Saturday, 25 November 2017

Building a capsule wardrobe

There are many bloggers, writers in fashion magazines and successful authors extolling the virtues of a capsule wardrobe -  especially if you aspire to be as chic as French women! I've been one of them, talking about the Ten-Item Wardrobe, Project 333 and other capsule wardrobe plans, but how do you start building one? Why should you do so?

Ideally a capsule wardrobe should ensure that you always have an outfit to wear without having to spend hours thinking about it! This means building a wardrobe around colours that suit you and go well together, so that nearly every top will go with every bottom, creating dozens of flattering outfits.  One way to start a capsule is to choose a scarf in colours that appeal to you and also flatter you, then use the colours as a basis for your wardrobe. Below is my Colour Elements scarf in Earth colours, with a selection of tops in colours that will blend with my scarf.


Most of the tops in my wardrobe are colourful, so ideally the bottoms should be neutral or in colours that go well with the tops. I know that I need some contrast in my outfits too, so I would probably choose lighter trousers (like the camel pair) to wear with darker tops, and vice versa.

Being vertically challenged (i.e. short!), I often opt for a column of colour, which in theory will make me look taller and slimmer. You can see below that three out of my four cardigans will match bottoms to create that (hopefully) slimming effect!


Looking at the scarf again, I can see that there is some red in it too. Regular readers will know how much I love red, so I do have lots of red accessories that would work with the above capsule, especially when wearing neutrals or dark colours. I also have some red clothes that will be added in to the basic capsule, as shown below.

Since I bought a red trench-coat from good old Marks & Spencer in the summer, I've had numerous compliments whenever I wear it. Red clearly has an important role to play in my wardrobe!

My M&S trench coat
My complete capsule includes ten tops and five bottoms, which will give me fifty different outfits, though clearly some combinations will work better than others. With four cardigans to choose from, plus accessories, the possible combinations are endless.

So here is my recipe for creating your capsule wardrobe: first of all choose colours that you love and colours that flatter you (preferably the same colours!) and make sure that these are colours that go well with each other. It is important to add in neutrals if you haven't included them already: it is worth spending more money on these as they shouldn't date, especially if you choose classic styles.

Talking about style, it is important to create a capsule wardrobe that suits your lifestyle, your personality and that flatters your figure as well as your colouring. That is why my capsule wardrobe consists of mainly casual clothes as I no longer work in an office, plus my style is casual, colourful chic. I'm short and rectangular in shape, so loose (but not baggy) or ruched tops over slim bottoms suit me.  You may of course look better in cool colours, be tall and slim, work in a corporate environment and love bohemian styles, so your capsule wardrobe will be totally different to mine. As a footnote, if your personal style isn't really suitable for your workplace, you may need to create two different capsules: one for work and one for play.


  1. A belated happy birthday, Sue! That red is certainly dynamic. I have been plying with capsule ideas and just can't get it to work. So many tops don't go with bottoms because of cut/style, mostly. I'm trying to think in terms of outfits but even that is a struggle. I've been shopping but not finding the kinds of treasures you're finding. Can't give up, though!

    1. Thank you and a belated Happy Christmas! It's definitely a challenge, trying to build a capsule. I think that you need to identify the best styles for your shape, and in my case slim bottoms are a must with looser (but not baggy) tops. It can be helpful to search on websites such as Polyvore, where you can specify what styles and colours you want and use specific words like "skinny jeans". Pinterest is also good for inspiration. If you admire Inès de la Fressange's style, for example, then use her name as a search term, or try French chic style. I have to remind myself though that she is taller and slimmer than me!