A capsule wardrobe is a clever thing. It is the fewest items of clothing that you can make the most number of outfits with. Clothing that won’t go out of fashion and can be dressed up or down. The idea was coined by British boutique owner Susie Faux in the 1970s to encourage women to fill their wardrobes with fewer high quality garments that could be worn time and time again.
Best of all you probably already have elements of a Summer capsule wardrobe. Ideally, have a cathartic clear out of your wardrobe to see what key items you are missing to wear in warmer weather. Then, like those perennially elegant French women, fill in the sartorial gaps by going for quality not quantity. Sticking to a colour palette is essential – could be neutrals or whites/brights – whatever you feel best suits your colouring and defines your personal style. Just make sure you can mix and match every single item.
The interchangeable pieces
TEE / SIMPLE TOP
White tees are is ubiquitous for good reason as they show off a tan beautifully, but any neutral colour will work. And, let’s be honest, most of us will already have a selection of tees to choose from – whether plain, slogan or a classic striped Breton. Crew, square, v neck – it’s whatever you feel most comfortable wearing. There’s a fantastic collection of every type and colour of tee at Kettlewell. Well, doesn’t even have to be a tee actually, could be a white shirt if you prefer to have more arm coverage or something like this off-white linen mix vest top from COS.
Am sure you have a favourite style – for some useful tips on buying jeans, read my post on how to find the perfect pair. Wear them rolled up with plimsolls or flipflops for a casual look, or full length with a pretty pair of ballerinas or heels for the evening.
The key to white trousers is that they go with almost any colour – vibrant brights or muted neutrals. Cigarette or slim leg never go out of fashion – they make your legs look longer. But any lightweight white trousers of any length will work equally well as an integral part of your capsule wardrobe. I always almost reach for my Magic Shaping High Waisted Straight Leg Jeans from M&S (currently on offer at £15 and available in three leg lengths).
Ideally one you will be happy wearing both during the day and evening, so don’t be afraid of colour, sparkle or embroidery. You could opt for a classically chic lightweight blazer such as this linen blend showstopper from LK Bennett or a relaxed floaty longer length kimono.
Us older girls suit modest, longer, slightly looser fitted tailored shorts. I’ve just treated myself to a pair of knee-length sustainably sourced cotton chino shorts from M&S and am delighted with how flattering and comfortable they are. Six colourways available.
Can be knee length, midi or maxi – whatever best suits your bodyshape. This midi skirt is from Thought and is called the Canaletto.
Can be a pretty floral like this knee length dress from Thought. Or a classically neat linen shift from Mango. Or a floaty maxi dress – whatever you feel most confident wearing and illustrates your personal style. The wonderful thing about a dress is that you just pop it on and instantly you are… well, dressed!
For those cooler days, a lightweight jumper or cardigan is invaluable to pop around your shoulders or wear over your tee, trousers, skirt or dress. This delicate V neck batwing jumper from The White Company for example, which is also available in dark grey and white.
What are the benefits of a capsule wardrobe?
- You can relax – bye bye “I have nothing to wear” issues as you can relax knowing you have a ‘personal uniform’ ie clothes that look amazing on you whatever the occasion.
- Having fewer clothes does not restrict your choices. It gives you freedom. As the majority of us already only wear 20% of what’s in our wardrobes, we are already following this principle to a certain degree, so it’s not exactly a sea change.
- Going on holiday? Then you’ll already have the essentials you need to pack which means a lighter suitcase
- It helps you to help the environment – a smaller wardrobe means less fast unsustainable fashion cluttering up your wardrobe.
- It saves you money. No more unworn purchases hanging on your rails! You’ll have maximised your investment by buying wisely.
How do I know I’m buying the right things?
- Be discerning. Ideally buy online. At the time of writing we are unable to try on clothes in shops, but even when we can, we are less rushed trying on clothes at home that we’ve bought online. Which means less chance of an impulse purchase.
- Buy quality. Think about price per wear rather than the price tag. It may be more expensive initially, but if you wear it often enough, less expensive in the long run.
Is there anything that you couldn’t do without in your Summer capsule wardrobe? We always love to hear your ideas and tips – it’s good to share!
Lots more fashion finds and style tips here