The Cambridge Dictionary defines a capsule wardrobe as “a small collection of clothes that can be put together in different ways and includes everything you would normally need to wear.” Although the term was founded in the 1970s by British boutique owner Susie Faux, the idea has grown more popular in recent years as minimalism and sustainability movements have gained more credibility. And it might just be the answer to all your clothes shopping on a student budget woes.
There is no singular formula to a capsule wardrobe, with some recommending owning only ten pieces of clothing while others advocating up to 50. But, evidently, the key is having a minimalistic wardrobe.
The idea can sound daunting but many people, including members of the fashion blogging community, have raved about its benefits. For example, having so few pieces in your wardrobe means you have to think about every single item of clothing you buy, ensuring it’s worthy of being one of the few items of clothing you own. This means that there will be less of those impulse purchases that you’re bored of within a few weeks, which is better for the environment and your bank balance.
Additionally, because you are making less of these ‘it’s only £12 in the sale I might as well buy it’ purchases, or ideally avoiding them altogether, you can start to invest in good quality, timeless pieces that will stand the test of time. Despite how gratifying impulse purchases can be in the short-term, it’s usually the clothing in your wardrobe that you spend more money on that you’re sure to love, because you’ve really had to consider that purchase.
However, spending lots of money on clothes isn’t a requirement of the capsule wardrobe. You could create one entirely from second-hand pieces if you are on a tight budget. Although, the idea of a capsule wardrobe is not having to re-purchase clothes, so make sure you pay attention to the fabrics used in the clothing you want to buy, this goes for both new and second-hand items.
Even if your budget is limited, remember that it is worth investing a little more into your clothes at the time of purchase so you don’t have to buy anything similar for years and years to come, saving you money in the long-term, even if this means you might have slightly fewer items of clothing in your wardrobe than you’re used to for now.
Not only can a capsule wardrobe save you money, but time too. The idea is that most of the pieces in your wardrobe can be worn together, allowing you to look put together in an outfit you love even when you wake up ten minutes before your lecture is due to start.
So if your wardrobe is currently overflowing and the prospect of getting dressed in the morning fills you with dread, but you can’t stop spending money you don’t have on clothes you never wear, maybe a capsule wardrobe is for you.
Start by having a clear-out (although try not to be too hasty in getting rid of clothes if you’re not in a financial position to build your capsule wardrobe all in one go) and taking some clothes that you haven’t worn for a while to the charity shop, or selling them on Depop for some extra cash.
When you’re ready to start building your capsule wardrobe, there are lots of helpful videos and articles out there that can guide you along the way. TheAnnaEdit on YouTube regularly creates videos about her capsule wardrobe so that might be a good place to start.
Even if you decide not to commit to a wardrobe of 50 or fewer pieces, there is definitely something to be taken from the idea of a capsule wardrobe. Avoiding bad quality, fast fashion impulse purchases and investing in high quality pieces that you’ve thought about and that will last can only be a good thing for the environment, your budget and your wardrobe.