Olga Anderson - How to Master a Capsule Wardrobe
Katie.Dix / 03 Aug 2021
How to Master a Capsule Wardrobe
Our relationships and outlook on life have shifted dramatically over the past year, including our relationship with fashion. Our attention shifted from the dress drawer to the sweat’s drawer, and many forgot what pieces were buried at the back of our once ever-expanding wardrobes. Now, as we ease into pub lunches, date nights and garden BBQ’s once more, our wardrobes can seem something of an overwhelming challenge rather than an exciting part of our day. Not only have we forgotten what clothes we already possess, we also have to piece together a cohesive, put-together look - something we haven’t had to worry about in over a year.
Fast-fashion has also come under the spotlight this past year as many perceptions have changed toward sustainability and environmental impact in the fashion industry. We are more aware than ever of the strain fast-fashion contributes to the environment and wellbeing of underpaid workers across the globe, and our mindsets are shifting toward change every day. One way of minimising spending habits and promoting a positive impact is a capsule wardrobe.
A capsule wardrobe is a compact selection of clothes that can be mixed and matched to other pieces in the pile. By choosing to style from a minimal range of clothing each day, you save time and energy that can be focused on preparing yourself for the day ahead. A capsule wardrobe usually ranges from around thirty to fifty items of clothing. The concept can feel slightly intimidating at first, as there is much to consider when choosing to undergo this lifestyle change, so you may feel more comfortable taking it step by step.
Limiting your wardrobe doesn’t mean you need to rid yourself of all your beloved clothes; at the end of the day, it’s about trying something new and learning about yourself along the way. But if you want to take the plunge and truly commit, start with the ever-daunting clear-out. By getting rid of items that you no longer wear or fit, you are already starting the process of creating a smart, attainable wardrobe that will better suit your needs and lifestyle. Give away or sell items that are difficult to style, despite any emotional attachment you may have to them. If the beloved band t-shirt you bought ten years ago doesn’t suit your current fashion expression; get rid. A clear-out can not only be a challenge of will but a test of brutal honesty. Once you have donated these pieces, you have a smaller selection to pull from to create your capsule wardrobe. Or, perhaps, you’ve donated so many clothes you are left with thirty to fifty pieces that encapsulate your capsule wardrobe.
However, if the concept of a capsule wardrobe feels slightly intimidating to you and you are unwilling to get rid of half your clothes straight away, start small. Begin by creating a space for the assortment of items in your room, perhaps an open clothing rack, or a suitcase. This way, you have a designated space visit in the morning with easy access to everything you need, instead of browsing through drawers in search of obscure pieces that may or may not match.
So, which clothes should you select for your capsule wardrobe? There really is no right or wrong answer. The easiest solution is to pick items that make you feel good, fit well and couple well with a variety of other items. For example, a pair of good quality jeans are a staple piece for any capsule wardrobe. Jeans can be paired with a selection of tops, shirts, jumpers, coats, shoes and accessories, and can vary between smart and casual depending on the items you wear with them. Choose two or three pairs of your favourite jeans that vary in style and colour so when in doubt, you have a solid base to build your outfit around.
Alongside a few pairs of jeans, select bright yet smart trousers suitable for a multitude of occasions, such as work, dinner or casual drinks. Hand-pick a small number of skirts that range from elegant to casual, such as a silk cream midi-skirt or a pleated black maxi-skirt. Compliment the colours in your skirts when choosing shirts and t-shirts. A handy tip to achieve this is by referring to the colour wheel, used to determine the relationship between different shades. Decide which ‘temperature’ an item of clothing falls under, either ‘cold’ blues and greens associated with overcast light or ‘warm’ reds and oranges which emanate sunset hues. Select the second item of clothing that falls under a shade on either side of the colour wheel to create an analogous look within the same colour temperature. Furthermore, it is safe to select two or three plain tops and bodysuits that can be paired with bright trousers or patterned skirts or jackets. These provide a means of neutralising an outfit when the bottom half is louder in contrast, and vice versa.
One-pieces are straightforward to style and always result in an effortless overall look. Choose a diverse range of dresses, jumpsuits and dungarees in varied styles, colours or patterns. A dress that can be worn everywhere, such as a white smock dress, is a must as it can be styled multiple ways with accessories, shoes and coats, assuring that you’ll never get bored.
Comfort is key when it comes to shoes. Choose neutral colours and select pairs that will decipher the mood of an outfit, such as trainers for a casual flare, ankle boots for a night out, or ballet flats for day-to-day routines.
As we’re approaching summer, jumpers and jackets may seem futile when forming your capsule. However, be cautious about throwing your favourite jumpers away as the colder months will roll back around soon enough. Select two to three comfortable jumpers and sweatshirts to hold in storage over the summer, alongside coats, jackets and winter accessories. Your capsule wardrobe is likely to change from season to season, so planning ahead and keeping items for the oncoming months may result in creating two capsule wardrobes, saving you time and money in the alternating seasons.
The overall idea of a capsule wardrobe is that every piece can be worn with the next – so you have unlimited options and hundreds of outfit ideas at your fingertips! So, enjoy spending less time getting ready in the morning and falling in love with your clothes all over again. This exciting new challenge will be sure to bring you greater perspective and organisation practice that will benefit you and your lifestyle for years to come.
Olga Anderson is a bespoke and ready-to-wear womenswear designer. She specialises in clothing designed to empower her clients, and as of 2019, became a ‘Women Appreciating Women’ (WAW) Honorary Award winner. She runs her brand with the belief that “fashion and design should empower women”; working meticulously to encourage and celebrate women’s individuality, accomplishments and passion, both in and outside of their careers.
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