Got a closet full of clothes but still find yourself uttering the immortal phrase, ‘I’ve got nothing to wear’? If this sounds like you, a capsule wardrobe could be the answer. Well-edited wardrobes are the stuff of legend; after all, the idea of having more options with fewer items does sound like wizardry. And in an ‘always on’ culture that’s becoming increasingly aware of sustainability, the time-saving, planet-saving benefits of a capsule wardrobe are certainly appealing.
Whilst it may sound like an impossible task, the reality is quite different; here’s everything you need to know about creating a capsule wardrobe from scratch.
What is a Capsule Wardrobe?
Smaller than a typical clothing collection, capsule wardrobes are all about versatility, wearability and timelessness. Key items are of a high quality (our VIP designer section is a great place to get hold of these!) and can be worn for any number of different events. Separates are interchangeable; seasonal pieces should be versatile enough to work during trans-seasonal months too. Think layering basics, smart (but effortless) separates and ‘dress me up or down’ occasion wear.
Before You Begin
First thing’s first; think about the colours and styles that are best suited to your tastes and lifestyle. If you work in a corporate environment, for example, you may need to build your wardrobe around subtle colours and more conservative styles. If you’re not 100% sure, consider the silhouettes that you tend to go for and/or feel most comfortable wearing.
Experts advise that you work with a basic palette of six colours (though you shouldn’t feel restricted by this – branch out if you want to!). Often, this consists of two accent colours – which are usually vivid – and two neutrals, as well as black and white.
Secondly, you’ll need to de-clutter your closet. Yes, to create a capsule collection that works, it’s essential to clear out what you don’t wear. You don’t have to get rid of everything though; if you can salvage any existing pieces and fit them seamlessly into a more refined collection, hold onto them.
Key Pieces for Any Capsule Wardrobe
A Statement Coat
Coats are a must – especially if you live in the UK. For our temperamental – and often cooler – climate, you’ve got to pile on those layers. Choose a coat in one of your accent colours; statement pieces like this are ideal for keeping your look fresh throughout winter.
A Versatile Jacket
Jackets are essential for warmer or trans-seasonal months; with enough layers, you can wear them in autumn or winter too. For a capsule wardrobe, you’ll need one that really does go with all of your other clothes. You’ll find that you rely on your jacket a lot, so it should be a high quality piece that’s not going to date. Think staple colours like black or brown, and keep the design somewhere in-between trending and timeless.
Day to Night Flats
Day to night dressing should be a key feature of every capsule wardrobe, since both focus so heavily on versatility. And day to night shoes are the sort of thing you shouldn’t be without. In most offices today, you’re not expected to wear heels, so getting your hands on a pair of dressy flats that can be worn from 9-5 (and beyond) is essential. Look out for designs made from luxe fabrics like velvet or satin; embellished, studded or embroidered accents make for especially fancy footwork. And mules are a surefire way to keep your look laid-back and modern.
An LBD that Works Wherever
Every girl needs an LBD at her disposal; your capsule wardrobe shouldn’t be without one. Choose something that’s got the versatility to work for any occasion; be wary of super-short hemlines (ideally, your dress should fall just above the knee) and fancy finishing touches. Your LBD should act as the perfect foundation upon which you can accessorise as and when it’s necessary. Floaty silhouettes have a relaxed aesthetic that’s perfect for the daytime, with the movement to work on dance floors too.
The Perfect Pair of Jeans
Did you know that approximately 3 pairs of jeans are sold in the UK every second, equating to about 70 million each year? But when it comes to sustainable fashion, denim is one of the worst offenders; it takes up to 2000 gallons of water to make just one pair. To shop more sustainably – and to complete your capsule wardrobe – choose classic styles that won’t date. Feel free to experiment with colour, but make sure you’ve always got a pair of black skinnies to hand; they’re probably the most versatile jeans out there!
Whilst jeans can be worn on a variety of different occasions, they’re not going to be smart enough for some events; that’s where tailored trousers come in. Whether you opt for a wide leg or tapered silhouette, timeless trousers are a must for every capsule collection. High or mid-rise styles are especially versatile; wear them with a basic t-shirt for smart-casual affairs, or a statement blouse for nights out. And avoid trousers that are too garish, as these will only date; stick to a subtler shade and introduce colour with a choice top or accessories instead.
A Handful of Basic T-Shirts
No capsule wardrobe is complete without a few basics. These are the pieces that can be used to pull your outfits together; they make dressier separates more wearable for the everyday, and off-duty looks even easier to throw on. To maximise the versatility of these pieces, you should stick to neutrals, or black and white. And make sure you’ve got a selection of t-shirts, long-sleeved tops and vest tops so that you’re covered for every season.
And a Few (Not So) Basic Blouses
For every basic you need a statement top. Blouses are our go-to, since you can wear them for almost any event – whatever the time of year. Look for printed blouses that feature one or more of your accent colours. You’ll be able to throw these on with your jeans, or wear with your tailored trousers for smarter events.
A Jumpsuit You Can Just Throw On
Jumpsuits bridge the gap between casual and cocktail dressing; given that they’re so versatile, you should make room for one in your capsule wardrobe. A ‘goes with anything’ jumpsuit that you can just throw on is your best bet. Look for styles that are loose at the waist; you’ll be able to create a defined silhouette on nights out with a waist belt, but on off-duty days, it’ll be the comfiest thing to wear – especially when it’s particularly warm.
And Finally, an Everyday Bag
Everyone has a go-to bag in their collection, no matter how extensive their wardrobe may be. For capsule wardrobes, you’ll need an everyday bag that’s roomy enough for the office, but not so big that it’s inconvenient the rest of the time. A medium-sized handbag with a detachable long strap has the versatility to suit most settings. Look to classic real or faux leather pieces and treat yourself to something that’s going to last – even if it means spending a little more than you might do usually. After all, you’ll be using it most days.