A Beginners guide to starting a capsule wardrobe: What is it and why do I need one?

Fast-fashion has enabled many of us to stuff our wardrobes to full capacity whilst still not breaking the bank. And yet, how many of us find ourselves moaning in the mornings that we have “nothing to wear”?

Perhaps a capsule wardrobe could be the solution.

There’s a lot mythology surrounding the concept of a well-edited wardrobe with consumers wary of having to spend more only to end up with fewer items in their sartorial arsenal.

But with increasing numbers of us deciding to focus on sustainable living, coupled with an eagerness to simplify our busy lives, it seems we are more open than ever to the concept. 

Here’s everything you need to know about starting a capsule wardrobe. 

What is a capsule wardrobe?

A capsule wardrobe is a limited collection of clothes that coordinate well and can be worn in a number of different ways to cater for multiple occasions. 

The items should be made up of separates and include a handful seasonal pieces you can change with the unpredictable British weather. 

Why is it a good idea to have one?

If you want to spend less time and money on clothes but still look good then a capsule wardrobe is for you.

They create an easy-to-understand framework that makes shopping and getting dressed in the mornings infinitely easier, as well as making your wardrobe clutter free.

Investing in a few, high-quality items can feel a little indulgent at first but when you consider the environmental ramifications of cheap, disposable clothing, the benefits speak for themselves. 

Where did the concept come from?

A capsule wardrobe might sound like a contemporary concept that stylish folk are touting as the latest fashion craze but the term was actually coined in the 1970s.

British boutique owner Susie Faux, is credited with the phrase after she used the idea to help women refine their wardrobes to only include high-quality essentials that could be worn interchangeably.

The concept reached peak popularity in 1985 when designer Donna Karan introduced a capsule collection of workwear items called “Seven Easy Pieces” and it has remained a hot topic ever since. 

How many pieces should a capsule wardrobe include?

The amount of pieces your capsule should include varies, while some recommend as few as 10 others will suggest as many as 50.

Ultimately, the number isn’t critical and will vary from person to person. The main thing is to make sure you have all the basics covered with well-made items that fit you properly and aren’t considered disposable. 

How do you start a capsule wardrobe? 

While there are no hard and fast rules about how to build a capsule wardrobe, it’s safe to say that the best place to start is with a clearout.

Take every single piece of clothing out of your closet and consider the last time you wore it, if it’s been more than six months pop it into storage or donate to charity. 

Next, you’re going to want to build a base wardrobe of pieces that transcend trends. These are staple pieces that you should take time to source; make sure they fit properly and are made from the best quality fabrics you can afford. 

For most women, this will involve some combination of the following: a pair of tailored trousers, denim jeans that look good with heels and flats, a neutral shirt, T-shirts for layering, a little black dress, a trench coat, high heels and a pair of boots. 

Of course, it can take some trial and error to find the right mix and this will vary depending on your lifestyle and where you work. 

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After that, you will need to add in a few seasonal pieces depending on the time of year such as good quality knitwear, a warm coat or camisole tops. 

Don’t be afraid to introduce new pieces to your capsule but make sure that they work with what you already have and can be worn in a variety of ways. If you’re concerned about your wardrobe becoming cluttered try using a “one in, one out” rule where you remove an item every time you add something new.

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