Easy Ways to Create a Capsule Wardrobe
We asked our latest contributor Rebecca (Assistant Buyer at Nine In The Mirror) to give us some easy ways to create a capsule wardrobe – clothes we can pair with almost anything, will stand the test of time, and we will always want to wear…
‘I HAVE NOTHING TO WEAR’ – I scream whilst throwing t-shirts and jumpers and odd socks on to the ever-growing mountain of clothes on the bed. This was an almost daily occurrence in my house (and I’m sure in many others), much to my fiancés despair, and despite my drawers being unable to close and the doors on my cupboards being permanently ajar. I seemed to be making regular trips to the charity shop, but my wardrobe never got any more organised. Probably because for every two items I got rid of, I replaced them with five new ones. Sound familiar?
Therefore, in a bid to reduce my impulse purchasing and frivolous spending, I created a capsule wardrobe with a few key investment pieces that will last me a longer time and that I can build my outfits around. The driving force behind fast fashion is to be cheap, yet trend-led, however the idea behind a capsule wardrobe is ‘less is more’; make investments in timeless items that won’t go out of style and can be worn in different ways.
Here are my tips on how to go about building the perfect capsule wardrobe:
1. Out with the old, in with the new!
In order to get your new capsule pieces you need to clear out your wardrobe. Bear in mind this is a long process, so don’t go nuts and throw everything away and be left with nothing to wear. Start by organising your wardrobe into winter and summer and pack away what you don’t need, so you can focus on the current season.
This doesn’t have to be a chore. Make this into a bit of fun, have a Sex and the City type evening with the girls and get them to advise you on your ‘style icon’ pieces to keep and your ‘fashion faux-pas’ to chuck. Put things in piles ‘to keep’, ‘to charity’ and ‘to chuck’ – although try and keep this one to a minimum (your old moth-eaten jumper that no one else will want goes here). If you want to make a bit of extra cash for your new wardrobe, try sites such as Depop or eBay to sell your things on.
- If you haven’t worn something in the past two months, give yourself another week to wear it. If you don’t, it’s got to go.
- If it doesn’t fit, get rid. I don’t care if you really are starting the diet you have claimed to be starting for the past five years!
- If you spent a lot of money on something but you’ve never actually worn it, apply the first rule and then sell it if you don’t wear it. Put that money towards something you will wear repeatedly.
- If you aren’t comfortable in something or don’t like the way you look in it, ditch it.
- Can you style something in at least three different ways? If not, is it worth keeping?
2. Work out your personal style
It’s all very well me saying you need this, this, and this to create a capsule wardrobe, but that would be like saying everyone suits the same haircut, which just isn’t true. It’s not just about whether you’re pear shape or apple, or whatever food group you feel you resemble, but also a huge determining factor is your lifestyle. Dress for the life you lead, not the fantasy life you might wish you had, because you won’t wear the clothes and then we are right back at square one.
3. Choose your core capsule items
Obviously there are lots of items of clothing that can be very versatile for many different occasions, but as I mentioned, they need to be tailored to your lifestyle, taste, and budget. Here are five pieces that are a great staple to any wardrobe and come in a variety of styles, so choose one that suits you.
The White Shirt
You cannot go wrong with a crisp white shirt! It is incredibly versatile and can be dressed up or dressed down; wear it with jeans on the school run, with leather trousers on date night, with tailored trousers to a meeting, or channel your inner Angelina and chuck on to wear around the house. There are so many options with shirts, but for the purpose of a capsule wardrobe I love London-based shirt company With Nothing Underneath.
The Leather Jacket
A classic black leather jacket is the ultimate throw-on piece to up the ante on any outfit. Although they can be on the pricier end of the spectrum, a good leather jacket is well worth the investment and can last years, in fact they tend to get better with age.
Wear it with jeans and a hoodie for a cool laid-back look, or over a floaty dress for a more feminine style with a touch of badass. Again, the options are limitless and it’s the perfect jacket for transitional periods and cooler summer evenings.
For a higher budget the Whistles Agnes Biker leather jacket is amazing. It is great quality leather and has a good heavy weight to it. This is an expensive option, but a great investment piece that will last for years to come.
Alternatively, if you’re looking for a more affordable option, there are some great High Street options in Zara and Mango, who offer a variety of decent quality leather jackets that won’t break the bank (e.g. this Zara jacket for £99).
The Perfect Cotton White Tee
This seems an obvious one and simple to achieve, but is actually harder than you might think. There are millions of white t-shirts on the High Street, but often the quality isn’t great and they lose their shape quickly, so it’s best to buy a good quality one that should last you longer. I am a big fan of a ‘slub’, which is exactly what it sounds like it should be, a loose-fitting shape that you can chuck on, in a cotton-jersey so it has a bit more stretch.
Madewell is a great brand for ‘luxury’ leisurewear and doesn’t cost a fortune, their ‘Whisper’ slub cotton-jersey is priced at £45 and can be found here on Net-A-Porter. Wear with jeans, tucked into a skirt or under a slip dress for a smart/casual summer look.
*Disclaimer*: I cannot pretend to know what the perfect pair of jeans is, as I am yet to find them and it remains a huge struggle of my existence!
However, what I do know is that I, along with a lot of other people, spend a lot of time wearing them and they are a key ingredient to most people’s wardrobes. Jeans are also a huge part of trend-led fashion, from flares to skinny jeans back to flares to cropped, straight leg, wide-leg and so on.
Despite trends, every girl needs a pair of black skinny jeans. They go with absolutely everything and smarten up a casual outfit more than a blue jean but can also maintain that cool grungy rock chic (read Kate Moss) when teamed with the aforementioned leather jacket and black boots. It’s important to get proportions right with ‘skinnies’ though, so team with a loose-fitted tee or an oversized jumper instead of a tight top.
Topshop are renowned for their wide range of denim, which isn’t surprising as they sell a pair of skinny jeans every second! For a pair of very reasonably priced skinny jeans, you can’t get too wrong with the Jamie. They are made from super-stretchy denim which prevents the jeans from losing their shape too quickly and have a ‘flattering high-rise skinny fit’. Try not to over wash your jeans as this will make them lose their shape and colour quicker. TIP: If your jeans are starting to fade, add a couple of cups of black coffee to the washing machine when you wash them.
The other pair of jeans I need in my wardrobe is a mid-blue straight leg. There are quite a few options out there and they do vary from brand to brand, so it’s worth trying on lots of different pairs and sizes from a variety of brands. I’m still looking for the perfect pair, but a good option for a low price point is Cheap Monday or Madewell for the higher cost ‘luxury’ pair.
The Black Turtleneck
During the winter months, I live in one of my many variations of a black turtleneck, whether it is cashmere or jersey, you will see me in some form or another most days of the week, as does our girl Victoria Beckham it seems. It is extremely comfy and cosy and for those that feel a bit claustrophobic in a high roll neck, you could always opt for a ‘mock’ neck which is lower but just as chic. As per all the items in this selection, it is, of course, versatile! You can use it as a base and layer a shirt or a dress over the top (this is a great way to create new looks and outfits), or team with a leather skirt or trousers for an understated sexy look.
If you are looking for the perfect cashmere turtleneck but don’t want to pay the premium price that often comes with it, M&S is a winner – the quality is great and will last you a long time (provided you follow the care guidelines and don’t accidentally put it in your washing machine at 60 degrees) and £89 is a bargain for a product like that. There are plenty of places you can find turtlenecks, but remember we are aiming for quality over quantity, so another good brand for premium basics like this is Splendid (also great for t-shirts).
4. Things to remember
Be mindful when you go shopping.
It is so easy to go to a high street store and see lots of clothes that you absolutely must have, but do you actually need them, or will you wear them once or twice and then be over it? If you see something that you think you love, go away and wait a week. If you can’t stop thinking about it then it is probably something you will be likely to wear repeatedly.
A capsule wardrobe should be predominantly monochrome.
As the pieces in it are something to base the rest of your wardrobe around. It’s always nice to have a pop of colour especially in the more summery months and this can be an area that might be more trend related. Accessories are a great way to add an accent colour to your capsule wardrobe, or team a brightly coloured t-shirt with your blue jeans and leather jacket.
Assistant Buyer at Nine In The Mirror
A 26 year old Londoner trying to crack it in fashion whilst dreaming of sunnier climes!