Tamara Mellon’s got one, and so has Sam Cam. Daniel Craig is proud of his. Gwyneth Paltrow would like one, and top stylists all over the world swear by them. We’re talking about the capsule wardrobe, of course – the pared-down ‘utility’ outfit collection that sees a person through work, play and everything else with a minimum of fuss and maximum efficiency.
But what are the benefits of a capsule wardrobe, and how do you start one?
The great advantage of capsule dressing is you buy less clothes, but better pieces that are versatile and that work really hard for their place in your cherished collection. Less really is more in this case. You spend less time fretting about what to wear because the capsule mindset has you knowing at all times what goes with what and what’s best for which occasion.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that capsule dressing is a cost-saving technique, though – because key to a capsule wardrobe is the quality of the pieces. Women will have a little black dress in there, but that LBD needs to be made of great material so it looks good on its own, accessorized with a belt for a curvier look, dressed with pearls for a retro Breakfast at Tiffany’s look or teamed with a colourful jacket for a business meeting. Cheaper dress fabrics just won’t make the grade here.
For women, the foundations of a capsule wardrobe will doubtlessly include an LBD,great jeans, a good belt, a white cotton shirt, a tailored jacket, a tuxedo-style jacket, a pencil skirt and a leather jacket. For men, capsule staples will include good jeans, a very good suit, quality cotton shirts, well-cut T-shirts, a cashmere sweater or two, a pea coat and a leather jacket. None of these items, if you’re buying quality, are cheap – but they will all enjoy a real longevity of wear.
Once you’ve got your basics sorted, each season you’ll pick up bits and pieces – especially accessories - that will give a nod to current trends (80s colour blocking, dog tooth check, animal print, jewel colours – whatever’s in that season) and update your look.
Done correctly, capsule dressing shouldn’t cost any more than the purely trend-driven fashion shopping that most of us engage in. But also, it shouldn’t really cost less. The capsule mentality is about knowing your own style and buying key pieces that will work for you in all the different areas of your life.
“Life’s too short to stuff a mushroom,” Superwoman author Shirley Conran famously said in the 1970s(and incidentally, her incredibly big hair-do from that time has recently been spotted on none other than Adele). Those who are serious about capsule wardrobe also feel that life’s too short to shop aimlessly for below-par clothes that you won’t wear much because they don’t go with anything else or they’re not really ‘you’.
People who have capsule wardrobes look on top of their own style – and who doesn’t want that for themselves?