Intentional style: do you need a capsule wardrobe?


I read so much about capsule wardrobes. Really a lot. Little bit obsessed. And something that hits me time and time again is the lack of discussion about whether a capsule wardrobe is the right solution for each and every person. Sure, I’ll occasionally see a bit of a token discussion about it, but it will all be heavily biased towards ‘I think you need a capsule wardrobe and I’m going to lead you to that answer too’.

I’m going to interrupt myself at this juncture to point out that I do think a capsule wardrobe is the right answer for most people. But, crucially, not for everyone. So I am going to try to do more than lip service to the question of why a capsule wardrobe might not be right for you.

If you fall into one of the categories below, I would venture to suggest that a capsule wardrobe probably isn’t the best solution for you:

  1. You genuinely enjoy the act of going through your wardrobe to choose something to wear each day. The process of finding, choosing, trying on and discarding various combinations, the adventure of deciding your outfit each day is a nourishing, nurturing, satisfying activity, rather than one tinged with stress or irritation (or lateness for work).
  2. You mix up your style very regularly, maybe a few times a week or even every day. Not in terms of workwear vs weekend wear, but some days you might go for ethereal fairy, others rock chic, others 90s grunge. This is only really going to be true if you have an extreme sense of style and those daily looks are really, truly, totally different, rather than all drawn from the same underlying theme, as they are for most people. Think carefully whether this is you - these people are rare in the extreme, in my experience as a stylist. Again, it kind of comes back to point one - the pleasure is in going through a larger wardrobe and choosing what you want to wear and who you’re going to be, rather than opening the wardrobe door and having no difficult questions asked of you.

I know those people exist - I’ve met them. And those people are never ever going to be happier with a capsule wardrobe than with a more extensive one. I suspect that even those people could probably pare the odd item and be happier, but no tightly limited wardrobe is going to cut it for them - the act of limiting the wardrobe would eliminate the adventure and fun of their personal style.

I suspect that if you’re that kind of person you probably know it, and you’re probably not hunting online for capsule wardrobe advice. You enjoy the daily opportunity to play with your clothes or try a new look, and never feel that you’re wasting time, money and energy on your wardrobe that could be better spent elsewhere. If that's you and it is making you happy, please do go forth and be merry with it.

Now I've said my piece on that subject (was that more than lip service? I hope so) I can move on to everyone else, and talk about why a capsule wardrobe is almost certainly absolutely right for you.

So we’ve dealt with why a capsule wardrobe might not be for you. Now let’s look at why it might be:

  1. You have, or want to discover, a really clear sense of your personal style, and want to own that style every day and feeling amazing while you’re doing it.
  2. You want expressing your style and feeling amazing doing it to be totally effortless. You want to be able to sling on pretty much anything you own and know it works.
  3. You want to know that your clothes look and feel good, and are the best quality you can afford.
  4. You don’t want to be taken by surprise by less frequent events, such as a wedding or black tie dinner, and you don’t want to have run out of work clothes that you actually like wearing by Thursday every week and be scrabbling around the dregs of your wardrobe for something to wear.
  5. You don’t fall into one of the ‘why a capsule wardrobe isn’t for you’ groups above. Basically, if you’re anyone else, I think you’ll benefit from having a capsule wardrobe.

So in short, the vast majority of us can benefit from a capsule wardrobe.

I'm going to interrupt myself (again) to point out that a capsule wardrobe can take many forms. Some are seriously limited, some are rather larger. We'll investigate what size might work for you in another post. Simply put, creating and curating a capsule wardrobe should remove all the ‘average’ clothes/shoes/accessories from your life - the things you wear but don’t particularly love (or don’t wear at all). It should free you to look and feel your best every day, whether you’re in dog walking or dinner dance mode.

I do hope you’ll agree that a capsule wardrobe is something worth investigating further. I’ve got lots more posts on capsule wardrobes planned, plus a couple of downloads in the works to help you on your way. Until next time!