Quality over quantity: The ins and outs of creating a capsule wardrobe

A capsule wardrobe is filled with go-to pieces that can be styled with trending items to create a variety of different looks.

A capsule wardrobe is filled with go-to pieces that can be styled with trending items to create a variety of different looks. Photo: TND

A capsule wardrobe is nothing new, but its popularity has been steadily growing as many of us rethink our relationship with fashion. 

Perhaps lockdown exposed too many cheeky online buys (egged on by trends) that you’re eager to cut down on.

Or maybe you just want to make it easier to choose what to wear after countless Zoom meetings in gym shorts. 

Whatever your reason, creating a capsule wardrobe is a great way to keep your closet organised and save time and money in the long run. 

An easier way to dress

In the 1980s, American fashion designer Donna Karan (DKNY) famously created ‘Seven Easy Pieces’, an interchangeable collection of clothes women could wear for everyday and special occasions.

It consisted of a bodysuit, skirt, tailored jacket, dress, something leather, a white shirt and a cashmere sweater.

Dr Stephen Wigley, associate dean for fashion enterprise at Melbourne’s RMIT University, said that while time has modernised the capsule wardrobe, its core concept remains the same.

“To have a simple, easy-to-navigate range of clothing that makes it simple to dress,” he told The New Daily. 

Start with what you own

Audrey Khaing-Jones, co-founder and COO at online fashion rental business GlamCorner, told The New Daily the best place to begin is with what you already own.

Clear out items you haven’t worn in the past 12 months – consider reselling, repairing or donating in lieu of throwing them out – and look for patterns in the way you buy and dress.

“Do you gravitate towards a particular cut of pant, or own the same shirt in a variety of colours? If these items are in your constant rotation, then they are safe bets for your capsule wardrobe,” Ms Khaing-Jones said.

Fill in the gaps

Once you’ve sorted through what you own, find the gaps.

Think about how you can get more wear out of the items already in your capsule wardrobe.

Maybe that means pairing your jeans or blazer with a versatile top that can be easily mixed and matched.

“If the missing item is tied into a current fad, consider renting it. But if it’s a classic piece you will wear for years to come, add it to the capsule wardrobe,” Ms Khaing-Jones said.

Your capsule wardrobe is for you, so it should fit your life.

“Don’t be too influenced by trends or whatever Instagram says is in fashion,” Dr Wigley said.

He explained that the key to building a capsule wardrobe is figuring out what essential everyday items suit your style and pattern.

Think about what you feel comfortable in and what the dress code is at your workplace. What does your commute look like and what does that mean for what you wear?

“If you can work out what basic items fit your daily life best then you’re on your way,” Dr Wigley said.

Choose wisely

After you’ve worked out what type of garments you need, your next step is to invest in quality over quantity.

Avoid fast-fashion brands and buy higher-end brands, as the materials they use will likely withstand more wash and wear.

Try and buy your capsule items in simpler styles and neutral colours, like grey, black, blue and beige, and use these as the foundation of your wardrobe.

“It might sound a bit boring but again, your big-ticket items have to last a long time,” Dr Wigley said.

Add some colour

Capsule items don’t have to be boring, but in Ms Khaing-Jones’ experience, it’s easier to mix and match neutral colours and elevate your look with accessories and outwear.

That said, you can always lean into trends and louder colours for statement pieces, such as a bold coat.

You can switch these around once in a while to keep things fresh by reselling or recycling them responsibly.

Alternatively, you can rent them.

If you’re still purchasing new things every week, then you don’t have a capsule wardrobe.

“Really consider how an item fits within your existing wardrobe and how much wear you will really get out of it over the years,” Ms Khaing-Jones said.

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