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Before You Shop: A Capsule Wardrobe Saves Time and Money

Overcome wardrobe challenges and save money by creating a wardrobe capsule.

If you have a closet full of clothes but still feel frustrated getting dressed each day, it’s probably time someone introduced you to the capsule wardrobe.  “Capsule wardrobe” is the term fashion stylists use to describe a set of foundation clothing pieces that you can mix and max to achieve a stylish appearance.

An effective capsule wardrobe can solve several common wardrobe challenges:

  • Wearing the same few outfits over and over again
  • Spending an inordinate amount of time trying to find something that fits or looks good on you
  • Feeling anxious when an occasion or event requires you to wear something nicer than jeans and a t-shirt
  • Struggling to create a cohesive look out of the clothing you own

A capsule wardrobe also saves you time and money, providing you with a wide assortment of outfit options and a strategy to ensure everything you buy coordinates with the clothing you already own.

Getting Started

Professional stylist and fashion blogger Angie Stone, founder of YouLookFab.com, suggests creating wardrobe capsules for the various major activities in your life.  For example, on her site she has suggestions for creating a “Mom on the Go” wardrobe capsule, a “Travel” wardrobe capsule, and a “Professional” wardrobe capsule.  Other stylists recommend creating a single wardrobe capsule that contains items which can be intermixed to fit any aspect of your life.  In either case, you’ll need to start by making a list of the types of outfits you need for your lifestyle. 

Who Are You and What Do You Do?

Let’s say you’re a stay-at-home-mom who also works part-time outside of the home.  The outfits you might need for your daily life include:

  • Comfortable, attractive clothes for taking care of the kids, going to school events and play dates.
  • Dresses to wear to church or synagogue
  • Date night clothes
  • Mom’s night out clothes

Based on these activities, you would create a list of essential pieces that you could mix and match easily.  These pieces might include staples such as a pair of fashion jeans for every day wear, a pair of dressy jeans for Mom’s night out and date night, a nice skirt for dressier occasions, two to three day dresses, a pair of khaki pants or capris and a variety of shirts and blouses that can be intermixed with these bottoms.

Neutrals + Color = A Winning Combination

A wardrobe capsule is effective because all of the pieces can be mixed and matched to create a wide variety of attractive outfits.  This is accomplished by adhering to a very specific color palette.  Stone recommends selecting three neutral colors for basics such as trousers and blazers and adding two complementary colorful hues for tops and accessories to liven up your palette. 

Remember--Fit Matters!

No matter how carefully you’ve selected the pieces in your wardrobe capsule, if they don’t fit right, you still won’t look your best.  Get recommendations for a good tailor in your neighborhood and then use the service!  Even inexpensive pieces will look designer if they’ve been tailored to fit your body perfectly.

Florence Anne Berna March 31, 2011 at 01:18 PM
I've been doing Capsule wardroping for years--especially in the Winter time when I carry around extra post-holiday weight. Since I am a "Winter" I chose to use 2 pants with elastic bands: one in black and one in navy blue; and 2 skirts: again in black and navy. Solid turtle or crew neck shirts are paired with numerous jewel-toned tweed jackets. Add jewelry to punch up the face, and you've got a wardrobe to last the entire Winter. Also a neat trick is the "Cost Per Wear" theory when shopping. Divide the cost of an item into the number of times you will wear it. For example, an evening gown or cocktail dress can be pricey and may only be worn a couple of times. However, a pair of jeans can be worn countless times. This helps when on the fence about purchasing an article of clothing.

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