How Many Clothes Should We Own, Exactly?
With the arrival of the new year, the pressure of ‘new year, new me’ builds within many the need to constantly spend in order to keep up with the year’s trends. It encourages mass spending on cheap, low-quality fast fashion, which is as damaging to the environment as it is to our wallet. Yet, every morning, how many of us wake up with seemingly “nothing to wear”?
So this year, why not aim to buy less and buy better by building something known as a capsule closet? A capsule closet is a compact wardrobe that consists of a minimum number of pieces that are easy to match, of good quality and are always in fashion, regardless of how many new years go by.
A capsule closet features clothing items that are easily interchangeable, allowing you to maximise the number of outfits that can be created with a limited amount of clothing. This means avoiding fast fashion trends and instead focusing on investing in wardrobe essentials.
Here is a step-by-step guide towards building a capsule wardrobe from scratch.
Find your Personal Style
I cannot emphasise enough how important it is to start with what you already own and not declutter everything and start from scratch. Doing so wouldn’t be sustainable at all, and it would be expensive.
Look into your current closet and think about which pieces you gravitate towards the most. What clothes do you reach for most often while getting dressed?
You will find that the clothes you wear frequently are the ones you find the easiest to style and feel most comfortable in.
For a lot of people, these tend to be basic wardrobe essentials like blue jeans, black trousers, black blazers, a black dress and natural coloured shirts and tops. However, if your personal style is more unique, don’t be afraid if your wardrobe essential is a pair of hot pink trousers! A capsule closet is all about buying clothes you love!
Now take all these pieces out and compare them. Do they all have anything in common? Perhaps a similar colour scheme, pattern, silhouette or material. Maybe you like wearing neutral colours? Or perhaps you prefer more formal and sophisticated attire over casual street-style clothing. Once you have identified the trends within your clothing, you know your personal style.
Note that sometimes personal style can evolve and grow, so keep an eye out for what you like to wear! Monitor your clothing preferences and donate (don’t throw!) any clothes you wear only once or twice a year. One of my favourite tips is to hang all the hangers in your closet backward, and if something is still hanging backwards after six months, it’s probably time for it to go.
Now that you know what your personal style is, or have an idea of what you like, it’s time to begin shopping! But keep in mind, it’s time to focus only on clothes you like and you are certain you would wear.
This means avoiding anything that seems too difficult to style. Stick to clothes that fit your preferred colour scheme and flatter your body type, so they are as easy to style today as they are a year from now. Trendy clothes may seem exciting, but they will not correspond with your personal style and are more likely to go out of fashion soon.
Of course- every now and then, it is okay to experiment with a few statement pieces that are fun and unique- just to spice things up! But remember, only do this once you have invested in basic wardrobe pieces that would easily pair with bold and eye-catching colours and patterns.
I also recommend that you buy high-quality pieces, preferably second-hand or from sustainable brands because as you’ll be wearing your clothes more often, they need to last longer.
At this stage, combining the favourite items you already owned and the clothes you just purchased, you should have enough clothes to put together various outfits for a multitude of occasions.
Just because you invested in basic pieces, doesn’t mean your outfits need to be basic too! The good part about a capsule closet is- you can pull any two items out of your cupboard and they are likely to match. So you can never go wrong.
Be experimental. You can dress down a blazer by pairing it with a white t-shirt and jeans for an out-of-office, chic but laid back look. Similarly, you can dress up a simple black dress by adding a statement belt and accessories.
Over time, you will grow more confident in styling your wardrobe. While it is tempting to keep introducing more clothes to your selection, keep in mind the reason behind building a capsule closet- to make fashion more sustainable, efficient and affordable! Stick to a limit of buying up to 6-8 new clothes per year, and donate at least 3 to maintain the size of your closet. And remember- just because your clothes have a limit, doesn’t mean your outfits have to!