Here’s how to get started if you want to create a really effective capsule wardrobe for the coming season. It’s easier than you think, even if you’re a complete beginner.
Before you start picking out clothes, it’s essential to consider how to make everything fit for purpose. Let me break that down into a few super-easy practical points.
If your capsule wardrobe is truly going to work for you, it needs to fit properly into your everyday life. Everything should be super easy to throw together, and you need to feel great in your clothes. Yes, it should all look good, but first and foremost it needs to be functional.
Functional clothes for an effective capsule wardrobe
If you start by focusing on the functionality of your clothes, you can create an effective capsule wardrobe with the minimum of fuss.
What are the key things to think about? Let’s focus on the season, your level of comfort, and the environment you spend most time in.
The great British weather is unpredictable, but you want to feel warmer in winter and cooler in summer. Yes, I’m stating the obvious here, but you’d be amazed at how much sweaty polyester gets pushed for warmer months, and how chilly you’d be if you let the designer ready-to-wear catwalk collections make your decisions for you.
The unpredictability of spring and autumn is tricky, but you can mix it up with different fabrics and light layers. Classic transitional pieces make this easier, including stylish trench coats, biker jackets, mid-weight scarves, light knits, ankle boots and loafers.
Some of us really feel the cold, and quite a few of us run hot as well. And that’s before you even start thinking about your everyday environment, which matters a lot. I swear by Uniqlo’s sleek, attractive (yes, really) range of HeatTech thermals for when the temperature dips.
Location, location, location
Where are you going to be for most of your weekdays? Have a good think about the level of warmth or cooling that you’re likely to need.
Are you mostly at home, but maybe don’t want to put the heating on? Will you be in a draughty open plan building? Are you stuck in a stuffy office block with big windows that don’t open? Will you be out and about, going from one location to another? Do you have to commute?
It’s also important to consider the general state of your location, such as a very clean, tidy office, or somewhere shared with dust, pets, small children or messy co-workers. You might need to be careful with fine fabrics, light colours, fabric/suede footwear or dry clean only clothes.
Comfort is key to an effective capsule wardrobe
People who say you have to suffer to look good and that ‘beauty is pain’ can get in the bin. And I don’t mean the bargain bin because it can be quite nice in there, but I digress.
If any garment or item of footwear is truly uncomfortable, however beautiful it is, you won’t wear it regularly. You’re wasting your money. Effective capsule wardrobe items are used frequently.
By ‘uncomfortable’ I mean physically, and also emotionally or socially if that affects you too. On the physical side of things, I mean anything that pinches, rubs, itches, flaps about too much, feels sweaty in warm weather, leaves a draughty gap in cold weather, or scratches.
Buy for now, not the future
It’s quite common to buy things a size too small and tell yourself that you’re going to slim into them. Please don’t do that if you’re tempted to – you deserve nice clothes that fit you right now. That’s not to disrespect anyone who’s on a weight loss or fitness journey in the slightest. It’s simply that you’re spending money, but won’t have an effective capsule wardrobe – things won’t fit.
Almost everything needs to fit in the here and now. You might need to break new shoes in, of course, but if they always hurt then try something else instead. Admit defeat, because the bad shoes won’t admit defeat (terrible pun, sorry not sorry.)
Health and wellbeing
Remember health/mobility considerations too. Everyone’s unique but it can include issues with feet, stomach or joints, or use of a walking stick, crutches or a wheelchair. U Can 2 Magazine has a handy guide to adaptive clothing brands in the UK.
Clothes are very personal, and can make us feel socially or emotionally comfortable or uncomfortable too. Think about whether you like to wear simple, minimalist clothes, or things that are brighter, tighter or more attention-grabbing. Do you want to blend in or stand out, or have a bit of both?
If you want to shake up your personal style, but you’re feeling shy or self conscious, it’s easier take it slowly. Make one or two small changes here and there, and see how you feel. Maybe try a new style of top or trousers, or a different accessory or two – you don’t need to do a big reveal at the end if you don’t want to.
Formal vs informal for a wardrobe that works
It’s easier to mix and match your clothes together when they’re all roughly the same level of formality and in a similar style. For many of us that formal level means ‘office appropriate.’
If you need to be office appropriate, there may be an official dress code, or you might just need to look generically smart. If it’s general smartness or smart casual without strict rules, have a look at what other people are wearing. You can then decide whether you want to fit in or stand out, or add a subtle twist of your own.
Others, myself included, spend more time in an informal environment and don’t need to follow any dress code. You might be a stay at home parent, working from home, in a creative or relaxed environment, studying or retired. This tends to give you more scope for expressing your personality, alongside any practical needs.
I tend to choose comfortable ‘urban casual’ clothes and accessories when I’m putting my own capsule wardrobes together. This is relaxed enough for working from home, but it’s also smart and contemporary enough for attending meetings. Plus it doubles up for relaxed social events such as low key meals, coffee mornings and going to the pub.
Enjoying this post? You may also like:
- Capsule wardrobe basics for beginners
- Capsule wardrobe masterclass: Colour & pattern
- How to rock the smart utility look on a budget
These effective, practical capsule wardrobe tips should get you off to a flying start, and make choosing the right items simpler.
In the next article we’ll be looking at different body shapes, colours, and personal styles. But for now, let’s keep it comfy!