[Module 1] Seasonal Wardrobe Assessment | 6. Analyse the Wardrobe for Capsules

Now it’s time to scrutinise what made it through the cut.

A capsule wardrobe which is a term coined by Susie Faux, from Wardrobe in the 1970’s described as a set of clothes that don’t go out of fashion that you could add seasonal pieces to.

I like to gravitate towards the view that it is a collection of clothes that are interchangeable to capitalise on the number of outfit combinations that you could have without owning unnecessary items.

So looking at your set of clothing left we are going to group items into one or more capsule wardrobe where a capsule could be a subset of your whole wardrobe e.g. Work clothes, Day Clothes, Occasion pieces, Sports or lounge wear. Your whole wardrobe could just be one capsule of any number of items or you could split it into multiple capsules for example a day wear capsule could have 20-30 items, a work capsule could be 15 items, an occasion capsule could be 5 items, it depends on your and your lifestyle. If the wardrobe consists of multiple capsules then it is better if they all stem out from a main capsule to allow some interchangeability between capsules, for example they all use a similar colour scheme.

There are a number of views about how many items you should allow into a capsule wardrobe, too few items and you are going to get sick of having to wash quickly before you can wear and you might get bored with lack of choice. Too many items and it’s really not a capsule and you are getting back to a state where you are not going to be wearing all of your clothes and things can quickly get out of hand again. In my view a capsule wardrobe will have about 20-30 items in it that you can mix and match up to make different outfits although the number of items is really personal choice and to be honest it is down to personality and what your option capacity is, but don’t go stupid crazy and allow 100 items. 20 to 30 items can seem like a lot but for example for a female orientated wardrobe 3 pair of trousers, 3 skirts, 3 tops, 2 blouses, 4 dresses, 2 cardigans, 1 jumper, 2 coats/jackets you can see that you can very quickly fill up a capsule wardrobe.

Give it a little thought and choose your own number at this point to give you some restriction of what you think you are really going to need from day to day for that capsule.

Don’t forget that you can have multiple capsule wardrobes as part of your whole wardrobe.

Also remember next season this is going to change anyway so you are less likely to get bored, and you have something to look forward to and be grateful for (as it is already diarised!). Also some clothing you may want to cross over seasons to be included in the next season capsule, this is something I do a lot living in Queensland, and you don’t have to change your whole wardrobe just because you are going into a different season.

I think to some extent Capsule wardrobes have had bad press because they can be seen to be too restrictive in colour and number of clothing, but it’s not all an exact science and only you define the colours and number of items. The benefits are that you have put enough thought into what you need for your capsule wardrobe you know that you can mix and match the garments that they are interchangeable as far as possible so that you have already done all of the hard work which essentially should make your day to day choices for dressing much easier and you should also be wearing much more of your clothing collections.

I also think that putting thought into a capsule wardrobe can help with shopping habit change, because it is going to make you stop and think. After all the time you have invested into getting your wardrobe into shape do you really want to start adding garments back in until your wardrobe is once again back out of control, does the piece you want to buy on a whim fit into the capsule collection and have you reached your maximum item number so do you really need it. When adding to your capsule you know exactly what you need to buy or make to complete. Is this not the start of you saving money on clothing?

Sample Capsule Wardrobe

Here is an example of a capsule wardrobe to get your thought juices flowing;

This little montage took 10 mins to put together with only a little thought around colour combinations or body shape or style, so under no circumstances is this perfect and not everyone is going to like all of the pieces or would even choose them. There are 5 dresses, 9 tops, 2 Trousers, 3 Jackets, one vest layer, 3 skirts – 23 items in total. Using White, Black, Beige and Grey as neutral (quite a lot of neutrals as it turns out), with Salmon, Reds, Aqua and Emerald (which are complementary colours explained later).

This is only an example of mix and match. The point is to look at all the garment options drawn in with lines and that is before you add in any accessories, belts, bags, scarfs, jewellery which changes the whole thing up again.

Maybe this would work as a Work Capsule wardrobe and be good for, Client Meetings, Casual Friday, Dressy drinks after work situation, Work/Family gatherings, and it is not an absolute list more items could be added at a later stage, e.g. cardigans, layers, and don’t forget the accessories that can also be added.

Just as an example imagine the red top with each trouser, skirt and jacket. You could also layer this with a vest underneath or add a cardigan, necklace, have it tucked into to skirt or trouser or have it hanging out. Maybe even layer it with the other cross over tops including the sheer or consider wearing it over one of the dresses. Whatever the combination it is down to personal choice – but the options are there! Have a look and see what options you think would work if you could wear those clothes.

So back to your own capsule wardrobe, using the Capsule Wardrobe Assessment Table reference sheet detail the garments that you have for each of your capsules.

The Capsule Wardrobe Assessment Table is an example it does not have enough lines for every item of clothing you may have and everyone is going to have different ideas of how many items each capsule wardrobe contains, but it’s a starting point. This table is simply a devise to help you make some decisions about what you are going to keep. You might have to draw up this table and add in more rows, or edit the questions so they are more appropriate to you.

For each garment identify what capsule it could be part of, it could be part of more than one capsule.

When answering the questions on the Assessment Table consider that you are answering them for the lifestyle that you are living right now (not what you think you should be doing or what you aspire to in some future self-vision). You are aiming to keep the things you really like and feel good in. On a scale of 1-10 there should be nothing in your wardrobe that is under an 8 – you will never wear it, or if you do you will never be happy wearing it for whatever reason.

So once you have your garments listed within each capsule that you have identified fill in the rest of the table answering the questions for each garment, and be honest.

Now at this stage we have done no design work on the capsule wardrobe and to ensure that the capsule wardrobe is full of clothes that are going to work as a capsule wardrobe and also suit you, it is essential that you put some thought into this. We are going to cover all of this in detail in the next module. However I am mentioning it at this point to set the expectation that the clothes that we put back into the wardrobe at this stage may not make the final cut at the end. It will all become clearer as we move forward.

We are now going to decide what to put back into your tidy and hopefully by now - cleaned wardrobe!

For now it would be helpful if you put the clothes back in the wardrobe grouped by capsule as we will need to define capsules further after the design process. So why don’t we do the design first I hear you ask, well you could but I think you can better design your capsule wardrobe if you have reviewed what you have already got and reminded yourself about what styles you actually like to wear. We need to work with what you already have to minimise your waste footprint remember but also you have invested money into the clothes you have already identified as wearable and suitable.

Once your capsule wardrobes are more or less completed, which can take some time, you might want to reorganise your wardrobe in a different way by colour or by garment type for example, whatever works for you and you can always change your mind and you now have less clothes to move around!

But by initially organising by capsule you are really testing your capsule, are you finding yourself reaching for other clothes and therefore do you need to add them into the capsule, or assess if you are finding getting dressed easier as your capsules are together so you already know what goes with what test if the process is working?

Here are some guidelines to help you work through what to put back into the wardrobe But remember anything that goes back into the wardrobe you will have to check again when finalising the capsule to ensure the colours/style/shape works for what you have designed. As you bag up or put items back into the wardrobe tick them off the list.

  1. Any item with >8 listed in column A, B and C put them back into the wardrobe in the appropriate space preferably grouped by capsule for now, they get to stay for now as you really like them.

  2. Any items with less than a 6 in columns A, B and C, well you will probably not wear them. Pick out the items you can easily say that you will not wear and add them to Bag B and for the rest of the items consider the following point.

  3. Any item that scored a 7 or an 8 in columns A, B or C or any leftovers from the point above you need to make a decision if you really going to wear these items? Go through all the reasons does it really fit properly, is it versatile i.e. can you wear it in or out with a scarf or a belt will it go with other things, do you like the colour and print, does it portray you, is it flattering etc. If the answers are yes then they get to go back in the wardrobe otherwise its Bag B.

  4. Column D is a tricky one because if you wear it a lot there is a good chance that it is a favourite so you will be keen to keep it for now. However the trouble with favourites is that they have a tendency to get worn out. Assess the garment for wear and damage again, if it still has some life in it then keep it. But if it is a close call have some self-respect and don’t let it enter the wardrobe, choose another more appropriate bag to place it into.

  5. Any garment left with > 8 in column E place into Bag F, otherwise its Bag B.

That should probably cover it for all of the items but if you do have any left then just check them over, reassess and make a decision.

Now a word about duplicates. If you look closely at what you now have hanging in your wardrobe you may still have some duplicate items, like multiple pairs of the same jeans or similar black t shirts. The question is what to do about this because they have all made the cut so far because they are all good condition garments that your feel comfortable in and that you like. Capsule wardrobes really don’t need duplicate items, so you have a number of options open to you really. You could just leave them where they are because why get rid of decent clothes that’s just silly. You could fold up all duplicates and put them in a drawer so that they are still close to hand just in case you need an extra item as you didn’t get around to the washing or you have damaged the one still in your wardrobe. Or you might decide to change one up a little so place it in Bag F.

As the year goes on and you live in your clothes, mend as and when required that way you keep the mending pile under control. Any damaged items beyond repair or alteration are just going to be placed into your Bag A and you can consider if you actually need a replacement.

I bet after all that you have a nice little collection of coat hangers left – and you thought you never had enough coat hangers!. Yep you guessed it, don’t throw them away, save a few for yourself to fill the capsule wardrobes for later on then spread the coat hangers about the house in everyone’s wardrobe, any left give to a friend/family member, but don’t throw them away. The clip style hangers are really handy to store any patterns that you make later if you don’t want to buy pattern hangers so keep every single one of them.

After all of that you may be feeling a little unsettled because you are now thinking what have I got to wear and my wardrobe looks bare! Well interestingly you are now looking at most of the clothes that you usually wear anyway because you probably only wore 20% of what you owned in your wardrobe so really you are no worse off. Smiley face. If you really don’t want to continue the worst thing that can happen is that you just forget the whole thing and put everything back, but I hope you have faith and carry on.

Don’t panic now it’s time to plan your full wardrobe as your capsule wardrobes will probably not be complete at this stage.

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