I’m sure you’ve come across the term capsule wardrobebefore. You’ll find many different interpretations if you search on Google or even Pinterest. So I wanted to take some time to explain what a capsule wardrobe is, the benefits of building one, and the steps you’ll need to follow if you’re interested in creating your own capsule wardrobe.
What is a capsule wardrobe?
The actual term ‘capsule wardrobe’ was created in the 1970s by London boutique owner, Susie Faux. She described a capsule wardrobe as a collection of a few essential items that don’t go out fashion, which can then be complimented by seasonal pieces. Then in 1985, Donna Karan made the concept popular with her ‘seven easy pieces’ collection, with the aim of introducing an interchangeable style of dressing for the working woman.
Fast forward to today and a capsule wardrobe consists of 20 to 40 pieces. The exception being gym/activewear, underwear and accessories. It’s usually tweaked or rebuilt to accommodate the different seasons and the changes in the weather that go along with them. A capsule will sit in your wardrobe while any clothes not part of it are placed in storage. When it’s time to rebuild or tweak it, any items not suited to the current season are swapped with those in storage.
What are the benefits?
Remember, with a capsule wardrobe you’re essentially limiting the number of items in your wardrobe that are available for you to wear.
So why would you choose to limit your options?
- If you don’t want to keep buying clothes
- You’re on a tight budget – although plenty of guides focused on capsule wardrobes will advocate buying more clothes every 2 or 3 months, it’s really not necessary. Capsules are really good when it comes to cutting down spending or working on a tight budget
- You don’t have much space – If you don’t have much space limiting yourself to 20-40 pieces will really help
- You’re trying to save money – this directly relates to being on a tight budget, but you don’t have to spend money on clothes and you’ll definitely spend less if you adopt a capsule wardrobe
- To feel less overwhelmed – having fewer pieces that are all interchangeable will reduce the feeling of frustration and overwhelm when trying to get dressed
- To look good without thinking about it – As every piece works with another it makes it much easier to form great looking outfits
- To force yourself to be more creative – As you’re working with fewer items and existing items from your wardrobe it forces you to be creative when formulating outfits
Who is a capsule wardrobe not ideal for?
Although there are a tonne of benefits associated with building a capsule wardrobe, they’re certainly not going to be for everyone. It may seem that I’m stating the obvious, however, it’s easy to get caught up in thinking you have to build yourself a capsule because you keep reading it about them online. That’s certainly not the case, as a capsule wardrobe won’t work for everyone.
- If you’re someone who likes a lot of variety in your wardrobe you may struggle to adapt to a capsule wardrobe. You could start off with a higher number of items, say 40 and then see if it’s for you.
- Those of you that prefer a larger wardrobe and want to continue shopping aren’t really going to get on with a capsule either.
- Finally, if you have lots of different occasions you need to dress for, a capsule may not work for you. If you want to try, perhaps start with a wardrobe with 40 items and see whether you can put together outfits for each occasion.
How do I build a capsule wardrobe?
So the physical steps you need to take to build your capsule wardrobe can be found under the ‘making it happen’ section in the post I wrote called ‘How to take a minimalist approach with your personal style.’ But before you dive right into that link, I’ve listed some capsule specific steps you’ll need to take first.
- Lifestyle – your capsule wardrobe absolutely needs to be tailored to your lifestyle. It’s no good having a cocktail dress if you work from home and never go out on an evening. So over a month (ideally) or a two week period, write down the different occasions you need to dress for. This will highlight whether your wardrobe covers each occasion
- Aesthetic – you need to be really clear on what your personal style/aesthetic is. If you’re still trying to figure out what that is, you may be better holding off building a capsule for the time being. Every item in your capsule will need to work with one another and if you don’t have a really clear idea of the style you’re going for you may end up with a mix of styles and therefore, some items that work well with one another and some that don’t
- Create a structure – once you’re clear on what occasions your clothes need to be suitable for and the style you’re going for you can outline a basic structure. This is where you list the type of items you’re going to include in your wardrobe e.g. jeans and how many of each item will feature. So an example would be:
– Skinny Jeans: 2
– Coats: 1
– Knit jumpers: 4
- If you’re struggling to decide what type of clothes and how many of each type to include in your wardrobe I’d recommend completing the first two steps in the post I linked to earlier. Just remember, they must fit your lifestyle and aesthetic. However, if you’re clear on the types of clothes you want to feature then you can skip those two steps.
- Add detail – This is an optional step where you would take your structure and the items in it and expand on the cut of each item and the colour, along with any other details e.g. dark wash skinny jeans, grey v-neck cashmere jumper. However, this works well when you’re planning on shopping for items that need to go into your wardrobe, but if you’re pulling pieces from your existing clothes you can see exactly what’s in there so I don’t feel this step is always required.
You’ll have noticed I didn’t ask you to define the number of items to include in your capsule upfront. This is because there’s no point limiting yourself until you’ve started looking at the clothes you own. You’ll automatically get a number for your capsule when you go through the process of finding the pieces that fit your lifestyle, aesthetic, and those that are your favourites to wear.
If you’ve completed each of those steps and are still above 40 pieces then you whittle them down further. I’d recommend starting with 40 pieces then over time if you want to lower the number of items in your capsule you can do so.
I’ve not mentioned shopping yet as it’s not an absolutely necessary to creating a capsule. But if you find you’ve not got enough items to create a capsule (20 is the minimum) you may want to create a shopping list after completing all of the steps I outlined earlier in this post. Ideally, every item should be pulled from your existing wardrobe, then when it wears out you replace it.
However, if you have the budget to add some new items you don’t currently have that will really add value to your wardrobe then, by all means, go ahead.
It’s been a bit of a long post, but I hope it’s provided you with the right level of detail you need to create a capsule wardrobe. If you need any further help then leave me a comment below and let me know what you’re struggling with or how you’re getting on.