Your look

Get the basics that you really want to wear well organised and co-ordinated. Photo: Getty Images
Get the basics that you really want to wear well organised and co-ordinated. Photo: Getty Images
As the year gears up, fresh inspiration for your working wardrobe is needed. Brittany Pooley explores the philosophy behind capsule wardrobes and how you can create one of your own.

With consumerism on the rise, shoppers are seeking alternatives for their fashion wardrobes, such as a capsule wardrobe.

A capsule wardrobe is a purposely curated closet composed of 30-40 versatile fashion items.

The term capsule wardrobe was coined by London fashion boutique owner Susie Faux in the 1970s. Faux's intention was to help women find their personal style as they progressed through their careers.

Later, American designer Donna Karan released her 1985 Seven Easy Pieces collection, a selection of easy-to-style basic pieces designed for the modern working woman.

The original philosophy of the capsule wardrobe is to buy less clothing, but of a higher quality that will be worn more often.

Since then, the concept of the capsule wardrobe has been altered to suit different contexts.

Today, this philosophy is embraced by minimalists and the ecologically minded alike.

With a focus on sustainability, capsule wardrobes are an attainable alternative for those hoping to consume less while both finding and retaining their fashion identity.

They are designed to simplify your daily routine and promote productivity and reduce distress through a process of decluttering.

Here is an insight into how to develop your own capsule wardrobe.

Analyse your wardrobe

A capsule wardrobe is made up of 30-40 interchangeable items, designed to be easily styled. Because of this, it is critical to get rid of items you do not wear. To begin, assess what you have and start decluttering.

There are many approaches to decluttering. I find it is best to lay out everything that you own in one space so as to connect with each item and better catalogue what you have. Remove anything from your wardrobe that is off-season, and separate these things into categories: what you wear regularly, what you wish you wore more often, and what you don't wear.

For the pile of clothing you don't wear, separate it into smaller piles considering what you can mend, alter, gift, sell, donate or up-cycle.

The purging of clothing can be difficult for some. If you are tossing up as to whether or not you should keep an item, pop it into a storage location in your home. In a month's time if you have not missed it, then it may be best to pass it on.

When this process is over, take a look at what you are keeping: the colours, the textures, the silhouettes and prints. This will be the grounding for developing your personal style.

As for the clothing you wish you wore more often, chances are you do not have anything to style it with; this is a good starting point for introducing new items. You should be aiming for about 20-30 existing pieces to build upon. Use this pile to take into the phase.

Get inspired

Compile fashion images that reflect your taste. Our personal styles are reflective of our personalities, our likes and dislikes. Pinterest can be a great tool for curating a board of items that reflect your personal style.

Search existing aesthetics, labels, muses, and colour palettes. With each pin, you will find cohesion in the images and attain your desired fashion aesthetic.

This, along with the pieces you have selected from your existing wardrobe, will thread together a theme for your capsule.

Create a colour palette

In the creation of your wardrobe's theme, establish a colour palette by noting the recurring colours from your current wardrobe-in-progress and your personal style board. At first, co-ordinating colours or introducing colour to a prominently black or neutral wardrobe can be difficult.

Just remember, this process is about you and what you enjoy (that includes monochromatic palettes, too!).

If you're struggling to figure out your complementary colours, you can seek help online from colour experts.

For this example, I have chosen one dominant foundation colour (navy), three complementary foundation colours (black, white, and oatmeal), and three decorative colours (light blue, blush pink, grey chambray).

Build a foundation

In curating a smaller, more intentional wardrobe, it is important to build a foundation. These are key pieces to help with styling, some of which you already own.

For this, select minimal cohesive garments that can easily be built on with more intricate pieces. Remember, you will be wearing these pieces regularly, so be mindful in each purchase you make.

Consider the quality and construction of the fabric. Build your wardrobe with clothing that is made to last.

Foundation pieces can be selected using your dominant foundation colour and complementary foundation colours. Every closet is different.

As an example, at its simplest, your wardrobe could consist of: three plain T-shirts, one striped T-shirt, a casual jacket, a heavier jacket, a tailored jacket, black skinny-fit jeans, black tailored pants, two shirts, a knitted sweater or cardigan, a black skirt of your favourite cut, a little black dress, three pairs of darker-toned shoes (preferably a heel, loafer and boot), and a pair of lighter-toned shoes (perhaps a sneaker).

You will build on this foundation with your decorative colour palette.


Examine your wardrobe with its foundations and see what needs colour.

Add about 10 pieces utilising your decorative colours, adding layers to your wardrobe.

Be cautious of trends. Fast fashion chains pump out cheap, fashionable clothing that is not made to last and is based on trends that will quickly pass. It can be fast and fun, but also expensive and exhausting.

The philosophy of the capsule wardrobe rejects this idea. However, you can still embrace this ethic and stay current.

Try to limit your wardrobe to two or three on-trend pieces.

The best way to do this is through colour, prints, or accessories.

For 2018, I recommend pastel tones, checks, and statement earrings. Opt for more classic pieces where possible and stay true to your own personal aesthetic.

Design to your lifestyle

Every capsule wardrobe is built to a personal aesthetic and lifestyle, so each is different.

This philosophy is one you can adopt and sustain over time.

Freshen your wardrobe only when it is needed and continue the practice of decluttering by purging an item for each one you gain.

Learn to embrace a simplified, more purposeful wardrobe, reap the benefits of sustainability and productivity and most of all, have fun!

-By Brittany Pooley

Add a Comment