those of us wearing hijab, what we choose to pair with our outfits isn't dependent on height or body type. So be sure to peruse Haute Hijab's Novemberfest deals and stock up on all the hijabs you need for your capsule wardrobe!) Summar (5'7, size 20) – Blazer, Long Button-Up Blouse, the “Everything Dress”
Summar styling a long button up blouse, trench and wide leg trousers.
Summar: Having a great blazer is simply a closet staple for all women. It's good for layering and dressing up or down. A button-up blouse is another layering closet staple. I love a good long or printed button up to tie a look together or give it the pop it needs while staying modest. Lastly, the “everything dress” is a good quality, solid-colored dress that you can wear with everything and anywhere depending how it's styled. A good dress that can be worn with sneakers and a denim jacket or even an open abaya and heels.
Nada (5’2, size 6-8) – Open Abaya, Wide Leg Pants and a Blazer
Nada styling sequined wide leg pants, perfect for this wintery-holiday season.
Nada: I fell in love with abayas after visiting Dubai, and my collection started growing. I think an open, plain abaya is such a versatile piece. You could close it up with a belt or a brooch or choose to leave it open like a cardigan or a duster. It has the power to elevate any outfit, casual or dressy, while keeping the outfit modest.
The second piece would be wide-leg pants. A pair of wide leg pants are a must in every wardrobe but especially important for us shorter girls. You can keep the pants on the longer side so that you can wear them with heels; it immediately makes your legs seem miles longer (always a plus for the fun-sized crew like myself). Wide leg pants can also be worn with sneakers and can be worn with a longer top or a shorter top tucked in. The possibilities are endless.
Third, I would include a statement blazer. I have a slight obsession with blazers! Whenever I am wearing a plain outfit I just throw on a blazer, and it immediately transforms it. You can either just drape it on your shoulders or actually wear it. You can pair it with jeans, over a dress, with slacks, with a skirt, etc. You can really add a blazer to ANY outfit and make it 100 times better. I buy longer blazers, which are a lot easier to find now than they were a few years ago. Oversized blazers are very modest and chic.
Alex (5’2, size 8) – Blazer, Loose Blouse and Black Pants
Alex in her professional studio in a smart black blazer.
Alex: I love how blazers are versatile and could be casual business wear and even used for evening events. I even use blazers when I wear a dress and just pop on a belt and tada – you are set! I own blazers in neutral black and tan, but I also have bright pink or green and use them for a pop of color in my outfit.
You also can't go wrong with a loose blouse and black pants. The three articles [of clothing] I chose are also my go-to look, especially being an entrepreneur mom of two and not having the time to plan outfits. I think it gives me a professional look, and I feel really fun and put-together with these three pieces.
Gloria (5’2, size 8) – Oversized Trench, Loose Abaya/Dress and Nude Leggings
Gloria: If I can pick three items for a feminine, modest wardrobe , they would be an oversized trench, a loose abaya or dress and nude leggings. I wear the nude leggings to prevent my thighs from rubbing under most dresses, and also adds an extra layer of modesty if my dress comes up. Gloria styling a flowy all-neutral look with an open abaya
Faiza (5’11, size 12) - Wide Leg Pants or Jeans, a Neutral-Colored Maxi Cardigan/Sweater, High-Waisted Mom Jeans
Faiza is comfy and cozy in a maxi-length cardigan and high-waisted jeans.
Faiza: With the weather changing, I’m currently living in a maxi sweater and it pretty much goes with everything! I can pull it over a short-sleeve top or even wear it with fitted pants or leggings. It is long and loose enough to provide modest coverage. The fact it’s a neutral color means it goes with pretty much everything and it’s quick and easy for my busy mom-on-the-go lifestyle with four sons.
Capsule wardrobes can be tricky, and when my editor Dilshad and I were discussing this article, I explained to her that depending on a woman’s body type, what she will choose for her modest, go-to pieces will differ. Here’s what I’ve learned by speaking with a variety of women of different heights and sizes:
Blazers definitely are a favorite amongst these women! Blazers can really elevate a look by adding coverage, color, and sophistication. Also, any long layering piece, such as Gloria’s open abaya or Faiza’s cardigan, are effective in creating long, flowing lines to your look, which is both elegant and flattering.
If you had to choose three essential items from your wardrobe, what would they be? Do you see some of your faves represented by the women here? Let us know in the comments!