February 21st, 2023

One of the biggest misconceptions about capsule wardrobes is they need to be beige and boring. Compact closets are not simply about embracing a minimal style, but getting the maximum looks with the minimal purchases, and even the boldest maximalist can do it. Here’s how.

When you hear the words “capsule wardrobe” do you think beige and black basics in sleek, timeless shapes that are entirely functional, but maybe a bit … boring? If you’re a maximalist magpie, a lover of colour, pattern and a “more is more” aesthetic, you probably think a capsule wardrobe isn’t for you. But a compact wardrobe doesn’t have to mean basic, minimal or even neutral, it’s simply about getting the maximum looks with minimal purchases.

Dressing sustainably doesn’t equal 50 shades of beige. If you’re a lover of colour, your wardrobe should reflect that, it’s simply about hardworking pieces that can be loved all year round in almost every setting.

Start with a few good "basics"

Every wardrobe needs a few key items that can be paired with more “out there”, trend-led pieces. Think of these as the building blocks of your wardrobe; they’re a great starting point on which to build any outfit and they tie everything together.

If you regularly open your wardrobe and think you have nothing to wear despite shopping often, you’re probably missing these key pieces. Without them, you’ll feel like you’re drowning in a pile of clothes.

  • A pair of great-fitting blue jeans to wear with, well, everything.
  • A denim jacket that can be layered under coats in winter and over summer dresses and t-shirts when it warms.
  • A slightly oversized blazer in a neutral colour.
  • A pair of dark tailored trousers (wool for cooler weather, linen for warmer).
  • A pair of dungarees – an underated transeasonal piece you can wear in a surprising amount of ways.
  • A classic white collared shirt or white blouse: Over a bikini at the beach, tucked into jeans, tied at the waist over a slip dress, under jumpers in the winter (and at least 100 other ways).
  • A quality white t-shirt.
  • A pair of trainers that go with everything.
  • A pair of ankle-length black boots. If you only have two pairs of shoes in your wardrobe, make them a pair of trainers and an ankle boot with a small heel – there’s nothing more versatile.


Find pieces that can be styled year round

Obviously, some pieces are seasonal, such as swimwear and jumpers, but 75 per cent of your wardrobe should work for most of the year. The answer is buying pieces that can be styled all year round. Think "summer" dresses worn underneath an oversized jumper with a cross-body bag for shape, or under a blazer or cropped V-neck cardigan paired with socks and loafers. I also love a slim-fit turtle neck for layering under slip dresses. If you find layering a jumper over your dress looks shapeless, use a waist belt to tuck the length of the jumper in, and then pull it out and fold over so the belt is hidden.

If you invest in pieces you can respin, rework and revamp each season, you’ll never not have anything to wear.

Do wardrobe maths

Focus on what your wardrobe needs rather than what your eye is drawn to. Think in terms of cost per wear and how many different outfits you can make with one piece. If you can’t imagine at least three different outfits and several occasions where you will wear it, it’s not worth buying.

Buy for your lifestyle, too. If you work a corporate job where smart garb is required, smart garb is what you need to buy! If you’re a busy mum with a schedule of nursery drop offs and after-school activities, you probably don’t need a wardrobe of gowns and heels. Smart garb doesn’t need to be boring, and nor do casual, comfy clothes; think about your lifestyle and then find pieces that make you feel good.

If you fall totally in love with a piece but know you will only wear it once or twice, perhaps for a special occasion, see if you can rent it first. The rental market has grown exponentially in the last few years and offers a more sustainable way to wear new clothes.

Choose quality fabrics

Buying less also means buying better. Choose quality fabrics that will stand up to plenty of wear and washing, and won’t bobble, fray or unravel in a short space of time. Keep in mind what feels good against your skin too. High quality fabrics may b more expensive, but if they feel great against your skin and last forever, they will pay you back!