Your guide to creating a capsule wardrobe

by Emily Gilbert |
Updated on

We all know that becoming a mum doesn't mean your sense of style goes out the window. But it may mean that fashion understandably falls to the bottom of your priority list. If this is something that bothers you, however, a capsule wardrobe is a great opportunity to both streamline your wardrobe and make getting ready in the morning faster, preventing decision fatigue.

We spoke to fashion stylist and owner of Stories with Clothes, Abbey Booth to find out all you need to know.

What is a capsule wardrobe?

A capsule wardrobe is an edited and refined wardrobe space where everything works beautifully together in harmony, making it simple and effective to create outfits. It's high-quality pieces that have a timeless, seasonless feel and are not fast-fashion or trend-led.

How did capsule wardrobes come about?

The term 'capsule wardrobe' was first coined by wardrobe consultant and author Susie Faux in the 1970s due to her frustration with the lack of well-made clothing.

How do I build a capsule wardrobe?

Start by refining your wardrobe, editing out pieces no longer working for you. Consider shape, colours and your lifestyle - if your lifestyle has changed consider how your style might reflect this, what do you need to do and how do you want to look and feel each day? Building a capsule wardrobe takes time, curation and often an expert eye!

You can get inspiration from Pinterest, magazines and websites to get you started and motivated! Having a wardrobe clear out is really cleansing as you let go of pieces no longer working for you, create space and enable yourself to see more clearly what you own and then the fun begins!  Remember, less clothes doesn't mean less outfits!

What pieces should be in my capsule wardrobe?

Your wardrobe reflects who YOU are and as such is very unique to each person, how you live your life, your budget, body shape and style personality. These are some key classic pieces I regularly recommend when styling, which works for many shapes, ages and styles:

A classic white shirt can be dressed up or down, used as a layer over and underneath knitwear, dresses and casual pieces and if bought wisely is an investment piece that never dates or goes out of fashion.

A biker jacket doesn't have to leather or black, there are some fantastic vegan-leather options out there and it's such a useful piece during the spring and autumn particularly for layering and creating less dressy looks with summer dresses and smarter outfits we might otherwise 'save for best.'

A blazer is a great alternative or addition to a biker jacket as it creates the opposing look of smartening up casual outfits and if a beautiful tailored piece is purchased won't ever date and will last for years to come.

Great fitting denim won't ever let you down and will always give you options. My advice for buying denim is always to buy at the highest/best quality end of your budget - think of the cost per wear as opposed to an occasion outfit where we happily spend £150 and you can see where your money is more wisely spent.

Good quality knitwear makes you feel great, will last for years if you look after it and you will wear these pieces much longer than pieces like summer dresses so it's worth investing in.

Professional bra fitting and great quality bra literally underpins every outfit and helps items fit, sit and feel better on your body. They also offer proper support and are so important for looking after our backs and shoulders to distribute weight more evenly, especially for curvier girls. Think of it as an essential - like wearing a great moisturiser or a mascara you love - don't leave the house without it!

A beautiful winter coat will last for years and no-one ever knows what's underneath when you're out! Can really finish an outfit during the colder months and will work hard for you over the years. Go for natural fibres which will breathe and keep you warm like a high wool content and choose mindfully to suit your body shape, colouring and style and it will become like a trusted friend each autumn!

A superb pair of AW boots which you will wear year in year out as soon as the autumn appears and often right into spring and beyond so many months of wear. Go for hard-wearing and beautifully made so that you can walk, be warm and comfortable and wear with multiple outfits. A great fitting pair of ankle boots will work with dresses, skirts, trousers and jeans all year round.

Once the domain of the gym/track and now a core staple for busy women the world over! A white plimsoll style of trainers will take you through summer and winter and will dress down a dress/skirt outfit and enable you to wear those pieces all year round. If you love colour why not add a pop of colour/print with your trainer, especially if the rest of your wardrobe is quite neutral as this will elevate your look and add nterest in the darker months

Dresses are one of the hardest working yet easiest pieces to wear in your wardrobe. Layer up with the knit and the biker jacket in the colder months, wear on it's own in the spring and add the blazer and boots for work. Look for good quality fabrics, gorgeous fit and a colour which will either flow or contrast with the rest of your wardrobe. A shirt dress is a great option as you can wear undone as a layer over shorts/top in the summer months.

A classic t-shirt is such a great layering piece underneath the white shirt or a dress in the cooler months and a great staple with your beautiful fitting denim in the summer. Add the blazer and trainer for a chic, off-duty look and the blazer/boots for a smarter more put-together look - then just add the knit and the coat when it's cold. See how hard it's all working for you already!

Should I aim for a set number of pieces in my capsule wardrobe?

This depends on your lifestyle and budget though you would be surprised how many outfits you can create from very few outfits. If you buy wisely and mindfully you could work from 16-20 pieces and just add in accessories seasonally to add colour, print and interest which is such a cost-effective way of tapping into trends or experimenting with colour for example.

Do I need a seasonal capsule wardrobe?

I would recommend looking for seasonless pieces - items that translate from season to season, as the pieces above your core basics. Our transitional seasons spring and autumn last much longer than summer and when you combine these with winter, you can see where you are best to invest your money. Autumn/winter pieces such as coats, boots and knitwear will get so much use and even into summer your good quality knitwear will still likely be in use in the evenings! Think all year round and then build on to that with select and beautiful pieces which make you smile and enable you to live your best life every day!

Get to know your wardrobe

I recommend getting to know your wardrobe - the last year has been really hard for many of us and some of us have got stuck in a style rut so spending time with your clothes really looking at what you love, how you want to feel and what you do each day will enable to look objectively at your clothes and start to understand your own unique style.

Plan ahead

I teach my clients how to plan outfits ahead and this is particularly important as children start to go back to school and the world slowly opens up with many of us heading back to work after a year working from home. Do this each night ahead and spend just 10 minutes putting an outfit together for the morning. Think of where you are going, what are you doing, how you want to look and feel. Add in colour to boost your mood and then lay it out all out or hang on the back of the door.

You can even plan accessories such as pairs of shoes etc as this will really help eliminate stress in the mornings and enable you to simply get dressed and get on with your day. Doing this really helps you to spend time with your clothes - you will find pieces which have dropped off the hangers, been forgotten about and it will feel like you have been shopping without having to spend any money!

Have some fun

Get creative, try new styles, tuck-in, mix and match, colour clash - and I guarantee you will start to understand your own style, use more of what you already own and feel more put-together and in control each day. Plus you'll have fun with it - and that what this is all about - helping you feel more confident to enable you to get on with your life, stylishly!

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