Shownotes: My 5 tips for starting a capsule wardrobe
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 shirts, pants, and coats, which can then be augmented with seasonal pieces. This idea was popularised by American designer Donna Karan, who, in 1985, released an influential capsule collection of seven interchangeable work-wear pieces.
In recent years the term has come to refer to a collection of clothing that is composed of interchangeable items with the aim to maximise the number of outfits that can be created. The idea is to have an outfit suitable for any occasion without owning excessive items of clothing. This is usually achieved by buying what are considered to be "essential" or "core" items in coordinating colours.
This definition has not changed much over the years, and even currently the just of it remains as Susie envisioned. The only difference is the focus – from essential pieces that won’t go out of style, to a functional wardrobe that speaks of your own true style that enables you to piece together a cohesive and inspired outfit without having to own loads of clothes. Having a capsule wardrobe gives you the freedom to express yourself through your clothes, without even having to think about it.
Some, if not most, of the most successful people swear by it, and many of us ordinary people are catching onto what they have known for decades: having a capsule wardrobe makes your life easier.
Benefits of having a capsule wardrobe:
· It saves you money. Since everything kind of goes with everything else, you don't have to worry about individual outfits. Very economical.
· It saves you time. Having a kind of uniform means you can (if you wish and if you are inclined that way) grab a top and bottom from the top of your piles and the outfit will not only fit you but also be coordinated.
· It saves mind space. Simplifying your daily routines and responsibilities means freeing up headspace that can be used for more important thoughts and decisions.
· It saves space. No need for extra storing, or using Husband's closer because you don't have enough space. With a capsule, you can make a month's worth of outfits from a mere 30 to 40 pieces. And they fit in a normal closet.
The definition of a capsule doesn’t mention the number of pieces or items, and the “experts” just cannot agree on a definite number. Some say as little as 18 pieces, other say as many as 50 pieces. I say – as many as you need to ensure you have an outfit for every day and every activity, without having to compromise style, comfort, or health (you need enough to keep you warm, and enough cool clothes for the hot months). So if you end up having lots of items, but you get the maximum wear out of them (which means they were money well spent) then you are reaping the benefits of having a capsule, even if yours is bigger than the norm. Do not allow anyone to tell you how to live, you do you. In this book, if I mention a certain number of pieces, please do not take it as the be-all and end-all – it is merely there for illustrative purposes and can be adjusted to suite your life and needs.
Tip no. 1 – assess your lifestyle
Identify what you spend your time doing, and ensure you have a capsule for the activities or lifestyle choices that you spend the most time doing. So if you are a career-girl who has to wear more formal clothes to work, then you will have a capsule for work, and a more informal capsule for weekends. Another nice tip is to have a few transitional items in your capsule for in case you have to do something out of the ordinary, like attend a formal launch or go to a kids’ birthday party. Like the scouts, always be prepared.
Tip no. 2 – use style blocks to build your capsule
A style block consists of 7 pieces that all work together, so you can mix and match them however you want. Consisting of 1 layer (a jacket/cardigan/kimono/etc.), 3 tops, 2 bottoms and one pair of shoes, these 7 items will give you 12 different outfits. Add another style block with 7 items for a total of 14 items, and if you choose block no. 2 to match with block no. 1 you have at least 42 different outfits. My suggestion would be to have 3 style blocks that then form your capsule wardrobe. 3 blocks have a total of 21 items and will give you at least 150 different outfits.
Tip no. 3 – bring in patterns and colours
To keep you wardrobe from looking boring and dreary, add patterns and colours. You can do this either by choosing the right accessories, by ensuring one or more of the items in each style block has colour or patterns, or by adding a 4th block consisting of coordinating patterned or coloured pieces.
Tip no. 4 – use accessories
Accessories can change an outfit completely. They have the power to take an outfit from casual to more formal, so from work to woke, or play to slay. They can also make an outfit look different, so by choosing the right accessories you end up with more than the initial 150 outfits. A very cheap way of extending your wardrobe. For more on how accessories can help you portray your style, read here
Tip no. 5 – keep track
Take a photo of yourself in the mirror every time you try on a new combination, then save these photos in an album on your computer or phone. Every time you are stuck for an idea, flip through the album. This way you will never run out of outfit ideas!