Fashion is cyclical. There is no surprise that the seemingly monotonous capsule wardrobe swarms the chromatic fashion world again, from Japan, Sweden to America, leading a decluttering craze for both men and women, as well as heating up the minimalistic style. Capsule wardrobe serves as a great solution for environmental and ethical fashion issues, teaching people to buy less but better; however, it is not just about sustainability. The capsule wardrobe also deals with mental development, personal style and even a better life.
Thanks to Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, capsule wardrobe has its revival in recent years. The author argues when less stuff occupies people’s lives, people have more control, gain confidence, and feel happier and more fulfilled. Capsule wardrobe is actually what it means literally: only keep the essentials and maintain one’s wardrobe like a capsule. Generally, a capsule wardrobe contains 16-45 items, depending on the conductor’s habits and lifestyle. As long as it encompasses the essentials – a pima cotton white t-shirt, a great pair of blue jeans, a well-tailored little black dress, a high-quality cashmere gray sweater, a clean-cut beige trench coat, just to name a few – it is a capsule wardrobe.
The capsule wardrobe can actually be dated back to the 1970s, when Susie Faux pioneered the term. Faux was a stylist based in London, helping women gain confidence and personal styles through their own clothing in a minimalistic aesthetic. She believed having less choices enabled women to concentrate on what they were doing, just like men. In 1985, the American iconic fashion designer, Donna Karan, launched the “Seven Easy Pieces,” also embodying the essence of capsule wardrobe – using only a few items to construct individual’s fashion persona. Nowadays, a capsule wardrobe’s additional environmental value slightly overshadows its quintessence of personal development, making it look differently from the past. However, the notion of capsule wardrobe doesn’t shift greatly throughout the years, all of which accentuate using just a few pieces to express who the wearers are, to save more time, and to absorb in what they are doing. In this extremely radical social media era, remaining who one really is and not to be distracted by the overloading information becomes one of the biggest challenges, endowing a capsule wardrobe the agency to appeal to people all over the world despite cultural differences.
To start a capsule wardrobe, the first step is to declutter. Jettison those items that don’t “spark joy” anymore. Then use the pared-down pieces to construct one’s persona, even building up a signature uniform. “I thought capsule wardrobe was about decluttering at first, but it turned out building up a strong relationship with every item I own, creating stories and memories with them, and most importantly, finding my personal style is what really matters,” said Maria Lee, a blonde New York-based analyst. Black, white and a little shade of light blue and pink constitute her wardrobe. Her style is urban-chic minimalistic, compared to her previous bohemian vintage-hunting era living in Indiana. Every item in her wardrobe is a staple: black turtleneck, white faux fur coat, little black dress, light blue jacket, brown leather tote bag, and etc. Since embarking on her capsule wardrobe journey four years ago, Maria does spend less time on what she should wear every morning, has more time reading and doing whatever she wants, and ultimately, feels more self-assured.
Nevertheless, not everyone benefits from capsule wardrobe. “I feel so stressed to keep a capsule wardrobe. The concept is great, but it just doesn’t fit me,” Stacy Michelle, a lifestyle blogger from Portland indicated. Jamie from Sydney also feels the same way, abandoning this approach after half year of trying. Indeed, capsule wardrobe is not just about sustainability, but whether it works or not, depends on how you expect it to be.
*There will be an exclusive interview post regarding Maria Lee and her capsule wardrobe journey shortly. So, stay tuned!