Capsule can, or capsule can’t?

I’ve been seeing so many mentions of capsule wardrobes recently, and I’m in two minds about whether they really work or are a bit of a con.

In theory, they have a lot going for them. For example, they appear to be:

  • Time-saving and effortless
  • Chic and pulled together
  • Eco-friendly (you use things more often, there’s less waste)
  • Value for money (lowered cost per wear, fewer purchases)

When they’re put together by stylists they seem quite appealing. For example, Gok Wan’s 24-piece wardrobes have a certain something about them, including this one in the pic below.

Image copyright Gok’s Fashion Fix, Gok Wan, Channel 4

On the other hand, there are clearly some obvious drawbacks:

  • Easy to end up with a boring, restricted overall look, especially if you aren’t a stylist
  • Seem to cater for fantasy lifestyles and warmer weather only
  • Probably not versatile enough to bridge the gap between work and weekends
  • Commonly used as a ploy by shops to sell you more clothes rather than less
  • It’s a logistical problem waiting to happen because of laundry issues

Nobody seems to think about the laundry problem, do they? I like to only wash full machine loads of laundry and I don’t use a tumble drier, which saves on electricity, water and detergent. Thrifty, simple, and greener, hopefully. A 24-piece capsule with maybe three different tops in it, and perhaps a couple of dresses, is going to be a real problem because you’ll need to be doing frequent small loads of laundry. In damp weather, these clothes will then take a couple of days to air dry, taking most of the choice out of the allegedly clever mix and match system.

When it comes to real life, the fashion maths don’t seem to add up. Annoying, much?

But fear not, I’ve come up with a few ideas that might get around most of these problems. In theory, anyway. More tomorrow, bargain babes.


Penny x

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  1. Out of necessity (i.e. a few years surviving on a really limited budget) – , my wardrobe is capsule sized and I hate it – I feel like I wear the same thing all the time, and all the fun has gone out of shopping because anything new I buy needs to go with most things I own (I wear a lot of black and grey as a consequence). I can’t wait until the day when I can just go and buy a top or a pair of shoes purely because I like them! I’m sure capsule wardrobes are great for people who don’t much care about clothes or for people who struggle to put outfits together, but they’re not a fun choice for people who do like fashion, but don’t have the budget for it. I look forward to reading your ideas!

  2. Hi Kate – thank you so much for your input about your personal experience, I’m sure a lot of people are feeling the same way at the moment and will be glad to hear that they’re not alone.

    I’ll do my best to come up with something useful AND fun, if possible. My version of a capsule wardrobe is going to contain mostly old clothes, with some customisation and alteration, plus a couple of new (and pretty) purchases that serve to make the capsule more versatile. Bear with me, I’m doing the fashion maths… P xx

  3. Hi Penny, I have a capsule wardrobe of sorts, although I’m not working so it’s easier. I basically have a ‘uniform’ that I wear every day; I love fashion though, just not spending on it! {anymore!}

    I tend to buy classic and make them last. I also find that a nice handbag {I love Coach} detracts from the gap t-shirt and jeans I’m wearing!

  4. Hi Laura, in that case you will probably be horrified by the state of the handbags I’m planning on using in this experimental capsule wardrobe I’m about to try out! 🙂

    A uniform of sorts can be very handy, although I’ve noticed that I do have a tendency to buy too many similar things. A bit more variety is fun, but not always so affordable… P x

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