Capsule Wardrobe: Everything you need to know

Curate your wardrobe AND maximise your outfit options.
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A closet full of clothes and nothing to wear… It’s a dilemma many of us face. But why, exactly?

Whether your wardrobe’s stocked with pieces you bought on a whim, one-off wears, or an overload of leggings, your clothing selections may just be impractical to wear on a day-to-day basis.

In comes the capsule wardrobe… The clothing guideline is touted for its ability to streamline your closet and maximise your outfit options.

WATCH: How to tell what is trendy vs timeless when building a capsule wardrobe. Article continues after video.

While you may have heard the term ‘capsule wardrobe’ sprinkled around over the years, details on what it is and how you can create one may still be foggy.

Here, we aim to clear up the confusion with our ultimate guide to building a capsule wardrobe.

To assist us with this task, we’ve enlisted the help of fashion expert and Director and Head Designer at OnceWas, Belinda Glynn.

By adopting a more mindful approach to shopping, you’ll not only enjoy piecing an outfit together, you’ll find yourself lessening unnecessary waste.

Your ultimate guide to creating a capsule wardrobe! (Credit: Getty)

What is a capsule wardrobe?

A capsule wardrobe is your ‘essentials’ edit. Referring to a simplified, or condensed, set of items, the term ‘capsule’ is indicative of the small number of clothing articles it includes.

In essence, a capsule wardrobe should be interchangeable, where one piece of clothing will mix and match with multiple others. Thus, it’s traditionally comprised of around 20 pieces, each possessing a complementary colour scheme.

Glynn affirms that a capsule collection is easily interchangeable which can “maximise the amount of outfits you can create with your wardrobe”.

“This streamlines the amount of clothing you have in your wardrobe, making it easier to get dressed and also meaning you buy less unnecessary items and in turn are more economical and sustainable in your clothing and dressing,” she continued.

How to start a capsule wardrobe

First and foremost, Glynn says, “create the capsule wardrobe to work around your lifestyle and not the other way around”.

While a complete wardrobe clear out is not necessary by any means, a declutter is the perfect place to start.

“It can be helpful to go through existing pieces and decide whether or not they would serve your ideal look and wardrobe day to day,” Glynn says.

“Donate, sell or recycle any pieces that you don’t like, don’t fit anymore, haven’t worn in a long time, or anything that’s too similar to something you already have.”

“Whatever’s left you can organise into categories, bottoms, denim, tops, sweaters, dresses and coats and jackets. Identify what you wear a lot and what is missing from your wardrobe to be able to curate outfits that work for your lifestyle.”

Don’t hang on to pieces that don’t serve a purpose but, in the same vein, don’t rid yourself of an item you love just because you think you need to.

To make things a little easier, Glynn also suggests dividing up your wardrobe by season “to forecast what you’ll wear next season” and discover your key present season pieces. 

Start with a declutter. (Credit: Getty)

What types of clothing should you buy for a capsule wardrobe?

Before jumping into your next shopping spree, start with the essentials. What do you need after your declutter?

“You don’t have to build a capsule wardrobe overnight, in fact it’s great to do it over a period of time so you make careful decisions based on what pieces you
need and love,” Glynn says.

Think mix-and-match – pants, blouses, t-shirts, coats, jackets, dresses, skirts – versatility is key! Select pieces that can be worn a number of different ways and to various occasions.

While the capsule wardrobe often conjures up images of drab and colourless office attire, you may be surprised that this is not quite the case.

“There’s a common misconception that capsule pieces have to be minimal and colourless but I believe it’s more about curating shapes and colours that suit you and selecting prints that won’t date.”

How to curate a capsule wardrobe outfit

Most of us don’t want to look like we’re wearing a uniform. Individuality is the essence of fashion, thus, in spite of our streamlined closets, excitement is an important factor to consider. For the uninspired, Glynn suggests selecting “statement pieces with as much versatility as possible” when building your capsule wardrobe.

“Try mixing up casual pieces with elevated outerwear, shoes and make-up. Select dresses that look just as good worn with heels to special occasions as they do worn casually with a pair of sneakers or slides.”

Have fun with it! (Credit: Getty)

Investment pieces vs affordable pieces

Your wardrobe should be built to last! However, this doesn’t mean you need to spend all your savings. 

The key to building a successful capsule wardrobe is investing in unique, long-lasting pieces that you can wear time and time again. Good-quality second-hand pieces can also be sprinkled in, alongside other basics you may see fit.

“Not only can you save money in the long run by not re-purchasing pieces each season but you’re also making a more sustainable choice. Better quality, longer
lasting pieces means exactly that, they last longer. The higher the quality the less the chance you’ll be throwing it out in less than a year and once you no longer wear the piece you can donate it, recycle it or give it a new life,” Glynn says.

“Well-cut leather coats, jackets, pants and skirts are timeless pieces that will last in your wardrobe for years, along with knitwear that can be worn across seasons. You can’t go wrong with something that makes you feel good.”

As for her own investment suggestion, Glynn recommends the Mahal Leather Jacket as a “staple all year round, whether layered over knits and pants or flowing,
spring dresses”.

Mahal Leather Jacket (Credit: OnceWas)

An investment piece! Mahal Leather Jacket, $569.95 at OnceWas

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