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A capsule wardrobe is nothing new. The term was coined back in the 1980s by Susie Faux, the West End boutique owner who introduced her clients to minimalist brands like Jil Sander, while Donna Karan popularized the idea in the USA in ‘85 with her Seven Easy Pieces. In more recent years, Marie Kondo’s decluttering method has shaken up wardrobes the world over. The notion of a refined and utilitarian collection of clothing, of creating the maximum number of outfits from as few items as possible, is a familiar one.
Now, though, its appeal is greater than ever. The pandemic has forced many of us to recalibrate our relationship with fashion. Giving us time to step off the fast-moving carousel of disposable trends, we spent hours in lockdowns with the clothes we own and admit which were bought to secure a quick and dirty serotonin hit in the shadow of Instagram’s comparison culture, fuelled by the ease of same-day delivery. For others, waking each morning to a global pandemic has left little room for the effort and energy required to pull together a playful outfit. With heavier burdens weighing on our minds even today (see: the cost-of-living crisis), functionality is often the biggest draw when choosing what to wear each day.
“People have been rethinking their relationship with clothing, which means more time being spent organizing, declutterring, and learning how to create a streamlined wardrobe,” says personal stylist Eunice Abe. Donating, selling, swapping or gifting items which no longer fit into your life is a great way to save them from landfill but the aim isn’t to mindlessly purge your wardrobe and start anew. It’s about whittling it down to a selection of thought-out pieces which will help you to resist the pull of passing trends. “Building a capsule wardrobe made up of core items not only helps me shop less and rewear my pieces over and over again,” Eunice says, “but also to not shop impulsively for the ‘next best thing’ to wear.”
At the core of a capsule wardrobe is the idea that its contents transcend passing trends but of course it will mean different things to different people. If monochrome and minimalism isn’t your flavor, a capsule wardrobe bursting with print and color is just as valuable — so long as each piece can be worn in multiple ways. Fine-tune your wardrobe so that you’re wearing what you own as much as possible, so that each piece stands the test of time and serves a functional but joyful purpose in your life. What it looks like is up to you.
Below, we’ve found the best pieces for a traditional capsule wardrobe, from summer-ready sandals to Breton striped tees.
Capsule Closet Must-Have:
The Brittany-born striped top has been synonymous with timelessness ever since Coco Chanel turned the fisherman’s staple into a fashion favorite. Our preferred marinière tees are by Kule or Sézane, but there are heaps of other brands to choose from. Tuck into tailored trousers or denim and top off with black lace-up shoes or white sneakers.
Kule The Malibu, $108.00, available at KULE