Capsule wardrobe/ Image: Unsplash
Image: Unsplash

The student’s guide to the capsule wardrobe

A capsule wardrobe involves owning a few essential items that never go out of fashion. This means a seasonal, limited and more compact wardrobe which reduces fast fashion waste. The term was coined by Susie Faux who owned a boutique called Wardrobe in London in the 1970s. It was then popularised by designer Donna Karan who released a capsule collection in 1985. You might be familiar with the capsule wardrobe from Marie Kondo’s famous de-cluttering technique of only keeping items that ‘spark joy.’

When deciding to create a capsule wardrobe there some rules to follow in order to get the most out of it. Choosing a colour scheme involves having a few base colours which all of the items will go with. It may be easier to choose neutral colours like white, brown, grey or black and then having a few accented colours to compliment these. All pieces in the wardrobe should be interchangeable.

Some cuts and patterns go out of fashion quickly whereas some are classic

Consider patterns when buying clothes. Some cuts and patterns go out of fashion quickly whereas some are classic. However, remember that a capsule wardrobe is meant to be based around your style so if there are cuts and patterns that you have loved for years and are a signature part of your style, including them in your wardrobe is a good idea.

Ensuring that your clothes are high quality and sustainably-made is the most important aspect of a capsule wardrobe. Your wardrobe is supposed to last for many years, meaning that cheaply made, fast fashion pieces often won’t be sustainable for that period and you may have to keep replacing them.

It’s important to consider your lifestyle and the weather when designing a capsule wardrobe. Being a student in the Midlands where the weather is fairly rainy and never excruciatingly hot or cold all year round means you probably want to ensure you have a raincoat, a thick jacket for the winter but also at least a skirt or shorts for the hotter months.

A student lifestyle also means that some clothing items would be unnecessary and inappropriate. Whereas heels might look amazing on the odd occasion and be a recommendation as part of a capsule wardrobe built for models and influencers, as students, unfortunately, we don’t get much use out of these so choosing some sturdy, well-made and stylish flats is the best way to go.

If you can’t remember the last time you wore something, it probably needs to go

For students, a capsule wardrobe is made more difficult by a range of social events that often have garish and unpredictable themes. Circling themes can be as wacky as ‘In the Jungle’ to ‘Rave’ which can make it difficult to use items from a limited wardrobe. Having to pay an extortionate amount to use Circuit laundry can also make it more challenging when you only have a limited amount of items and have to wash them frequently.

As much as I would love to say that I’m going to create a capsule wardrobe, I do get bored of clothes fairly easily. I am aware of how unsustainable this is and make a conscious effort to purchase more from second hand and more sustainable brands and sell and donate these items on.

That being said, I think there are a few things we can all do to aspire towards a more sustainable and compact, though not necessarily completely limited, wardrobe. If you can’t remember the last time you wore something, it probably needs to go as otherwise it’s just collecting dust and taking up space.

It’s all about just being compact and reasonable with clothes and trying not to get too caught up in trends

Instagram trends don’t last forever so falling in with fast-fashion trends that come in and out quickly is pretty unsustainable. We are all trying to establish our own, individual style and this comes with time but is the basic principle of a capsule wardrobe.

Whilst I haven’t got a capsule wardrobe yet and I think it’s something made more difficult by being a student, it is definitely achievable. The label of ‘capsule wardrobe’ may seem unattainable and a scary concept but really, it’s all about just being compact and reasonable with clothes and trying not to get too caught up in trends which is something we can all do.

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