The term Capsule Wardrobe was coined by Susie Faux, a fashion advisor from London. It was also later popularised by American designer Donna Karan of DKNY.
Capsule wardrobes are defined as a small collection of essential clothing items that don't go out of style and can be worn repeatedly. In many ways, it's just an extremely concise and limited version of a normal wardrobe, that many of us own.
Unknowingly many of us have lived off a capsule wardrobe. Your suitcase, on a 10-day trip, is essentially a kind of a capsule wardrobe.
A common capsule wardrobe will have anywhere from 10, to usually no more than 30 pieces of clothing. This includes basic clothing like bottoms and tops, forming the core outfit you'd need to dress up. Apart from these, there are seasonal extras like innerwear, coats, scarves, shoes, occasion wear, swimwear etc.
It's obvious that this approach to owning clothes is sustainable and good for the planet. It encourages one to avoid fast fashion and invest in durable pieces, hence reducing wastage.
But that's not the only reason why this term's been doing the rounds. Those who have tried, say this wardrobe comes with a more defined sense of style and joy in wearing clothes.
1. Bye-bye decision fatigue
If putting together outfits often leaves you overwhelmed with choices and dissatisfied with the results, a capsule wardrobe can help by limiting your choices and make quicker, better decisions.
Having too many clothes often means having several clothes that you don't like, don't fit etc. Decision fatigue is common in such situations. When you clear out this clutter, the choices become easier, and you end up with an outfit you like every time.
2. A big, big space saver
No brainer. Capsule wardrobes don't need deep closets, or multiple almirahs and trunks. They are a big space saver, easy to organize and keep in order.
3. Dressed to nine, every time!
It's a common misconception that capsule wardrobes are for those who aren't into fashion or don't like dressing up. In fact, its quite the opposite.
Most people who try capsule wardrobes enjoy it because it lets you wear your favourite pieces regularly instead of only once in a while.
Another thing that fashion enthusiasts like is that every outfit in a capsule wardrobe is 10/10, as against a normal wardrobe that has several 'average' pieces. A capsule wardrobe only has things you love, only the best. So one ends up dressing well all the time, even while just sitting around the house.
Watch Jeniffer L. Scott, a bestselling author, talk more about this in her Ted Talk
4. Splurge when you shop
Owning a capsule wardrobe has given many the freedom to invest in more expensive clothing. This lets one indulge in luxurious brands as well as quality pieces that last longer. There is no space for fast fashion in capsule wardrobes.
5. Finding your real style
A capsule wardrobe forces you to define your style by picking favourites and making tough choices. All of this fine tunes your sense of style. Our regular wardrobes are full of things that don't match our style. A capsule wardrobe doesn't give you that option.
Okay, so how do I start making a capsule wardrobe?
- Pick a number. A reasonable number that's easy to start with. We recommend something between 15-25 starting out.
- Now take out all your clothes and remove the ones that aren't pertaining to the current season.
- Out of the left clothes, now remove extras like jackets, accessories, innerwear.
- Now, pick the number of clothes you decided earlier. This includes pants, shorts, shirts, blouses, dresses etc. Each slot is valuable so take time. Pick only things that you love, are durable, go well with each other and wouldn't mind wearing multiple times a week.
- To this now you may add a few extras from step 4. Only, a few.
- Try this wardrobe for a week. You'll notice some limitations. Some pieces that worked and some that didn't. Now fine tune the wardrobe and voila!
You can also set an upper limit that allows you to shop and add new pieces. Only buy when you need something, when there is a missing piece in your ensemble, and not because something's cute or on sale.
A way to ease into this is to try this with regular intervals or when you're travelling. See this video of Ashley, a popular YouTuber trying on a capsule wardrobe on one of her trips.
Sustainability is rarely about planting forests or hugging pandas. It's about better choices in our every day. And more often than not, these choices don't help the planet, but help us and our wellbeing too.