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What Is a Capsule Wardrobe and Why Do You Need One?

So, what exactly is a capsule wardrobe? Simply put, you start with a collection of clothing items that are timeless and therefore, don’t go out of fashion, and each season, you add to or replace with seasonal pieces, bringing in colour and styles keeping your wardrobe looking current and fresh. The aim is to create a compact wardrobe that enables you to have an outfit for most occasions without owning loads of clothes! The idea originated from a lady called Susie Faux, owner of a boutique in London in the 1970’s. The idea was used by Donna Karan in 1985 as she released a collection of seven interchangeable work-wear pieces and the rest as they say, is history.

When I talk to my clients about creating their capsule wardrobe, I recommend that they spend the most money on the wardrobe staples; the coats, trousers, skirts etc. These are the items that you could have in your wardrobe for years so they are worth spending more on and selecting quality fabrics. Then, spend less on the seasonal items, the tops, the coloured accessories, that seasons trend like the floral skirts, so when that particular trend comes to an end, you don’t mind parting with those items and making room for the new.

Of course, in order to make your capsule wardrobe really work, you need to be able to mix and match as many items as possible to maximise the number of outfits that can be created. And this is where colour is key! The trick is to purchase your staples in neutral shades – black, navy, taupe, charcoal etc. Neutrals are great as they go with everything- including each other! So when you add your fun colours, you can simply just pair up your item with a neutral and away you go! Now, if you have had “your colours done” selecting your colours and knowing how to wear to them in the best way for you is much easier and you have a head start. If you have not yet had a colour analysis consultation, and are interested in building a capsule wardrobe, then having one done could be a great investment. You will learn which are your neutrals, how best to wear them and which fun colours work best on you and how to combine your colours in the way that works best for you – some are better with tone-on-tone whilst others are better with lots of contrast.

Picking a colour theme throughout your seasonal wardrobe will also help you to maximise the number of outfits in your collection. Don’t get in the trap of just picking one main colour; opt for 3 or more to really give you options and make each outfit look different. I ran a Capsule Wardrobe Workshop at the weekend in collaboration with the fabulous Etcetera Boutique at Cedar Farm, Ormskirk, near Mawdesley and put together a few smart casual capsule collections – capsule wardrobes are not just for work! They will work for you, no matter your lifestyle! Here are the images showing some of the different collections:

Capsule Wardrobe Collection


In each collection, we stated with trousers and jackets in neutral colours, and then added in the colour in the tops, scarves and accessories. Of course, you can purchase tops and accessories in neutral colours too which will help to add flexibility to your wardrobe.

Understanding what styles suit your body shape can also help you to select clothes that you love and feel great in! We want to ensure that you get maximum use out your new wardrobe and wear all of the items many times.

How many items should your capsule wardrobe contain? Some stylists will give you a set number and break it down into items, however, I feel that this depends on the person, what they like to wear, how they spend their time and what their wardrobe already contains.

Now we know what a capsule wardrobe is, why do you need one?

  • It will save you time! Selecting what to wear each day, becomes simple. Just grab 2 or more items to make up your outfit in the knowledge that they go together; add accessories and away you go! If you look in your wardrobe each day and feel deflated by what it contains, try on several outfits and still not feel “right”, and leave the house feeling frustrated, then a capsule wardrobe could really be the answer. How much better would you feel looking in your wardrobe, seeing one of the collections above and being able to easily put together an outfit that makes you look and feel amazing!
  • It should save you money! Once the investment has been made in your staple items, you should just be able to purchase a few pieces each season to bring your wardrobe upto date and ready for the new season. If you have it right, whether you need an outfit for work, a BBQ with friends, a date or going to the park with the kids, you will have an outfit to wear. No more running to the shops for an outfit in desperation or standing in front of the wardrobe looking for something to wear…
  • You will wear the clothes in your wardrobe! By keeping your wardrobe to fewer pieces, you will see all of your clothes and you will want to wear each of the items to give you different looks. If you have items that you have never or rarely worn, think of the money lost! What else could you have spent that on?
  • Shopping becomes easier! You will be able to see which items needs replacing each season and go shopping with a list rather than feeling overwhelmed by all the options and just picking up items so you can get out of there!