I (Finally) Succeeded in Building Myself A Capsule Wardrobe. Here Is How.

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Having “the perfect” capsule wardrobe or any capsule wardrobe for that matter – has long been the point of discussion and the subject of numerous hidden and obvious sighs by almost anyone with some aspirations to dress well. We can actually omit “almost”. Just everyone. And the reasons are obvious – the coveted capsule wardrobe promises quick and glamorous looks to anyone who was fortunate to assemble it. Few are.

Following my inconsistent efforts over the course of many years to build one, it would be an underestimation to say I was surprised – more correctly astonished – to end up an owner of a fairly good one recently. When the shock of my unexpected achievement settled, I got myself thinking hard how did I actually manage it. This article sums it up.

1. Designated Place

A winter capsule wardrobe

It all started with the innocent and totally unsuspicious purchase of an open wardrobe rod from a popular Scandinavian furniture company. Cheap and unassuming, it was supposed simply to hold some of my abundant stuff. When my son assembled it for me, I pulled out some hangers and placed there a few items. The view was so eye-pleasing that I eagerly hanged as many items as the rod could hold, without being overcrowded to spoil the view. I naturally tried to keep the pieces matching and to limit them to a number that fits comfortably the available wardrobe.

The take: designate a nice place, which can hold your capsule. Fill it moderately with an initial selection of pieces. Don’t put too much energy in the first clothing selection – you will fine-tune it as you use your capsule and learn what works for you.

2. Focus on Practicality & Keep What You Wear

When I started dressing myself only from the clothes that hanged on my new open wardrobe, I realized some were not practical for me. Although they made nice contribution to the capsule, they were not what I would wear during this season of the year. It was winter, the temperature was regularly below zero and I am the kind of person to loose heat easily. In winter I dress with warm, thick sweaters and jeans and wear thermal underwear. That meant loose and thick pieces, so my capsule underwent its first make-over. The cut also had a say: both tops and bottoms need to have enough space for an extra layer underneath.

The take: a truly great capsule serves your needs. Even the most well designed one is pointless, if it leaves you sweating or freezing, overdressed or underdressed for the events that normally come into your schedule according to your lifestyle.

3. Follow Your Personal Preferences

The capsule wardrobe by definition needs to be personal. It is supposed to contain more or less a limited selection of pieces and to be truly successful, those pieces need to meet most of the owner’s dressing needs. I say most, because completely is obviously not possible. But in order to be able to dress almost exclusively from a small pool of items hanging on a modest-length rod, it needs to be highly tailored to your preferences. Note what you wear and keep those type of items. For example: I spend most of my time, over 90% in the colder months, in jeans and sweaters. Keeping dresses, skirts or even cardigans turned out to be pointless. I wouldn’t wear them because they were not warm enough for me.

I also have a relatively high number of bottoms compared to the tops: I have 6 pair of jeans and 11 pullovers. I could do with smaller number of bottoms, but I like to have a choice both for the top and bottom items.

The take: if your capsule might look on the surface that it lacks variety – so be it. As long as it serves your needs, it is fine. You might find that you don’t actually use or need variety in the way you thought you do. You cannot have everything and you’d have more success and peace of mind, if you leave the pieces you need only occasionally, out of your capsule.

4. Underlayers Are Important

The climate is becoming more and more unpredictable and you can’t bet on winter to have only cold days or spring only warm. Having enough layering items to put under your top and bottom, gives you the freedom to select any piece of your capsule, regardless the temperature outside. When combined with the appropriate underwear, it always will be suitable. I have slim wool sweaters to wear under thin sweaters when it’s very cold but I want to show in a particular knitwear that won’t be enough to keep me warm by itself. I also have thinner t-shirts and slim wool thermal blouses to put under warmer top items to be comfortable on days when the temperature is not freezing. Those pieces are not visible themselves and were chosen based on practicality.

The take: prepare carefully not only what’s visible, but also what’s underneath. The “invisible” pieces enable you to wear every “visible” piece, whenever you choose, no matter the weather.

5. Bring Variety

No matter how committed you are, chances are you’d still get bored with your capsule if you don’t bring variety. Variety does not need to come through more major pieces. You can entertain yourself and refresh your outfits with various scarves, hats, sunglasses, shoes, bags and coats. For the relatively small capsule that I have – 6 bottoms + 11 tops, I have 5 pairs of shoes, 6 scarves and 6 hats, several gloves and bags. This way I am sure I have a different accessory for my main items and this make it more enjoyable to stick with the capsule.

The take: Different accessories, shoes, bags and belts will help you get more of a capsule wardrobe.

6. Add Value

A personal jewellery collection

A final touch and a feeling of glamour to your outfit is often added by jewellry. Those subtle bling pieces are sometimes unnoticed, yet they have a huge impact on the overall look. For my capsule wardrobe I decided to wear a few precious pieces made of real gold, diamonds and occasionally silver. Although at first sight indistinguishable, high-end jewellery pieces elevate the look and add this sought-after “old-money” look and feel of the outfit.

The take: Opt for some high-value, high-impact pieces that will bring glamour and elevate the look. Apart from jewellery, you can go with a special watch, statement scarf, luxurious belt or anything that makes a statement about your character and your stand in the world.

With this, I am done presenting you with the 6 principles I followed to build finally a successful capsule wardrobe. It took me several years to distill them but I believe the time was well spent. Each of the guidelines took time to decide and implement, but the result was every bit worth it.