Origins of the term capsule wardrobe
The term “Capsule Wardrobe” was created by Susie Faux, she was the owner of the West End boutique “Wardrobe” in the 1970s.
A capsule wardrobe refers to a collection of essential items of clothing that would not go out of fashion and could be worn for multiple seasons and can all be worn together by mixing and matching.
The aim was to update the collection with seasonal pieces, eg, jackets, scarves, etc in order to have something to wear for any occasion without buying many new items of clothing.
Susie suggested that a basic woman’s capsule wardrobe should contain at least “2 pairs of bottoms / trousers, a dress or skirt, a jacket, a coat, a knit (jumper or tunic top), two pairs of shoes and two bags”.
The concept of a capsule wardrobe was made popular by American designer Donna Karan in 1985, when she released her “7 Easy Pieces” collection.
Her aim was to fill what she referred to as “a void in the marketplace” for a stylish and practical wardrobe designed with working women in mind.
When the collection debuted, she showed eight models dressed only in bodysuits and black tights
The models then added items separates, (clothing such as wrap-skirts, trousers, and dresses) to demonstrate her interchangeable style of dressing.
As a term, “capsule wardrobe” is widely used in the fashion media.
The concept, capsule wardrobe, was made more popular by several television programmes, including Trinny and Susannah’s ‘What Not to Wear’, that showed on the BBC 2001–2007, and Gok’s Fashion Fix that showed on Channel Four from 2008 onward. Presenter and stylist Gok Wan emphasises that a capsule wardrobe is an especially vital tool in a recession because it helps people to look good on a small budget.
This is perhaps part of the reason that the idea has been sustained since its conception in the 1970’s.
Below are some general guidelines that are widely given for creating a capsule wardrobe.
- Choose a colour scheme that suits both your lifestyle and your colouring.
- Choose one or two base or neutral colours that can be comfortably worn with everything, such as black, white, cream, brown, grey, or navy, these are considered your core colours.
- Items such as trousers, handbags or coats would be best in shades of these colours, so that they can be worn with everything else in the wardrobe.
- After choosing your base colours, choose one or two accent colours, which are brighter than your base colours, and co-ordinate with each other.
- These would typically be tops, dresses, or accessories.
- Once a colour scheme is established, all the items in a wardrobe should be interchangeable, (able to be worn with each and every item) as the colour of the pieces will always complement each other.
- Consider your body shape.
- Some designs, colours and cuts of clothing are more flattering than others, as such, If the clothing is flattering in both style and colour, you are more likely to want to keep them in your wardrobe.
- Choose classic shapes, patterns colours and fabrics, while some cuts, patterns colour and fabric of clothing go in and out of fashion, there are others that are considered ‘classic’ because they don’t date.
- It is wise to choose classic pieces for a capsule wardrobe, as they are intended to be kept for a number of years.
- Choose good quality fabric, as the idea of a capsule wardrobe is to own a few items of that can be worn in a number of different ways, individual pieces will get lots of wear, therefore, it is a good idea to choose well made clothing that will continue to look good despite the heavy and or constant wear.
Below are examples of a typical capsule wardrobe.
|Sample women’s wardrobe
||Sample men’s wardrobe
|A belted trench coat
||A pair of jeans
|A white shirt
||A pea coat or pilot jacket
|A black blazer or jacket
|An LBD (little black dress)
|A pair of tailored trousers
||A jacket or blazer
|A pencil skirt
||A pair of slacks
|T-shirts and camisole tops
||A pair of smart shoes
|A jumper or sweater
||A pair of casual shoes
||A pair of joggers or boat shoes
|A pair of flats or sandals
|A pair of long boots
|A tote bag
|A clutch bag
|A silk scarf
|A pair of high heels