Wellegance

Cultivate a Life of Vitality, Pleasure, Passion and Purpose

Building a Capsule Wardrobe

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Almost every conversation I have about clothing/fashion lately, revolves around the concept of a “capsule wardrobe.” It’s a hot topic, reflective of the fact that the appeal of the “Carrie Bradshaw closet” has worn thin and that many women (myself included!) are experiencing an intense desire to simplify – our closets, as well as our homes, finances, diets, fitness routines, etc.

In a world that promotes excess, our souls long to scale back. I discussed this at length with NYC Stylist, Tiffani Rogers, in our recent interview (you can listen to it here) and, following that interview, I received so many questions from readers of the blog that I thought I’d dive a bit deeper into this topic and share with you a bit about the process that I’m using to create my own capsule wardrobe.

(I must say, the very thought of eliminating closet clutter and limiting my outfit choices is like a big ol’ shot of endorphins. I can feel the stress melting away as I write!)

Let’s start by defining what a capsule wardrobe is…

The term capsule wardrobe generally refers to a collection of stylish and practical wardrobe “essentials”. These items work together and combine to create a variety of looks. The idea behind the capsule wardrobe is that, due to the fact that (a) these items are quality pieces and (b) they’re not “trendy” but, rather, classic pieces, they can be worn for several seasons and will result in fewer (but better) articles of clothing and fewer (but better) clothing purchases over time.

Some people prefer to limit their capsule wardrobe to a set number of items for each season (for example 10-15 items). This is purely a personal preference, in some cases dictated by closet space. The number you choose (or IF you choose a number at all) isn’t important. What’s important is your desire to simplify and make your wardrobe more versatile and efficient. Let that be your goal and in time, I believe you’ll arrive at the appropriate number of articles to suit your lifestyle and budget.

So, what does a capsule wardrobe include? Generally, a capsule wardrobe consists of tops, bottoms, dresses and jumpsuits. It does not include coats/outerwear, activewear/workout clothes, shoes, formal wear, lingerie, jewelry and accessories.

Perhaps your curiosity is piqued and you’re anxious to create your own capsule wardrobe. Before you begin, here are a few of the mindset shifts that helped me begin this process. These principles will guide you as you excavate your unique style, sort through your wardrobe, decide what to keep and what to let go, and ultimately curate a collection of items that make you look and feel beautiful.

 

  1. Redefine what a great wardrobe looks like. It’s NOT a closet stuffed with clothes, nor is it a wardrobe that enables us to never repeat an outfit. A great wardrobe is one that is well used and enjoyed. I like to think of my clothing in terms of cost per wear: the more I wear something, the more I’m willing to spend on it. For example, if I invest $200 on a great pair of skinny jeans and I wear those jeans at least 200 times over the course of a year – a reasonable estimate – then the cost per wear is about $1. Conversely, if I buy a cheaper pair for $50 that doesn’t fit quite right and doesn’t feel comfortable, and I only wear that pair 10 times, the cost per wear is $5. The $200 pair, while more expensive, is clearly the better wardrobe investment. Not to mention, I’m not using precious closet space to store something that isn’t useful and enjoyable to me.
  2. Choose style over “fashion”.  In other words, choose what looks good on you and expresses your unique personality/preferences, rather than what the fashion industry tells us to like. For a more complete definition and discussion of both terms, listen in here.
  3. Think in terms of separates that work together to create a variety of looks. Rule of thumb: Each item should pair well with at least 3 other things in your closet.
  4. Let go of the idea that you must have all of the pieces right now. Give yourself time to grow/curate your wardrobe. A bit of patience is required, but you’ll be rewarded with a truly beautiful, versatile, well-made, confidence-inspiring wardrobe!
  5. Value quality in all items. Again, consider “cost per wear” when making purchasing decisions. Demand that your clothing investments be high quality fabrics that are well-designed (for your unique body) and well made. Good craftsmanship matters and you’re worth it.
  6. Become an educated consumer. Rather than purchasing things on impulse, plan your purchases and consider how each item will work with he other items in your closet. Learn which styles and designers best suit your body and make you feel great and stick with what you know works well. Keep an eye out for sales (the best sales are generally held in December/January and June/July).
  7. Stop trying to place yourself in one particular style category (bohemian, edgy, classic, etc.) and, instead, identify your unique “signature style”. Simply observe which outfits make you feel the most confident and radiant and consider why that is. Do you prefer tops that are loose and colorful? Do you gravitate toward form fitting skirts? Wide leg jeans or skinny? Consider (a) what you’re most comfortable wearing and (b) what looks best on your body. Over time, you’ll come to truly understand your style and this information will help guide you as you build your capsule wardrobe.
  8. Select a color palette and (for the most part) stay within that scheme to ensure that your pieces work together. When doing this, consider your complexion (note: Although many women tend to gravitate toward black clothing, not everyone looks best in black. In fact, people with fair complexions often look “washed out” and might be better off with different shades of brown or gray). Use your accessories to incorporate colorful accents.
  9. Get really honest with yourself about your lifestyle, personality and the image you’d like to present to the world. I love the idea of dressing the next incarnation of you. In other words, dress the woman you’d like to evolve into, not the woman you were in the past. So many of us hang onto to clothing that simply doesn’t fit who we are now or who we’d like to be in the future. Why cling to an old identity? Get excited about who you’re blossoming into and allow your wardrobe to reflect that.
  10. Approach this with a spirit of play. This kind of self-reflection and planning can often become a chore. Instead, view it as an adventure in which you (a) really get to know yourself and (b) design a wardrobe that reflects the incredible woman you are – your talents, gifts, hobbies, interests, body, lifestyle and unique spirit. I can think of few things that are more exciting than that!

I’ll be sure to keep you updated on my progress, as I strive to create my own capsule wardrobe and I, of course, welcome your comments and suggestions below.

Be true to yourself and be Wellegant!

Karen

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