Often running late because you can’t decide what to wear to work every morning? Or you strategically set aside a few hours on a Sunday to plot your whole week of looks? Contrary to popular belief, having a huge number of options to mix and match might not be the best way to go about it. Enter the “capsule wardrobe”.


This term was coined by Susie Faux, a London boutique owner, in the 1970s. According to her, it is a collection of a few essential items of clothing that don't go out of style, such as skirts, trousers, and coats, which can then be augmented with seasonal pieces. This idea was later popularised by American designer Donna Karan, who released an influential capsule collection of seven interchangeable work-wear pieces in 1985. A Capsule Wardrobe approach is “an especially important tool in a recession as it allows people to look good on a small budget” according to stylist Gok Wan. This is perhaps part of the reason that the idea has endured since its conception in the 1970s.


Want to give it a shot? Here are a few guidelines for creating a capsule wardrobe:

  • Choose a colour scheme. This would typically involve choosing one or two base colours that go with everything, such as black, white, brown, grey, or navy. Items such as trousers, handbags or coats would be bought in shades of these colours so that they can be put with anything else in the wardrobe. After choosing the base colours, choose one or two accent colours, which are brighter than the base colours, and co-ordinate with each other. These would typically be used for items such as tops, dresses, or accessories; once a colour scheme is established, all the items in a wardrobe should be interchangeable, as the colour of the pieces always complements each other.
  • Consider your body shape. Some cuts of clothing are more flattering than others. If the items of clothing chosen are flattering, the wearer is more likely to want to keep them in their wardrobe.
  • Consider your complexion. As with cuts of clothing, some colours are more flattering than others, to both skin tone and body shape. If the colours are well-chosen, then the items are more likely to remain in favour.
  • Choose classic shapes and patterns. While some cuts and patterns of clothing go in and out of fashion, others are considered 'classic' because they do not date. It is wise to choose classic pieces for a capsule wardrobe, as the wearer intends to keep them for a number of years.
  • Choose high-quality fabrics. As the idea of a capsule wardrobe is to own a few items of clothing that can be worn in different ways, individual pieces get lots of wear. Therefore, it is a good idea to choose clothing that is well made and continues to look good despite wear.


Even if you just apply these rules to your day-today work wardrobe, you’ll be saving precious time when getting ready in the morning for that extra cup of coffee and you’ll be saving money on these staple pieces. Think of it as your uniform and keep in mind that everything you add to your capsule has to go with any other item. This way you’ll be able to get dressed in the dark and no one will even notice. 😉

Essentials Magazine recently put together a HOW-TO GUIDE to building a capsule wardrobe with some great sources for finding some of the staple pieces. HERE is a printable wardrobe planner if you’d like to put pen to paper before committing to an entirely new wardrobe. Remember, nothing is set in stone! You make the rules ... And if you want to try it out first, pick 10 pieces from your current wardrobe and only wear that for a week. 



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