Keeping a thoughtfully curated wardrobe makes it much easier to keep your interior spaces organised and beautiful.
I hopped on the capsule wardrobe trend two years ago. It took a few seasons to curate my clothing collection to the point where it might be considered a true capsule wardrobe, and you can check it out further down. But now that I’ve nailed it down, I thought I’d talk about how successful it’s been.
What is a Capsule Wardrobe?
In case you missed it when it was #trending, curating a capsule wardrobe starts with paring down your wardrobe as much as is practical for you. When Susie Faux coined the term in the seventies, she suggested a basic wardrobe of 12 classic, quality pieces, worn throughout the seasons. You might supplement it with a couple of additional trend-led pieces a couple of times a year, but that was it.
The current capsule wardrobe is more generous. A general guide is 30-something pieces of clothing (including shoes and, in some cases, accessories), which can be partially updated each season. The idea is that you stick to a specific colour palette and plan your buying, so that everything co-ordinates with everything else. It’s supposed to be more efficient because you save money, spend less time planning outfits, generally look more put together, and avoid owning things that you never wear or don’t truly love.
Curating a Capsule Wardrobe
You start by getting rid of anything that doesn’t make you feel amazing when you’re wearing it. Then, you pick a colour palette and start curating a wardrobe of coordinating pieces in that palette.
Here’s where the first complication arises. You might be starting a capsule wardrobe from scratch, but you probably already own clothes (just maybe) and they probably don’t all fit into your new limited colour palette.
Spoiler alert: I did indeed own clothes, and they didn’t all coordinate. I didn’t bin all of these. There was a maxi dress I liked a lot, even though it didn’t go with the rest of my olive green / blush pink / neutral colour palette. I kept the dress for two summers, but eventually stopped wearing it because I wasn’t into it anymore. Then I donated it.
If you’re good at being brutal, you could just donate stuff like this at the beginning of the process, but equally, if you don’t want to trash things you love, then fine – hold on to them. It’ll mess up your overall wardrobe coordination, but once that clothing has run its course, even if it takes a few years, you can be intentional about replacing it with something that does match, and all will be well with
the world your wardrobe again.
In short, it’s all good as long as you realise that it’s going to take a while to nail the capsule wardrobe thing properly.
Maintaining a Capsule Wardrobe
This is where my biggest peeve about the whole thing comes into play. I love Susie Faux’s intention of carefully selecting a few pieces that will last forever. But we live in a world of fast fashion now, and the quality is questionable even on more expensive high street items.
If you own less clothing, you wear things more often, and they fall apart quicker. A recent £70 pair of jeans I purchase ripped at the knee within three months. It helps to adopt the mindset that you’ll rework your capsule each season to account for wear.
Sticking to a Colour Palette
My initial reaction to restricting myself to a limited colour palette was hesitant. As it turns out, I’m cool with it. That said, I did expand a smidge on my initial colour palette. There are a few items in blue, which I already owned and still love. I’ll phase the blue out eventually, but for now I’m treating it as an extra neutral, so it works.
SS17 Capsule Wardrobe
Perhaps you’d like to see what I’ve been wearing for the last season? Many items aren’t available anymore, but I’ll link to similar items where I can.
Far right | Others sold out
And here are a few of the outfits that those 32 pieces combine to create…
Do Capsule Wardrobes Really Work?
Yes and no.
Yes, they simplify getting dressed in the morning. BUT it takes at least a few seasons to get to that point.
Yes, you look more put together.
Do you spend less money? Probably not, because of the aforementioned fast fashion quality issue.
Do you spend less time shopping? Yes, because you plan out exactly what you need and don’t buy extra stuff you probably won’t wear anyway.
Will I stick with it? 100% yes. Despite my little gripes, I love having a capsule wardrobe. Mainly for the looking-put-together factor, but also because all my clothes fit into less than a third of my closet. A fact I lord over my husband and his twenty-four blue shirts on a regular basis.
If you’re thinking about it, I’d encourage you to give it a go. I’m in the process of tweaking mine for Autumn and Winter.