Have you ever pulled open the doors of your wardrobe, only to find yourself muttering (or groaning loudly) that you have nothing to wear? Yes, so have I. At this point it can be tempting to rush out and buy something new, fun and affordable. But if it’s this kind of quick-fix buying that leads to the ‘nothing to wear’ dilemma in the first place, then we’re just running in circles.
Cue the ‘capsule wardrobe.’ The term was coined by British fashion icon Susie Faux in the 1970s. It refers to a collection of 30-40 practical and versatile pieces of clothing put together with the intention of being an entire wardrobe for a season. While the concept isn’t new, in the age of fast fashion it represents a shift in thinking about how we wear clothes, which could inspire important change in our consumption habits.
Why we love it, and why you’ll love it too
In our busy lives, many of us reach the point of decision fatigue early on in our day. By narrowing your wardrobe down to thoughtfully selected essentials you’re saving yourself multiple decisions every day. Alongside the everyday stresses, thinking mindfully about how our fashion purchases might improve our daily lives fosters an emphasis on quality over quantity, reducing waste and saving us money in the long term.
Where to begin?
Building a capsule wardrobe is about choosing a logical selection of clothing that you not only love to wear, but that is practical and versatile. To begin the process you may need to pull everything out of your closet and take stock. Some questions you can ask yourself about each item are:
- Have I worn it in the last year?
- Does it fit my day-to-day lifestyle?
- Does it go with my other clothing?
- Do I LOVE it?
These will help you make decisions about what should stay and what can go. The content of your capsule wardrobe will vary depending on the season and your individual style. But importantly, you want to have a balance of tops, bottoms, layers and accessories. Neutral colours that pair well are also key.
There are numerous fashionistas and bloggers who swear by the capsule wardrobe or similar minimalist wardrobe systems. Here are some who inspire us:
New York Art Director Matilda Kahl made waves in 2015 when she wrote for Harper’s Bazaar about why she had worn the same outfit every day for three years and how it had improved her life. Harking back to the days of the school uniform might send shivers down some spines, but we dig the simple elegance of the Kahl’s ‘work uniform.’
Courtney Carver’s diagnosis with Multiple Sclerosis moved her to “create a life with time and space for what really matters.” After feeling the benefits of minimalist living, she started the popular movement Project 333, which encourages people to create a wardrobe of thirty-three items every three months.
Australian fashion blogger Sam Leigh documents her journey from “fast fashion hoarder to slow fashion minimalist” on Ecomono. You can shop ethical brands and pick up tips on how to build a minimalist wardrobe based on Australian seasons.
Verena is a dedicated minimalist, environmentalist and capsule-ist. We love her YouTube channel because it’s instructive and gives great visual inspo, showing us how many gorgeous outfits can be created with just 30-ish items of clothing.
Here is her Spring/Summer transition video:
Let’s do it!
If your wardrobe is full of bright colors and patterns or statement pieces that just won’t work with many other pieces, you may need to stock up on some more versatile items. Here are some of our favorite pieces rated ‘Great’ or ‘Good’ on the Good On You app that will act as perfect staples for the beginner’s capsule wardrobe.