The capsule wardrobe has come to epitomise ‘perfection’ in terms of a closet of clothes. It’s something I get asked about all the time… so many of you want to know how to create a capsule wardrobe.
But why do so many crave a capsule wardrobe?
There are several reasons for this search for the so-called sartorial Holy Grail – a capsule wardrobe made up of a specific number of clothing items that mix and match seamlessly; making getting dressed every day a dream.
Fashion is so accessible and affordable that as a result our wardrobes have become confused and chaotic. But most of us have come to realise that we don’t need all the clothes we have and we are naturally pairing down our wardrobes. Plus the shift in consciousness towards ethical and sustainable sourcing has resulted in a widespread desire for buying ‘less’, but buying ‘better’. So what is a Capsule Wardrobe?
Capsule Wardrobe is a term coined by Susie Faux, the owner of a London boutique called “Wardrobe” in the 1970s. According to Faux, a capsule wardrobe is a collection of a few essential items of clothing that don’t go out of fashion, such as skirts, trousers, and coats, which can then be augmented with seasonal pieces.
The number of items gathered to make up this seamless wardrobe is undefined. But on research, it appears to be around 30 items. The idea is to curate your core items and supplement them with a few on-trend purchases each season.
The colour palette should be neutral and therefore easy to mix-and-match, and of course appropriate to the season. So for Spring we are talking timeless, natural colours such as greys, beige, khaki, white/cream, denim, stripes and classic animal print.
Why have a capsule wardrobe?
Choosing what to wear each day should become easier, simply because there are fewer clothes to choose from. The impact on your budget will be positive as you are utilising good quality clothes that won’t date and should therefore last a couple of years. In the long run, you will shop less.
Less choice will also encourage you to be more creative as you will be forced to layer, partner and accessorise your pieces to make the most of your capsule wardrobe. Capsule wardrobe items should also be able to transition across the milder seasons – therefore flowing seamlessly into Spring and Autumn.
When you do supplement with on-trend items, you must ask yourself how will they integrate with your capsule wardrobe? How many outfits can you create with the new item? Aim for at least 3 combinations, otherwise the cost-per-wear is likely to be high!
If I were to rely on a capsule wardrobe, I guess I would create about 70% more space in my dressing area. It would certainly provide a sense of control over my bulging rails and drawers!
So what does a capsule wardrobe look like?
I have suggested 30 core items below to make up a capsule wardrobe. These pieces can be dressed up or down and mixed and matched several times with one another. This selection doesn’t include occasion wear, which should be covered with additional on-trend items.
1x blazer & 1x coat
A versatile blazer has become the fashionista’s best friend. It’s appropriate in just about all scenarios from throwing on over lounge wear, to pulling together a jeans and tee outfit. Wear oversized, with sleeves rolled-up to look less business-like.
Investment in a classic trench coat will see you through the years as they are never off-trend. Alternatively a more casual raincoat might better suit your lifestyle. Ensure that the coat can be styled with your daily outfits – not just for dog walks!
2x Casual Jacket
To compete the outerwear element of a capsule wardrobe, you’ll need a casual jacket – either denim or utility style – and a leather jacket. These casual jackets should pair well with all your capsule clothing items from dresses to skirts and trousers and will change the look each time.
2 pairs of jeans, a casual pant and a smarter pant should serve all your capsule outfit needs. I would opt for a classic blue jean and an off-white/neutral colour which can be styled across the seasons. Take care to ensure that each of the trousers suit the blazer and jackets you have selected for your capsule wardrobe.
A jumpsuit is a perennial wardrobe stable, which can be layered and worn with boots/trainers/slides/sandals to transcend the seasons.
Choose dresses in classic styles and colours to form the core of an outfit, and style them in different ways with jackets, sweaters (layered over or under), shoes and accessories.
Decide which styles of skirt best suits your body shape and lifestyle and buy two contrasting styles to provide maximum outfit options. Each skirt should work with all of the tops/t-shirts and sweaters that form your capsule wardrobe, in addition to the jackets and footwear.
In my opinion, a capsule wardrobe would not be complete without a classic white blouse and a denim shirt. If these aren’t to your particular taste and style, then a blue stripe is a good alternative – as long as it works with all your trousers and skirts.
A mix of relaxed sweatshirt-style sweaters and more classic wool sweaters are ideal for a capsule wardrobe. Consider layering carefully. Can the sweatshirts sit comfortably under jackets? Can they sit over a dress? Similarly, will the wool sweaters work underneath shirts/jumpsuits/dresses…?
Whilst a white T-shirt is essential, a classic graphic Tee is a staple piece that will add interest to the neutral palette of a capsule wardrobe. Choose a combination of long and short sleeve styles.
4x pairs of shoes (incl. trainers)
A pair of boots, trainers, sandals and flat shoes should give you all the footwear variety required in the transitional months between Spring and Autumn. The styles will be dependant on your own individual taste and lifestyle, but should be tried and tested with all the outfits pieces in your capsule wardrobe. In an ideal world, your dresses should work with all your footwear, as should your skirts and trousers.
Most of you will have similar items to these already. So a capsule wardrobe might not be as unattainable as you may think. What it does take is time and discipline to a) sort through all you current pieces to pick out items that mix and match with one another, b) make a considered list of shopping items to complete the capsule wardrobe, and c) stick to the regime of relying on a set range of clothes for the entire season.
Personally, I love clothes too much to stick to a capsule wardrobe. I enjoy trying out different styles and outfits and I would miss the variety!!!
What do you think? Is a Capsule Wardrobe something you lust after? As always I’d love to know your thoughts!