12 Sep 2018

Fashion Enthusiasts vs Capsule Wardrobes

Can fashion lovers be minimalists?

After our detox conversation, it had me thinking how much clearing out our wardrobes relates to our personalities and whether our “detox” can be attributed to our fashion style. Simply because we are able to throw away with abandon, does that mean we are “capsule wardrobe” people? If our closets are loaded up with barely a millimetre of space is that the equivalent of being an over-enthusiastic fashionista? 

Mary, our gorgeous new creative writer, asks the question. I will chime in through the comments – my brain is in a hazy fog of jet lag as I wing my way through Asia to Sydney for a few days. 

I like Mary’s way of thinking; she has found a way for us to have it all. xv

Over to you Mary,

Having a capsule wardrobe came to the front of mind a few months ago when I was struggling to find a dress I needed for a special occasion. It was lost in a sea of everything but. Should I re-think?

I searched ‘capsule wardrobes’ on Google and to my horror there they were; the 25 piece capsule wardrobes of many minimalists.

Their capsule wardrobes seemed so condensed, so perfect and utilitarian.

I questioned the amount of washing that needed to be done to maintain such a small wardrobe and compared the idea of a capsule wardrobe to someone who loves having lots of clothing; it seemed highly unrealistic to me.

There was a theme for most of the articles I read and the videos I watched. The clothing appeared extremely minimal and did not stray far from the black, grey, navy and white colour scheme.

But where was the colour?

I began to understand why many people went ‘capsule’ in the first place as most did not have a profound interest in fashion and saw clothes as pure body protection and practicality.

Even after I had a wardrobe detox (thanks to the VA solution) I would still have to get rid of a vast amount to even consider mine a ‘capsule wardrobe’.

On the flip side, capsule wardrobes can be very beneficial. Styling can be simpler and less time-consuming. They are more environmentally friendly and take up less space in the home.

But why do capsule wardrobes have to be minimal?

I thought about the people that love colour and prints and texture, including myself, where do they fit into this idea?

And that’s when it clicked.

Capsule wardrobes need not be confined to a strict amount of clothing. Why should they?

Make of a capsule wardrobe what you wish. Fashion is personal and it is up to the wearer what they include. Instead of limiting yourself to lesser items, have a detox and truly assess what you own to ensure you are getting the full potential of your beloved garments.

Try a seasonal capsule wardrobe? Store the summer gear away so the pieces you have in your closet are the items you are really going to be reaching for. Fashion lovers might not be minimalists because fashion is ever evolving, a creative outlet and a passion to be celebrated; creating your version of a capsule wardrobe is exciting. Let’s not think in numbers, but be more aware of what we own, more in tune with our personal style, so all our pieces have time to shine.

Capsule to me means a one in one out policy.

This is to ensure my wardrobe is accessible and not rammed pack with clothing. Over the years this has been highly beneficial and allows me to invite new items in with a friendly welcome rather than a tight squeeze.

“Capsule” can be unique for all of us. Define what capsule means and make it work for your wardrobe.

images, ari seth cohen, kuba dabrowski, infphoto

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Elizabeth Day

There is a great book, out of print at this time, that was published in 1981, entitled “Working Wardrobe” by Janet Wallach. She based her whole wardrobe planning around the capsule idea but often built it around a print. She also suggested several different capsules in ones wardrobe. It is an excellent book with color combination suggestions, etc. I think you would find it enjoyable reading. I would also like to know what you think about Janet’s concept.


I had never heard of “Capsule” wardrobe, and as I read this , I realize I have one! I do have limited space in my closet, and I also have a limited or rather, minimalist approach to dressing. I have found however, that just concentrating on a few pieces of clothing and mixing and matching has allowed me to get even more creative with my styling. I do however, need to find a few new pieces and here is why. I’m back teaching at the elementary level, and just the other day in reading hour, I had to read the kids a book about a teacher who finds a mean substitute to take her place for the day. The substitute is described (and show in a drawing) as a MEAN teacher who wore “an ugly black dress.” Well, I own about 6-7 black dresses! One boy even said the MEAN teacher looked like me, because I was wearing a black dress! SO…..if just for the sake of not frightening my students, I really need to change my wardrobe!


There is nothing at all “mean” about you, Anita… and I can be sure your LBDs are nothing like the one in the book… Maybe you need to change your student… ha ha ha… queue laughing loudly here… Black dresses are the best! Ramp up the lips and maybe change show colour to shock those students or add a hot pink shawl!

Linda B Kerr

Perfect topic for me. I have within my closet, all the good basic pieces: cashmere sweater (black), good black pants, black pencil skirt (these last two Eileen Fischer), black blazer, white shirt(s), little black dress, trench coat, etc. BUT I love to sew, and when I travel (thankfully a lot) I buy fabric (Provence, Portugal, Africa, Italy, England) to bring home and make shirts, caftans, and dresses. I have many more than I need, but each one gave me such joy to make, and I make the inside as good as the outside, that even if I haven’t worn some of them for awhile, it’s HARD to get rid of them. They are my creations, and I am attached to them.
I love the idea of a capsule wardrobe, and often do indeed wear the above mentioned pieces, but add color via scarves (both high-end and low–and many made by me) and shoes/boots and LIPSTICK. I am 65 and looking pretty decent, but a splash of bright color helps a lot.


I like the idea of different capsules in one wardrobe – one of two capsules for work (I am in as serious financial services environment) One for everyday office wear, one for meetings with client’s for example. Then 2 of 3 capsules for weekends and capsules for work related travel and separate one’s for holidays, all of it duplicated for different seasons…only one capsule would be to boring. I am also on the one in, one out principle, especially with shoes.
And then of course a few stand alone pieces like evening wear, occasion dresses for cocktails or weddings, fun stuff for my grand children’s birthday parties….. haha! :)


Getting “dressed” is FUN!! Lighten up ladies…not your closet, your attitude!! Accessorize, accessorize, accessorize!!! franki


I agree!! I have way too many shoes, clothes, etc. and I love it all!! I enjoy wearing different styles and patterns. I would tire very quickly of a capsule wardrobe. If they work for others, that’s great. It’s just not for me!


I think if I had a teeny tiny closet, I would just have a minimum of clothes. (I don’t like jammed packed closet either!) It would in a way be freeing to not have as many dressing decisions. I would probably buy the best of an item I could afford, taking my time to research quality, etc. But, I think I would get bored.

My reality is that I have the classics but also fun prints. And most of my items are not super high end because I do spend more on quantity.


I don’t really understand what capsule wardrobe means. It just seems like a trendy buzzword. If it means limiting one’s wardrobe to a small number of items, all in plain neutrals, it’s definitely not for me. I like to have real choices. I use the wardrobe in our son’s old room to store my out of season clothes. They’re still easily accessible, hanging up encased in zip up transparent plastic bags to protect from varmints. Very useful when travelling to a different hemisphere with reverse seasons to be able to select items quickly and easily. I also store pashminas and sweaters in smaller transparent zip bags that can be stacked on shelves. All clothes are grouped by colour. Just makes it easier to locate things. Nor do I have a one in one out rule. Too much pressure – for me, anyway. I just have to remember to have a sort out at least once a season. Best wishes, Pamela


In the past, I always thought of a capsule wardrobe as something you used when you had to get as much mileage as possible out of a tiny suitcase. I was in awe of anyone who could do this for more than a weekend because I personally don’t like recycling most items of clothing without laundering, and besides, the weather or a change in activities always left me wanting. You should have seen how much I packed when my sister and I toured the Greek islands! Embarrassing!

When I joined Pinterest, I was besieged with capsule wardrobe suggestions, usually designed to mimic someone’s idea of a French woman’s wardrobe. I have to admit they do appeal to my Virgo sensibilities in terms of organization, but they’re just not practical for me in terms of size. Another factor that makes a capsule wardrobe inviting is the lack of decision making needed on a busy morning before coffee.

So, I’ve decided the perfect compromise for me personally is a sort of “uniform” wardrobe during the week, with more freedom on weekends and holidays. I do enjoy the calm that seems to come from wearing neutrals and soft washed colors (I don’t like wearing no color at all). Since I work mostly from home, a perfect workday outfit is a pair of jeans with a crisp white shirt and a grey or pink cardi. It’s just less distracting somehow. My dilemma has been how to carry this through the summer, when it’s too hot for my go-to items (I’m in Southern California). I’m looking for gauzy caftans and white trousers for next year.

I agree, Vicki, a capsule wardrobe has to work for *you* whatever your needs. And I still want to know how those gals with 25 pieces of clothing in total manage to make it through the week without doing laundry every other day. Am I missing something?

Sharon V. Frisco

I teared up reading Mary’s comments. Her intertwining values, reflected in her relationship to what she wears, answered my questions re: to capsule or not to capsule. It’s American dogma that DEEP DOWN we’re all the same. THAT is EXACTLY where we are NOT all the same. We are all beautifully different. Each person is such a unique creation. Let’s honor that with what we choose to buy and wear! With Mary’s paradigm, we can approach every day happily prepared because it’s based on deeply honoring our individuality and clothes that reflect it…..not in theories, but in personal closet reality 2.0. God bless Mary. She gave such a gift today…. and Vicki, you are such a part of my life as i reign as Ms. Senior Michigan USA 2018. Big thanks to you both! It’s a ‘fun’ yet disciplined, new awareness clothes paradigm.


Read the Marie Kondo books. If an item in your wardrobe does not “spark joy” get rid of it. Then you are left with only items you love because they probably are the right color, fit well, and make you feel good when you wear them. It also helps to show what items you need. I like this method better than the capsule idea- but read the books and she will explain how to do it. Thanks for such a great blog to follow Vicki! Enjoy it every day!

Michelle à Détroit

I could never limit myself to a small “capsule” wardrobe. Keeping the clothes fresh, clean and in top condition would be a chore in itself. A closet should have a rhythm; a flow. What I do have is a closetful of clothing that fits and that I love to wear. I am an unapologetic classicist. I am a fanatic about my clothes fitting properly. I sometimes pay more to have a piece altered than I paid for the piece itself! I also believe in the power of investing in top quality accessories that can last a lifetime.


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