Save money, time and headspace
If you’ve ever opened your wardrobe (that’s packed full of clothes) and sighed because you have nothing to wear, it’s time to organise yourself a capsule wardrobe. It makes it effortless to pick what you’re going to wear every day.
What is a capsule wardrobe?
A capsule wardrobe is a collection of clothes in classic styles and colours that can all be worn interchangeably. While everyone’s capsule wardrobes are different to suit their climate and style, they will generally have a selection of classic skirts, trousers, blouses and coats. These can be augmented with some seasonal pieces, to keep the look current.
Susie Faux created the concept in the 1970s and Donna Karan made it famous in the mid 1980s when she released a range of seven items of interchangeable work-wear. Then in 2010, a fashion blogger created ‘Project 333’, a challenge to dress using only 33 items of clothing for three months.
A capsule wardrobe has a number of upsides:
Reduce decision overload
Ironically, the more choice the harder it is to choose. This is called ‘choice overload’.
A smaller wardrobe with well-thought-out options removes a great deal of choice from your life. It makes life easier and frees up your brain to make other decisions that are potentially more important. Look at Barak Obama and Steve Jobs – productive, busy people who had a lot of decisions to make. They knew that wearing the same clothes every day removed unnecessary choices from their lives. Then there’s this woman, who took the idea a step further and developed a work uniform for herself.
Create space for what you love
That decision you make every day might feel like only a few minutes, but it adds up. Then there’s shopping time for every new occasion, and more decisions before you go out for dinner, to a party, on holiday…
Reducing the wardrobe clutter saves time and brain space, which you can then use on important stuff, like family, friends and hobbies.
How to create a capsule wardrobe
- Assess your existing wardrobe
Take all your clothes out of your wardrobe and drawers and assess them. If you no longer wear something or if it’s worn and can’t be mended, get rid of it – even those guilt-inducing items you bought but never wore – Kon Mari style. Get rid of clothes you think you might fit into one day. They’re only making you feel bad, and giving you an extra choice every day. Any sentimental pieces you don’t wear, but can’t bear to throw away – store them separately from your everyday wardrobe.
There are some items that don’t ‘count’ towards your capsule wardrobe, so you can put them away: pajamas, underwear, workout wear and comfy at-home gear.
- Form a base
Basics will be different for everyone, so there are no hard-and-fast rules on how many pieces you need. Start with clothing items that you know you wear, day in, day out. They are ‘in’. Then build your capsule wardrobe around those pieces. Some tips to make the process a little easier:
- Choose a colour scheme. You know what colours suit you and which ones you like wearing. Generally speaking, these colours will all go together. For instance, pinks, blues, grey white and navy. Developing a loose colour scheme will help make your look cohesive, and means you can throw clothes on without having to assess if they match. If you aren’t sure what colours suit you, then spend a few minutes assessing which ‘season’ you are. Not everyone will fall into a distinct category, but this does give some great guidelines.
- Choose clothes that suit your body shape. Be nice to yourself. Choose clothes that fit. If you lose or gain weight, you can adjust your wardrobe later. For now, pick items that comfortably fit and flatter your body shape.
- Pick classic cuts and designs. Those box-shoulder jackets from the 1980s dated pretty quickly. Instead of fashion-forward items, you want classics that last the distance. A tailored white-ish shirt looks great on most people, and a jacket and skirt that fit your shape, for instance, are timeless classics.
- Buy from one designer. These clothes are intended to work cohesively, and if you find one piece that works for you, chances are the rest of the collection will too.
- Choose quality. Buy the best quality items you can afford. A few investment pieces will last a long time.
- Make your wardrobe
Now that you’ve got your key pieces sorted, think about those items. Roughly, you’ll be aiming for:
- 9 tops
- 5 pants and/or skirts
- 5 shoes
- 5 accessories
- 3 jackets
There is leeway in these numbers though – it’s not a rule you must have nine tops only. Think about the places you’ll be wearing these outfits. If it’s work, then your computer glasses are an essential accessory for a distinct sense of style, but you may not need five pairs of chandelier earrings.
You may have to go shopping for a few key items, but probably most of your capsule clothing will already be in your wardrobe.
And then you’re done
People won’t notice that you’re dressing in the same outfits. Anecdotally, people say they get more compliments about their look when it’s built from a capsule wardrobe.
It takes some time to set up the capsule wardrobe initially, but once you have those 30-ish items of clothing set up, it’s going to reduce the choices you have to make each day. That in turn should free your brain to make other important choices, such as do you have a glass of white wine with dinner, or kombucha?