/ 04 October 2015 / 2 Comments
HOW TO BUILD THE PERFECT (CAPSULE) WARDROBE
It's been over a year since I've decided to change how I think about clothes, fashion and shopping. Living with a small wardrobe - it's a process. I, too, used to dream of a bright and spacious walk in closet filled floor to ceiling with everything I could ever desire. I too would pick up and try on dozens of things while visiting a favourite store - and I would take home a lot of them too. Now I try five, or ten, but only one or two come home with me. Or none, even! Realising that like you don't always need to finish your plate if you're full, you don't need to buy everything you rest your eyes on, has been rewarding.
But the truth is I still have a way to go to be a "better" wardrobe minimalist. I'm learning. I'm being picky - pickier than ever, but I'm not stuck up on rules. I do love me some framework though, which is why this graphic is here. For me, for you, for all.
Last year I was struggling to build the perfect wardrobe for myself, I was frankly confused about where the heck to start. And, how? It seemed (and was) a huge quest. And it's really quite simple. So how do I build the perfect (capsule) wardrobe?
1. First, you clean out your closet. There's no reason for unworn items to take up precious space. It's okay if you can't get rid of everything all at once. I, for one, like to take my time, I keep combing through my closet even now - and I forever will. I've just put away my summer wardrobe and I know that next spring I will again rid that collection of more things - things that I wasn't able to say goodbye to now. That's how it goes for me. If you can be ruthless and really send away everything you're not totally in love with, I applaud you - you are strong! But if you take away one and only one thing from all the things I write, it should be this: The space in your closet should be precious to you, sacred even. So don't settle for stuff that doesn't work. (In other words, don't fill it up with **** )
2. Uniforms. Whether you're building a capsule wardrobe or not, knowing your uniform(s) is an immensely useful shortcut to creating successful outfits. Basically it means that you know what cuts, silhouettes and combinations of clothes suit you. If you love wearing jeans, semi-casual tops and ankle booties, then you damn well make sure you have a few good jeans and semi-casual top options for instant, feel good, you outfits. My current uniforms are along the lines of:
a) Mini(ish) skirt with black tights + tee or a top + cosy knit + sneakers / booties
b) Blue jeans (damn you good black jeans so hard to find!) + top or shirt + jumper / leather jacket + sneakers
I'm also partial to a pretty dress or two, just so you know.
I created examples of 7 uniforms in the picture - mine would be combos of 1, 3 and 6. It's just what I wear and what I feel comfortable in right now. Uniforms are great when you travel too. I hate lugging a suitcase so I always pack into a carry on. When you maximise your mixing and matching possibilities, there really is no need for a large case. I've written about packing for a weekend away here and here.
3. Make sure you're clear about your style. You'll most likely have an idea about what your style is. E.g. mine is feminine, comfortable, a little urban, a little boho. Depends on the season. If not, however, scout the internet, create a Pinterest board and dissect your favourite outfits. What's the person wearing? Would you wear it? Why do you love it so much? What's the vibe of the outfit? Pick 3-5 words that best describe the style you want to impersonate and keep them in mind as you construct your shopping list. If you're going for a masculine vibe, it wouldn't make sense to stare longingly at floral skirts. (But perhaps if you're staring longingly at floral skirts, you should rethink that masculine vibe in the first place.) Point is, listen to your gut! You may really admire and appreciate a style but not feel right wearing it yourself.
4. Set yourself a colour palette. This one can be tricky. And with some of us the colour palettes change by seasons. Every spring you crave pastels, every autumn you crave deep, rich tones. That's normal! Appropriate your palette to your skin tone, to your existing closet, to the shades you like to wear, whatever feels right. Keep in mind that the more the colours mix and match, the easier it will be to create many outfits from a small amount of clothes.
The common misconception about minimal wardrobes is that they have to be neutral for them to work. Well they don't! You can still wear colour and prints to your heart's content. I purposefully created colourful colour palettes in the 6 examples above. There's a neutral palette, a pastel palette, a colourful palette. There are so many colours in the world - you're bound to find a combination that floats your boat.
5. Analyse and shop! When you've cleaned out your closet and thought about everything there is to think about, it's time to sit down, look at your wardrobe with fresh eyes and with your uniforms in mind, figure out where its weaknesses are. Note it down, research and...gasp...shop! A little by little, your wardrobe will come to life.
And if you think too much is missing, don't despair! I think it's best anyway if you add to your wardrobe a little at a time. This is an experiment, your style evolves - be patient with yourself.
When it comes to capsule shopping, I prefer to do it alone. I know lots of women like to shop with their girlfriends but truth be told, this is your wardrobe, that you are going to wear day by day and so your opinion is the only one that matters. Go at your own pace, listen to your gut and take as much time as you need to think about your choices.
And my favourite thing, always apply the 3 outfit rule! When shopping and trying on clothes in the fitting room, imagine your wardrobe at home (or use your phone if you store images of your closet in an app - bonus points!) and in your head, create 3 outfits with this new item - but beware, the outfits must consist of only clothes you already have at home (+ that new item you so want to buy, duh). Don't be tempted to get a beautiful new top for which you also have to get beautiful new trousers and beautiful new shoes, 'cause you ain't got nothing at home to wear with it. Seriously, don't do it. Your style will suffer.
So this is basically my seasonal process, after a year of capsule wardrobes. At the beginning of every wardrobe season I clean out my closet. By now I know what uniforms I like to wear and I don't much care about the number. I have a good idea of what my style is and what I want it to be. I know what colours are "my colours" and I know I get fashion-depressed if I have a neutral wardrobe. So I keep trying new colours but always applying the 3 outfit rule - will this mustard sweater go with the rest of my wardrobe? (It does.) And every season I analyse my wardrobe, by looking at it, looking at my inspiration boards and I figure out what's missing and try to get the best quality I can afford. That's it. That's the trick.
How do you build your perfect wardrobes? I'd really love to know! And do you shop alone or with friends?
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