Fashionably fit

Capsule wardrobe

Have you ever heard the term “capsule wardrobe?” It’s something I’ve been seeing on Pinterest, online articles, and other media for the past year or so. Having a capsule wardrobe simply means having a few essential items of clothing that don’t go out of style.

The purpose of a capsule wardrobe is to have only interchangeable items so you maximize the amounts of outfits you can create. The goal is to be able to have an outfit suitable for any occasion without owning excessive amounts of clothing. Wardrobes of this nature are focused on quality instead of quantity.

The concept of the capsule wardrobe was started in 1970 by a London boutique owner named Susie Faux. According to Faux “A capsule wardrobe is a collection of a few essential items of clothing that don’t go out of fashion, such as skirts, trousers and coats, which can then be augmented with seasonal pieces.”

Although the concept of a capsule wardrobe is more of a British thing, American designer Donna Karen was the first to introduce the concept in the U.S. with her influential capsule collection of seven interchangeable work — wear pieces.

A capsule wardrobe needs to start off with key pieces or what they call “fashion staples.” These are items that are classics, wear well, and will remain in style for many years to come. Such pieces could include a classic white blouse, a little black dress, khaki pants, a thick strapped tank top, a short jacket or cardigan and a pair of dark denim jeans. The pieces in the wardrobe should all complement each other somehow. The additional pieces should all be in coordinating colors that will mix and match with every piece.

Most people who create capsule wardrobes will stick with blacks, tans, navy blue, and maybe one other color of their choice. It’s a good idea to focus on solid pieces rather than prints. They will then add pops of color and uniqueness to their outfit by accessorizing with scarves and jewelry. Different accessories can give the same outfit a whole new look each time it is worn. This not only saves closet space, but also eliminates the need for all those clothes we never wear.

I’ve been intrigued with the concept of a capsule wardrobe but have not tried it myself. I often wonder if those who start their capsules end up keeping the classic pieces they already own and then tossing the rest? Even though a capsule wardrobe is supposed to make you feel that less actually is more — if you wear your items correctly — I still find it to be quite intimidating to only rely on a specific set of items. For this reason, I know some people start off with several sets of capsule wardrobes, one for each season. This concept could be counter productive unless you keep each capsule to a minimum or have most pieces be ones that can easily be transferred from one season to another.

Faux suggests that a woman starting her own capsule wardrobe typically should have these pieces: at least two pairs of trousers, a dress or a skirt, a jacket, a coat, a knit, two pairs of shoes and two handbags. Of course this is quite minimalist and there are more generous capsule wardrobe tutorials out there that show how to get at least 40 different outfits out of only 25 pieces.

If this still sounds too daunting, try creating a capsule wardrobe of coordinating colors the next time you go on vacation. It will be a lot less to pack and you might even feel like you have more options in what you wear since all your pieces will easily match.

Fashionably Fit is published on the second Sunday of each month. Steel holds a degree in journalism and writes about fitness, fashion and style.

To learn more and view photos of the items mentioned in her colum, follow her on Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter at Meranda S and visit her website,

Steel also may be reached at the Lifestyle Department email, life@sun­gazette­.com