What does the term Capsule Wardrobe mean? It is the core pieces that make up a versatile, usable wardrobe so you never have to say “I have nothing to wear!!!”

Susie Faux, the owner of a London boutique called “Wardrobe” first used the term in the 1970’s describing it as a collection of a few essential items that don’t go out of fashion.
With that in mind, we will be expanding on Susie’s idea because I think it is important to build a complete wardrobe that works for what you need to wear to do life your way.

The reason I did a capsule wardrobe for myself was because I had so many clothes and no space for anything new, yet I would often feel I had nothing suitable to wear. My inability to let some old favourite pieces go was partly to blame but we are working on that! As Lady Edith once said, “There is room for sentiment but not sentimentality”. When I look at my clothes I am often reminded of the good times that were had in them and the memories attached to them. But we have to be realistic and just move on.

Part 1 – Dress Code

Firstly, I started by writing down my wardrobe needs, as in the sort of dress code I use. I go to work – what does that dress code require, I wear dresses and skirts to church – I need a selection of day dresses etc… How do I spend my weekends? What activities or sports do I participate in? Really examine what you require of your wardrobe and come up with a list. No need to go into great detail it can be as simple as this:

Work – Office Casual.
Church – Dresses, Semi Formal.
Country – Relaxed, Practical.
Run, Ski, Sail, Beach – Active.
Social – Formal Evening.
Off Duty – Relaxed, Cosy.
Everyday Essentials – Sleepwear. (Lingerie, yes but ideally this should be matched to suit each dress code)

Now consider seasonal changes, does the climate you live in vastly alter your clothing choices throughout the seasons? If so, you will need more than one list – I have a Summer, Autumn, Winter and Spring list because Canterbury experiences significant changes between each season. Others may not live in such an extreme climate, which makes this process so much easier. Adjust the list requirements to suit the season e.g. I don’t have beachwear on my winter list. Avoid the thought that these lists are becoming too excessive, we will do the edit later on. Promise!

Quantities, how often do you use each dress code? List the approximate number of times you would use them. Our summer lasts about 3 months, I go to church once a week, I am going to need to use my summer church dress code 12 times. This dress code will cross-over slightly with my spring church dress code but we will get to that when we edit. My work wardrobe is going to be significantly larger than this with the need being 5 times a week rather than once. This doesn’t mean I need a new outfit each time I use a dress code – we are assessing the size of the need to understand the quantity of clothes required in our capsule wardrobe. After all, everyone’s wardrobe demands are going to be unique. It is about getting the balance right to create a useable collection.

I will admit it can be a daunting task and it may seem too regimented for some but it does save unnecessary purchases and creates a finely tuned organised collection that will be a pleasure to use. On completing the Dress Code stage (Part 1) you will hopefully have achieved the following:

  • Identify the dress codes you use.
  • Understand the quantity and sessional requirements for each dress code.

Next week I will be publishing Part 2 of our 4 part series – and it’s more than colourful!