The minimalist lifestyle has been growing in popularity for a while now. And more recently the capsule wardrobe in particular, an
important element of this lifestyle, has gained popularity.
And it’s definitely not a pointless trend, considering the significance of climate change and our wish to make what improvements we can in our lifestyles to reduce our impact on the environment.
At With Bogart one of our primary focuses is finding a more sustainable approach to our relationship with fashion. Creating a minimalist wardrobe that makes dressing easier is a great place to start.
So what is a capsule wardrobe? Scroll down to find out more about a capsule wardrobe and how to create your own to help you enjoy a minimalist lifestyle.
Fast fashion, social media and a consumerist culture have left many of us with an ongoing desire to own a lot of what we see and like,
often to buy cheaper so we can buy more leaving us with wardrobes that are overflowing with clothes we may never wear.
The term ‘capsule wardrobe’ was created back in the 1970’s by wardrobe consultant and author Susie Faux who was frustrated with the lack of well-made clothing.
In 1973 she created a boutique in London called 'Wardrobe', which catered to a minimalist wardrobe, helping women find versatile, high
quality, interchangeable clothing.
Ten years on designer Donna Karan (DKNY) championed the idea in mainstream fashion with her collection ‘Seven Easy Pieces’.
And now more than ever it’s gaining popularity and purpose as we recognise our personal responsibility to work towards a more
Style blogger Caroline Joy describes a capsule wardrobe as, ‘[The] practice of editing your wardrobe down to your favorite clothes (clothes that fit your lifestyle and body right now), remixing them regularly, and shopping less often and more intentionally.’
It’s a minimalist wardrobe with pieces that complement each other and encourage us to think about what’s most essential or influential to our lifestyle, what we’ll wear time and time again, and what pieces are of a quality that will last.
Really, it's a mode of mindfulness, a practice of being aware when shopping and making decisions; thinking in the moment rather than after the item arrives and is sitting sedentary in our closet.
It has been a strange couple of years reorganising our lives around COVID and during lockdowns, the number of us shopping online has
skyrocketed as we look for ways to keep ourselves occupied and find enjoyment.
Due to our less exciting social lives and the fact that we’re often working from home some of us may have wardrobes that are housing a lot of unworn clothes, which often makes it harder to choose an outfit.
With a capsule wardrobe, the pieces you have are ones you considered before buying, pieces that work together and that you feel comfortable wearing. This makes it easier to put an outfit together despite the fact that there is less to choose from.
You’ll also save money by avoiding short-term trends, items that don’t suit your lifestyle or are poorly made and only last a short amount of time. Also, you won't be confronted by the regrets that often arise when we realise we’ve wasted money.
And there are far wider-reaching benefits of a minimalist wardrobe when it comes to the impact of fast fashion and sustainability in the fashion industry.
When we use this approach to creating a wardrobe we buy less often and fewer items, we buy better quality and we dispose of very little. All ticking the boxes for a more sustainable lifestyle.
Next, you’ll find the steps I’ve put together to help you plan and build your own capsule wardrobe.
Stop and consider what it is you want and need to have in your wardrobe. Define your go-to styles, the styles you would wear time and time again, and also what you’ve found yourself lacking on occasions in the past.
Do you prefer pants to skirts and dresses? Do you often wear jeans? What is your preferred casual style? What colours suit
you and are enjoyable to wear? Do you face serious winters?
And consider the pieces you have at the moment that you’re not wearing. What is it about them that leaves them hanging unworn?
As mentioned earlier these decisions are all influenced by the climate you live in, your style and your lifestyle, so make it about what you need.
Looking at some social media and collecting ideas is a great help. Try creating mood boards on Pinterest for the cooler and warmer months separately, pinning outfit ideas that would work for you.
Next, try putting together a list of what you would like and need in your capsule wardrobe. Remember, you’re not forbidding
yourself from adding pieces in the future, so this isn’t your ‘final’!
Also, consider what your vulnerabilities are when it comes to buying items that then go unused and what you can do to avoid this happening.
For me it’s often daydreaming about scenarios where ‘I’ll of course get to where this very formal piece’
despite the fact that I very rarely go anywhere that requires a very formal piece!
Now it’s time to clean
out your closet.
This means reducing what’s currently hanging in your wardrobe to just those items you know you’ll wear.
This requires a bold approach and not keeping pieces you’ve owned for some time and have a soft spot for but have still never
Some useful questions to ask with each item are:
As with other forms of detox (like giving up wine or simple carbs for a month) tidying your wardrobe and ridding it of pieces
that serve no purpose is actually quite satisfying!
It’s important to think about what to do with the pieces you’re letting go of. There are a few options like selling through eBay or a consignment store, offering to friends and family, or giving to a charity store. You want to do whatever you can to stop fashion from becoming landfill.
It’s also a bonus to earn some cash through sales you can then put towards your new wardrobe.
Now it’s time to rebuild your wardrobe based on the list you created earlier.
When you’re shopping make sure you stop and consider some questions before clicking ‘Checkout’. These questions will help you decide if the pieces you're looking at will work for you, not just now but in the future, and might include:
Here are the pieces I've collected for you to shop now, from essentials to pieces that will keep your capsule wardrobe current in
the long term.
Two of the most useful pieces in my wardrobe are my Scanlan Theodore pants - one in black and one in camel. They work in both the cold and warm months, go with almost everything in my wardrobe, can be styled up or down, would work for the office, will never date, and are of excellent quality. The pieces below are similar and will fulfil their job just as well.
Loungewear pieces might be great for this role or relaxed tailored pants and shorts.
Probably your leading go-to, so having two pairs is a good idea. Just choose the colours that would work best for you. They can fulfil almost any job, just don some heels for a night out and some flats for casual.
A denim skirt is great for creating casual looks, while a pencil skirt works well both in the office and on social occasions and can be dressed up or down. And a slip skirt ticks lots of boxes: casual, chic and work.
One of my favourite pieces in my wardrobe is the shirt dress as they're so versatile, both for a relaxed look or something dressier with heels, and when used for layering.
Slip dresses come in endless colours and can be dressed up or down to suit the occasion depending on whether you wear it with heels or flats, under a knit, sweater or shirt, or with a blazer or denim jacket.
Having a couple of basic t-shirts, both long sleeve and short sleeve, is always a good idea. They work on their own with jeans, pants and skirts and can also be used for layering in the cooler months.
Another item that works on many fronts. You could have a couple of simple cotton options for casual looks while keeping a silk cami for dressier occasions.
These work for both social and office outfits, and can be dressed up or down. And they’re great for wearing with denim and pants
but also to throw over a dress or layer with a singlet or t-shirt.
A chunky knit as well as a lighter slim knit are good picks that help with layering when it turns cold, while hoodies and sweats have become a wardrobe staple during COVID, paired with everything from blazers to slip skirts.
These are great staples and come in a variety of styles, from oversized to fitted, collarless, and simple to vibrant. You can pair a blazer with just about anything including jeans, shorts, or a skirt, over a dress, under your coat or jacket. While you can style it for a casual look with a t-shirt or dress it up with a blouse or silk slip dress.
With a trench you can pile on the layers underneath and pair with a scarf in winter. Then on days with only a mild chill you can use it
over a light dress, or with a t-shirt and jeans or shorts. You can also dress this one up or down using heels, boots, flats or
Depending on the weather you face you may or may not need this one. If you do, try finding one that will work with as many looks as
possible, casual, office and chic.
These could come in the form of pumps, heeled sandals or boots, whichever works for your wardrobe and lifestyle.
When it comes to flats there are a variety of styles including sneakers, loafers, espadrilles and ballet flats. Most of these styles can work in both the cooler and warmer months.
To begin with it might be difficult to resit regularly shopping online and enjoying the anticipation of waiting for new pieces to arrive in the mail.
But remember why you wanted to take this new approach. You may have been looking for a more sustainable lifestyle, to save money, or to tidy up and organise your wardrobe (and your life in general).
And when you are shopping and finding it hard to resist, remember those questions to ask yourself before clicking ‘Checkout’.
What is essential to a capsule wardrobe are the pieces that work for you, that ensure you always have something to wear no matter the occasion, the pieces that are well made and won’t lose their appeal when the trend ends.
But also, a capsule wardrobe doesn’t mean that once it’s established nothing new ever makes it into your closet!
So, what’s on your list for a capsule wardrobe? Let me know how you go and if you have any questions I’d love to hear from you.
Here’s to shopping smarter and caring for our planet!