/ 20 September 2014 / Leave a comment
WHAT IS A CAPSULE WARDROBE?
Originally, back in the 70s, a capsule wardrobe stood for a small collection of clothing that wouldn't go out of fashion; a trench or camel coat, a pencil skirt, a cashmere sweater - the classics that don't age. In 1985, Donna Karan presented a capsule collection of 8 pieces and since then it's become a widely popular concept. The capsule wardrobe I'm going to talk about is very much a lifestyle as well as a clothing choice. It's not an 8 piece collection like Karan's; but the idea has been applied to the whole closet - a capsule closet - a capsule wardrobe.
Today, a capsule wardrobe is anything between 30-45 pieces. And shoes are included. It seems like so little, right? But let me ask you this: how many times have you looked in your wardrobe and thought: I have nothing to wear.
then grabbed the same jumper, blouse or the same trousers that you always resort to... Ta-da! This is where a capsule wardrobe makes a grand entrance. The point is that you only own pieces that you love, that suit you and make you feel super good about yourself. You will find that, paradoxically, by owning less, you can have more.
Sounds pretty great, right?
WHY DID I DECIDE TO START A CAPSULE WARDROBE?
Well, for starters, despite having loads of clothes,
1. I had nothing to wear.
Why did this happen? Because I wasn't critical when I went shopping. I would buy a green top with a colourful pattern, even if I didn't have anything to go with it. Or I'd buy something that didn't really fit me that well in the first place, just because if was a 'bargain'. I had a closet full of clothes, but they didn't work together as a whole. As a collection. It was a bit like having ten different paintings and wondering why they don't all fit into the same frame.
2. I wasn't sure what MY style was.
How do you define your style if you own a little bit of everything? Is it urban? Girly? Romantic? By minimising my wardrobe and only keeping things I love, I discovered my own, real personal style, not just the style I buy every season.
3. I needed to cut my clothes budget and stop overspending.I'd often go to town, wander in h&m or new look and find something I liked. I'd get it. It would never be anything expensive, a top for a fiver or trousers for a tenner. But a fiver here and there and at the end of the month you have a foot long bill and an unhappy debit card. I shopped without a vision or a plan. See yourself in here? Keep reading.
4. I wanted quality over quantity
Have you checked the labels in stores recently? Everything is viscose, lyocell, and polyester/polyurethane. I mean yes, it's cheap, but it's sweaty and a lot of the time not too nice to touch or feel... I don't mind getting a viscose tee now and then, or a soft acrylic jumper, but, excuse me, where's cotton gone? It can be an absolute mission to find a cotton top on a budget.
So I set myself a rule: If it's not cotton, you can't buy it. Phew, that's about a £100 worth of uncomfortable fashion saved.
5. I felt uninspired and wanted to change things up.
Ever feel this way? You open up your closet full of clothes and hate everything. Nothing fits/suits you. Nothing's worth a second look. You're stuck. You feel like you've tried wearing everything every possible way and now you're repeating your outfits over and over. So listen, stop and take a deep breath. You're overwhelmed by your clothes. You don't want to be overwhelmed by your clothes. Great, another reasons to start a capsule wardrobe.
HOW DO WE DO THIS?
Don't worry, it's so much easier than it looks! Whatever your lifestyle and budget, you can make capsule wardrobe happen. Over the next few days, I will be breaking it down for you and sharing my FIVE STEP GUIDE FOR BUILDING A CAPSULE WARDROBE.
My capsule season is going to be three months long. Three months for autumn, winter, spring and summer, roughly. Depending on your climate, you might only have two seasons. For me, autumn starts NOW and goes on till the end of November/beginning of December. Winter ends halfway through March and summer starts in June. This is my first try and I will definitely make mistakes. My goal isn't to be perfect the first time around, but to learn from this experience. So, if you have any suggestions along the way, I'll be happy to hear them.
And every next season will be easier to plan for and every next capsule wardrobe easier to execute. As of yet, I don't have a specific number of pieces for you to take and work with, because one number for everyone isn't, in fact, for everyone. We all lead different lives and live in different climates. But if you can hold off till step 2, I promise you'll find a number that suits you best.
*Update May 2015: I've designed a Minimal Wardrobe Workbook that you can download, print and fill out. Inside, you'll find the wardrobe exercises as they are on the blog (just a little updated). It's basically a workbook that you can use on its own as you try your hand at building a capsule wardrobe, or you can use it as and while you read the five steps here on the blog.
I fill it out before every new season and it helps me get a better picture of what I want my wardrobe to look like. Of course feel free to shuffle the order of the steps or skip some if you don't think they apply. And let me know how you find it!
Step 0 to starting a capsule wardrobe: the BIG wardrobe purge! (I call it step 0 because before you can do something new, you have to have a clean slate :) )