How to build the perfect capsule wardrobe

How to build the perfect capsule wardrobe

It’s almost inescapable, with a new year comes an itch to clear out and reset. A massive $3.1bn of unused clothes is languishing in New Zealand wardrobes, causing its owners stress and overwhelm – and costing an average of $800 per wardrobe - so why not embrace the lure of the clear-out and stride into the new year with a purposeful, sustainable capsule wardrobe?

What’s a capsule wardrobe?

A capsule wardrobe is a streamlined collection of clothes that fit well, work for your lifestyle, and work together in multiple different combinations. Some people like to put a number on it – say 15 or 20 pieces - but it’s not an exact science, it’s really about having just enough to dress for your lifestyle, and no more. In considerately building a capsule wardrobe you ensure every piece in it will work with everything else, you buy what works for you instead of what’s trending, and you’re not overwhelmed by having too much stuff.

Making it work for you

The traditional capsule collection is made up of black, white, and neutral hues, primarily because it’s an easy palette to mix and match. But a capsule wardrobe should fit into your lifestyle, not the other way round, so if you like pastels, pops of colour, or floral prints, they can and should be part of your personalised capsule wardrobe. Let your preferences and lifestyle lead the way.

How to get started

To build a capsule wardrobe that works for you, you first need to understand what you wear regularly, and what never leaves the wardrobe. For a few weeks, make a log of what you wear each day. There are plenty of ways to do this, you could take photos, write a list, or even section your wardrobe into ‘worn’ and ‘unworn’. (For the pieces that are out of season, put them to one side and repeat this exercise later in the year). At the end of the exercise, you’ll have the opportunity to take stock and assess what colours, fabrics, and silhouettes are in high rotation and what simply doesn’t work for you. The pieces that don’t get any wear can be gifted to friends and family, swapped, sold, or donated, so all you have left are the pieces that you truly love and wear.

Using what you have first

Suddenly having a lot less can make us feel the need to go shopping to fill any gaps, but before you do that, look to your newly reduced wardrobe for inspiration. Spend a few hours trying out new combinations; a jumper over your summer dress, or a blazer usually reserved for work over a t-shirt and jeans. By maximising what you already have and reinventing older items you realise the most potential from each piece, and create a proper, hardworking capsule wardrobe.

Filling the gaps

Once you’ve tried and tested some new combinations, you may well need a few pieces to fill some gaps and it’s likely they’ll be staples like a good shirt, a cashmere sweater, or a goes-with-everything cardigan. When looking for these pieces, prioritise quality. Steer clear of microtrends and refer back to your reduced, capsule wardrobe. Look at the colours, the silhouettes, and the fabrics you wear often and buy accordingly. Remember, you want to be able to style what you buy with as many pieces as possible, so avoid the temptation of flash in the pan trends which will be relegated to the ‘unworn’ pile. (Tip, if you do want to experiment with new styles, try them out for the short term first via rental or borrowing from a friend.)

Making it last

A capsule wardrobe should be designed to outlast trends, which means taking the time to care for your garments and make repairs where necessary. Read our blog post on garment care for tips on how best to look after your clothes and don’t forget we offer in-store repairs for Untouched World pieces on the first Monday of every month.

Once your capsule wardrobe is established, getting ready for the day, building outfits, and reinventing what you have will be so much easier than before.

Stats & facts

  • Globally as much as 88% of the contents of people’s wardrobes goes unworn. Source
  • $3.1bn worth of unused clothing is hanging in NZ wardrobes. Source