Picture: Samantha Pinto
Every couple of months, I’ll eschew all responsibilities for a few hours and de-clutter my space. From my make-up drawers to my kitchen cupboards, everything that hasn’t been used or has an expiration date gets chucked.

I’ve even gone so far as to simplify my digital life, emptying my mailboxes (both work and personal) and ridding myself of the once-trendy but now obsolete apps I never use on my smartphone.

The first time I did it, I felt such a sense of relief at simplifying my home and online lives (I am now able to tackle the tasks at hand deliberately and without wading through a ton of other unnecessary crap) that I took the philosophy a step further - into my closet: simple, understated fashion for when I’m too busy to jump on the bandwagon of every trend.

Notice how I said “fashion” and not "style” there? That was deliberate too.

For me, style has always referred to the essence of a look while fashion often incorporates a few trends. And the current fashion dispels all notions of wearing a particular trend for a specific occasion (think of the red carpet awesomeness that we wish we could don in everyday life but will never buy into because our office environment is way too conservative for that look).

And although I do love a clean-cut look, I've always been more of a dress-up rather than dress-down type of girl. Case in point?

Pictures: Samantha Pinto

My wardrobe mostly consists of cocktail dresses, evening gowns, faux furs, pretty blouses and a plethora of heels. Needless to say, getting dressed on an average day is a pretty difficult task for me. 

In recent months, I’ve built a simple capsule wardrobe of quality investment pieces.

The dilemma, then, for me - and most others, I assume - lies in how to wear these items without looking as though I’m repeating an outfit.

The simple solution? Buy less-expensive trendy items that won’t last the season but will add a new dimension to your look.

For your capsule wardrobe, start with a good pair (or two) of jeans, one in a dark wash for more semi-formal looks and one in a light wash that you can dress both up and down.

Starting simple and building your look is all it takes for a refined, chic wardrobe. Pictures: Samantha Pinto

Next up is an A-line skirt (mini, knee-length or midi - whatever dictates good dress etiquette in your workplace or at home) and a good pair of smart trousers.

If, like me, you’re still hooked on skinny trousers, opt for one ankle-grazing pair and one shorter length that will work well with brogues or heels.

For cover-ups, a good ol’ black blazer and a leather (or faux leather) jacket are pieces you’ll wear for years.

Then it’s time to have fun. You can’t go wrong with oversized silhouettes and shirting, especially for those of us whose wardrobe is dictated by colours such as black, white and grey.

Zainab SvR
Picture: Samantha Pinto

Shirts with bell sleeves can be worn on their own or beneath a blazer with the ends sticking out, and you can even throw them on over a long dress for a casual look on weekends.

And if all else fails, borrow from the boys: your partner’s shirts will be slightly too large for you and can be worn belted or backwards (with the back tucked in) so your look is more chic than frumpy.

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Adapted from davidandradcliffe.com