It’s been a while since I last wrote about my capsule wardrobe. Since then I’ve changed some of my own rules. (Which is one of the great joys of making your own rules). I’ve spent a lot of the last 5 years either pregnant or breastfeeding and my wardrobe was feeling a bit tired, and not quite right for purpose. So I thought I’d write about my capsule wardrobe update.
I try to be considered and mindful about the items which I bring into my wardrobe, also to notice the things I’m letting go of. I find keeping a smaller, more curated collection of clothes makes it easier and quicker to get dressed in the morning, it’s rare that I feel like I don’t have anything to wear or feel uncomfortable in my choices. While I may well have the same amount of washing to do as someone with much more clothes, storing and putting away everything is quick and easy.
I no longer limit myself to a specific number of items of clothings, I’ve used a capsule wardrobe for so long now, that I know what amount feels right for me and when my wardrobe is getting a bit full. If you haven’t yet tried a capsule wardrobe, it might be useful to specify a number of items to give you some parameters to start off with.
Where to Start
If you don’t use a capsule wardrobe, it may be that your drawers and wardrobe are overflowing with clothes. You may have clothing of all different sizes in all different areas of your house. It can be overwhelming to know how to start creating your capsule wardrobe. I would recommend the following steps:
1. Find your Style
I started by asking myself some questions. What do I want to look like? What do I feel good in? And who are my style icons? I keep a Pinterest board of inspiration, which I highly recommend doing. It is useful to refer back to, when fast fashion tries to lure me in.
It is handy to spend time studying the items you are drawn to, in order to try and identify what it is that attracts you. In addition, you need to think about how this fits into your current lifestyle. For example, I spend a lot of the time on the floor playing with my children, or covered in food or milk. Or in the park, whatever the weather. As much as I love those gorgeous cashmere jumpers, they won’t be practical for me. At this point in my life, I need hardwearing clothes which wash well.
I try to define my wardrobe with a key phrase, then some colours and fabrics for guidance. I would describe most of my clothes as ‘good quality basis with a twist’. Give me a ruffled collar, a puffed sleeve, an unusual hemline or some crocheted detailing any day. My clothes tend to be variations of white / navy blue / cream and pink and I aim for mostly natural fabrics; wool / cotton / linen and denim. I also have a couple of brands which I love the aesthetec of, which I try to emulate in the items I buy, for example two favourites of mine are Sezane and BA&SH. Both gorgeous French brands which are a bit out of my budget right now, but I try to find items similar or second hand items from these brands.
2. Audit your Wardrobe
For this step, you will need to get all of your clothing together in one place, I mean all of it. Those bin liners in the loft, anything in other wardrobes, coats from downstairs, everything. You won’t be able to identify gaps in your current wardrobe without knowing what you already have.
First, remove items you don’t feel good in, ones which don’t fit, or anything stained or damaged. Why are we keeping things which don’t make us feel good?
If you have some ‘maybe’ items, I would recommend putting them in a bag or box out of sight. If you haven’t thought about them or wanted them in three to six months, you are safe to donate them. I would imagine now, you’ll be left with a considerably smaller pile than you started with.
3. Find your Faves
Now, pull out your absolute favourite pieces from what’s left. The items you go back to again and again, what is it you love about them? Are they the things which fit you best, are they the most comfortable, or colours and patterns which just feel like you? This is your base wardrobe.
Pay attention to why you have chosen these clothes. What is it that pulls you to them? The cut? The fabric? The fit? Why are your favourites your favourite? You can use this to inform your personal style guide as detailed above. Do your favourite items emulate your Pinterest boards and design inspo? If not, try to work out why. Are you being unrealistic about what your day-to-day life looks like? Or perhaps the clothing you aspire to wear just doesn’t make you feel good.
4. Audit Again
You’ll now have a selection of clothes left which haven’t yet made it back into the wardrobe as your favourites, but you still want to keep them. Perhaps these items aren’t some of your preferred clothes, but you wear them regularly, because they fulfil a clothing need you have. Or because they ‘go’ with other items you have. Be honest with yourself about why you’re keeping these items. If it’s just because ‘they were expensive’ it might be time to let go. If you don’t love them but you ‘need’ them, it might be time to put a replacement item on your Wishlist. For example if you have an item you love, but the colour isn’t your favourite, add the same thing in a different colour-way to your list.
5. Identify Gaps
The next thing I like to do is identify any gaps in my wardrobe. When I first started creating a capsule wardrobe, I had lots of tops and not enough bottoms. Or you may have lots of cardigans, but a shortage of t-shirts and camisoles to go underneath them. I create a Wishlist of items in the notes section of my phone to refer to if I’m ever shopping or looking for new things. It’s rare that I will go off piste and buy something not on my list. I also add bits to my list which could do with replacing, if my black t shirt is looking a bit tired for example. So I can look out for replacement items when I’m shopping.
One of my main motivations for having a capsule wardrobe, is to try and be more sustainable and environmentally friendly with the clothing I consume. It’s no secret that the fashion industry could do with some improvement from an environmental perspective. Keep Britain Tidy estimates that 10,000 items of clothing get added to landfill in the UK every 5 minutes. In addition it takes a shocking 1,800 gallons of water to make a single pair of jeans. If you haven’t seen Stacey Dooley’s documentary ‘Fashion’s Dirty Secrets’ I’d really recommend it.
I’m trying to be more sustainable in two main ways, firstly, I’ve committed to buying second hand clothes as much as I can. Secondly, I’m trying to increase the lifetime of my clothing, by buying better quality items, taking good care of the items I buy and closing pieces which are timeless and will last season after season.
The first of these goals, hasn’t actually been difficult at all. I enjoy perusing our local charity shops (especially if I manage to sneak a quick hour without children in tow). For anything else, Vinted is my favourite online shopping option. (It’s also great for kids clothing). You can literally search for a very specific term and find options I find shopping second-hand, more fun, satisfying, cheaper, and I tend to end up with much better quality, and more eclectic mix of items than I would if I was just going around the high street.
Capsule Wardrobe Update; New Items
To give you an idea what sort of things I’ve been able to add to my wardrobe recently, I’ve detailed the list from above for you:
- Baukjen Blouse // St Peter’s Hospice // £7.99
- Zara Silk Vest // Vinted // £4.13
- BA&SH Denim Shirt // Vinted £42.00
- Anthropologie Top (BNWT) // St Peter’s Hospice // £9.99
- Jigsaw Breton Tee // St Peter’s Hospice // £3.50
- Handmade Wool Jumper // Holly Hedge Charity Shop // £3.00 (This might be my greatest bargain of all time).
- Vintage Cardigan // Break Charity Shop // £4.50
- Zara Denim Jacket // Vinted // £12.00
- Asda Midi Denim Skirt (BNWT) // Break Charity Shop // £4.00
- H&M Cropped Pink Trousers // Hand-me-down from my sister (can you still call it a hand-me-down if she’s younger than you and you’re all in your 30’s?!?)
- M&S Skinny Jeans // St Peters Hospice // £3.50
- Vintage Midi Skirt // PDSA // £5.00
- Levi’s Ribcage Jeans // Vinted // £22.00
- Ralph Lauren Bag // Vinted // £39.00
- Leather Belt // PDSA // £3.00
- White Company Jumper // Hand-me-down from my Bestie
- Woollen Company Cardigan // Holly Hedge // £5.50
- Vintage White Jumper // Vinted // £7.00
18 quality items which will be in my wardrobe for a long time to come for just over £175. I’m really pleased with what I’ve been able to find over the last couple of weeks. I’ll be taking a break now for a couple of months to identify any key gaps in my wardrobe and to see if there is anything I could do with having.