You could start by purchasing one of the many books describing how to build the definitive capsule wardrobe, though some of them aren't that inspiring or even well written in my opinion, having downloaded a few from Amazon. A better (and also cheaper!) way is by visiting one of the numerous fashion blogs, my favourite one being The Vivienne Files. Take a look at Janice's 4x4 wardrobes by clicking on the link and then choose your favourite colours from the many options. You could also start by reading this post and then the following ones that I'm planning to write on the same subject.
My advice is to first identify your personal style, lifestyle, body shape and your most flattering colours before you think about what your capsule should contain. What's the point of rushing out to buy a chic jacket if it's not something you will wear regularly, the style is wrong for your shape and it's black, which is a colour that makes you look washed out and haggard? Don't worry, I'm not having a dig at you. Read this post of mine and you'll see exactly what I mean!
Here is a good example of a capsule wardrobe, which I found on Polyvore. Tullewhimsy has created this French capsule wardrobe with simple, stylish pieces that can be mixed and matched to create many different outfits.
At first glance this capsule suits my personal style and a few years ago I might have been tempted to buy similar pieces, however I now realise why it wouldn't work for me. The most obvious reason is that there is too much black and white so the colour palette is far from ideal. Take a look at the high heels - I'm an over 60 woman with a mainly casual lifestyle, so they would just sit at the bottom of my wardrobe. Either that or I'd cripple myself the first time I wore them! The white pussy-bow silk blouse is far too fussy and girly to suit me and the black mini dress on the left may have looked good on me when I was in my teens and twenties, but not forty years later. My capsule wouldn't need both a dress and a skirt anyway as I usually live in trousers, worn with a colourful top rather than black or white. You may be the opposite and your ideal capsule might have three skirts instead of trousers plus several dresses. You may also love black and white and look fabulous when you wear them. My point here is that we are all individuals and the ideal capsule wardrobe for one person is probably anything but for another person.
At this stage, having identified your personal style and thought about what clothes will suit your lifestyle, it's time to decide what colours will form the basis of your capsule wardrobe. You've probably guessed from looking at the example above that these should be neutrals. If black is too harsh on you, navy and grey may be more flattering. If your colouring is warm like mine, dark brown and camel may be your best choices. Decide on two dark neutrals and one light neutral, all of which should go well together, and then (here comes the fun part!) choose a couple of accent colours that flatter you and that will also go well with your neutrals.
Here's another example of a capsule wardrobe, which I have just created on Polyvore. I've used warmer colours (brown, camel and cream), which I know would flatter me more than the black and white shown above.
I mentioned choosing accent colours, especially if you aren't so keen on monochromatic outfits. For the top capsule wardrobe, my personal choices would be a bright blue and red, although I realise that black and white aren't my best colours. For the bottom capsule wardrobe, which would suit my colouring far more, my accents would be coral and teal. You of course may have totally different ideas of what items to include in a capsule wardrobe and which colours would look best.
My personal style recipe is "colourful casual chic with a little bit quirky and a Parisian influence". The emphasis is on casual and colourful, however I aim to look elegant and chic. This may explain how my wardrobe a few years ago contained all the colours of the rainbow and lots of different styles. My lifestyle, now that I've retired, is perfect for my personality and my style, with most days spent blogging, walking the dog, shopping and meeting friends for coffee or lunch. We do have the occasional dinner out or celebration lunch to allow me to dress up in an elegant and chic way though!
In my next post, now that I have identified my personal style, given some thought to my lifestyle and chosen my best colours, I will select the first few items to include in my capsule wardrobe. Do let me know your personal style and/or favourite colours so that I can give some different examples.