You're probably familiar with the phrase "capsule wardrobe." Whether from your favorite fashion blogger, a sewing friend, or the NY Times Style section, the concept has been popping up everywhere lately.
At EWE, we are committed to empowering makers with the supplies and instruction to create their own handmade clothes, and we've found that the capsule wardrobe can be a helpful tool for planning makes and sparking creativity. Read on to learn more about this concept and how we're using it this fall at the shop!
What is a capsule wardrobe?
The concept of a "capsule wardrobe" was first introduced by London Boutique owner Susie Faux in the 1970s and later popularized by American designer Donna Karan, who released a workwear collection in 1985 that featured 7 cohesive pieces that could be combined in multiple ways. The idea gained popularity recently in the slow fashion/making community when Canadian style blogger Lee Vosburgh created the 10x10 challenge — 10 pieces in 10 different outfits worn over 10 days.
The basic idea is to maximize a minimalist wardrobe — instead of constantly expanding your closet by adding new trendy pieces, the capsule wardrobe is composed of a few classic, high quality pieces that won't go out of style and can be combined in a variety of ways to create multiple looks. Most capsule collections feature 7-10 pieces (sometimes shoes are included; accessories are not included).
The point is not to go out and buy an entirely new wardrobe — it is to shift the way we think about clothes from individual, trend-based purchases to a mindfully curated, cohesive collection that reflects our particular styles, values, and comforts.
So how is a capsule wardrobe helpful for makers?
We think the capsule wardrobe can be a useful way of evaluating the clothes you already have and mindfully planning makes that supplement and expand your existing wardrobe so you get more mileage out of all your favorites. The first step is to spend some time reflecting on your current clothes and choose the pieces that you would include in a capsule collection.
Here are some guiding questions:
- What pieces do you wear most and why?
- What pieces do you love but find yourself never wearing and why?
- Are there particular things that make you feel uncomfortable in clothes?
For example, some things that make me uncomfortable are: a non-elastic waist pants/skirts and gaping arm holes.
- Are there particular things that make you feel comfortable in clothes?
For example, some things that make me comfortable are: high waists or no waists and drapey fabrics.
- Do you have things you would like to wear but you don't? Why haven't you?
- Do you have any "summer" pieces that you would like to wear year-round? What do you need to layer them?
The capsule wardrobe project at EWE
This fall at the shop, we (Deren, Jacqui, Jessamy + Pam) are all going to be working on planning, curating, creating, styling, and supplementing our own capsule wardrobes, and we're putting together workshops and classes to help you do the same!
Here is a step-by-step guide for our process:
- Start by selecting the pieces you would like to include from your existing wardrobe. These can be pieces you've made, pieces you've bought, pieces your Great Aunt Muriel lent you — anything at all that you want to include!
Tip: when I did this, I picked more pieces than I eventually decided to include, which gave me some room to adjust based on colors and what worked with the new pieces I want make.
- Imagine ways that you can combine these pieces to create multiple looks with the same piece. How can you layer pieces? What new combinations might you wear?
- What pieces might you add that would help you get more mileage from the pieces you already have?
For example: Maybe you have only one pair of bottoms, but several tops and sweaters. If you made a skirt (or a dress to layer), you could combine your tops and sweaters in more ways.
- Look for sewing and knitting patterns for classic, versatile pieces that might fit the bill for the things you've determined you need. We have some recommendations!
Our pattern recommendations for size-inclusive wardrobe basics:
- Pants: The Rose Pants by Made By Rae
- Skirt: The Estuary Skirt by Sew Liberated
- Top: The Lou Box Top by Sew DIY
- Jacket/Vest: The Flynn Jacket by In The Folds
- Dress: The West Cliff Dress by Friday Pattern Company
- Jumpsuit: Zadie Jumpsuit by Paper Theory Patterns
- Pullover: The Ursa Sweater by Jacqueline Cieslak (me!)
- Cardigan: The Ramona Cardigan by Elizabeth Smith
If you have other patterns you think we should add to the list, just leave us a comment.
Over the next few months on the blog, we will all share our process, including fabric, fitting, and styling recommendations as we each work on our capsule wardrobes.
Would you like help getting started on your capsule wardrobe? Join us on Saturday, October 12 for a workshop in the shop that will walk students through this process! We have partnered up with My Body Model for this workshop, which will teach you the skills to efficiently and practically plan your fall makes (both knitting and sewing).
My Body Model is a wonderful electronic resource that provides custom croquis (fashion drawing templates) that correspond to your specific body measurements. These croquis are invaluable for visualizing how particular pieces will look on your body and experimenting with different combinations of pieces to decide what you most need to make to fill out your wardrobe.