When I started blogging, a friend suggested writing a post about The Capsule Wardrobe. As much as the idea intrigued me I thought it was something I’d never actually be able to do. However, after doing my research (in other words; reading a lot of blog posts) I decided it was something I definitely wanted to try out. I’ve now overhauled my wardrobe and created my first ever capsule wardrobe. Read on for the what’s, why’s and how’s of the process so far! (You might want to grab a cup of tea and a snack – it’s a long one!)
What is it?
In short, it’s a finite collection of fashion pieces that make up your wardrobe, and is designed to last three months (typically a season). I decided to base mine on the recommendations of Caroline who owns the blog un-fancy.com – completely dedicated to the capsule wardrobe concept. She recommends around 37 pieces (I ended up going for 39). If you are thinking of creating a capsule wardrobe I highly recommend browsing her site as this is where I got most of my inspiration. Included in the number is tops, bottoms (skirts, dresses, trousers), shoes and outerwear. You don’t include accessories as these can then be used to provide more variety to the outfits you can create, however I notice Caroline takes a very minimal approach to accessories too. Neither do you include underwear, workout wear, loungewear, swimwear or any cocktail dresses or ball gowns you happen to own! Reassess and swap or buy items every three months and Bob’s your uncle! You could argue that in the UK we don’t need to swap our clothes out every season given the unpredictable and mixed weather but I decided to start off with three monthly intervals as I’m new to the capsule wardrobe game and want a chance to be able to correct any mistakes sooner rather than later.
Why do it?
Personally, I wanted to start to develop my own personal style. I realise written down that sounds a bit pretentious! However at 32 years young I couldn’t tell you what my style is. A browse through old photos would just confirm that I jump on whatever fashion bandwagon happens to be going past at the time and as a result I’ve bought into the ‘throwaway fashion’ culture. Hopefully that will start to change now. I also really relate to Caroline’s points on her blog about the paradox of choice and emotional shopping. Being faced with an overflowing wardrobe and drawers stuffed full of clothes meant I didn’t get full use out of my items and ended wearing the same things a lot of the time. Too much choice is not always a good thing. And as for emotional shopping; if you look in your wardrobe now and find the things you have never worn or only worn once, there’s every chance they are a result of this. I know I haven’t made good fashion purchases when feeling panicked, stressed, tired or upset! In the long term this method should also save you money. It might seem like a big cost when you start, but you won’t spend any money on clothes for another three months, and the more practised you get the less money you are likely to spend each time you swap the clothes for the change in season.
How did I do it?
Taking lead from un-fancy.com first I thought about where I spend most of my time. Working full time in an office environment means I wanted a high proportion of the pieces to be work-suitable but I still needed plenty of items I could wear socially including just a few ‘party pieces’ (gone are the days of all night partying every weekend for me!) This is probably the most important step as everybody will have completely different requirements here depending on your lifestyle. Next, the big wardrobe clear out. This was eye opening! I naively thought I probably didn’t have that many more than 39 pieces as I’m pretty good at having regular de-cluttering sessions. Well, I was wrong as when it came to the crunch I had 198 pieces! I sorted everything into three piles;
1. Keep and wear. This pile went straight back into the wardrobe. It included everything I looked at and immediately thought ‘love it, fits me and is season appropriate’. This was the starting point of my new capsule wardrobe and I had 19 pieces (which further proves how little of my wardrobe I was actually wearing!)
2. Storage. In here went anything I loved and can still wear but is not suitable to wear in the next three months (so in other words spring/summer clothes). Also into this pile went anything that I’m not going to wear any time soon but for some sentimental reason couldn’t bear to part with. When it’s time to reassess the capsule wardrobe in a few months time this will come out of storage to be considered again. I bought some vacuum packed storage bags so that the clothing will be kept safe and dry for the end of December but is not easy for me to dip into if I feel like cheating!
3. Donate/Sell. This included items that don’t fit or I simply didn’t love enough to put into either of the other piles. I didn’t actually count how many items ended up here but this was definitely the biggest pile, I reckon around 75% of the whole lot! I ended up donating most of it, and keeping just a few items to sell on eBay, but if you have more patience than me you could sell the lot and use the money to fund your new capsule wardrobe.
You can also have a fourth pile for any items that cause you to hesitate and are unsure where to put. You can either store these away or reassess once everything else has been sorted. However, I was feeling in a ruthless mood so decided not to have this pile!
Finally, the fun part: shopping! But a different kind of shopping for me; carefully planned and every purchase considered to make sure it worked with most, if not all, of the other items in the wardrobe so far.
My first ever capsule wardrobe! Well, almost. I have 35 pieces so far and still need a coat, a jumper and two tops before it will feel complete so am still on the lookout for these pieces. I will then have 39 pieces that I will wear exclusively for the next three months and I have to say I’m quite excited about it. Sadly, my photography and photo editing skills are not advanced enough to provide a visual of the whole wardrobe contents but at the end of the post I have listed all the items with links to the exact or similar items (some items are not available online or I already owned them so are not current stock).
Lessons so far
De-cluttering in any form can be therapeutic and this has been no exception. It’s also contagious and has made me want to take a more minimalistic approach to other possessions too. This will be a work in progress and I’m sure lessons will be learnt along the way. The biggest one this time was not to try and complete the shopping in one session; it needs to remain fun and you want to avoid buying things for the sake of it. It’s therefore a good idea to do the wardrobe sort out 2-3 weeks before you plan to start and before each season change. This time I did an initial shopping trip where I got about half the items I needed. After taking everything home and reassessing what was missing I finished with two online sessions and a further trip to the local shopping centre. And as I already mentioned, I have a little bit of shopping still to do.
Long line black cardigan – Primark (similar), Black blazer – ASOS, Sleeveless tuxedo jacket – Primark (similar), Wine roll neck – Boohoo, Cream side split jumper – Boohoo, Burgundy oversized jumper – Primark (similar), Grey turtle neck crop top – Primark (similar), Black jersey top with PU sleeves – Primark (similar), Denim shirt – H&M, Check shirt – H&M, Black cold shoulder top – Primark (similar), Blogger slogan tee – Boohoo (similar), Floral top – Miss Selfridge, Grey V Neck – H&M, White blouse – ASOS, 2 Tops & Jumper – still to buy
Blue skinny jean – Seven for all Mankind, High waist blue jeans – Miss Selfridge, High waist black jeans – Boohoo, Black treggings – Boohoo, Black tailored trousers – Next, Grey tailored trousers – River Island, Black pencil skirt – ASOS, Corduroy skirt – Topshop
Black jersey midi dress – H&M, Retro black dress – ASOS, Roll neck stripe dress – Miss Selfridge
Black trainers – Nike (similar), Black loafers – Primark (similar), Black Chelsea boots – Primark (similar), Black heeled boots – Primark (similar) , Brown heeled boots – New Look (similar), Patent heels – TK Maxx (similar), Suede heels – River Island
Grey cape – River Island (similar), Black faux leather jacket – Topshop, Coat – still to buy
I hope you have enjoyed my ramblings the capsule wardrobe experience so far! I plan to do an update each season. Let me know in the comments if that’s something you’d like to see, and if you have any tips for me…