How to create a modern wardrobe


A wardrobe capsule will give your closet a whole new level of flexibility.

How to create a modern wardrobe Part 1

When you walk into your closet, do you feel like you are surrounded by lots of garments but nothing to wear? Do you spend more than 10 minutes putting together an outfit for work or everyday errands? If so, then creating a “wardrobe capsule” may be the answer to your dilemma. Basically, a wardrobe capsule is a color-coordinated, compact collection of clothing pieces that create multiple everyday ensembles. Women have used the capsule concept since the mid-1900; however it has evolved over time to fit the lifestyle of the modern woman. In this 2-part series, we will take a look at the basics of a wardrobe capsule and provide a step-by-step guide to start one of your own.

London boutique owner Susie Faux coined the term “wardrobe capsule,” in the 1970’s. At her West End store called “Wardrobe,” Faux promoted the idea of acquiring 10 basic items, including coats, shoes and accessories, which could be re-used for multiple seasons. Years later, the fashion theory gained momentum in the United States when Donna Karan introduced the “Seven Easy Pieces” collection in the late 1980’s. The original purpose of the wardrobe capsule was to allow women on a budget, or those with limited closet space, to stay stylish all year without needing to re-vamp their entire wardrobe each season.

In the past few years, the wardrobe capsule concept has re-gained popularity, but the fashion industry has squabbled quite a bit over the purpose of creating mini-collections. The capsule concept has become a vessel to promote everything from minimalist closet challenges to marketing strategies. For example, in Jen Hatmaker’s book, 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess, Hatmaker chose only 7 articles of clothing to wear for an entire month, as part of her 7-month plan to reduce consumerism and excess in her household. Hatmaker created a pre-planned collection of a particular number of clothes, but her intentions were minimalist in nature. On the other end of the spectrum, marketing gurus have spun the capsule ideas as a way to create multiple mini-collections which all add up to one enormous wardrobe that needs constant refreshing (think: maternity capsule, summer vacation capsule, holiday season capsule, early spring capsule, workout capsule, weekend getaway capsule, and so on).

Although the concept of wardrobe capsules has evolved over generations, it still has a place in today’s modern world. Our advice: if you’re willing to give capsule wardrobes a try, here are 4 questions you may want to ask yourself before your start emptying your closet.

  1. Why am I creating a wardrobe capsule? It’s important to define in your mind the true purpose of creating a wardrobe capsule. Are you trimming down your possessions in order to simplify outfit options, and therefore create more free time and energy to spend elsewhere? Is the purpose to curb your shopping urges and re-evaluate your spending habits? Is your physical closet space simply too small for your current wardrobe? There’s no right or wrong answer. Some women are drawn to the idea of simplifying their routines by choosing to live with less. Others might be creating a mini collection in order to cut down their current wardrobe and create more space in the closet to share with a spouse. It’s important to decide what matters most to you before you undertake the project.
  1. What’s my personal style? The first step to creating a mini-wardrobe that works for you is to define your style. Having a clear understand how clothing and fashion fit into your lifestyle will guide your capsule choices. Since the number of items will be limited, it’s important to pinpoint some details before you start making the cut. Have a clear understanding of which neutrals and accent colors look best with your skin tone, which styles accentuate your figure, and what styles you gravitate towards.
  1. How many pieces are included? The answer to this question depends heavily on your lifestyle and your personal goals for creating a wardrobe capsule. The typical number of pieces for a modern day wardrobe capsule ranges between 20-40 items, including shoes and accessories. Capsules don’t typically include a “base” collection of intimate, pajamas, loungewear, workout clothes, etc.
  1. How often can I change the contents? Wardrobe capsules were designed to be seasonal, so refreshing the contents should be done every 3 months. If you aren’t sure how long to commit to your capsule, do a 1-month trial, then re-evaluate and make adjustments.

If you are intrigued by the idea of trimming your wardrobe down, but don’t know where to start, then a capsule wardrobe might be for you! Just remember, it’s your wardrobe, and your plan. Be sure to catch Part 2 of this series, which will outline exactly how to create your own wardrobe capsule!

Kristin Hauch-Melton

Kristin Hauch-Melton is a writer and communications consultant. She earned a degree in Communications and Business from University of North Florida, serves on the board for the Fayette Chamber of Commerce and lives in Peachtree City with her husband, horse, and dog.