6th July 2021

Better Organised Capsule Wardrobe

how to build a capsule wardrobe

What is a capsule wardrobe?

The term “capsule wardrobe” was first coined by former London boutique owner Susie Faux in the 1970s — referring to a collection of essential clothing items that don’t go out of fashion and can easily be paired with seasonal pieces.

Put simply, a capsule wardrobe is a curated collection of versatile pieces that can be easily mixed and matched. Think of it as putting together a limited number of essential fashion items that you wear on repeat which will form the classic foundations of your wardrobe, with the emphasis on quality, not quantity.

After a year of lockdowns, this might be a good time to explore what you really need, what is your style and what has been lurking at the back of the wardrobe simply occupying space. Need further inspiration? Read this article called 2021 Is Prime Time For Building A Capsule Wardrobe — Here’s Why.

You might argue that a capsule wardrobe can be limiting and definitely not your style but stick with me while I make the case for (at the very least) a more minimal approach to fashion.

Benefits of a capsule wardrobe

1. Figure out your style and the items you need day in, day out. Do you ever rummage through your wardrobe simply to discover things you’d forgotten you owned? Going through the exercise of putting together a capsule wardrobe, makes you become mindful about what you truly need.

2. A capsule wardrobe helps you to continue getting wear out of what you already own. Rather than buying new items every time you are out of ideas on what to wear, take stock of what you own, remove what no longer fits, make room so you can see your options at a glance. Owning some high-quality, special pieces that you absolutely love and are exactly in your style will ensure a lot more wear out of the same items.

3. Having fewer options makes decision-making quick and simple. Many uber-famous people have opted for uniform dressing – names like Steve Jobs, Karl Lagerfeld, Hilary Clinton or Mark Zuckerberg spring to mind. Wearing the same staple look every day has various advantages – for example, you become instantly recognisable in the same style of black turtleneck, but also it reduces decision fatigue. We only have the mental bandwidth for a limited number of decisions every day, so some people hold on to that bandwidth for stuff they deem as more important than what shirt to wear that day. Read more on why successful people wear the same outfit every day here.

4. You’re potentially less likely to make impulse purchases, as you’re clear about what you already own. This is better for your purse and the environment.

The fashion industry accounts for about 10% of global carbon emissions, and nearly 20% of wastewater. And while the environmental impact of flying is now well known, fashion sucks up more energy than both aviation and shipping combined. (Source)

This is worrying enough, but it looks like instead of curbing the habit, we are ramping up fashion consumption. A 2016 report by Greenpeace shows that “Clothing production doubled from 2000 to 2014…The average person buys 60 per cent more items of clothing every year”.

5. With a capsule wardrobe, you get more bang for your buck in terms of cost per wear. One survey of 2,000 women in the UK found respondents on average wore an item only seven times. The nature of capsule wardrobes encourages you to wear the same pieces over and over again, meaning that you get the maximum value out of each piece.

6. It makes it easy to put outfits together, as all items in a capsule wardrobe are well thought and can be mixed & matched for maximum efficiency in terms of styles and colours. To further inspire you, read this story of a woman working in the creative industries who decided for a work uniform to save time, stress and put all that energy spent deciding outfits or trying on things into her career.

So. Are you ready to invest a rainy day into your capsule wardrobe?

First and foremost, declutter before you organise!

Take everything out of your wardrobe and drawers (do this a category at a time if it’s easier). Go through each category and make confident decisions about what stays and what goes. Aim to only handle each item once and be realistic about what you actually wear.

If you’re holding onto clothes that don’t fit, check in with how this makes you feel. How much space would you gain if you let them go? Particularly if space is at a premium, it makes sense to positively focus on the things that fit you and your lifestyle now.

Bear in mind, holiday wear and occasion wear (including underwear) can be stored somewhere away from your daily space i.e. in the attic, under the bed, in a storage box on top of a wardrobe, in a suitcase.

Once you’ve gone through each item, put them back in the wardrobe/drawer. With a capsule wardrobe, it often makes sense to group by type as opposed to occasion or colour, so for example you could group jeans, t-shirts, jumpers etc. so that you can easily see how many items you have in each category. Bear in mind that the fewer items you have, the easier it is to keep them organised.

Have a handy capsule wardrobe checklist

Here is a quick checklist to start building your capsule wardrobe. Of course, the final result will depend on your lifestyle and personal preferences, but you’ll probably want to consider having the following:

– T-shirts
– Long-sleeved tops
– Jumpers
– Cardigans
– Smart blouses
– Hoodies
– Jeans
– Smart trousers
– Leggings or yoga pants
– Skirts
– Dresses
– Trainers
– Boots
– Heels
– Pumps or sandals
– Light jacket
– Winter coat
– Smart jacket/coat
– Underwear
– Socks & tights

Ask yourself how many of each you realistically need. The more replicas of the same item you own, the more space they will take and the more difficult they will be to launder, fold, store or wear.

If you would like to give the idea of a capsule wardrobe a try but simply don’t know where to start, I am delighted to help. Here is how one of my recent clients described the upcoming task of editing her entire wardrobe, including clothes, shoes, bags and accessories for every occasion.

‘I have a wardrobe bursting with designer clothes that I never wear. I’m so pushed for time and need help to sort through them and let things go. I simply want a wardrobe filled with the things that I actually love and wear!’

This is me on the way home from a one-day wardrobe declutter session with 14 bags of lovely clothes to distribute to local charity shops!

I hope all these tips on decluttering your wardrobe offered inspiration to get you started. But if you need further support, a professional declutterer and organiser like myself can work with you to streamline your home – or parts of it – in a way that will put you back in control of your time. Simply book a quick confidential chat so we can explore how I can offer you the gift of time.

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I’m Kate, a productivity coach & professional organiser based in Glasgow. I work remotely or in-person to help busy decision-makers declutter their space and manage their time so that they can enjoy better balance and productivity. For a no-obligation chat about how I can help, please get in touch at kate@betterorganised.uk or use the box below to subscribe to the Better Organised monthly newsletter which is full of resources, inspiration – and occasional freebies!


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