How to Create a Capsule Wardrobe

Did you know that women wear just 20 per cent of their wardrobes 80 per cent of the time? Fast Fashion has enabled so many to stuff their wardrobes full without breaking the bank. Yet I see so many clients who complain to me that they have a wardrobe full of clothes yet have nothing to wear.

There’s a lot of confusion over what a capsule wardrobe is, with many thinking they have to spend more to end up with fewer items in their wardrobe. This is not the case at all as it’s more about shopping with intention, spending less and with the end result being a wardrobe that you adore. With so many now focused on the environmental impact fast fashion is having, not to mention the human cost, many more people are contacting me to help them create a beautifully curated wardrobe that makes dressing every day a delight.

What is a capsule wardrobe? A capsule wardrobe is just a name for a small collection of coordinated clothing you love, that changes with each season and can be worn in a number of different ways to cater for multiple occasions. The capsule wardrobe is made up of separates and includes a handful of seasonal pieces you can change with the unpredictable British weather.  When thinking of a capsule wardrobe think: minimalism, streamlining, organisation, environmentally friendly, simple and my personal favourite – easy!

Why do you need a capsule wardrobe? I’ve already mentioned the environmental impact of fast fashion and there is also the human cost to consider too. A capsule wardrobe is for you if you want to spend less time and money on clothes but still look good, creating an easy-to-understand framework that makes shopping and getting dressed in the mornings considerably 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 impact of cheap, poor quality, disposable clothing, the benefits speak for themselves. Not only that, investing wisely in pieces you truly love makes getting dressed a pleasure, not a chore. Once you have a capsule wardrobe in place getting dressed becomes so easy – I cannot stress this enough. That dreaded standing-in-front-of-the-wardrobe moment each morning turns from a 10-minute ordeal into a 10-second decision.

The reason I think a capsule wardrobe is important is that I want a wardrobe full of clothes that I love that I always want to wear, no matter the day or the occasion. Clothes that fit me well and I feel comfortable and stylish in. Plus a wardrobe full of pieces that work well together so I don’t have to think about how to put together outfits. A capsule wardrobe should mainly contain timeless pieces that transcend trends. Each piece should fit, compliment your colouring and be made from the highest quality fabrics you can afford.

My top tips for creating a capsule wardrobe:

REDUCE – Before even starting to create a capsule wardrobe you first need to focus on reducing and decluttering your wardrobe. Take a few hours to gather all your clothes together from wardrobes, drawers, the loft, storage boxes etc and review each and every item. Don’t forget your shoes, bags and accessories too. Discard anything that no longer fits, is worn or damaged, or that you know you won’t wear again. Donate to a charity or recycle to ensure you’re not adding to the environmental ramifications that fast fashion is having. This will be the trickiest part and there will come a point when you look around and survey the room and wonder why you started. Stick with it, I promise it’ll be worth it! If you struggle to let go of items find a suitcase or storage box and place all the items of clothing that you are unsure about into the suitcase. The idea of keeping these items makes it easier to let them go. If after 3-6 months you haven’t worn any of these items or let alone thought about them then you can then donate your suitcase of clothing to your favourite charity shop or sell on eBay to reinvest into your new streamlined wardrobe.

REORGANISE – Once you have reduced the volume of clothes you now need to look at each item and decide if it works with other items in your wardrobe and how many outfits you can create using it. I try and have a ‘three style’ rule meaning that if I can’t wear/style an item of clothing three different ways then it won’t work. There are of course some exceptions to this rule, such as evening wear.

BUILD – This is where the fun starts! Think of different categories of clothing that you need for everyday life: work, weekend casual, date night/nights out, dressy, off-duty, holiday etc. Write down the categories on a piece of paper. Everyone will have different categories depending on their lifestyle. At this point, I like to use a rail. I hang everything on the rail so it’s easier to see what I have. Anything I don’t know how to wear, what to pair with etc I turn the hanger the opposite way, ensuring I try and focus on finding a place for those in my new wardrobe. If at the end, I still haven’t managed to create outfits using those items then I discard them as I can guarantee I will never wear them.

So, what do you do next? You have a sequin top that you love but have never worn. You mostly like it and you ‘might’ wear it this year at some point but have no clue how or what to pair it with. The best way to decide whether to keep it or ditch it is to consider what your categories are and how it fits into your lifestyle. How could you make it work with items you wear on a daily basis? For example, pairing it with jeans and trainers automatically takes it into the weekend casual category, whereas with jeans and heels it becomes a date night outfit. If you cannot make it fit into a category with existing items you have in your wardrobe then the chances are it’s not going to work for you now, or ever! Don’t forget seasonal items too – knitwear, coats, summer dresses or camisole tops.

Take each item at a time off the rail look at it and consider does it fit into the categories you have written down? If it does can you pair it with other items to create different looks? If the answer is yes, write it down under the category it’s most suited to and place it back in your wardrobe. You can also add with it the other items of clothing that you would pair it with. By writing the item down you can easily see how many plain white tees you already have and if there’s too many of one item you can choose the best fitting or most versatile and discard the rest. If you know that you won’t want to wear it because of fit, don’t put it in your capsule.

REVIEW – Look at the items now hanging in your wardrobe as this forms the basis of your capsule wardrobe, now is the time to identify any gaps. There are a few key items that I would always recommend in every woman’s wardrobe: a well-fitting blazer, a trench coat and as good a quality as you can afford winter coat. Great fitting jeans (not too many though!), a selection of t-shirts, a white shirt, good quality knitwear, a midi skirt and dress are some items I couldn’t be without. Also, consider footwear and accessories. Your capsule wardrobe items will depend on your lifestyle and your style.

ADD – Now is the time to hit the shops prepared with a list of things you need to complete your capsule wardrobe. Do your research before you venture out by looking online, at Pinterest and Instagram for inspiration.  Rather than heading out to the shops and just buying the first thing you ‘think’ you like, you are now buying with intention and purpose. You won’t buy anything you don’t need and you’ll save money. By purchasing less, you will actually be able to afford to spend a little more on those all-important basics. You will be surprised how much money you will save as there will be no more impulse buying and this money can be reinvested in higher quality items that will last.

Now you have completed your capsule wardrobe do not panic that these are the only clothes you’ll wear for the rest of your life, they won’t be. However, you’ll now only be adding items that you really need, that can be worn in multiple ways and that you truly love. Try following a ‘one item in, one item out’ rule as that way you avoid your wardrobe becoming cluttered again.

Worried that capsule wardrobe dressing sounds dull and boring and will spoil the enjoyment you get from shopping? Don’t be. I promise that with fewer higher quality items that are carefully considered purchases you will love every item in your wardrobe and dressing will be a joy, not a chore. There will be no more “I’ve nothing to wear!” moments.