Inspiration

The capsule wardrobe’s awesome concept and why is everybody doing it wrong

The real reasons behind the capsule wardrobe's simplifying concept created decades ago and why the internet fashion trends have been ruining it all.

What
is
it?

Google the definition of a capsule wardrobe and Wikipedia will kindly inform you that a capsule wardrobe is “a collection of a few essential items of clothing that don’t go out of fashion, such as skirts, trousers, and coats, which can then be augmented with seasonal pieces”. The original concept was created by London’s “Wardrobe” Boutique owner Susie Faux and later popularized by legendary American designer Donna Karan. The influential 1985’s Karan’s known-by “7 Easy Pieces”, was a carefully curated 7-piece interchangeable collection of workwear staples. The proposal was to have a strong, high-quality foundation of key pieces, and to add here and there seasonal pieces to pair with.

How's the modern
capsule wardrobe?

Lately, lots have been said about capsule wardrobes, and as it has been slowly but surely turning into the apple of the eyes of the feel-good trend-setters. While reading articles on the internet, its easy to come across titles like “How to build a capsule wardrobe with only 37 pieces”, or “Reduce your wardrobe to a capsule of 40 pieces”. I’ve even read an article defining a capsule wardrobe as “a mini wardrobe made up of really versatile pieces that you totally love to wear. Each season (spring, summer, fall, and winter), you clear your closet except for a set number of pieces to be in your capsule wardrobe”. So wait, what is the benefit here? Where do you stuff in all the other 148 (at least) pieces worn during the other seasons?

But, what is the problem?

Ok, first, let’s go back to the 70’s and understand why Susie Faux once thought that it would be a helpful thing to shrink our wardrobes to a basic collection. Her suggestion was to permanently own only FEWER THAN A DOZEN pieces that would have the same color scheme. Therefore, they would be easily interchangeable to maximize the number of possible outfits, saving people time, money, and closet space. It’s called MINIMALISM.
When Karan proposed her 7-piece collection in the middle 80’s it was a time where women were conquering more than they ever had in history. They were carving for themselves an unprecedented space in the corporate and politic worlds. And thus fashion shouldn’t be more complicated than their lives. So when we click on articles that are trying to convince us that a 40-piece collection of in-trend pieces, BESIDES all of our already-owned basic staples is a capsule wardrobe, I don’t know about you, but my first reaction is “hm. na-na”. It’s like they are saying, ok, have your black leather jacket and your white tee but here, suede is in trend; so are tassels, so are oversized, and off-the-shoulders, and metallics, and, and. See? The list NEVER ends.

So, how to do it right?

If you are really trying to simplify your life, forget about all that they are trying to sell to you every season (and now half-season too). Invest in timeless, non-fast-fashion essential staples, and keep your shopping basket from being filled with more than 3 new seasonal pieces, twice per year. Yes, we love Zara too, and it’s ok! However, if you REALLY want to reduce the time you spend every morning trying out all your clothes and piling them on the floor, or keeping (even more precious) space destined for stuff you never wear, then stick to the right way to do it.

What you should consider before making your essentials list:

Keep a color palette

Typically it consists of choosing two primary colors (gray, navy, brown, ecru, black and white) mostly for the bottoms, dresses, shoes, and jackets, and two accent colors; these accent colors should be brighter than the base colors and coordinate with them and with each other. You’ll use them mostly for tops, bags, and accessories. As a result, you will achieve an entirely interchangeable wardrobe, where each color complements each other.

Consider your body proportions

The whole idea of the capsule wardrobe is to have pieces that you will wear ALL THE TIME. So invest in the right pieces for your body, those that will flatter your shape. If you have wider hips, wearing cap sleeves or bright tops will accent your upper body, giving harmony to your proportions. On the other hand, those with larger upper bodies should create attention to the lower section of the body, taking advantage of oversized and statement bottoms.

The real reasons behind the capsule wardrobe's simplifying concept created decades ago and why the internet fashion trends have been ruining it all.

Learn which colors better fit your complexion

As with body shapes, skin colors play a great role on what favors our looks. And having clothes on colors that always look great on us increases the probability that we’ll keep them longer.

Electing classic cuts and patterns

Goes without saying; as most pattern designs and cuts go in and out of fashion, the classic ones are never out-of-date. So if you intend to wear something for the years to come, bet on the classic, elegant cuts.

Invest in high quality

Again, a no-brainer. With the popularity of fast-fashion growing as we speak, it’s getting more and more tempting to pay less for something that looks just the same. Yes, it looks. Although sometimes we do pay for the brand’s label sticking out of our jacket, in most cases, important fashion houses do work with higher quality fabrics and crafting techniques. You pay more for them, but they will pay off looking new after years of wear.

With a dream team stocked in your wardrobe, you’ll need very few add-ups every season to dress like a boss. And practicing the capsule wardrobe concept doesn’t mean you won’t have as much comfort, looks, variety and quality as you aim. It just means you will have it all, however wasting much less time and energy when opening your closet every morning. Hurray minimalism! Long life capsule wardrobes!

Don't miss our capsule wardrobes, curated especially for you who have an artsy soul

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Tatiana Bastos

The Content Pac-Man: Born and raised in Brasil, studied advertisement at Mackenzie University in Sao Paulo. But from a small child knew to be taken head over feet by fine arts, illustration, and photography. For that reason, attended Panamericana School of Art and Design, also in Brazil, and then ventured to learn some more at The Art Students League of New York, in Manhattan. After years spending time traveling the globe and living on an inspiring island at the center of the blue Aegean Sea, in Greece, settled to be based on electric Berlin, Germany. Still a world traveler, healthy eater, art lover, diy do-er and a words-addict.