Blog 2 – A capsule wardrobe – The basics, how to rethink your wardrobe

Over the past ten years I have been incredibly lucky to travel a lot with my work.  Something that I have enjoyed immensely apart from one bit. Packing.

Usually, I am packing garment or accessory samples also which can make for a very cramped suitcase. Over this time I tried and tested this method and got it down what I consider a fine art. And it got me thinking about lightening the load at home too. Why have all these outfits when I only need to dress one person?  For a very long time our culture has been built around working towards having a walk-in wardrobe with shelves full of shoes.

And I must admit I am not giving up my love of sparkley trainers just yet.  But there is something pretty freeing about having less stuff to find space for and to care for.  Also knowing what you have in stock at all times, does it fit, is it ready to be worn?  I have discovered ‘what we think we need’, versus ‘what we actually need’ are two very different things. 

So, why not give it a go today and Audit your wardrobe? Put other items in a suitcase for the month or even two and if you don’t need them let them go. Sell them on a frockswap or eBay or put them to your local charity shop for good use. If they are brand new with tags,  I also recommend donating to Alicas – a Scottish charity that provide an emergency kit for women having left situations of domestic abuse. 

At Alicas HQ

My capsule winter wardrobe for one month . The basics – 

  • 1 black jeans narrow leg – these work with EVERYTHING.  Every single other item on the list and they are my go to in a rush, but need to look smart item.  I have to be careful to mix it up and actually put on a skirt or dress especially in winter.  But seriously you can wear these with every wild colour or print on top and not go wrong.  If black’s too harsh for you, look at the shades of grey.
  • 1 pair blue jeans narrow leg – This has a little more of a causal appearance  and I really like a dark denim to have a variation on the black..  Dark blue works as well as navy in your wardrobe and is a less harsh look, especially for those with a fair complexion.
  • 2 long sleeve top – Again keep the colour of this simple and somewhere on the monochromatic scale – white, grey, black or neutral. The can be worn under knitwear on cold days, with a blazer or waistcoat and are the basic ideal layer for winter dressing. If you are prone to overheating or you live in a climate where winter is non-existent try a capped or 3/4 sleeve. 
  • 1 blazer – Like the long sleeve top keep the colour simple so that it works with all of the capsule. 
  • 1 rollneck – like the long sleeve top but a little bit of extra warmth and style. This item is great teamed with a print dress that has short sleeves and lower neckline.  Giving you options to wear lighter styles right through the year. 
  • 1 skirt – This is where you can mix up the shape a little. A fitted bum hugger jersey skirt is ideal if want to wear your basics with big slouchy jumpers, shirts or tunics (see print and colour blog next week) A pleated skirt to the ankle is on trend right now and I cant see it going away for some time. Again a black, grey or neutral will see you through.  Or keep it classic and opt for a pencil skirt.  This will never go out of style and can be teamed with a number of tops including of course the long sleeve or rollneck above.
  • 1 simple fitted dress or tunic – Again like the black jean, this is an easy go to.  You will instantly look smart. Wear with a block heel boot and you are ready to go to work or to go out.  This outfit the flexible and fast to suit your needs. Team with a print scarf and you’ve added colour, accessory and print in one step. Time saving at its best. 

And that’s it – 7 basic items that work with everything, from day to night work and play this will see you through.  

In the next blog my suggestions for adding print and colour to this foundation wardrobe kit.  

But for now here are three people that inspired me to really think about what we wear and how my role as a designer should support the move to buying less and smart thinking around what we wear. 

Julia Mooney – a middle school teacher from New Jersey created @oneoutfit100days. Rather than simply tell her impressionable students about the importance of sustainable clothing options, she opted to model it by wearing one dress for 100 days choosing different ways to style and accessories the simple dress. 

Natalie from  who got creative with a small wardrobe after losing her job. So creative in fact she never went back to buying clothes and created her own line‘I also learned how to ride the wave of sometimes pressuring trends, and the rules and regulations that are constantly put on women on how to express ourselves in fashion’ (who is saying this?)

And Alexandra Archibald – created a vintage shop in her home and took to the road across America –

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