Autumn has officially arrived; an ideal time to take a closer look at your wardrobe. Ask yourself: what are my fashion must-haves this season (and which items are really not) or simply - what clothes do I really like to wear? Let me introduce you to the wonderful world of a capsule wardrobe!
If you are somewhat familiar with the world of sustainable and slow fashion, then you've probably already heard the term capsule wardrobe. But what is it exactly? What are the rules of the capsule game? How big is a capsule wardrobe and are you still ‘allowed’ to buy anything new? How on earth do you start something like that? Isn't there a step-by-step plan that you can follow? (Spoiler: Yes, there is. Check out our seasonal capsule infographics!) You will find the answers to all of your questions in this blog.
A capsule wardrobe means that the collection of clothes in your wardrobe is small but nice: filled with nothing but your favourite items that make you truly happy, that you actually (like to) wear and that you can easily combine with the other items. It’s a wardrobe with a limited number of carefully selected garments, actively waving fast fashion goodbye - not letting your buying behaviour be ruled by fleeting trends that are 'out' one season later. A wardrobe free of items that you haven’t worn in years - that have no sentimental value or may even have been a bad buy. This kind of minimalism helps you clear your mind.
A capsule wardrobe is not just more sustainable - after all, you buy far fewer items of clothing - but it is also very practical. The 'I have nothing to wear' days are a thing of the past because everything you own will make you happy. Plus, combining items is easier than ever, because you choose your pieces of clothing in such a way that they fit together pretty well. Starting up a capsule wardrobe is also a really nice way to get to know your own style and therefore avoid bad buys. It's a win-win-win!
The power of a capsule wardrobe lies in the fact that you really know your own style: you know what you do and don’t like to wear. So I could tell you right now that you should have 2 dresses and 2 pants, but... if you don't like wearing dresses or you like to wear nothing but dresses, you can easily tackle this any other way - based on your style and preference. Please look at this guide and its infographics as a guide to which you can put your own spin on.
You are the judge of your own capsule wardrobe, of course! The original capsule wardrobe (that was designed by a wardrobe consultant and writer Susie Faux in the seventies) contains only 30 items per one season. Our examples of capsule wardrobes consist of 50 items. That sounds like a lot, but believe me, you'll get to this number very quickly! Just start counting all the items that are currently in your wardrobe (including shoes, bags, belts, etc.). You will probably end up with way more than 50 items! So just choose any number that works for you.
Choose whatever period you prefer. Some people choose to create one capsule wardrobe per season (this is what we've done: 1 capsule wardrobe for each season). Others go for two capsules per year: one fall/winter and one spring/summer, while others put together an all-round capsule for the whole year. It’s really up to you.
At the end of each season, you can take a look at your capsule wardrobe and see whether you have everything you need for the following season or if you'd prefer to add more items to your capsule wardrobe. Of course you could always purchase new items during the season.
So, just to be clear - there are no set rules. This concept is mostly a way to make you think more about the contents of your wardrobe and to ensure that you only buy the fashion items you really need or really want.
You shouldn't look at our capsule wardrobe lists as a wish list of all the items that you need to purchase. Chances are that you already own many items that are included in the list and you'd like to add only a few things to make your capsule wardrobe complete.
Again, you can decide this yourself! Some people count every item in their closet as a part of their capsule wardrobe. This way, you would get to those 50 items awfully quickly. Many people choose not to count jewellery, socks and underwear for instance. In our overviews, we include: clothing, shoes, bags and accessories, excluding jewellery.
Later, you could also make a separate capsule of your jewellery, socks and underwear, if this is something you'd like to explore.
Reading about all the benefits of a capsule wardrobe might have made you as enthusiastic as I am. You may even want to start your own capsule wardrobe now. So - where to begin?
In 6 steps and one infographic per season, we are going to help you put together your own capsule wardrobe!
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Infographic voor de herfstcapsule door Coralie Boon, @thula_art
If you want to compose a capsule wardrobe that really works for you, it is important to find out what you like to wear (and what you don't) and really know your own style. Steps 1 and 2 will help you determine this. Are you ready? Here it comes!
Take all your clothes out of your closet and ask yourself whether or not you like wearing each and every item. And try to find out why. For instance, do you have a number of bad buys in your wardrobe that you always love on others but never actually wear yourself? Are there certain materials that you do not like to wear? Or do all the items that you never wear just happen to be all yellow or have a dot pattern? Then this is very helpful information to continue with!
In this step, it is also very useful to make an inventory of items you already have and which ones you like to wear: they can go straight into your capsule wardrobe! They serve as a nice basis for expanding your capsule. Keep these items separate so you can use them in the following steps as a reference for what kind of items you like and don't like.
In order to make better choices when shopping in the future (which will contribute to your happiness in life as well as a better future for this planet), it is important to (get to) know your style. A nice bonus to this is that the chance that you will take two things from your closet that just happen to fit perfectly together, is way higher when all items really suit you and are in the same style!
Here you can use the information you gained in step 1. Look at everything you have set aside for your capsule wardrobe. What do you notice?
Neutral colours don't necessarily have to be black, white, grey or brown, of course. If you like brighter colours, they could, in theory, represent neutral colours to you. Also, try to be colour specific. So, for example, not "pink", but "old rose pink" or "light pink". For me personally, pink is a "neutral" colour because I really love wearing it and do so often. However, I don't wear bright pink that often, so my basic colours are: pastel pink, peach pink, pastel purple, denim blue and camel brown. My accent colours are lilac, purple, beige, pastel yellow and gold.
Infographic voor de wintercapsule door Coralie Boon, @thula_art
This is also different for everyone. For instance, do you have a dress code at work? Do you walk a lot or enjoy sports? Or do you have a hobby which makes you wear a certain type of clothing? Depending on how often certain occasions occur, you may need more or less of a certain type of item. This step can be different for each season.
Are you going for 50 items just like us? Or do you need less or more than 50 items? In this step, you should also determine which categories you want to include in your capsule. Do you count socks, underwear and jewellery or not? If you do, you probably want a higher number of items in your capsule. It is also important to choose the term for which you want to apply your capsule. Is it for one season? Then you will probably end up with fewer items than if you'd make a capsule for two seasons or even a whole year.
Infographic voor de lentecapsule door Coralie Boon, @thula_art
The time has come: we are going to make the capsule wardrobe list! You might notice that you already own most of the items that are included in the list. However, there is also a chance that you miss a few items to have a complete capsule.
You can start off by simply writing down all the types of items you want to include in your capsule, without the numbers, colours or types. Of course, you are free to do this in advance; include as much detail as you want. For example, your first version might look like this:
Then decide how many pieces from each type of clothing you would like to have. If you like, specify your preferred colour or fit of the garment.
So let's suppose you have three sweaters on your list - you may not care about the exact shape or colour of these sweaters... but it can be helpful to write down what you would ideally want to wear. Do you like wearing sweaters with a turtleneck or not? Do you prefer knitted organic cotton? Or sweaters made of jersey?
After following this step-by-step plan, your first list could look like this :
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Infographic voor de zomercapsule door Coralie Boon, @thula_art
Your list is ready! Now it is time to check which items you already own and which ones you still want to search for. You may have already (partially) completed this step while creating your capsule wardrobe list. If that is not the case, you can get started with it now.
You can add the items that you don't own yet but would really compliment your capsule to your capsule wardrobe wishlist. It will prove useful to be very specific in your wishlist. So, for instance, do not look for a "sweater" but a "black knitted cotton sweater with turtleneck". This way your search will be much more focused and you can also be sure that this item will be a valuable addition to your capsule!
At first, it may seem strange to only have those specific colours or patterns you settled on, hanging in your closet. Because - the more variety, the more fun, right?
But if you reflect on your clothing wearing behaviour, then you know that you have preference for certain colours and patterns and that you just feel your best when you are wearing them. It is your style and it makes you feel good! You may have a very colourful style and maybe you would practically wear anything - that might be your answer too. But the more critical you are throughout this process, the happier you will be with the end result.
Believe me: not so long ago, I also felt that I should have something in every colour so I would have a lot of options to choose from. But now that my closet is much emptier and mainly contains pink, purple, brown and gold tones, I have more options than before. Almost everything fits together! And that makes me very happy. Something I wish for you too 😊
Let's not forget, saying goodbye to fast fashion will bring you lots of mindspace. And going the minimalist way, using this capsule wardrobe, you’ll also avoid bad buys and overconsumption. A lot more sustainable!