Not very long ago I had a wardrobe that included orangey reds and bluey reds, soft greyish pinks and bright pinks, greeny aqua and pea soup green, cream shirts and white shirts. I had more than enough clothes because I was continually buying “outfits” – yes that shade of blue will go with that particular skirt, or I need a find a top to go with that particular shade of brown trousers. With so many colour schemes and outfits I managed a coordinated look but it was hard work, expensive and required alot of storage space. And I wasn’t really sure which colours looked best on me.
Since I have discovered my own primary colour direction is Cool – I have taken 70 per cent of my wardrobe to the Oxfam shop. This means that every item I have now has a cool (blue) undertone. As a consequence every item co-ordinates with every other item. I have created the holy grail – the capsule wardrobe.
None of us really want a wardrobe that it is bulging with clothes, colours and styles. How much easier to have fewer clothes where each element is useful and works well with several, if not all, of the other items. This seems to be a challenging project for many of us, and there are many articles telling you to go out and buy more stuff so you can create a capsule wardrobe eg the leather jacket, the white shirt, the LBD and so on.
Full disclosure. You are about to see the inside of my wardrobe. I have far too many clothes. There are 18 dresses, 11 shorter skirts and two longer ones. I have approximately ten jackets. It may appear that I am short of tops but I have another lot folded up. There are four pairs of trousers – blue, grey and brown jeans and a pink pair I made. Having said that there is nothing here that I do not wear regularly. There are some very summery items that I will put away once it gets cold again, and there are four coats that were put away in about May. The summer dresses will hibernate while the coats will come in from the vaults. But on the whole this is an all-season wardrobe. Its arranged by tops/bottoms/dresses; within those groups it is broadly colour coded as that is how I think about what I wear.
Despite the fact that there is no shortage of items there are a few things that I would like to replace. I have three Jil Sander Uniqlo suits (c. 2010) One is navy, one is dark brown and one is bottle green. Plus a blue-grey suit I had made when I was in Hong Kong. These are my work staples, and they are getting somewhat shabby. My task over the next year is to gradually replace them with three or four new suits that I will make in the same colours. In addition I would like a yellow jacket but I have yet to find some suitable fabric. I will make other things but these are the items I, sort of, need.
Rather than telling you to buy x, y or z to form your capsule I would suggest a simple approach, which doesn’t have to cost anything at all. Your local charity shop, or Ebay, will be pleased to take your excess baggage. You may find yourself letting go of garments which are unsuitable and unflattering, but what will be left will be useful and look nice.
- decide on which colour palette suits you best. This will be deep, light, cool, warm, bright or muted colours. Each palette includes all the colours. We are talking about the best shades of each colour. Best to get a professional opinion on this as it can be hard to tell. Or read my posts on colour which can help give you some clues.
- get a supply of bin bags – one is labelled Rubbish, one (or more) Charity Shop, one small one for Refashioning/Repair, one to Give Away or Sell.
- pull everything out of your wardrobe and Hoover it. Keep the wooden hangers and put wire or plastic ones in the Rubbish bag.
- discard any items which are too small, big, tatty, the wrong length etc.
- anything which doesn’t fit colour wise gets excluded. If you suit warm colours everything with a blue undertone has to go, etc. If you have a lot of one item that you know suits you (eg grey tops in my case) keep the nicest ones, but the rest go to Charity Shop or Give Away.
- hang, or fold and stack neatly, the neutrals together eg white, beiges, greys, blues, browns.
- hang, or fold and stack neatly, each colour together eg red, orange, pinks, purple, blue, green, yellow.
- later, when you have taken all the bags to the correct place repeat the process with your shoes, accessories, underwear, jewellery etc.
I promise that if you stick to one colour direction, and especially if this is the one that tones best with your natural colouring, then everything will work well with everything else.