How to put together a capsule wardrobe
How to put together a capsule wardrobe is a blog that I wrote a while ago. It’s really valuable now as we work out what we are going to wear each day to work at home. It’s important to still dress well and feel that we are at work. To focus on a micro capsule wardrobe, as detailed below, is a useful, practical way, of separating out your work and home clothes.
Make dressing up each day fun. Life is currently full of anxiety and waiting. There are many factors outside of our control. But we are in control of what we wear and how we show up each day, mentally and physically.
Sarah, 7 April 2020
Capsule wardrobe origins
Capsule wardrobe is a term coined by Susie Faux who ran the seminal boutique, Wardrobe, from the 1970s onwards. Faux demonstrated how to put together a focused, but limited, collection of clothes which loosely coordinate or match with each other.
In 1985 Donna Karan built on a similar idea by introducing a capsule collection of seven interchangeable work-wear pieces. I don’t know if you remember that era, but the capsule collection included a ‘body’, an all in one leotard-style top which was designed with say a shirt collar and sleeves but then tucked into whatever you were wearing because of its sleek leotard-like construction.
The capsule wardrobe reinvented for the 21st century
The term, ‘capsule wardrobe’ seems to be on the rise at the moment. Everywhere, there are articles on capsule wardrobe, Pinterest is full of pins on basic capsule wardrobes, and over 300,000 images with the #capsulewardrobe title.
In a way the capsule wardrobe has become an antidote to ‘fast fashion’, where wardrobes are filled to overflowing with cheap items bought on a whim with no thought of planning. The idea of a capsule wardrobe is very attractive: a few key pieces, worn regularly, and a wardrobe that is beautifully tidy and organised. I’m all for that approach. I’ve long thought that we should buy less and buy better
Two “watchouts” when building a capsule wardrobe
Building a capsule wardrobe can be a game changer for you in terms of getting ready for work every day. It can help you focus on what you really want to wear every day. By only wearing a small number of clothes each season you will want to wear clothes that you love. You will have mental space to be able to decide what you want to wear.
However, there are two watchouts that you might want to look out for when building a capsule wardrobe:
- Nice but dull
This is where the danger lies in reducing your capsule wardrobe to a selection of nice but boring items. They match each other beautifully but, ultimately, lack a certain authority, style and fun and don’t represent you. A beautiful capsule wardrobe, where you don’t feel like yourself is not a good solution.
2. Lovely clothes, wrong life
Another danger is not creating your capsule wardrobe to fit your lifestyle. If you are at work in a corporate environment all week then a capsule wardrobe featuring jeans, trendy tops and leather jackets will not be appropriate.
If you are working from home then you will also need a balance of clothes. It’s tempting to spend the day in comfortable “sportswear”. However you are still at work. And it is highly recommended that you separate out your work life from your home life. Especially if you are working from home.
The microcapsule wardrobe
Working Frocks differentiates with the classic capsule wardrobe approach slightly. We recommend that in addition to a capsule wardrobe, you have a “micro” capsule wardrobe.
A microcapsule wardrobe is a small number of investment staples, which live in the capsule wardrobe. They are pieces that you wear regularly but which have a particular character and authority. The fabric the pieces are made in will be more luxurious, the design more unique. They will be pieces that you absolutely love to wear.
A capsule wardrobe is great but without careful curation it can look homogenised and a bit dull.
3 pieces that make up a microcapsule wardrobe
Your “micro” capsule wardrobe is 3 pieces, say a dress and a suit, which have style and authority and incorporated design elements which reflect your personality. These micro capsule wardrobe items are the essence of who you are, distilled.
Your capsule wardrobe on the other hand, reflects your personality, but in a more general way. The capsule wardrobe comprises clothes chosen either for necessity, eg getting dressed each and every day, or for emotion – this is how I feel each day or want to feel each day.
The value of a microcapsule wardrobe
Micro capsule wardrobe items, on the other hand, are more authoritative, they are a declaration, “This is who I am stating that I am”. They are a way of stamping one’s identity on the world. They are the brave clothes in your wardrobe. They face a room full of unknown people. They deliver the keynote speech. They face shareholders, investors, governors.
Your micro capsule wardrobe gives you confidence. Research increasingly shows that what you wear affects your confidence. Women have always known this. But now it is increasingly confirmed as scientifically proven that what we wear not only affects what others think about us, but also affects what we think about ourselves.
Working from home and the microcapsule wardrobe
Even working from home you can create a microcapsule wardrobe within your capsule wardrobe. Choose 30 items for your capsule wardrobe. Within that 30 items, 3 can be microcapsule.
While we are all at home, the microcapsule elements can be softer fabrics, say knitted fabrics or soft silks or cashmeres. But they can be in beautiful colours or printed fabrics. The point is that these pieces are really, essentially, you.
They are the pieces that when you are wearing them you can pick up the phone to anybody and have that conversation.
So, capsule and microcapsule. Create them together. Let your clothes work hard for you. Let them pay you back for the money you have invested in them. To do that you’ll have to be really intentional about what you are wearing. It’s worth it though. Even while we are safe at home. It’s worth making the effort to dress well and take huge enjoyment in what you wear.
Whatever you do right now, do it with kindness. Dress with kindness and compassion to yourself. And be kind and compassionate to those around you.