How to Build a Capsule Wardrobe | Styled By Sally

How to Build a Capsule Wardrobe


Many women have one of more closets filled to the brim with clothing, and yet never feel as though they have something to wear. If this sounds a bit like you, you might want to consider creating your own wardrobe capsule.

What is it?

A wardrobe capsule is a collection of some basic, essential articles of clothing, in neutral and coordinating colours, that allows you to mix and match the items so that you can create numerous outfits by swapping out a few of the pieces. The term was first coined by Susie Faux in the 1970s. Faux was the owner of the Wardrobe, a specialty clothing boutique in London. Later, Donna Karan and other designers began to create entire collections of clothing based on Faux’s original idea, and the concept has been used in numerous hit fashion shows on TV.

Why do it?

A wardrobe capsule allows users to create several stylish outfits from just a few basic pieces, which saves money, space and time. It’s great for the working woman that needs outfits that can easily go from the home, to the office, to a night on the town by switching one or two items. The wardrobe capsule is also beneficial for those who may be dieting and going through different clothes sizes every few months, or for those who are on a tight budget.

How to do it?

Depending on your budget, and the local weather where you live, you may wish to create two basic wardrobe capsules. One would be created with lighter weight materials, such as cotton, for spring and summer wear; the second would use thicker materials such as wools and synthetics for fall and winter. If you don’t have room in your budget for two seasonal wardrobe capsules, you will need to pay special attention to layering and leave room in your budget for a versatile overcoat.

Regardless of the time of year, a basic wardrobe capsule should contain four to six “bottoms” which would include a mix of skirts and slacks in a basic neutral colour. Shades of navy, tan and black are good choices for this part of your wardrobe.

Add two cardigans, or jackets, also in a neutral colour, to your wardrobe, as well as six to eight tops. When choosing your tops, select shirts that have sleeves of varying length. While you might choose one or two solids in black or white, add variety by choosing prints and stripes in colours and shades that compliment your complexion. The main guideline to keep in mind at this point of building your wardrobe is that all of the tops and jackets must work with all of the bottoms. You will also want to ensure that each article of clothing is comfortable, fits, and is well made.

Next, decide whether you are a “gold” or “silver” girl, and choose a few bracelets, pins, rings and necklaces to act as signature pieces of jewellery that will help add a bit of flare and individuality to your wardrobe. Toss a colourful scarf or two into the mix for the same reason.

Finally, try experimenting with different combinations of all of your items. You should be able to change the look of an outfit with simple layering and swapping out your accessories. You should be able to get at least 84 different and complete outfits from just these few wardrobe staples. Talk or take help from a personal stylist to set up your basic capsule wardrobe.

A Few More Tips for Added Flexibility

If you have room in your budget, consider adding a trench coat in a neutral colour, as well as a little black dress, to your wardrobe collection. Paired with the right jacket or cardigan, you can quickly go from the office directly to a party or fancy restaurant right after work with minimal effort. A trench coat in a neutral colour allows you to go out for any occasion in style while also protecting you from the elements.

Don’t neglect your feet when creating your wardrobe capsule! You may want to re-read my article on shoes for more details, but you will also want a few pairs of shoes in basic colours that you can then pair with purses that complement your shoes and the rest of your wardrobe. Once you have established a wardrobe capsule consisting of well-made pieces made in a classic style, you will then only need to add a minimum of new pieces each year to keep this polished and classic look.

The simplest way to look your best.

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