Casual Capsule Wardrobe
About four years ago I sold or gave away about 90% of my possessions. I was going through a number of exciting life changes in that period and I used the momentum of the moment to more fully realize my minimalistic ideals. Since then I've continued to experience a lot of change and, as a result, I've only been able to hold onto a few possessions.
However, change can be hard on you and living a long time without certain things that genuinely enhance your life is admirable but not comfortable. So, recently I began to replenish. Now, I'm turning my attention to my wardrobe and taking the daily uniform concept one step further with a capsule wardrobe. Minus being overly fixated on a specific number of items, here are the steps I'm taking to rebuild my look.
CREATE AN INSPIRATION BOARD
This is a useful tool in capturing your aesthetic while also helping you be realistic about the demands of your lifestyle. It's a short assortment of outfits that serve as a visual roadmap to follow as you move through the rest of the process.
I work for myself so can wear what I want and hardly ever go to formal events. I also live in a city that has a laid-back and brandless style. So, I decided that the theme of my capsule wardrobe would be casual and understated because it best reflects the easygoing nature of my typical day.
EVALUATE WHAT YOU HAVE VS. NEED
Use your inspiration board to create a list of the specific items you want in your capsule then take inventory of what you have vs. what you need to purchase. A capsule wardrobe checklist will be useful in keeping you on track so you won't succumb to the thrill of shopping and end up with things you have no real use for.
As of now I have so few apparel items (only about two suitcases worth of things) that I'm in essence starting from scratch. It's not realistic to think I can go from zero to a full-fledged capsule overnight so I'm taking my time and putting a lot of emphasis on classic pieces that can be worn over and over again.
An additional consideration at this point is also whether you have intentions of refreshing your capsule wardrobe on a seasonal basis. I personally only want to go through this exercise every few years during pivotal life moments. So I want most of my items to work across multiple seasons and be things that I'll still love at least 3-5 years from now.
DETERMINE YOUR BUDGET
I see this missing or too quickly glossed over in many of the capsule wardrobe resources I've researched. However, this is the crux of your plan. You have to align your taste with your financial resources and, for some, this doesn't necessarily mean going for the cheapest options.
For instance, I like to really live in the clothes that I own and I refuse to have anything that's too delicate and high-maintenance (it's why you will not find silk in my lineup). On the other hand I get annoyed when I spend money on things that fall apart and typically will only consider things that are built to be long-lasting. So this perspective (plus my current financial state) lands me in the "affordable luxury" category. I'm not a fashionista walking down a red carpet so don't need to be in Proenza Schouler. That said, you'd probably never catch me in a Forever 21.
DECIDE ON YOUR GO-TO BRANDS
With your overall aesthetic, outfits, and budget in hand, now you can craft a short list of brands that are feasible for you to shop from.
The second benefit of the shortlist is that in the future, whenever you need to replace an item, it will save you time and effort because you already know where to turn.
My list of brands includes those that have the effortless but elevated look I'm going after such as Vince, James Perse, Equipment, and Majestic Filatures. They've also proven to be high-quality and worth the investment.
SHOP ANCHOR PIECES FIRST
Anchor pieces are the most important items on your list. They are typically the basics (like a pair of jeans or white button down shirt) that will get the most wear. I believe you should buy these pieces first. One, so everything else is coordinated around them. Two, if you underestimated your budget at least you are able to get the most useful items that can hold you over until you have the means to tackle the rest of the list.
My anchor pieces are knit dresses, button down shirts, tees, and skinny jeans. These practical items constitute the core of my daily uniform and I'm willing to spend what I need to get the most comfortable, durable, and aesthetically pleasing items I can find.
Though this is my approach to creating a casual capsule wardrobe, you can easily translate it to other lifestyles or aesthetic preferences (be it sporty, street style, or office attire). For those who desire a more easy-going assortment, we've pulled together a casual capsule wardrobe collection from our favorite brands to get you started.
Images: Click mood board images for link to source.