Minimalism is a word that typically freaks me out.
I am not ‘good’ at being minimalist. While I like to watch it from afar, anything that involves shades of taupe and white space is something I feel that I’d probably only get a B to A- in if it were a subject at University. “Lucy endevours to be minimalist, however lacks the overall discipline to truly master the subject. Lucy would do well to drop some of her general rumpety ways and talk less if she wants to really establish herself as a minimalist in 2019” As you can imagine – this ain’t ever gonna happen.
This does not stop me though in enjoying pockets of minimalism in my everyday life. Last year, I sold lots of my clothes at Recycle Boutique after being inspired by ‘The Art of Simple’ by Eleanor Ozich. Since then, I’ve encouraged my mum to sell a whack of her clothes (she still has MANY MANY more than a human could ever wear) and continued to keep things neat and tidy where time/arsedness will permit.
Where am I going with all this? Well, I am NOT your classic capsule wardrobe kind of girl.
The expression itself is very neat and tidy, and if there were actually a capsule I could swallow to be a capsule wardrobe kinda lady, rest assured I’d buy a bottle of it.
The 'Capsule Wardrobe' is something which has become popular in recent years from ‘the Internet’ but actually dates back to the 1970’s. The term was coined by Susie Faux. According to Faux, a capsule wardrobe is a collection of a few essential items of clothing that don’t go out of fashion, such as skirts, trousers and coats which can then be arranged by seasonal pieces. Donna Karan popularized the term in 1985 and released an influential capsule collection of seven interchangeable work-wear pieces.
While everyone has their own take on the capsule wardrobe, including the Project 333 experiment, popularized by YouTubers and bloggers alike, where one endevours to live with only 33 items for 3 months, I have taken a more holistic approach for those less inclined towards a strict dogmatic approach. I’m trying to understand why bother with TCW and what function should it serve in our lives, rather than sticking to rigid rules (and, as usually, applying my sustainable fashion hat to the problem)?
Why do a capsule wardrobe?
The primary reason is that while you may exclaim “But what will I wear!!” many of us actually struggle with the opposite problem – too much choice.
I have found that too many clothes in my wardrobe leads to general confusion and chaos in my head, and my clothes choices. I will often go back, time and time again for a uniform, when I have far more clothes to wear.
Reducing the number of clothes in your wardrobe forces you to stop and THINK about what you want to put together and ends up saving you precious time because you’ve already organised all your pieces in advance.
Shop the look!
First, before you spend any money, take EVERYTHING out of your wardrobe and assess. If you no longer wear something, if it is broken or has holes and cannot be mended, or if it never suited you to start with, say 'Sayonara'.
How many pieces do you need?
This depends on a range of factors, but here, using items from the latest season of Wilson Trollope, I have collected thirteen essential pieces. I love them all and think they are appropriate for a wide range of women.
I chose this collection because I think that Wilson Trollope makes the best New Zealand made classic pieces right now, at a very fair price point. Dresses start at $320, and are really hardy. The Wilson Trollope Winter 2018 collection is brought to life through exploring and playing with fairy tale stories and the escapism to imaginary worlds that they inspire.
The Forest is inspired by visions of enchanted woods, castles, impossible transformations and formidable and eccentric characters, mixing masculine military influences with soft feminine fabrics. These garments arming the wearer for cooler months with both comfort and beauty.
The Capsule Wardrobe Basics
1. A Classic Black Coat - from Wilson Trollope in store.
2. A White Shirt - from Wilson Trollope in store.
3. Smock/Pinny Dress - Here I've selected 'Gilded Dress'
4. Cocktail Dress - I ADORE the 'Entwine Dress'
5. The Midi Skirt - The most beautiful option? The Woodland Skirt.
6. A warm relaxed sweater - 'Pebble Jumper'
7. The Short Jacket or Bomber - I'm a fan of the 'Moss Bomber'.
8. Classic Tailored Pants/Jeans
9. Everyday Cross-Body Bag - This one is by Pedro's Bluff.
10. Pumps - A little heel is perfect for work or play.
11. Slides - These ones are 'Chaos and Harmony'
12. Scarf - from Wilson Trollope in store.
13. Earrings (x2 but I am counting these as one).
This is much smaller than some capsule wardrobes but I would consider this a capsule wardrobe aimed at work/weekends, rather than slobbing around at home/sportswear. Also, don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater! Keep your pieces you think you’ll wear again and simply hang them in the hall cupboard until next season.
A few guidelines...
Some of the basic capsule wardrobe rules should be take into account when choosing various items. For instance:
1. Chose a colour scheme – the colours here are black, grey, white, navy, blue, gold, burgundy and tan. Everything goes together because it is from the same palette of complimentary colours. This doesn’t mean you have to stick with only some colours in your capsule wardrobe but it helps to think about how colour will create a cohensive look. To get a better idea about complimentary colours, check out the Pantone website.
2. Body shape – I know what looks good on my body and have done since I was about 17. The reason? Years of pouring over Trinny and Susannah’s books from the ‘What Not To Wear’ series, and, of course, a healthy dose of trial and error. A huge reason I LOVE Wilson Trollope, and think you will as well, is that the clothes have very classic cuts which work extremely well on many body types. Annabelle often does a straight line dress, a drop waist or a long waist dress. She’s inspired by traditional patterns which were created for a reason – because they flattered the female body – rather than trends which come and go. She also cuts her pieces true to size. I am a 10-12 in Wilson Trollope, and from season to season I know what will work.
3. Complexion – Navy blue and red work for me in the cooler months because I have quite a buttermilky toned skin which changes with the season. You, on the other hand, may find that you look blotching in these tones. If you want to get a starter on this, check out one of the many articles online which can help your find whether you are Spring (clear, light warm), Summer (soft, light, cool), Autumn (soft, deep, warm) or Winter (clear, deep, cool). You might be more than one – I am somewhere between a Summer and Winter which makes zero sense, but does seem to depend on the time of year and whether my skin is tanned or not. This is why, in Winter, I look better in rich reds and navy, and in Summer, I’ll go for more watermelon or pale blue.
4. Choose classic shapes and patterns – some cuts and patters go in and out of fashion, but others are considered classics. In my opinion, you can never go wrong with a pinny dress, a white shirt and a long coat.
5. Choose high-quality fabrics – invest, invest, invest – buy the best you can afford. In an ideal world, a capsule wardrobe should NOT be able changing everything with the season but buying pieces which can be adapted for future seasons and that you can add new pieces to depending on trends. Over time, you should build a timeless wardrobe that you don’t throw away (hurrah – sustainable fashion!) and will last you decades. Which leads me to...
How often should you rotate?
Again, there are differing theories on this. I think changing twice a year works fine for Wellington, however, if you want to change every three months, you can. It really comes down to adding and subtracting clothes for the seasons.
Remember to have fun!
The best approach is one you can sustain. Just like deciding to do the Ketogenic diet when you love grainy bread, work out whether this works for YOU as an individual. However, don’t be afraid to break boundaries. While my mum didn’t go full capsule wardrobe, she DID find that reducing the number of clothes made her feel clearer. I felt the same. It’s also okay to get over pieces and don’t just hold onto them because they were expensive. Your clothes should express YOU - so enjoy the pleasures of knowing you can get up and dressed in the morning and feel fantastic, and that everything will come together, no matter what the Wellington weather.
Thank you Wilson Trollope for lending the pieces for this shoot!