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Jessica Joy

Knitwear designer and writer

5 Tips for Creating a Capsule Wardrobe

For about a year now I’ve been quietly purging my wardrobe. Around the 8th charity shop trip, I started to fall in love with the idea of having fewer clothes and creating a really cute capsule wardrobe, *cue incessant googling and Pinterest searches*. I wanted to curate a set of classic, practical pieces which, I hoped, would force a bit of creativity into my morning routine. Ever been faced with a bulging wardrobe and the feeling of having nothing to wear?

So far, it’s been a liberating experience, mostly to my bank balance, and i’ve started taking the time to actually notice my own personal style, and how it’s changed over the years. To stay inspired I challenged myself to wear a different combination of items every day, and photograph them to see how I’m doing. This has been great to capture the successful, and the not so successful outcomes – let alone forcing me to make an effort each morning. It’s far too easy to wear pyjamas all day when you’re self employed and working from home!

I didn’t think I could talk about this without showing you a few, so eek, while I hide, here they are:

Capsule Wardrobe Outfits

Mustard cardigan: H&M / Bird dress: H&M / Striped scarf: Muji / Cable knit jumper: White Stuff / Camel Jeggings: Warehouse / Striped cotton tank: H&M / Skinny jeans: ASOS / Boots: Cara c.2004

Capsule Wardrobe Outfits

Denim shirt: H&M / Navy duffle coat: Topshop / Knitted owl jumper: Handmade / Belt: Warehouse / Brogues: New Look

Capsule Wardrobe Outfits

Striped blazer: H&M / Velvet mustard skirt: H&M / Bobble knit cardigan: H! by Henry Holland

Capsule Wardrobe Outfits

Knit tunic: White Stuff / Sleeveless shirt: H&M / Denim shirt: H&M

If you’re thinking of culling your wardrobe, or just refreshing it a little bit, here are the best tips and tricks I’ve picked up along the way.

Be ruthless: If any of your clothes have holes, stains, don’t fit or aren’t looking in brilliant condition, just chuck ’em. It’s nice to replace those well loved staples every few years and make room for new things. After this initial cull, you can then start looking at your tastes, what haven’t you worn in the last year, is there anything you just don’t like, or was an unwanted gift. And don’t forget about accessories. Apply the same rules to shoes, handbags, old belts, unmentionables, and jewellery.

Three month box: Create a designated box that’s bound for the charity shop. If you’re just not sure if you can part with something, put it in the box and store it away for three months – if you don’t go to retrieve it in that time, let it go.

Visual overview: Now that you’ve got rid of the clutter you can start to look at what’s left and how it all works together. Lay out all your clothes in groups, do you have too many skirts and only one pair of casual trousers (for example). Play around with what fabrics look nice together and take photos so that you can refer back to them. My ‘morning selfie’ has been really helpful for building outfits, and figuring out what staples I need to buy. If you don’t already have a style board on Pinterest, make one. Sifting back through those images can really help to get a feel for what you’re drawn to, but might not have considered for yourself.

Invest: When it comes to adding new pieces to a capsule wardrobe, really take the time to consider if it will mix in with what you have (here’s where those group photos come in handy). If you can, try to invest in the best quality you can afford. Chances are if you’re maintaining a smaller wardrobe, and being smarter about your choices, you’ll buy less often and have extra pennies for something that will last. Investing time in making your own clothes is also hugely rewarding. I’ve been living in my owls jumper (above) this Winter.

Colours, textures and patterns: The one thing I’ve found with a mix-and-match wardrobe, is that there needs to be some cohesion, and longevity. While clashing patterns can be fun, I tend to get bored with the colour, or design, after a while. Try to stick with neutral solid colours that flatter your skin tone and a few brighter pops of colour/pattern that compliment this base. This way you increase the range of your mixing and matching. No prizes for guessing stripes and mustard yellow were my accents of choice. Also be very aware of the colours that just don’t suit you either, boo hiss orangey-red!

Overall, this has been (and continues to be) a really cathartic journey for me, and I hope it inspires others to have a go, too. For someone who’s never been very aware of style, I feel like I’m finally finding my groove. Have you ever tried this and have some awesome tips to share? Or is a capsule wardrobe your worst nightmare? I’m all ears!

4 comments
  1. Tilly says: 26 November 20131:50 pm

    Love your style, Jess! I’ve been doing a version of this recently, but erm… you probably couldn’t call it “capsule” as it’s still pretty large! x

  2. Jess says: 27 November 201312:25 pm

    Aw, thanks, Tilly! It’s still so nice to get organised, even if the size doesn’t change much. :) xx

  3. Clair says: 10 January 20148:05 pm

    Hello – where did you get the little demin shirt? Love your style!

  4. Jess says: 10 January 20148:11 pm

    Hi Clair – thanks so much! It’s was from H&M last summer. I’m sure they’ll stock something similar.

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