A capsule wardrobe is essentially a collection of staples pieces that form the foundation of a wardrobe, transcend trends and can be styled multiple ways.
I first heard the term “capsule wardrobe” when I read the book Zero Waste Home and immediately resonated with the term. I could definitely relate to opening up my cupboard and seeing lots of clothes but still feeling as if I nothing to wear. Therefore, the concept of curating a cohesive, streamlined wardrobe that worked within my daily life was attractive. From a sustainability perspective I could also see the benefit in having less clothes that were worn more often, for a longer period of time. As I’ve read up further on sustainability in the fashion industry it has also meant that, more often, I’m able to invest a bit more money into these key items and support brands doing the right thing.
Although you can centre a capsule wardrobe around a number of key pieces (for example, here or here) the evolution of my capsule wardrobe occurred more organically and gradually. I don’t have any specific number of pieces, but just invest in good quality, classic and timeless wardrobe staples that fit my needs and which are worn regularly (think for example, the classic coat, mom jeans, tailored pants, turtle neck sweater, black dress and ballet flats – you can read more about my capsule Autumn / Winter Wardrobe here). I then just update them as necessary from time to time.
However, for me the biggest game changer was shifting most of my wardrobe staples to either neutral or tonal shades and classic prints. Instantly, my wardrobe became more cohesive, versatile and it was easier to combine different outfits without thinking about whether they matched. That said, I still love how a dash of colour in an otherwise minimalist wardrobe can elevate a look, draw the eye and make a bit of a statement. Below are five ways I like to incorporate colour into a minimalist capsule wardrobe.
1. The 90/10 principle
I like to neutral shades (think black, white, navy, and brown/beige shades) to take up about 90 per cent of my wardrobe and then to incorporate colour into about 10 per cent of statement pieces that you can add to elevate the wardrobe basics. It’s kind of like having your cake and eating it too – when the basics in your wardrobe are in a neutral colour palette it’s still very easy to mix and match outfits and get maximum versatility out of the clothes you have, but still create added interest with the other 10 per cent of colour statement pieces.
2. Chose one colour
Growing up, my mother’s rule of thumb was that a patterned item of clothing was always pared with a plain, colour blocked item of clothing. While there are obviously exceptions to this rule, the same can be said of colour. I like just choosing one colour and then keeping the rest of my outfit neutral. For example, if I choose a colourful dress, I usually keep the accessories tonal and simple. This keeps means the eye is drawn to the statement piece but the rest of the outfit still looks cohesive.
3. Less is more
Just like salt, a dash of colour also goes a long way. One of my favourite ways to add colour is through accessories as this can add a bit of interest without being overwhelming. In fact, sometimes all you need needs is a good red lip.
4. Use muted tones
I love incorporating muted shades which have hints of tonal colours in them. For example, although these ballet flats are red, they are a burnt red (I think cinnamon was the exact shade) which means their shade leans more towards the browns in the red colour spectrum. This means their colour is less stark and mixes well with other neutral colours. Other muted colours I love incorporating into my wardrobe are navy, sage, mustard, olive or blush tones.
5. Monochromatic shades
One of my favourite ways to use colour is a monochromatic outfit. This wear you wear the same colour head to toe but play with other aspects such as shades, silhouette, texture, fabric and drape to add interest. Monochromatic dressing can be an effective way of creating an interesting but minimalist look.
Even if you’re wanting to curate a minimalist capsule wardrobe there is still so many ways you can use colour to add a bit of extra interest.
Here I’m wearing:
– a black turtleneck which has been on high rotation since I bought in back in England in 2014 (similar, here)
I’d love to know, what are your favourite ways of incorporating colour into your outfits?
Photos taken by my lovely friend Lily