Above: Lion in The Wild wearing Karen Millen – MYER.
To summarise: less is more.
‘Capsule wardrobes’ entered the fashion dictionary in the 1970s, when London boutique owner Susie Faux put forward the notion that a compact wardrobe built of staple pieces in coordinating colours (usually 30 items or less), was a good way to approach everyday fashion. This was, in an era of perms, flares, disco attire and general grooviness, a fairly big call to make, but one that has quietly and inadvertently stood the test of time. The reason for which, I believe, boils down to one simple point: it makes a lot of sense.
Recently moving house (a task that always brings you face-to-face with your bad habits), I realised that a good 80% of my wardrobe went untouched during the year. Even my embellished Zara sweatshirt I swore was going to be my pièce de résistance for the 2017 winter season was now judging me from the top of my burgeoning ‘donate’ pile. I was wasting money on items that never left the shadows of my closet and – in the global scheme – I was contributing to the waste problem plaguing the planet.
I vowed to change – and if they can build the Lourve in Abu Dhabi, a serial clothes hoarder like myself can construct a capsule wardrobe.
Lo and behold: the five steps to building a capsule wardrobe
Step 1: Clear It Out
In my experience, a simple spring clean is never simple – it is emotional warfare. I throw tops into Salvos bags crying like I’ve somehow betrayed them. They’d been brought home in a state of giddy elation (‘this will go with everything, I have found the one’) until it slowly came into focus that we didn’t fit right. It was the sartorial version of it’s not you, it’s me.
The way I clear out my wardrobe is to choose a number (in the capsule wardrobe case, 30 pieces) and stick to it. Keep what you wear and donate the rest. Be ruthless and accept no survivors – including your high school leavers jacket from eons ago.
Keep versatile, wearable pieces – like these boots from Tony Bianco/ MYER.
Step 2: Build It Up Again Slowly
Here’s an idea to consider from your seat on the train or cafe you are reading this article from: fashion isn’t consumable. It doesn’t have a use-by date and you shouldn’t feel wracked with guilt if you haven’t consumed 24 hours after purchase. When buying new items, ask yourself the following questions:
Is it going to last?
Check for quality – it’s worth paying a few extra dollars for things that aren’t going to disintegrate after one wash.
Does it go with the rest of your wardrobe?
a.k.a will they be friends.
Are you filled with joy when you slip it on?
If you’re not beaming ear-to-ear in the dressing room and doing a little shimmy, its a no.
Invest in good quality pieces – Lee Jeans / MYER
Step 3: Think About What You Need From Your Wardrobe
How do you really spend your time? For a few years, the majority of my clothes budget was thrown into pretty going-out tops and dresses, until I realised that those occasions made up approximately 2.4% of my life. I needed to build a wardrobe filled with more work-friendly options. That, or I needed to stop being a social hermit and go out more.
Veronika Maine / MYER
Step 4: Ramp It Up
Don’t confuse capsule wardrobe with bland basics – the goal is instead to have a collection of pieces that can be worn often and interchangeably. This could mean a white shirt and black pants or it could mean a striped, tassled flamenco skirt and bold printed animal t-shirt. If you like it and it meshes well with the rest of your wardrobe – then, by heck, it can be part of your personal capsule.
Ole. French Connection / MYER
Step 5: Maintain It
I’m not saying stop shopping (which, right up there with badminton, is still a favourite pastime of mine) I’m saying shop smartly. At the moment, my wardrobe consists of 25 items (not including a few coats and jumpers which I’ve packed away for the winter season), and what I’ve learnt is that fewer pieces equals more creativity. I’m not so overwhelmed by choice that I feel exhausted and fall back on my default outfits. I live in harmony with my closet. It’s like we’re on a yoga retreat together.
Sit back, relax and reveal in your capsule wardrobe glory. SEED Heritage / MYER