Are you a fan of the capsule wardrobe? Have you always wanted to give it a try but didn’t know where to start? Or are you actively using one, but struggling to make it work effectively? Perhaps you’re starting to get bored of your capsule wardrobe staples.

In this article, we take a look at the increasingly-popular capsule wardrobe phenomenon, give you tips on how to get started, and show you how to keep your wardrobe endlessly fresh and enjoyable.

What is a capsule wardrobe?

The capsule wardrobe has been around since the 1970s when the concept was coined by London boutique owner Susie Faux. In a nutshell, it’s a small collection of versatile pieces that can be mixed and matched in numerous ways, essentially allowing you to create a large number of different outfits with relatively few items of clothing. It shot to popularity in the mid-80s when US designer Donna Karan launched her “Seven Easy Pieces” collection, which embraced the capsule concept.

Capsule wardrobes are a key element in the sustainable living movement, reducing the consumption of cheap, throw-away clothing that only lasts a season in favour of fewer, quality pieces that will last. According to the United Nations Environment Programme, the fashion industry produces 20% of the world’s wastewater and 10% of global carbon emissions, and that one garbage truck’s worth of textiles is landfilled or burned every second. It estimates that, by 2050, the fashion industry will consume 25% of the world’s carbon budget.

What are the benefits of a capsule wardrobe?

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1. You always have something to wear

The guiding principle behind a capsule wardrobe is that every item goes with every other item, creating dozens of different combinations. You’ll never get stuck with a top and a bottom that doesn’t match or be overcome with indecision when it’s time to get dressed. It saves so much time when choosing what to wear in the morning!

2. Building a capsule wardrobe saves you money

Rather than spending a fortune on dozens of things you’ll only wear a couple of times each, you buy a few key pieces that you love and wear repeatedly, swapping elements around to create different looks.

3. You can invest in higher quality clothing

Because you need fewer pieces to make up your capsule wardrobe, you can afford to splash out a little on your core pieces. You’ll be wearing them often, so it pays to invest in quality that will last the test of time and keep looking great.

4. More wardrobe space

No more clutter! A capsule wardrobe typically contains only 30 to 40 pieces of clothing, so it’s much easier to organise and keep tidy. You’ll always know where all your clothes are, and being able to store them properly and carefully will prolong their lifespan.

5. It’s better for the planet

The amount of fashion waste is staggering, with an estimated six tonnes of clothing and textiles going to landfill in Australia every 10 minutes. The World Resources Institute recently reported that we bought 60% more clothing in 2014 than we did in 2000, but only kept the garments for half as long. A capsule wardrobe is the antithesis of the “fast fashion” trend – with a smaller range of beloved pieces that you only replace occasionally, it’s inevitable that the amount of clothing you discard will drastically reduce.

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How do I create a capsule wardrobe?

Spring Capsule Wardobe YouTube Video by Audrey Coyne

1. Look at your clothing requirements over a week

There’s no “one size fits all” when it comes to creating a capsule wardrobe. The way you spend your week will dictate the kind of items you buy. Do you need corporate workwear or can you get away with wearing casual pieces to the office? Do you spend a lot of time outdoors or at home? Make a note of your clothing requirements for a typical week and the proportion of time you’ll be wearing each kind. This will give you a great idea of what you need in your wardrobe.

2. Start with what you already own

Now, go through your current clothes and select the essentials that you wear most often and that go together. You’ll probably find that you already have a few items that you wear all the time. Next, identify the gaps in your wardrobe that you’ll need to fill with new pieces. (Note that exercise gear, swimwear, underwear and accessories are not considered part of your capsule wardrobe.)

3. Strategise each style piece requirement

You can get 12 different outfits from one outer layer (like a blazer or cardigan), three tops and two bottoms. Start by creating one group of these items, then make a second group (ideally containing items that work with those in the first group), and then a third, and so on. You’ll soon have hundreds of possible outfits from a base of 30 or 40 pieces. While some people like to stick to plain neutrals, you can absolutely include both colour and pattern in your wardrobe, as long as the pieces are complementary.

4. Keep in mind of seasonality clothing

While some of your pieces will be suitable year-round, the changing weather will require you to swap out some of your wardrobe each season. When you’re shopping for new pieces, remember that they should work with your existing core items.

What are the limitations of a capsule wardrobe?

While capsule wardrobes are hugely popular (that’s why they’re still around after more than 40 years!), there are situations in which your capsule wardrobe might be a little too limited, such as:

  • Special occasions where you want to wear something different
  • Changing to a new job with a different dress code
  • Being between sizes
  • Pregnancy
  • Wanting to follow a limited-time fashion trend
  • Having gaps in your capsule that you’re struggling to fill

What do I do if I need clothes for a particular life event?

If you need a new outfit for a particular one-off event, try using this buying pyramid to help you decide what to wear. If you get to the top and you still don’t have the right pieces, considering renting rather than buying to save money, be more sustainable, and prevent a capsule-wardrobe-blowout!

Source: @sarahlazarovic

Buy pre-loved for budget-friendly sustainability

Once you’re ready to start building your capsule wardrobe, don’t give in to the impulse buy and trendy statement items, go for items that you know will last forever and consider buying quality pre-loved clothing! Thrifting helps to reduce the amount of unnecessary manufacturing and the amount of fashion waste that goes to landfill. You’ll also have high-value items that extend the product’s lifecycle. We have a range of like-new clothing from hundreds of designers that you can buy for up to 90% off the original retail price. Check out our clearance section here!

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Borrow or hire clothing to extend your capsule wardrobe

Borrowing clothing from a sibling, friend or roommate has been around for decades! It’s the perfect way to solve the limitations of your capsule wardrobe. Also, what better way to upgrade your capsule wardrobe without breaking the bank than to hire clothes. Borrowing or renting clothing gives you the ability to enjoy variety and one-off outfits without adding extra clutter to your closet. 

You can turn up to every party or special event in something new, and change up your office attire so you don’t get bored with your core pieces. Once you’ve finished wearing an item, you just return it or swap it for another.

Here are some examples of how hiring clothes can help you get the most out of your capsule wardrobe.

Going out for the evening and want to wear something special?

Every capsule wardrobe needs a little black dress, but you don’t want to wear the same thing every time you go out! Rent exciting extras to add variety to your evening wear.

  • Try a little black dress with extra flair
  • Go for a different look with this subtly-printed wrap dress with flared sleeves
  • Introduce a pop of colour to your capsule staples

If you don’t want to feel like you’re always wearing the same thing to work

If you’re working in a corporate environment, it’s important to look professional, but that doesn’t have to mean boring! Spice up your capsule wardrobe’s workwear section with designer pieces from the GlamCorner premium range.

  • Take a break from monochrome with a coloured check
  • Complement your staples with on-trend snake print and lurex band detailing
  • Pair a vibrant printed Ginger & Smart shirts with your dark-toned bottoms

Keeping your everyday casual look fresh and interesting

Add renewable variety to your everyday capsule wardrobe with separates and dresses.

  • Dress up with a heel or down with a sneaker and wear multiple times a week to all occasions being a luncheon, work meeting or simply a picnic with friends.
  • Blazers are great for any season and the perfect way to elevate a casual look.
  • Maxi skirts are an ideal addition to a capsule wardrobe. So versatile – use your choice of top to dress them up or down for any occasion.

When you need something to wear to a special event

Everyone loves getting dressed up for a special event, whether it’s a wedding, cocktail party, formal dinner or a day at the races. But don’t fall into the trap of buying something that you’ll only wear once – that doesn’t belong in your capsule wardrobe!

  • Make an eye-catching statement with a colour you wouldn’t normally wear. Experiment with your style by renting this for a special occasion and returning when you’re done!
  • Step away from neutral tones for a special day and opt for a bold colour.
  • Turn heads at an upcoming morning brunch event, daytime occasion or even at the races!

Get ready to build the perfect capsule wardrobe to suit all your everyday-to-occasion needs! Click here to read more on everyday wardrobe staples fashion advice and tips!

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