Building a Capsule Wardrobe With the Founders of Viktoria & Woods and Lee Mathews

The labels have been at the forefront of the Australian industry for decades, showcasing the importance of investing in quality.

Article by Hollie Wornes

From left: Lee Mathews, founder of her eponymous label, and Margie Woods, founder and creative director of Viktoria & Woods. Photographs courtesy of the brands.

Just six pieces are essential for a complete capsule wardrobe according to Lee Mathews, founder of her eponymous label. Her picks include an easy-wearing cotton poplin skirt, oversized cotton poplin shirt, high-quality Japanese denim, wool coat or jacket, great knitwear, and a black dress. Interchangeable colours are also key, she adds.

A straightforward concept, yet each year when winter rolls around, discussions among my circle echo the same sentiment: we’re continually refining our capsule wardrobes. The concept is no new phenomenon, originating in the 1970s with Susie Faux and gaining prominence in 1986 when Donna Karan introduced her “Seven Easy Pieces” collection (which was reimagined earlier this year).

models pose with the designer Donna Karan at the finale of her Spring 1986 show.
Models pose with the designer Donna Karan at the finale of her Spring 1986 show. Image courtesy of Thomas Iannaccone / WWD, via Penske Media, via Getty Images.

Nearly four decades later, the quest for a capsule wardrobe is as prominent as ever, bolstered by trends like the “clean girl aesthetic” on TikTok and a growing awareness of fast fashion’s impact on the planet. Investing in timeless pieces offers enduring benefits for consumers, transcending seasonal trends, and underscores the longevity of some of Australia’s most successful labels.

Lee Mathews’ first collection, launched in 2000, was crafted with the principle of seamlessly fitting into everyday life. “That is the philosophy behind every collection,” she says.

Lee Matthews in her studio.
Lee Mathews, founder of her eponymous label, epitomises timeless elegance and practical sophistication in every collection. Photograph courtesy of Lee Mathews.

Not far behind, Margie Woods’ label, Viktoria & Woods, is celebrating its 20th year. In May, the label reaffirmed its relevance in the Australian fashion landscape with a debut at Australian Fashion Week.

“The debut runway was 12 months in the making,” Woods tells T Australia. “We presented alongside some of the industry’s most notable brands with a unique point of view, and we are very proud to do this during our 20th year as a modern Australian designer brand.”

Viktoria & Woods' AFW debut runway.
Viktoria & Woods' AFW debut runway. Photograph courtesy of GETTY.

The collection reflected the brand’s commitment to creating quality, modern staple pieces, featuring European-style tailored trenches, knits, and coats. Woods attributes the label’s success to a philosophy not dissimilar to that of Lee Mathews: an unwavering commitment to its original vision.

“My vision has always been clear – to curate seasonal edits of wardrobe essentials for the busy modern women, who values quality over quantity and timeless design over fleeting trends.”

The appreciation for quality and timeless style spans generations. Woods notes that long-time customers now shop with their daughters, and in her own family, her son Harper wears some of the label’s more inclusive designs, inspiring Woods to create unisex editions.

“Our ageless appeal keeps us young and constantly evolving, which is something that I value as the founder and creative director of the brand.”

Seasonal colours and silhouettes will always present challenges for consumers deciding on forever pieces, however Mathews adds that the essence of a capsule wardrobe lies in how they resonate with a person’s day-to-day life.

“The goal is for people to feel confident and at ease in their own style.”

Shop T Australia’s favourite capsule pieces from the brands below:

Lee Matthews dress

Lee Mathews, MAE DRESS, $699 AUD. 

V&W knit

Viktoria & Woods, Interlude Knit,, $390 AUD. 

Lee Mathews shirt.

Lee Mathews, HEATH SHIRT, $499 AUD. 

V&W coat.

Viktoria & Woods, Maximilian Coat,, $950 AUD. 

Lee Mathews cardigan.



Viktoria & Woods, Cash Jean,, $350 AUD.