Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Building a Capsule Wardrobe: where to start?

You've decided to build a capsule wardrobe - maybe a late New Year's resolution? - with the hope of becoming even more stylish in 2016. You've seen the fashion bloggers extolling the virtues of capsule wardrobes, declaring that you only need 33 (Project 333), perhaps 16 (4x4) or maybe just 10 items of clothing to look incredibly chic every day. You're keen to have a go, the only problem being: where do you start?

You could start by purchasing one of the many books describing how to build the definitive capsule wardrobe, though some of them aren't that inspiring or even well written in my opinion, having downloaded a few from Amazon. A better (and also cheaper!) way is by visiting one of the numerous fashion blogs, my favourite one being The Vivienne Files.  Take a look at Janice's 4x4 wardrobes by clicking on the link and then choose your favourite colours from the many options. You could also start by reading this post and then the following ones that I'm planning to write on the same subject.

My advice is to first identify your personal style, lifestyle, body shape and your most flattering colours before you think about what your capsule should contain. What's the point of rushing out to buy a chic jacket if it's not something you will wear regularly, the style is wrong for your shape and it's black, which is a colour that makes you look washed out and haggard? Don't worry, I'm not having a dig at you.  Read this post of mine and you'll see exactly what I mean!

Here is a good example of a capsule wardrobe, which I found on Polyvore. Tullewhimsy has created this French capsule wardrobe with simple, stylish pieces that can be mixed and matched to create many different outfits.
At first glance this capsule suits my personal style and a few years ago I might have been tempted to buy similar pieces, however I now realise why it wouldn't work for me. The most obvious reason is that there is too much black and white so the colour palette is far from ideal. Take a look at the high heels - I'm an over 60 woman with a mainly casual lifestyle, so they would just sit at the bottom of my wardrobe. Either that or I'd cripple myself the first time I wore them! The white pussy-bow silk blouse is far too fussy and girly to suit me and the black mini dress on the left may have looked good on me when I was in my teens and twenties, but not forty years later. My capsule wouldn't need both a dress and a skirt anyway as I usually live in trousers, worn with a colourful top rather than black or white. You may be the opposite and your ideal capsule might have three skirts instead of trousers plus several dresses. You may also love black and white and look fabulous when you wear them. My point here is that we are all individuals and the ideal capsule wardrobe for one person is probably anything but for another person.

At this stage, having identified your personal style and thought about what clothes will suit your lifestyle, it's time to decide what colours will form the basis of your capsule wardrobe. You've probably guessed from looking at the example above that these should be neutrals. If black is too harsh on you, navy and grey may be more flattering. If your colouring is warm like mine, dark brown and camel may be your best choices. Decide on two dark neutrals and one light neutral, all of which should go well together, and then (here comes the fun part!) choose a couple of accent colours that flatter you and that will also go well with your neutrals. 

Here's another example of a capsule wardrobe, which I have just created on Polyvore. I've used warmer colours (brown, camel and cream), which I know would flatter me more than the black and white shown above. 
I mentioned choosing accent colours, especially if you aren't so keen on monochromatic outfits. For the top capsule wardrobe, my personal choices would be a bright blue and red, although I realise that black and white aren't my best colours. For the bottom capsule wardrobe, which would suit my colouring far more, my accents would be coral and teal. You of course may have totally different ideas of what items to include in a capsule wardrobe and which colours would look best. 

My personal style recipe is "colourful casual chic with a little bit quirky and a Parisian influence". The emphasis is on casual and colourful, however I aim to look elegant and chic. This may explain how my wardrobe a few years ago contained all the colours of the rainbow and lots of different styles. My lifestyle, now that I've retired, is perfect for my personality and my style, with most days spent blogging, walking the dog, shopping and meeting friends for coffee or lunch. We do have the occasional dinner out or celebration lunch to allow me to dress up in an elegant and chic way though!

In my next post, now that I have identified my personal style, given some thought to my lifestyle and chosen my best colours, I will select the first few items to include in my capsule wardrobe. Do let me know your personal style and/or favourite colours so that I can give some different examples.











11 comments:

  1. Thanks for your post! Many (not yours) blogs on capsule wardrobes tell you exactly what to buy without considering 'personal style, lifestyle, body shape and your most flattering colours'. I rarely wear trousers and never a blazer. Having the 'how to' tools rather than the full on prescriptive is so much better for each individual. I also read The Vivienne Files and adapt Janice's ideas (and they are many) and techniques to suit me. You have good advice here! Carol S

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    1. Thanks, Carol. In my next post I will be talking about the alternatives to wearing blazers.

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  2. I have learnt so much from your blog and your reference to other blogs. I love wearing colour up near my face and in flattish, pretty shaped and coloured shoes and sandals. But now have a problem with body shape and style. I seem to almost fit into several categories.

    I am retired, just under 5 foot 4 inches, square shoulders, gentling curving body and slim legs. In winter I wear slim pants and coloured tops, but in summer I like wearing cotton dresses with shaping in the waist and some fullness in the skirt for easy movement. I was wondering if I fitted into the soft gamine style?

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    1. Hi Laura! Just wanted to mention that in addition to a bunch of soft gamine pins and boards in Pinterest, there is a soft gamine group on Facebook. I'm in it, as well as the yang gamine or Flamboyant gamine one. I know that gamine is my general style and am trying to flesh out if it is more yin or yang. Yin is what I have been leaning toward.

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    2. Laura, it sounds as if you are doing a good job already working out what suits you. Jeanine's comments are very helpful. However I would add that you could look through Pinterest to find styles that you love (maybe looking for "summer capsules" as an example to give you lots of variety) and then create your own board to pin these to. You can then see if you have a common theme. Obviously look for "soft gamine" to see if that resonates with you. There is a website called "Expressing Your Truth" that may also help you.

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    1. Laura, that adds to the gamine aspects as you are slim as well as short-ish. (I say short-ish as you are several inches taller than me!) I used to be a UK size 10 - even, when I was in my early 20s, a size 8. Nowadays I tend to be a size 12, though occasionally a size 10 if I look at more expensive brands! Definitely look at the various websites mentioned to identify your style, but remember that not all of us fit into a slot, so express your individuality.

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  4. I love the idea of a Parisian influence, Sue! But like you, I need to do black rather sparingly, since warm colors are best for me, and I like your adapted capsule much better. I am putting together a new capsule myself and keeping all those things in mind you mentioned. In fact, I'm about to write a post about it for next week.

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    1. Do let us know on here once you've put your capsule together. I look forward to reading about it!

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  5. The black/white capsule looks very smart. I have medium cool colouring and can wear a black top,usually worn with the neckline away from the face and with black and white or white jewellery. I cannot wear a plain white top, but black and white prints, spots, and stripes look great. I also like a colour with white. I wear lots or blues, greens and aquas, some reds, pinks and occasionally I borrow coral. Still working on my capsule.

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