Clients often ask me ‘How do I create a capsule wardrobe?’ or ‘What are the key pieces that I should invest in’ – to this I usually answer – ‘Start with some underwear’. But seriously, the answer is – it depends. We are all different style personalities, shapes and sizes requiring outfits for many purposes for varying lifestyles. I’m not going to tell you that you need a little black dress (and that’s not just because I am a champion of colour), a trench or a classic white shirt. I am going to give you the steps to creating Wardrobe Clusters – groupings of items that mix and match to create a wardrobe to see you through all parts of your life.
Step 1: Think Lifestyle
What do you spend most of your time doing? You should invest most of your wardrobe budget on clothing for activities that you spend most of you time on (other than sleeping). Is there a big difference between your work and casual attire? For example, are required to wear suits for work or smart business attire? If so you may find that you will need to create a work wardrobe cluster and a casual wardrobe cluster.
If you find that your work and casual wardrobe is somewhat interchangeable you may only need to create one wardrobe cluster.
The number of wardrobe clusters that you may want to create will depend on the number of varied activities that you are involved in requiring very different attire.
Step 2: Choose two base colours
These should be two neutral colours that not only flatter you but also go together. If you are feeling a little more adventurous you can always use a strong colour as I have in the example below. In general think, black, grey, brown, navy, camel, beige, ivory, white. You probably already have a preference for one or two colours – great this means you already have foundation pieces for the next step.
Step 3: Choose your foundation pieces
Based on the first two steps choose 2 or 3 foundation pieces. Remember, they should be pieces that you love, fit perfectly, reflect your personality and lifestyle and go with everything. For example, my foundation pieces include a pair of jeans in dark navy, a grey jacket and black trousers. I add colour in my complementary garments and accessories. I also have a thing for dresses but that is a whole other post.
Step 4: Add complementary garments
- trans-seasonal pieces – items that are lightweight and can be easily layered;
- colour – within your colour palette and those that complement your foundation pieces;
- pieces that are versatile – i.e. they can be dressed up or down; and
- pieces that you love.
Step 5: Don’t forget the accessories
Accessories are a great way to add a pop of colour to a wardrobe cluster and can be updated every season to keep your wardrobe current. Updating shoes, bags, belts, scarves and costume jewellery can also change the tone of an outfit, i.e. dress a piece up or down.
Example Wardrobe Cluster
In the example above there are in excess of 75 outfit combinations and that is just with one pair of shoes and a handbag. Different outfits are as simple as adding or removing a jacket or trench and mixing and matching tops and bottoms. Add a dress, a pair of jeans and flat shoes into the mix and you have even more work options and some casual options as well.
Of course you can be a lot more adventurous with your colour combinations. I have kept it quite simple just to illustrate, plus I love navy and red.
As always start in your wardrobe first, you’ll be surprised that you already have the beginnings of many wardrobe clusters and that it may just take the purchase of one or two items to bridge the gap and create a whole host of new outfits.