The curated capsule wardrobe
Never fret about what to wear again when you focus on versatile essentials in styles you love. Here’s how to build your perfect wardrobe.
A capsule wardrobe is, in essence, one that’s carefully curated. It’s not bursting with a huge number of items, instead it’s considered, crafted, and well thought out. The extra planning and thinking that goes into a capsule wardrobe pays off in your day-to-day. These closets of clothes make getting dressed every day much easier, and they’re put together in a way that means almost any selection of garments you pull out will work well together. Who wouldn’t love that?
In Dr Jennifer Baumgartner’s book You Are What You Wear, it’s reported that the average woman wears just 20 percent of her wardrobe 80 percent of the time. This means not only do we spend a lot of money on things that we don’t end up loving as much as we think we will, but also reveals a lost opportunity to get everything we can out of our wardrobes. Unfortunately, it can even mean clothes from our wardrobe clear-outs end up in landfill near to unworn. All those wasted environmental resources and harm done to people and animals across the fashion industry – for nothing. A capsule wardrobe is a great way to do less harm, while making your clothes do more for you.
Think about your own beloved 20 percent in your wardrobe right now – or perhaps, flung over a designated ‘clothing chair’, home to your favourites on heavy rotation. You’re probably picturing that pair of jeans that fit you perfectly, your most trusted pair of boots or sneakers or sandals, your goes-with-everything jacket, that top that sits perfectly, and maybe a dress you reach for time and again. I bet you have some variation of this list, right? Now what if you had more pieces like these favourites, and more styles that you could use to build outfits around – so that they always look and feel fresh? This is capsule wardrobe thinking.
PIECES TO CONSIDER
There are some common essentials in a capsule wardrobe, but remember that only you can decide what’s essential for you! From the essentials, you’ll be able to create a number of outfits that suit your personal style. Here are the pieces you might include:
- Denim jeans
- Tailored pants
- Column-cut skirt
- A versatile dress (for example, a slip or shift)
- A well-cut T-shirt
- Collared shirt
- Light knit
- Chunkier knit
- Lightweight jacket
- Heavier coat
- Large bag
If you have a selection of these, and perhaps a couple of some in different cuts or colours, you’ll be set to create an endless array of outfits.
MAKE IT YOUR OWN
If you keep within a loosely set colour scheme, no matter what you pick, your outfit will work. Personally, I wear a lot of black and shades of it, but I also have a fair bit of forest green and dark blue in my wardrobe. Other people can’t go past neutrals, wearing shades of tan, camel, and dark brown. And of course there are those among us who simply adore colour, and might instead pick a palette to work within.
But a capsule wardrobe isn’t all about rules, and it’s certainly not about drab outfits. You can (and should) make the concept your own, creating a capsule wardrobe that allows you to dress boldly, creatively, and with flair! You can still incorporate patterns as well as statement pieces, which will be perfectly complemented by the more standard garments in your collection. A capsule wardrobe is really all about buying less and with intention – it’s not about a particular aesthetic. Maybe your ‘essential’ collared shirt has a huge collar, an Elizabethan collar, or no collar at all but a whole lot of frills instead – your choices should reflect your preferences and personal style.
What’s more, you don’t need to throw out all your clothes and start from scratch (please don’t!) to build a capsule wardrobe. However, it can be a good idea to put aside the pieces you never wear with the intention to sell, swap, donate, or recycle them, keeping things circular. Working with your collection of favourites, find the missing gaps where additional capsule pieces might help you make the most of what you already have.
So you’re sold on the concept of a capsule wardrobe and want some key building blocks for your wardrobe. But where to find your cruelty-free pieces? The following labels are just a few that will help you pull together the minimalist wardrobe of your stylish dreams.
This brand offers a beautiful selection of elegant staple pieces. The Neu Nomads ‘bias cut’ slip dress and other pieces like it are perfect year-rounders, even if they may not seem it at first: wear a slip dress over a light turtleneck and under a coat in winter or with sandals and not much else else in the summer. They offer their silky slip dress in a range of colours like olive, crimson, midnight, and terra. Everything is fairly made, and aside from a handful of cashmere blend pieces, everything is completely free from animal fibres and cruelty.
Neu Nomads, Bias Cut Slip Dress in Black, from $227
This Australian brand ethically makes every T-shirt to order, exactly to your measurements – no more too baggy or too tight basics! From skivvies to singlets, classic tees to long sleeves, you can get every staple top you could possibly want here, and their organic cotton and hemp options are super soft. If you want something a little different to what you see online, just ask! As you order, you have the option to leave notes like ‘Add a pocket to the front’ or ‘I like my tops a little cropped’.
Citizen Wolf, The Short V in White, from $79
As far as denim goes, Mud Jeans is the perfect choice. Highly rated for its ethical values, totally free of leather patches, and using sustainable materials, Mud has perfected the art of a good pair of jeans. And they run a circular business where you have the option to lease if you prefer not to buy.
Mud Jeans, Piper Straight in Stone Breeze, from $181
If you want to browse a stunning selection of animal-friendly pieces, look no further than Immaculate Vegan. They are especially good for jackets and coats, which can be trickier to find free of animal fibres. Pulling together offerings from gorgeous brands like Dauntless, Culthread, and Komodo, the curated shopping experience covers vegan leather moto jackets, fluffy winter warmers, and more structured formal outwear.
Immaculate Vegan, Komodo Snow Rabbit Jacket, from $137
Nois New York
Another online marketplace full of potential go-to pieces is Nois New York. Bringing the most beautiful styles from around the globe together in one place, Nois understands careful selection just as well as any capsule wardrobe connoisseur. You’re bound to find something you love here, especially when it comes to shoes and knitwear.
Nois New York, Rus Onsen Sweater in Ink, from $340
Some of the best clothes have already been made, and this is especially true when it comes to denim. Be it an oversized jacket, figure-hugging jeans, or a short skirt, denim is the most timeless of staples and there’s a whole lot of it at Vestiaire Collective, a luxe marketplace for vintage designer brands.
Cover image: Neu Nomads, Bias Cut Slip Dress in Silver, from $227