Capsule Wardrobe

A Minimal Year Round Capsule Wardrobe

06.10.17

A minimal capsule year round wardrobe - Jessica Rose Williams

I’ve never considered myself very stylish. I wanted to feel stylish but always felt like I was pretending when it came to clothes. ‘Who would I try to be this week?’ I grew up reading fashion magazines, thinking the women in them looked perfect. I wanted to be perfect too so I would try and dress like them. I never knew what my ‘style’ was. I just used to buy whatever the celeb I was into at that time was wearing or what glamour magazine told me to. If I saw a friend looking good in something, I’d maybe buy that. Like most women, I aimlessly built up a huge collection of clothes, shoes and bags that just weren’t right for me.

It’s a completely different story today. I’m down to 32 items of clothing, shoes and accessories to last me the entire year and I love wearing each and every one. It’s so freeing. No more ‘what the hell am I going to wear’ moments and whilst I still have those off days like we all do, on the whole I feel happy but most importantly comfortable in my clothes.

how my capsule wardrobe started

After a major wardrobe declutter 18 months ago, it dawned on me that I actually didn’t like any of the clothes in my wardrobe. A lot of them were trend items, really cheap, poorly made and would only ever last a year of washes – fast fashion. Once I’d overcome the initial feeling of panic, I decided to do something about it. It didn’t take much research to discover the idea of a ‘capsule wardrobe’ and it didn’t take much longer for me to fall head over heels in love with the idea of them. There’s nothing I love more than a project to obsess over and so it began. Over the last 18 months I’ve sold or donated every piece of clothing I owned, raising about £2,500 (I had a lot of stuff!), and replaced them with fewer higher quality items that actually suit me and my 5”2 frame and better yet won’t go out of style.

The official definition of a capsule wardrobe is a collection of a few staple pieces that you add seasonal items to in order to complete your wardrobe and keep it on trend. It’s a personal choice but I don’t do that. I have a year round wardrobe and I don’t add to it. If I want to buy something new, which is very rare now, something has to go. It’s called the one in one out method and it works really well for me right now. I still love to follow trends but I don’t buy into them. You could say it’s something else I decluttered. So, when I talk about my capsule wardrobe, what I actually mean is my entire wardrobe, everything I own.

have less but better

I don’t define myself by them but I do love clothes and being the visual person I am, I really appreciate good design. Because I believe in having less items but quality ones, sometimes I’ll spend what others would deem a lot of money on one item of clothing. The harsh reality is that cheap clothes are cheap for a reason and to a certain extent, you get what you pay for. I want clothes I can wear time and time again that will last. We have to pay more for that initially but over the long term it’s more cost effective because the items don’t need replacing as frequently. I think this article by Sarah Ann Hayes explains this brilliantly. So far this year I’ve spent £0.00 on summer clothes because all the items I bought last year are just as good. They still feel just as relevant. This means more money for things that actually add value to my life – always travel in my case.

Over the last 18 months I’ve learned so much about discovering personal style and how worthwhile it is I could write a book. Committing myself to owning less made me think really carefully about what I allowed to make up my wardrobe. Little things like realising colour wasn’t my thing and accepting that about myself were such a confidence booster. I’d discarded all the items that had colour because they didn’t give me those butterflies. It’s a personal choice but having neutral colours makes putting an outfit together feel so much easier. I’m not someone who likes to be ‘noticed’, I’ll never be the girl that walks into a party wearing a bright red look at me dress. My style is much more muted and I’m ok with that.

what my CAPSULE wardrobe is like now

With all this in mind, I wanted to show you what’s in my wardrobe right now – annoyingly some of the items weren’t available anymore, so I’ve replaced them with a similar alternative. The links below follow the order of the images in this little collage I’ve created for you. Like I said, some of the items are expensive but in their defence they are classic pieces and will last for years to come. I don’t feel the need to justify my personal choice but please don’t think I’m saying you have to spend this much on clothes – you don’t. Creating the right wardrobe for you is all about finding the right balance. The purpose of this post is to share with you what has worked for me. One size doesn’t fit all, there is no perfect capsule wardrobe formula and I’ve written more about that here.

YEAR ROUND MINIMAL CAPSULE WARDROBE

None of the following links are affiliate (I don’t get any money if you make a purchase) because I’m not telling you to buy any of this stuff. I’ve shared these links with you so I can give you some inspiration and show you what has worked for me.

  1. Black silk camisole / Long sleeve grey t shirt / Short sleeve striped t shirt / Short sleeve white t shirt / Short sleeve black t shirt / White silk button up shirt
  2. Black long sleeve turtle neck / White off the shoulder top / Stripe dress / Black slip dress / Denim shorts / Black skinny jeans
  3. Medium blue skinny jeans / Black tailored trousers / Black roll neck sweater / Black long sleeve sweater / Grey sweatshirt / Black tailored blazer
  4. Black trench coat / Black faux leather jacket / Grey coat / Black shopper bag / Black cross body mini bag
  5. Grey gloves (no link available anywhere in June, sorry) / Grey scarf / Panama sun hat / Black pointed flats / Black chelsea boots 
  6. Black espadrilles / White sandals / Black pointed heeled court shoes / Black and white trainers

You’ll notice there are no leather items here. I’m a vegetarian and again that’s personal choice. I just wanted to include that little fact in case you were wondering.

I’ve got so much more to say on capsule wardrobes but I thought I’d leave it here for now. If you’ve got any questions or there’s anything else you’d like me to cover feel free to leave them in the comments below or email me.

I want to know if you’ve tried putting a capsule wardrobe together? What would you have in your year round wardrobe? Let me know in the comments below. 

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A minimal year round capsule wardrobe

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42 comments on “A Minimal Year Round Capsule Wardrobe”

  1. Love this article, whilst I currently do not have a capsule wardrobe I have to admit I am very tempted to put one together as I find myself wearing the same items repeatedly. So, might be coming to you for some hints and tips! I’d say definitely a good pair of quality denim, a well structured blazer and some quality silk shirts ( I’m a sucker for all year round silk items!!) are on the top of my list! x

    1. I’m so happy you enjoyed it. Maybe you’ve already put one together unintentionally if you’re wearing a lot of the same items over and over? I’m always here for tips if you need them. You know where to find me. Love that we have such similar staples! xx

  2. Wow! I could never get away with so few pieces in Texas since it’s so hot and humid here, but how freeing this must be. Looking forward to moving abroad to the U.K. So I can try my hand at this wardrobe.

  3. This is so great! I’ve considered writing a similar post but couldn’t muster the courage because I also don’t have a textbook definition capsule wardrobe- it’s around 50 pieces for all year (that I wear regularly). I still have some things for “just for when”. Because of where I live, it’s just easier to hold onto a few things then get rid of everything and then have to replace it (no shops nearby, online shopping is the worst). I’m also more of a colour person myself, but I love your style because it’s exactly that – yours!

  4. I love this post, Jessica. I’m so impressed you manage with 32 items for the whole year. I consider myself to have a capsule-ish wardrobe but the reality is, I still have quite a lot of stuff despite several clear outs. Thank you for sharing. Also – super stylish! x

  5. I tried a 10×10 capsule wardrobe challenge a few months ago where you have 10 items of clothing including shoes (but not accessories) and wear them for 10 days.
    I only struggled with the challenge due to always feeling the cold! I need layers, at one point I think I wore most of the clothes at once!
    I don’t have loads of clothes. (But no idea the exact number of items I have.)The colours are navy, white and grey with maybe a bit of brown!
    I wear a ‘uniform’ of jeans and striped tops all year long with either converse or snow boots. Some people may think it’s boring, but it suits me and my lifestyle. Love your capsule wardrobe and looking forward to reading more. Xx

    1. I haven’t heard of this one but it sounds like a good idea to get you thinking. I think most of us have a uniform don’t we. I love stripes so much! I don’t think you can ever go wrong with stripes. Forget boring, it’s much more important to feel happy in what you wear. People think I’m so boring, don’t worry x

  6. You’ve put together a brilliant, just-right wardrobe, Jessica. It’s obvious a lot of careful thought went into it. I have similar taste – plain and simple is best. I think you are the opposite of boring. To me, excessive shopping and overly fussing about clothes and fashion is boring. Put something on and do your life. But that’s just me, and it takes all kinds to make an interesting world. Thank you so much for sharing your clothes, it was very helpful and inspiring.

  7. I love this post, Jessica! As I’m nearly positive you knew I would. The idea of a ‘capsule wardrobe’ in the way you described it (FYI — I consider the definition to be how you approached it. One capsule wardrobe) is something I’ve been attempting for a while now. Attempting, and failing. I’ve been trying to pinpoint why this is.

    Firstly, I’m finding that selling the items to be extremely difficult. It’s really hard to sell used clothes online (few people buy unless it’s a designer item), and car-boot sales leave you with almost nothing. Out of curiosity, how did you manage to make that much money? Where did you sell everything?

    Without that money, I can’t justify spending a fair amount on one (quality) item. I really agree with you that it’s so much better to buy quality over quantity. However, I’ve also found that a lot of expensive and ‘designer’ items are just as cheaply made as fast-fashion ones. What rules did you stick to when putting your capsule wardrobe together?

    A lot of questions, but as you can tell I love this topic! you’ve probably answered some of these in earlier posts (getting to them). Love this post — and your collage looks great!!

    1. Thank you so so much. I sold everything on eBay or at a carboot but I did have quite a few designer items that just weren’t me. The golden rules are to only buy clothes you don’t want to take off and only own clothes that you actually wear. I think it comes down to finding the right brands for you and sticking to them. This is where the research comes in. I’m always happy to recommend which brands I’ve found to be good for certain items if you struggle.

  8. Jessica, I loooooove this approach! I finally had time to sit down and read through it and persuse your wardrobe :). Neutral colors and timeless pieces are my go-to too if you haven’t noticed, so it’s fun to see where you find your favorites :). I definitely prefer to own less and keep a simple closet. I tend to donate pieces that I haven’t worn for a season, because, honestly, I haven’t found a savvy way to sell them :). Thank you for taking the time to share all the links and help us all learn how to simplify our style and life! You are an inspiration! 🙂

  9. I love your wardrobe. I, too, am not a color person. I like navy and black. White makes me nervous (I have kids and work with kids), so I shy away from it. I also do not like skirts and only wear dresses if necessary. My husband works as a retail manager, which makes fast fashion available for pennies. That has derailed my efforts, but I am trying to get back on track. I have a closet full of stuff I am uncomfortable in. thank you for sharing yours, it is very inspiring.

    1. I think white may be the wrong colour for your lifestyle ha ha. Skirts just aren’t my friend either. I’m cheering you on with getting your wardrobe the way you want it. If there is anything in particular you’re struggling with just let me know as I may be able to do a blog post on it. Thanks so much for getting in touch. Great to hear from you.

  10. Love this post – an emigrating to New Zealand early next year and have limited myself to one suitcase (!) so I definitely need this in my life!

    Would you be able to do a post on some outfits you get out of this? Like how many different combinations? I’m all for minimalism but I don’t want it to look like I wear the same 5 pieces all the time 😇

    1. I love your method Steph. It will be challenging but worth it for you. Moving definitely brings us face to face with our things. I can do a post on different outfits, thanks for the idea. If you follow me on Instagram I often post outfits on my stories.

  11. Jessica,
    Thank you for sharing this post. Clothes have never been important to me, particularly because clothes I like tend to be outside of my budget. As a result, I have become the hand-me-down queen for friends wanting to minimize or change their lives but not throw anything away. While I appreciate goodwill, I am done being the person who receives all the things no one else wants.

    I have been trying to create a capsule wardrobe for quite some time. Off shades of blue and green are my happy colors so I am trying to create a care free style minimal wardrobe with neutral bottoms and muted color tops and love the idea that I can wear anything with anything. Discounting underthings footwear and jackets, my goal is to create a 15 piece wardrobe filled with clothes I love. I love the idea that I can throw all my clothes into one suitcase and travel anywhere with my family. I also don’t mind spending more on clothing for reasons similar to yours.

    My biggest challenge to creating this wardrobe is how to start. I currently own 1 pair of jeans, 1 skirt, 4 tshirts, and 2 long-sleeve shirts. Most of these I do not like, but I need clothes. Would you please offer some suggestions on where/how to start creating a minimal wardrobe?

    I truly want to feel like my clothes are extension of who I am, not just a charity case who will accept clothes no one else wants.

    Thank you.

    Sincerely,
    Sheri

    1. It sounds like you’re off to a great start! The hardest part for most people is coming to terms with that fact that they don’t need half as much as they think they do. If I were you at this stage, I would start thinking about what my true style really was. You say you don’t like your clothes – what kind of clothes do you like? I’d do some research on my body shape and pay attention to what I feel comfortable in. This should give you a good starting point in choosing what to build into your wardrobe. It’s really important to have clothes you feel great in. While they don’t define you, they can have a huge effect on your mood. You want to make sure that’s a positive effect. It’s a case of trial and error but the more thinking you do about it, the easier it will be. I save quite a few ‘how to create a capsule wardrobe’ guides on my Pinterest Board. You may find these helpful too. I’m also thinking of writing one myself soon based on my own experience. Watch this space x

  12. How long have you been wearing those things? I mean for instance is it one year, two years, etc. Do you mind sharing whether you have people in your household and if so, do they follow your “idea” or I guess I’ll say philosophy? Thank you in advance.

  13. Curious question I noticed a lot of these were dry clean only like the camisole, does that mean you spend a fortune on your dry clean only items.

    1. Oh and if you don’t spend a fortune on dry cleaning do you do all of the cleaning at home with laundry detergent and water?

      1. Hi Kathy! I definitely don’t spend a fortune on dry cleaning. When I bought the cami I had a really interesting conversation with the girls in Equipment about dry cleaning and they told me there’s no reason 100% silk can’t get wet – that doesn’t mean stick it in the washing machine but hand wash with some detergent is fine. I find a lot of the dry clean only advice unnecessary. I’d always have my coats done but maybe just once a year. I’m all about low maintenance where possible. Hope that helps.

  14. Ugh! This is the best! I too have become obsessed and frustrated with the minimal capsule wardrobe approach and have made one for myself. The frustration comes from the industry and fashion bloggers transforming minimalism into fast fashion! Looking at pinterest just makes my eyes fall out because so many of these wardrobes contain extremely high fashion pieces! And thats just one season! When we start advising people to buy 6-9 items for 9 different categories of clothing, we are no longer at the minimum. I definitely feel as though people are being encouraged to throw out their old stuff and replace it all with sleeker more expensive items….(note: expensive is not always better). To me minimalism is supposed to combat the trends of the moment and to be happy with what you have. Somehow minimalism has been turned into a fashion statement and in order to really be a part you must buy a trench coat (I hate them) and a black and white stripped tshirt (hate prints too). I have a feeling that the intent behind a capsule wardrobe was to, not pair down your closet seasonally, but to maintain the same items of good quality, and wear them until you cannot anymore. Not buy a whole slew of items on a checklist in order to be legit aND spend a fortune trying to have the “perfect” closet! This is why it’s so hard for peopletting to make the jump!!!!
    Good point of view, need more realistic voices out there on the subject!

    1. I’m a huge fan of SLOW FASHION. I plan to wear the coat I bought last year this year and many more after that. I completely agree – if you hate trench coats, don’t buy one. Happy to encourage people to find what is right for them where I can. You sound like you’ve nailed it! So great to hear from you x

  15. Thank you for your candid and thoughtful explanation of your year round capsule wardrobe! Ive had to downsize as we now live in an RV-after much donating, im down to 54 clothing. My accessories will be minimal so I am very excited and do feel ‘free-er’ ! Many blessings

    1. Hi Stephanie! You’re so welcome. How is RV life for you? 54 items is fantastic, it’s amazing how little we really need. I used to have wardrobes, drawers and suitcases stuffed with clothes! Let me know how you get on x

  16. Odd question, but since your wardrobe is year-round, could you shed some light on how often you wear-rotate garments, and how often you have to replace basics? Ex: you listed 4 tees and 2 turtlenecks, how does that work in your daily wear wash routine? And how do you get maximum wear with least wear and tear?

    1. Hi Shay! It’s not an odd question at all, I had the same questions once. I don’t have any strict rules about wear-rotate. I just wear whatever I feel like that day and everything gets worn often. The secret with making things last is to buy quality in the first place. I always try to buy good quality 100% cotton basics for this reason. I’ve just replaced a couple of tees and they lasted me 14 months. Hope that helps.

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