Not long ago I came across a term that made me pause: capsule wardrobe, what could that be? Of course I jumped to some sort of space related physical clothing holder, but in actuality the capsule wardrobe is a specific methodology of compiling garnets. This minimalist way of dressing is for those who want to reduce the amount of “stuff” in their life or for those who simply want a challenge. It is worth noting that reducing the amount of clothing or overall “stuff” in their life can help reduce stress levels.
The term “capsule wardrobe” was coined by Susie Faux, owner of London Boutique “Wardrobe” back in the 1970’s. Faux used the term as a way to describe having a clothing collection of staples that would not go out of fashion and could be worn through multiple seasons. This could be achieved by having these staples in coordinating colors so that a variety of outfits would be suitable for any occasion without owning an excessive amount of clothing. faux had originally recommended that a women’s capsule wardrobe should contain at least two pairs of pants, one skirt or dress, one jacket, one coat, two pairs of shoes, two bags, and one knit.”
In 1985, American designer Donna Karan popularized the capsule wardrobe when she launched her “7 Easy Pieces” collection. Her goal was to fill the void she saw in the marketplace for stylish and practical clothing for working women. The debut of her collection showed eight models in solely bodysuits and black tights. While on the runway, they added items of clothing such as wrap-skirts, trousers, and dresses to illustrate an interchangeable method of dressing. Since then, the term “capsule wardrobe” has been widely used in the fashion media. Though it has mostly been used British media, it has certainly crossed the ocean and made an impact in the United States as well.
In order to start down the capsule wardrobe path, one must begin by brainstorming what their ideal closet would look like. This entails choosing a color scheme, considering your signature look and pieces that you tend to gravitate to, and addressing the styles and functions that your need your clothes need to satisfy. Also something to keep in mind is to consider purchasing clothing (if the need comes up) that is higher quality so that it lasts longer because the idea behind the caspule wardrobe is to own less and wear the same items often, therefore you will need items to last longer.
Once you have an idea for how you want your closet to look, take inventory of what you currently have. The capsule wardrobe is intended to be something that rotates with each season. The color palette and style can vary from season to season so for just getting started, work with the season you are currently in. Make piles to sort your clothing into “love it,” “like it,” and “over it” so that you can curate what you want to keep and what aspect of your style you want to change. Get rid of the “over it” pile and consider the “like it.” Are they pieces that can be worn different ways? Do they go with your “love it”old? If you answered no to either of those questions, get rid of it. If yes, then consider keeping it. Remember, if you are hesitant to permanently toss (or donate!) your clothing, feel free to keep them in storage until you are confident regarding your choices.
Use the “love it” pile to launch your capsule wardrobe. Find your signature outfit in there and keep the items that fit that look. For every piece of clothing that you keep, you should be able to wear it in several different combinations. Once you have your essential look, you want to get your quantity estimates. A paper and pen here can be helpful. Write down your essential pieces (i.e. what makes up your signature look) and consider laundry requirements and daily usage of each category. For something you wear daily, you will want to have at least three pieces so you won’t have to do laundry constantly and you won’t wear it out in just one season. But for things that you do not plan on wearing every week, you would probably be fine with just one of that item. With the intention of having approximately 30 pieces (the typical amount for a capsule wardrobe), you will want your signature look to compose about 50% of your closet. Once you have your daily outfits set, then add in the items you might want for special occasions or random outings that might require a different style.
Creating a capsule wardrobe is by no means easy. It takes a lot of consideration and trail and error. However, it can be really worthwhile and feel really good once it’s done. It is also something that you do not have to stick with. Try it for a season and if you hate it, go back to how things were before; it’s not permanent. There are plenty of people who have tried it and written about their experience so feel free to search the internet for more advice and stories of people who have gone through it. The capsule wardrobe is not for everyone, but is certainly worth a shot.