- By Maria DiLorenzo, Founder & CEO of MFD Style -
Capsule wardrobes have become quite trendy over the last 10-years in the United States thanks to a [gradual] building interest in minimalism. Our European friends, namely in France and Germany, have been utilizing capsules for decades as a method for building streamlined, intentional wardrobes that look and feel effortless. It’s no wonder many women look to European style for strategies to simplify getting dressed- my quick market research shows that women’s fashion (especially in Paris) is among the top five most highly pinned images on Pinterest! For those of us who may be intrigued by utilizing a capsule wardrobe, but perhaps a little daunted at the idea of how to create one, this post is for you.
If you’re new to the concept, allow me to first define a capsule wardrobe, though I hesitate a bit because I think popular definitions focus too heavily on the number of items associated with one.
But generally speaking, a capsule is a curated selection of clothing that has the ability to be easily mixed and matched among the pieces to result in a wide variety of combinations.
Some people can do this with just 30 pieces, and others might benefit from more. The actual number is less important to me, as I would rather concentrate on the specific items themselves. Some people might want a capsule full of separates, whereas others may prefer dresses, jumpsuits, or rompers. The idea is that your perfect curated capsule wardrobe includes items that have “staying power”- reflective of an authentic signature style that transcends trends over time.
I’ve seen capsules built in so many ways, and while some might say there is a right or wrong way to develop them, I would argue that a capsule can be as individualized as you are. There’s no need to follow a specific set of rules, but rather I’m offering 5 thought-provoking questions to guide you toward creating a wardrobe you love without sacrificing your unique flare or individual preferences.
#1 - How Big Do I Want to Go?
I think you can go one of two ways: create a full-scale capsule wardrobe for your entire closet or create mini capsule wardrobes for specific purposes such as business travel, vacations, or the current season. Sometimes segmenting the purpose helps you get the hang of utilizing a capsule before you commit full-scale. I love to help my clients build travel capsules so their packing can be consolidated easily and all looks feel cohesive no matter the occasion.
#2 - Does Color ‘Spark Joy’?
You will likely read that most capsule wardrobes strategically use neutral color palettes because of the ease of mixing and matching among pieces. While this is true and can be effective, neutrals aren’t for everyone. So, if you love the color (or certain colors overall), pick two or three complementary shades to anchor your capsule and identify pieces using that color palette. Incorporating neutrals can always help balance the colors, but they don’t have to be the driving force.
#3 - How Else Can I Wear This?
I happen to think one of my superpowers is helping reimagine wardrobes, which means thinking about how an item can be worn in a non-traditional way. When clothing has multiple functions, such as a front-facing v-neck top that can be worn in the reverse, it creates an entirely new look without adding another item to your curated capsule. I also love to ditch any belts that come with an item (like a dress, pants, or blazer) and experiment with bolder options to change the look.
#4 - What Does My Daily Life Look Like?
Capsules should speak directly to the activities that fill your daily life. If you spend the majority of your time managing a home and children versus attending regular business or community meetings and events, your capsule wardrobe should reflect those differences. Its composition should offer you the flexibility to do the things you need to do all the time, rather than be filled with items you wear only on special occasions or periodically.
#5 - What Are My Non-Negotiables?
Getting clear on how you need your clothes to serve you will make all the difference as you build a capsule. Do you need to move around easily? Do you struggle with a regulated body temperature? Do you have to stand for long hours?
Know what YOU need, and make sure the items in your capsule do not compromise those needs.
I think creating your perfect capsule wardrobe can be easy once you spend a few moments with these questions. What’s next, you might ask? If you face the dilemma of choosing specific items for your capsule, then perhaps you might be ready to work together. Again, I don’t believe in providing rules for this step (like having 3 pairs of pants, 5 tops, 2 dresses, and 3 pairs of shoes). Your perfect capsule needs to reflect you and your lifestyle, not some standardized formula created for everyone. Because at the end of the day, your perfect capsule only matters to one person- YOU.
About the Author, Maria DiLorenzo
Maria DiLorenzo is the Founder and CEO of MFD Style, a Boston-based wardrobe consulting business. For the last 15 years, she has educated and guided those who seek to make a stronger connection between their self-presentation and self-love, and with her intuitive styling approach, she has helped hundreds transform into the best version of themselves by leveraging their wardrobe to reflect this insight. After nearly 20 years of leading a wide variety of public gatherings, workshops, seminars, webinars, and training in both nonprofit and corporate settings, she now speaks about the intersection of psychology, spirituality, and style in her podcast, Above & Beyond Style. She holds a B.A. in psychology from Loyola University, New Orleans, and an M.A. in pastoral ministry from Boston College.