How stylists create a capsule wardrobe in 6 easy steps

The term capsule wardrobe is thrown around constantly, but what is it? And how easy is it to create one? A capsule wardrobe is the holy grail because it streamlines your whole dressing and shopping process and guarantees you will always look effortlessly stylish. The definition is a limited collection of interchangeable pieces that create perfect outfits for your shape, colouring and lifestyle, every time. Essentially it is your day-to-day uniform pieces – skirts, day/work dresses, trousers etc. that can easily glide between work and play. How easy? It’s pretty easy to create, if you accept that it’s much more about planning and restraint, than trend-hopping and impulse shopping! Follow these steps and you should be on your stylish way.

1. Choose your colour palette

Choose a handful of neutral colours that work best for your skin tone and stick to them.

For instance, if you’re on the cool side of things like me, I tend to stick with grey, navy and white

If it’s the warmer side of things go with brown, beige and gold and if you can wear black and white, go with that.

The strategy with colour is to buy the core pieces of your capsule wardrobe in these neutral colours and then choose tops, scarves and some statement pieces in accent colours that make your outfit pop. Key ‘pop’ colours for Spring ‘13 are emerald-green, pastels and sunset colours.

2. Pick a theme

Your chosen theme can often determine your colour palette, so it’s often more practical to lightly choose a theme to work in with your chosen palette. This year for instance, the monochrome theme could also double up as your colour palette of black and white.

The naval theme is always a fresh classic that you can’t go wrong with for Spring.

Some theme ideas for Spring ‘13  are stripes which can work with any palette and the minimal theme which is also more about cut and block colours, so will go with any palette.

3. Your wardrobe checklist

Go through your existing wardrobe and tick off what you have on the list, tick if it is good quality, well-tailored and flattering to your shape.

Is there a predominant theme? What is the colour palette emerging? If there is more than one colour palette, group your items into each palette.

  • Jackets x 2 (1 blazer, 1 casual)
  • Skirts   x 2  (1 pencil skirt, 1 casual skirt)
  • Trousers x 2 (1 wide leg, 1 slim leg)
  • Dresses x 2 (1 casual, 1 smart)
  • Cardigan x 1 (multi-purpose)
  • Shirts x 2 (1 blouse, 1 shirt)
  • Jeans x 1 (perfect fitting, flattering)

Based on the how much you already have from this list, if you have more than one colour palette, choose one and go in that direction. So next time you go shopping it will be a breeze, you’ll know exactly which items you need and what colour options you can select from.

4. Capsule wardrobe shopping strategy

Based on your existing pieces, what are the obvious gaps?

If there is a gaping hole in the tops section or bottoms section or jackets section, then you know where your shopping list needs to start.

Capsule wardrobe shopping can be broken down into 3 phases:

  • Phase 1 is to have 1 decent piece of every item on the above list.
  • Phase 2 is to have 2.
  • Phase 3 is about getting all the fun pieces we call “wardrobe changers/outfit makers” – see below.

5. Wardrobe changers/outfit makers

This is my term for the statement pieces that make clothes into ‘outfits’. Whether it’s statement jackets, jewellery, fur gilets, scarves, belts, it’s the ‘fun’ stuff. If you’re trousers flatter you beautifully and your shirt is cut perfectly for your proportions – you may only be wearing black and white, but you can simply add any number of colourful scarves, bags, shoes or jackets to create endless possibilities and look different each and every time. This is a fail-safe way of playing with the latest trends too, by using accessories to work the trend, it allows your key pieces to glide effortlessly into the next season.

To keep with the limited pieces element of the capsule wardrobe idea, which is after all why it is so effective in time-saving and ease – we suggest you aim to keep to 2 statement jackets, 4 scarves, 2 day bags and 2 dressier bags, 2 statement belts and a pair of gorgeous knee-high boots. This is much more at your discretion, just remember the key is to keep the quality up and the quantity down.

6. Build over time

If you want to save time, money and enjoy that feeling of having a perfectly functioning and stylish wardrobe that works every time, then create a hit list and get one great quality item at a time. Think price-per-wear, quality over quantity and get the very best quality pieces you can for your neutral key pieces.

We would love to hear your feedback as always and any additional tips you might have.

The business of style: 8 no fail tips for busy women

Easy, stylish dressing is never an accident. We all dream of getting up in the morning, selecting a beautifully flattering, stylish, comfortable outfit, perfect for our day, in under 5 minutes. But, that’s just not how it happens… for anyone. Style success, just like your success in business, takes forward-planning, research and strategic action! Just not as much as you might think. By knowing where to focus and taking just a few minutes here and there, making some small tweaks, you will get big returns! Saving you time, money and stress and of course, helping you feel and look great so you can perform at your very best!

Our top tips for style success

1. Organise

Investing 30 minutes to organise your wardrobe, will save you 15 minutes when it matters. We suggest having skirts in one section, blazers in another, knitwear in another etc. so you can quickly put your hand on what you need. It might sound obvious, but we’ve all been caught out by rummaging through piles of clothes looking for that skirt!

2. Choose your outfit the night before

Take 5 mins before bed and save 15 mins in the morning, eliminating any stress with dressing for your day!

Evelyn’s tip: A great way to make this even easier is, at the start of each week, choose 1 staple key piece to create 3-5 looks around i.e. a blazer, a pair of boots, a dress. By eliminating the choice of your ENTIRE wardrobe, you’ll make selections much easier and faster. Day 3, choose another staple for day 4 & 5 and do the same.

3. Use what you already have to form the basis of your new wardrobe

What’s working? Look at what is already in your wardrobe that you a) wear a lot and b) can count as good quality key pieces (good trousers, dresses, skirts, blazers, knitwear) and get rid of everything else. Anything you haven’t worn in 12 months, needs to go in the charity bag! Be brutal!

4. Identify the gaps

Maybe you find it easier to buy tops than trousers, so you have a glut of tops. If so, assess your wardrobe objectively and be honest about where the gaps are. What’s that one item you could always have more options for? Research online to see which stores to hit and go on a focused shopping trip to fill that specific gap.

Four Key pieces
The staples of a great wardrobe, they are the foundations of a functioning, time-saving, stylish wardrobe. Always buy the best quality you can afford, think of price-per-wear when you’re considering purchases. Work trousers are going to be worn often, so get the best quality fabric and tailoring you can.

Example key pieces:
– A well-tailored pair of work trousers are a must, high-waisted are usually most versatile and flattering,
– A quality pencil skirt, with just enough stretch
– A quality knit cardigan (waterfall front is a favourite of ours – also very slimming)
– A well-cut instant-outfit dress, you know the one you can just throw on and look great, some chunky beads or a long pendant to finish it off
– A pair of stylish, comfortable ankle-boots, with what we call a day heel – a smallish heel, comfortable, that gives you just enough height.

5. Shopping strategy

Having a strategy will save you time, money and stress! Window shopping online is a great way to save time on this and most importantly stay focused. If you prefer trying things on, go shopping armed with your online shopping hit-list, a time limit and of course a budget, and stick to it. If not, save even more time and just buy online. Magpie shopping, when you’re just in the mood to pick up something that catches your eye, is of course fun and indeed necessary, but isn’t how we create the building blocks of a solid, functioning wardrobe!

6. Proportion

Dressing to your proportions is the real art of dressing. 75% of the women we dress are wearing trousers that are too big and badly cut, with excess fabric that is incredibly unflattering. Good quality fabric and tailoring (we find great examples on the high street) can take up to 2 sizes off! We will cover the science of proportion in more depth, in a coming post.

7. Work to play

Accessories are the easiest and quickest way to bring a day outfit into evening. A pair of heels, a belt, scarves, statement necklaces, a chunky ring and a statement clutch can instantly transform your outfit.

8. Play dress-up

Each month, take an hour or 2 of ‘me’ time with your wardrobe. Sounds silly? See it as an investment! Try out different outfit combinations, don’t be afraid to switch it up and try random things on together – you never know what could work and instantly give you more outfits from the same wardrobe. This is how we breathe new life into our own wardrobes without buying a single thing!

cocoon_personal_shopping_capsule_wardrobeThe ideal aim is, of course, to build the ever elusive capsule wardrobe, i.e. a wardrobe of interchangeable, complementary items that form instant outfits perfect for your body, colouring and lifestyle. We’ll give you the basics on how to do this in our next article.

We’d love to hear which points work best for you, or if you have any time-saving tips you use in the mornings, let us know in the comments below!