Building a capsule wardrobe

Hangers from Primark and TK Maxx

One of the main reasons behind wanting to undertake this capsule wardrobe project was to reduce clutter in my home. I had two overstuffed clothes rails in my bedroom, copious shoeboxes, piles of accessories and trinkets and scarves, belts and bags decorating every available surface. It's easy to live with if you are seeing it everyday, but I'd reached a point where I was struggling to get any inspiration- I just had too much stuff. I'd read about the 'paradox of choice' which basically incites that too much of anything can make inspiration impossible; you don't know where to begin, let alone what to do with what you have. In a small way this was how I was feeling; all these clothes, and nothing to wear. The age old adage.

'Downsizing' to a working wardrobe initially felt unachievable and moreover, a bit limiting. I love fashion. I love putting looks together. How can I do that with limited products? Could I even decide what I wanted to include? Wouldn't I get bored?

I started by taking everything off my clothing rails, and disassembling one of them. I wouldn't need the 'overspill' rail, if I was only going to be using 40 pieces, after all! Making this change I immediately felt that I was regaining some control. I could already see more space and the room felt less disrupted and oppressive. A good thing!

The upshot of this upheaval was that clothes were everywhere. This seemed like the perfect time to take a teabreak but I knew if I did that, I probably wouldn't go back and tackle the mainstay of the experiment, so I continued on! I sorted my clothes out into seasons, which I had planned to do anyway, putting summer clothes aside and bringing more autumnal items to the fore. Summer clothes were then packed into an under bed storage box (bought cheaply from Wilkinsons).

I was fairly shocked at how many repeated items I had. Black skinny jeans and black trousers by the armful, silk shirts and boxy knits. My style, classic, simple and with a dash of quirk. I tried to think about things in a different way than just keeping clothes I sort of liked for the sake of it: Of the black jeans, I picked my three favourite pairs (a high waisted skinny, a regular skinny, and a cropped wide leg) and the rest I put to one side. Likewise for the shirts: two plain silk styles and a printed silk style made up the selection. Knitwear was another key feature; the pieces I ended up selecting were all cashmere or higher quality merino wool that I've had for a couple of years. Unconciously, almost, I was choosing the best of the things that I had, and ultimately, my favourites of the things I had.

This was the manner in which I undertook selecting my capsule wardrobe for autumn, which translates as October through to December. After Christmas, I'll reassess the wardrobe, swapping out any pieces that haven't worked for me with other items, replacing or adding in elements that I feel I have missed, and going through the rest of the winter clothing I've got in storage. My storage at the moment is probably amounting to around 2.5 under bed boxes, and I'd like to get this down to one ultimately, but of course, this is a project, and not designed to be a quick win. After a year, I should have all of the elements of a 4 season capsule wardrobe, and negated my need to shop as well as helping to save some money!

I ended up buying a couple of pieces for the autumn capsule which I felt would add versatility to it and shopping to fulfill a brief has become something of a revelation. No longer am I coming home with a random top or pair of trousers I picked up just because they were on sale, or I sort of liked them. Anything bought now is selected carefully and with outfit ideas in mind; will it work with my wardrobe set up? How often will I wear it? and, more importantly: do I absolutely love it? That's something I've asked myself more often when buying key pieces for autumn, and more often than not, I've ended up putting the garment back and walking away.

XO Amie
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