For more than 30 years since I developed the concept of the capsule wardrobe, it has been at the heart of Wardrobe’s approach to helping women develop their own confident style as they progress through their careers. It has also, I’m flattered to say, been copied countless times in many different contexts.
The principles of the capsule wardrobe for the busy successful women with whom I work seem to have stood the test of time; but as styles change the details need updating. So over the next few weeks I’m going to describe the definitive capsule wardrobe and give some tips on how to select the various elements.
If you’re serious about developing your style (and if you’re serious about developing your career, you should be), the capsule approach is a vital starting point.
While we update the styles every season in the shop, this is the first time I’ve done it in print for more than 10 years, so I hope you’ll find it useful.
Buy fewer, better quality clothes you’ll wear more often
The basic idea is simple: by building a capsule wardrobe you will buy fewer clothes of a higher quality that you will wear more often. You will look and feel confident and successful because the quality will show and because you know that the overall look works. And never again will you have a cupboard stuffed full of clothes that you don’t wear and yet be unable to find anything to wear when you’ve got an important occasion.
Buy the best you can afford and end up spending less
For certain key pieces you should always try to buy the best you can afford – quality really does show and well made, classic clothes, beautifully cut in quality fabrics last longer because they date more slowly and because they are more durable; but most people find that they end up spending less overall because they make far fewer mistakes.
Go for neutral colours
The capsule is the foundation of your wardrobe, so you need to make sure that it all works together and that it will provide a canvas for accessorising. Since you are going to invest in quality for your capsule, you also want to make sure that it will not date quickly.
For all of these reasons, you should go for neutral colours for your capsule. Navy, olive, chocolate, grey, petrol blue and the ever popular black – and in summer add ‘greige’. The reason for this is that colour doesn’t last in fashion. Elements of the capsule wardrobe can last indefinitely – colours don’t. Also, bright colours are not a good idea as they tend to look cheap. If you do want to add bright colours, limit it to smaller items – your blouse, a scarf or sweater.
“Won’t it be boring?”
Many women worry about the idea of having fewer clothes. They worry about getting bored and looking predictable. In practice, having a capsule wardrobe is liberating (particularly if you have a wardrobe clear out before you start – and I’ll come back to how to do that later).
Boredom doesn’t come into it – the whole point of having a capsule wardrobe is that it is versatile and that you can wear it in many combinations. It also takes away the possibility of making expensive mistakes in the future. If you’re bored of your clothes, chances are it’s because you’ve made mistakes in the past. With a well put-together capsule at the core of your overall look, you’ll be able to bring in variety with non-essentials, accessories, hair and make-up.
What makes up the definitive capsule wardrobe?
The definitive capsule wardrobe centres on a jacket – this is the most important piece and the one on which you should not compromise – in fact the success of the capsule pretty much depends on getting choice of jacket cloth right. I’ll come back to this next week when I look at jackets in detail.
The other elements are:
- a skirt,
- trousers, which could be part of a suit,
- a blouse,
- a sweater,
- a coat or raincoat,
- a dress,
- a bag,
- a belt,
- gloves and
- evening wear
Over the coming weeks, I’ll look at how to choose each of these for your capsule wardrobe. And how to make the whole look work together.