Capsule Wardrobes and Uniforms

In middle school, I had to wear a uniform. I remember hating it because I felt it stifled my creativity and it made me look like everybody else. Now, there is a new “uniform” in fashion.

A “uniform” is a specific set of pieces that you wear more often than not, a “flagship look.” I like to think of it as what you would be wearing if you were made into an action figure or a Barbie doll. While this idea isn’t new, I believe that it’s worth looking into if you find yourself with a full closet, yet nothing to wear. A capsule wardrobe, which is a limited number of pieces (usually 30) per season, is great for college students because it will be easier to dress and inexpensive to build up once it’s started.

Anuschka, the minimalist maven behind Into Mind, has broken down the capsule wardrobe process into six steps, which she calls “the six pillars of wardrobe building.” I will cover five of her six pillars (pillar six is about makeup which I won’t be covering that for now) and how you can adapt them into your wardrobe.

Pillar one is called “define your personal style.” While this sounds easy, it may be challenging if your style is diverse. Anuschka says that this pillar “is about creating a coherent, expressive style concept by finding and dissecting inspiration and pinpointing your aesthetic preferences.” That’s a fancy way of saying you should dress based on what you like and what you like to look at. Scour some fashion magazines, maybe Pinterest or Tumblr, and save the images you find yourself drawn to.

Pillar two is “[developing] a signature look.” This is “about distilling the essence of your style into one flagship look for your wardrobe.” This is your uniform. When you haven’t planned a look, what do you find yourself drawn to? Do you find yourself wearing a lot of miniskirts and sheer sweaters? Sundresses? My personal wardrobe is a t-shirt, skinny jeans, sneakers, and a piece of outerwear. Because I know my uniform, I buy mostly these pieces because I will be wearing them the most often.

Pillar three is called “wardrobe structure.” By “integrating both functional and aesthetic elements to build a versatile capsule wardrobe,” you get the best of both worlds. Your capsule wardrobe, after planning, should be both functional for your day-to-day routine and visually pleasing to you. If you have nothing but cable-knit cardigans, they won’t get much wear in the San Antonio weather. However, you should have a few warm pieces for when the weather cools down later in the year. Pick your pieces accordingly and the structure of your wardrobe should be sound.

Pillar four – perhaps the most fun – is called “creating outfits.” For every piece of clothing you have, you should be able to create at least three looks with other garments you have in your closet. If you know what goes with what, it’ll save you time and effort when getting dressed. It may also create closet space because you realize what doesn’t fit in with your aesthetic. Knowing exactly what is at your disposal will make it easier when you are shopping for additions, because you can visualize possible outfits.

Lastly, pillar five is “wardrobe organization.” This pillar is “about supporting your personal style by finding a storage system that not only fits the contents but also the dynamics of your wardrobe.” Having a good basic structure in your wardrobe makes everything easier when dressing and planning looks. These last two pillars work well with each other: having a sturdy wardrobe foundation will make it easier to plan outfits, and when you are planning you can see what you are drawn to and what makes up the basis of your wardrobe. Having a good method of organization will save you both time and money because you will know what you have in your closet at all times.

I try to know my personal uniform and incorporate the capsule method of wardrobe building. Would this be something you would consider trying? Let me know by e-mailing [email protected]