I’m sure you’ve heard about the concept of a capsule wardrobe by now. It seems like the perfect antidote to fast fashion and stressful mornings deciding what to wear, right? You have a limited amount of clothes, everything works together and you are seasonally sorted.
So why aren’t you doing it?
I don’t know what a capsule wardrobe is
Let me break it down. You can have 12 items in your wardrobe (it doesn’t have to be 12, but I’ve worked out the maths for 12 so here it is) and, because they all work together, you can make a staggering 72 outfits out of them. That’s right - 6 tops, 4 bottoms, 2 jackets - shoes and accessories are on top - equals 72 outfits. That’s almost three months worth of outfits with no repeats (the items are repeated but the outfits are unique).
Many of the “must-have” lists are based on neutrals - black, grey, white and denim usually. There might be a pop of colour but generic capsule wardrobes largely rely on neutrals as a base. It’s a brilliant concept if you are starting a new job after a break, you’re pregnant or going on holiday. But you don’t need to stick to all neutrals.
If you have a colour swatch, then you can adapt your capsule wardrobe using the colours and neutrals in it (finding a patterned top is also a great way of starting a capsule wardrobe) - everything will go together.
So everything goes together?
If you keep it really simple, then yes… but there is a small “but”. Bear in mind that the pretty flatlays don’t take into account the silhouette of the outfits you’ll be able to make. The principles of volume (if you want the science bit) tell us that one part of your outfit can be larger, whilst the other should be slimmer. Which is to say that if you decide a pair of wide legged trousers should be part of your capsule wardrobe, then adding a baggy top that ends on your low hip isn’t likely to be the most flattering look (it’s fine if you can tuck in). Likewise, the skinny jeans and the tight top might not work as well.
Maybe the list of “must-have” items doesn’t work for you
You know the Pinterest-worthy French woman’s capsule wardrobe - black peg trousers, a pair of well tailored jeans, crisp white shirt, black blazer, etc. It sounds dreamy, yet I’ve had a crisp white Ralph Lauren shirt in my wardrobe for well over 10 years and I have never worn it. I’ve tried, but it just doesn’t feel like me. Ditto the black trousers (I think I did wear them to the office once).
For me, I find both items a bit lacking in detail and interest, I like a bit of colour in my outfits and black & white just doesn’t do it for me. I also feel that there’s something quite weird about a “crisp” white shirt - stiff fabric, uncomfortable, sounds itchy, definitely needs ironing, it’s really not for everyone.
It’s all down to your personality (and your colouring) - if you love Audrey Hepburn and Innes de la Fressange, then you’ll probably love this combination.
Maybe you’re too creative
A capsule wardrobe of 12 items is never going to suit the woman (or man) who needs options. It may be that you love colour or detail, or that you love putting together combinations that nobody else would dare dream of. Or you might be a mood dresser and just need options you can try on and discard until you find the right one for how you’re feeling today.
We’re all different and for some of us, it might be a perfect solution to limit choice in the mornings. Very creative people like Charles Saatchi, Simon Cowell and other notorious “creatives” have chosen to wear a uniform. Crisp white shirt, high waisted trousers, cuban heels… it’s not for everyone. But it is for him.
If you think a Capsule Wardrobe might be for you, you can download my free Capsule Wardrobe Planner, click here (no signup required). As always, let me know if you have any questions.