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How many clothes do you have in your wardrobe? Does that question sound like it’s from left field? Are you asking yourself, “who knows how many clothes they own?” People with capsule wardrobes, that’s who. Haven’t heard of this closet hack? I’m willing to bet you’re going to want to create your own capsule wardrobe (check list download at the end) by the time you finish this article.
The Capsule Wardrobe (checklist at the end of the article) isn’t new in theory but has taken off in recent years with the increase in moving towards a minimal lifestyle.
The term was first coined in the 1940’s for a small collection of garments designed to be worn together which harmonized in color and line. There have been a few key players in it’s revitalization over the years – Susie Faux, a London Boutique owner, used the term in the 70’s, Donna Karan created the first Capsule Wardrobe collection in 1985, and more recently, Courtney Carver of Be More With Less created Project 333 in 2010.
BENEFITS OF A CAPSULE WARDROBE
You may be thinking that a capsule wardrobe (checklist at the end of this article) is for minimalists. And that may be true. But there are benefits outside of just owning less. Let’s look at some of those now:
SIMPLICITY OF A CAPSULE WARDROBE
Regardless of how many items you have in your capsule wardrobe, or what philosophy you subscribe to, you can’t argue with the fact that a capsule wardrobe will simplify your routine.
Regardless if you plan your outfit before you go to sleep, or you decide what to wear at the start of each day, there’s probably a moment that you’re struggling to decide “what to wear”. And also, “What goes with what?” We’ve all been there. A closet jam-packed with clothes that we seldom/never wear because it doesn’t fit, or maybe doesn’t really go with anything, or we just plain don’t like it. Need to do a closet refresh? Download my free e-book How to organize your closet in a day. Also, be sure to read my article on The Top 5 Quick & Simple Small Closet Hacks to get organized quickly.
The beauty of a capsule wardrobe is that everything goes with everything. And each item has been curated, by you, to be items that you want to wear. Every day you’re sure to put together an outfit that you’re happy with, without any trouble. Think of how much time and worry you’ll save.
Part of the simplicity of a capsule wardrobe (checklist at the end of this article), is the versatility of it. Everything matches everything. Mix and match seem a bit … old lady? Don’t discredit the oldies – they’re onto something. Just think about it, oldies always look put together. And why is that? Because they have outfits. And those outfits match.
Think about when you go shopping right now. You see something, you like it, you try it on (it’s cute), you buy it. You take it home and think, okay, so now what am I going to wear this with? A capsule wardrobe removes that wonder. When you have a capsule wardrobe, first of all, you don’t just go out shopping unless you need something. And if you do – one thing in, one thing out! You go to the store with intention. You go to the store because you need a specific item – “I need a new black cardigan that I can wear with this and that and this and that”. Before you buy an item, you go through the items in your closet in your mind, and how this new item will not only fit in with the rest of your wardrobe but enhance your capsule wardrobe.
Have you heard of Fast Fashion? If you haven’t, it’s basically the act of big box fashion outlets having the market cornered on getting on trend items out, FAST, en masse, and at approachable prices. Think Zara, HM and ASOS. Sound awesome? Well, it’s a phenomenon that’s adding to a mentality of disposable clothing. As a result, clothing is filling up landfills at a rapid pace, and it has become one of the leading polluting industries globally. Want to read more? Here’s a great article I found from Forbes
The beauty of a capsule wardrobe is that by having a curated selection of items, and keeping a seasonal wardrobe, you can have investment pieces that will stand the test of time. Think high quality wools, or classic pieces, giving you that Audrey Hepburn timeless look (because seriously, who doesn’t want to look like Audrey?).
Don’t get me wrong, you don’t have to buy one wardrobe and wear it for the rest of your life. If you invest in pieces that stand up through the ages, and swap -out your wardrobes seasonally, you’ll feel like you have a fresh wardrobe every time the weather changes and won’t feel the need for new pieces.
WHAT CAPSULE WARDROBE IS RIGHT FOR YOU?
Project 333 is probably something you may have heard of – or at least theory behind it. As we previously read, by definition, a capsule wardrobe is a small collection of garments designed to be worn together, that are harmonized in colour. Project 333 takes that definition of a capsule wardrobe (checklist at the end of this article) and further breaks it down into a seemingly achievable program.
Your wardrobe is broken down seasonally, typically based on 3-month increments over four seasons, or as many seasons as your climate necessitates. You then select 33 items per season, including tops, bottoms, dresses, outerwear, shoes and accessories. If you haven’t already jumped on board with seasonal wardrobes, you need to read my article Top 5 Tricks to Organizing Seasonal Clothing. You can also read the follow-up article The Best Methods for Storing Clothing which you may find helpful.
10 X 10 CHALLENGE
Does Project 333 feel too overwhelming? Not ready to go all in on a capsule wardrobe (checklist at the end of this article)? You may want to give the 10×10 challenge a try. This challenge, created by Lee Vosburgh of Style Bee in 2015, has the participant select 10 items (not including accessories) to wear over 10 days. If that still sounds scary, think about how often you actually change your outfit. Depending on your day-to-day wardrobe for work vs leisure time, I’m going to bet that you double up on items throughout the week.
DIY – MAKE YOUR OWN CAPSULE WARDROBE
(Checklist at the end of this article)
Not ready for a very specific number of items or days to wear them? Make up your own schedule based on how you wear clothes, but in a reduced version. Challenge yourself.
When I moved into my campervan, I knew I would need to reduce my inventory of clothing. It was my first winter back in Canada after almost a decade living in sunny (and warm) Australia, and I was terrified at the thought of being cold. But I also knew how I wear clothes – I tend to wear a few key outfits and then have a few pieces that I jump to when I’m tired of my usual rotation.
I packed 3 pairs of pants, 9 shirts, 9 sweaters, 7 jackets and 4 pairs of shoes (there was also some active wear that I never was active enough to wear and some accessories that were very snow/minus temps specific). To some that will sound like not much at all. To others, it will sound like far too much. As it was my first winter in almost 10 years, I did over prepare with sweaters, coats, boots & accessories like toques and mitts, so you’ll have to give me a break on that. But overall? I wear 36% of that on a regular basis. 36%. That includes jackets which I wear almost all of, as well as my shoes. So what’s the point of this? It’s to say that even when you have a small wardrobe, you still probably only would wear a portion of it.
I developed this wardrobe with a capsule wardrobe mentality, however I didn’t follow any set program. I knew I only wanted a couple bottoms, a couple of tops to layer, a bunch of sweaters and coats and only a couple of pairs of shoes.
Out of the clothes in my DIY capsule wardrobe as listed above, I wear all my pants (black and blue jeans + 1 pair of black tights), I wear 3 shirts under warmer layers, 3 or 4 of my sweaters, 2 pairs of shoes and 4 jackets. Of the clothes that I don’t wear, it’s mostly based on season. I’m freezing most of the time and base my clothes on what will keep me the warmest! It’s been a good exercise to build my own DIY capsule wardrobe and has taken on a few iterations throughout the season. Like anything new, building my own capsule wardrobe has been a work in progress. If you are serious about building your own, I have included a capsule wardrobe checklist as a guide at the end of this article.
HOW TO BUILD YOUR OWN CAPSULE WARDROBE (CHECKLIST)
There are five basic steps to creating a capsule wardrobe:
- CHOOSE YOUR BASE COLOR
- CHOOSE YOUR NEUTRAL ESSENTIALS
- OPTIONAL: CHOOSE AN ACCENT COLOR
- OPTIONAL: CHOOSE SOME PATTERNS
- ADD IN ACCESSORIES & SHOES
CHOOSE YOUR BASE COLOR
There are a few schools of thought on the base color. Some would say “Navy or Black”. Full stop. I say Brown can easily be included in that. Your base colours will be things like your bottoms, maybe a jacket or a dress – items that are going to act as the anchor to your outfit.
CHOOSE YOUR NEUTRAL ESSENTIALS
Essentials are mostly going to be tops – tees, sweaters, long sleeve shirts. Neutrals can be anything from white or grey, to a beige/kakhi or even denim. Nothing says neutral essential to me like a denim button up.
OPTIONAL: ADD IN AN ACCENT COLOR
This is completely a personal choice and is kind of like cushions on a couch – this is your pop of colour. Maybe it’s a bright sweater or a tee, maybe it’s a fun-coloured jacket. An accent color is adding a bit of personality to your wardrobe. Just remember that by definition of a capsule wardrobe, it should flow seamlessly with the rest of your items. It shouldn’t be an outlier that can only be worn with one or two other things, it should fit with the full wardrobe.
OPTIONAL: ADD IN PATTERN
Not everyone loves a pattern. And not all patterns are created equal. It will be a pretty specific item and pattern that will flow seamlessly with the rest of your capsule wardrobe. Like an accent color, these again are your couch cushions, your personality. To be honest, I usually think that one or two patterned items that may not 100% match everything is ok. But that’s me and my DIY capsule wardrobe. It should make more than JUST ONE outfit though.
ADD IN SHOES AND ACCESSORIES
If you’re big on jewellery and accessorizing, this one may be tough. For others, this will be a synch. I like to include my shoes in my DIY capsule wardrobe, but think that, as long as it’s kept in check, accessories don’t necessarily need to be counted. Whichever theory you subscribe to, as with anything, doing it in moderation is key.
Whether you choose a capsule wardrobe program or design you own, reducing your wardrobe down to classic, timeless items that you can mix and match to create multiple outfits will be beneficial to your daily life. From the simplicity of choosing your outfit daily, to having good quality items that last through the years, the benefits of a capsule wardrobe will definitely outweigh the initial struggles.
Excited to start your journey to building a capsule wardrobe? Make sure to download your free checklist and get started now!