How To Build A Capsule Wardrobe

Streamlining your closet is about embracing minimalism and refinement. Plus, it makes it a hell of a lot easier to get dressed in the morning!

Written by: Hannah-Rose Yee 

 

capsule wardrobe outfit collage

Elizabeth and James sunglasses | Anna Quan Shirt | Frame Jeans | Georgia Alice blazer | By Far shoes


I recently spent the last few weeks slowly packing my life into a single, medium-sized suitcase.

The process was necessitated by a move halfway across the world to London, but was also an act of self-examination. Because I was starting my relocation with a month of travel I didn’t want to be weighed down – literally and figuratively – with baggage. I wanted to streamline, to pare back, and to try and live on a roster of outfits that I didn’t have to think too much about.

The process, though initially painful, has taught me something incredibly significant: I only wear about a quarter of my wardrobe. Discounting the seasonal-specific items that only see the light of day during the height of summer and/or winter, my day-to-day wardrobe consists of two skirts, one pair of trousers, one dress, one pair of overalls – my weekend staple – and a handful of various blouses.

Supplement that with a few handbags, a few pair of shoes, and enough earrings to outfit a punk rock band with half a dozen piercings apiece, you have the sum total of my closet. That’s it.

Capsule Wardrobe

This is essentially what is known as a capsule wardrobe, though I wasn’t aware that I was building one at the time. A capsule wardrobe is both a noun and, increasingly, a verb, the act of reducing your closet to a streamlined offering of interchangeable staples.

The idea is that every piece goes with each other, leading to an ease of getting dressed in the morning. No more wardrobe panics when getting ready. No more impulse buying. Instead, you have a closet that you can easily take stock of, understanding exactly what the cornerstones of your style are and what tailored blazer or perfect jean-sized gaps are still waiting to be filled.

The five elements of a capsule wardrobe, according to marie claire’s junior fashion editor Tara Morris are “the perfect crew neck white tee shirt, blue wash jeans, leather slides, kitten heel mules and a statement earring.”

Building that effortless rack of easily subbed-in separates is about “sourcing the right pieces for your body shape,” she adds. For me, that means stocking up on wrap skirts in neutral linens and plenty of gingham tunics. For Morris, it’s all about building outfits around a pair of jeans that fit so well people ask if they were made specifically to fit her.

capsule wardrobe outfit collage 2

 

Elizabeth and James sunglasses | Anna Quan ShirtChristopher Esber skirt | ATP slides

That level of tailored perfection, she says, comes from “time and effort” dedicated to the search. “Be open to the fact that if you’re buying jeans online they’re probably not going to fit first time around,” Morris advises. Her top tip is to “commit” to the search: “Try on at least five pairs,” she says. The same is true of footwear. Give yourself over to the search and seek out the highest quality you possibly can. This, she says, is an investment that “will stand the test of time.”

Once you have the core staples of your wardrobe locked down, whether it’s oversized white shirts, black silk slip dresses or statement tee-shirts, the focus is on accessories.

“A new pair of earrings or handbag can completely change your look,” Morris explains. “If you keep your accessories on high rotation your wardrobe never seems boring.”

Think of it as the icing on top of the cake. And luckily for me you can fit a hell of a lot of earrings and handbags into a suitcase.

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