Enter any nail salon and you’ll be asked to choose a color for your service. You want red, but one spin of the polish carousel and you’re already reeling from the neverending shades: frosted sheer, glitter, matte, blue-based or yellow-hued. Suddenly you feel paralyzed in the face of decision. There’s a common belief that the more options available, the easier it is to find what we’re looking for. But the opposite is true; we end up terrified of making the wrong decision and anxiety rules over logic.
Like beauty, the fashion industry often perpetuates the belief that more is better-- fast fashion is betting big time on this and turning over merchandise at rapid speed to create a steady stream of shopping options. But too many clothes in our closets are actually making it harder to get dressed or pack for a trip; with so many outfits to choose from, how can we possibly narrow it down? Surplus clothing is also filling up our landfills-- if it’s not burned first. Fortunately, a new movement that embraces minimalism is catching on, thanks to the popularity of Marie Kondo, tiny homes and the new Fab Five who advocate for the less is more approach. They also encourage people to shop thoughtfully, to make life easier, simpler and yes, more stylish. That’s because the first place to start this practice of conscious consumerism is your closet, with a capsule wardrobe.
Capsule wardrobe basics
A capsule wardrobe is really just a collection of a few essential items of clothing that serve as the building blocks for your OOTD from which you can add seasonal pieces. Made up of quality, timeless pieces, the capsule wardrobe works for men and women and anyone who wants to simplify the act of getting dressed. The concept is based on a blueprint of sorts, where pieces are thoughtfully, rather than hastily, procured and each piece serves a purpose. This eliminates those jeans that fit you 20 years (and pounds) ago, or that dated cocktail dress that was marked down to almost nothing (probably for a reason). Some stylists advise starting with seven basic pieces, others with as much as 30, but fundamentally it’s about making sure you invest in at minimum, a great pair of jeans, a quality t-shirt or two, a perfect black dress or a classic suit. Keep in mind that just because you’re starting with basics doesn’t mean you have to look, well, basic. You can still bring your personal touches and signature style to this art of dressing.
Why less is better
The most compelling reason to implement a capsule wardrobe is because it saves you time which means no more stressing getting ready for work. When everything mixes and matches, all you have to do in the morning is choose the one or two pieces you want to wear and you can rest assured they’ll work together. This also helps eliminate the night-before-travel jitters: toss in dark denim jeans, a sweater or tee, depending on the weather and you’re good to go.
Another benefit is saving money. This may happen over the long-term, but you’ll find that when you shop thoughtfully, meaning you consider the versatility and functionality of each new piece you add, you’ll buy less. Since every piece is meant to fill a gap, you won’t be tempted to add something that doesn’t work now, such as those jeans that don’t quite fit, but are on sale. Or the top that’s not a great color for your skin, but looks so pretty on the shop mannequin.
Of course, the capsule wardrobe is much friendlier for the environment. In the US alone, the average person sends 81 pounds of clothing and fabric waste to landfills every year. Buying fewer pieces means less in the landfill or gathering dust at the local thrift shop. Pro-tip: we’ll rescue your denim from the landfill with our Denim Rescue program.
How to start your capsule wardrobe
It may seem complicated, but building a capsule wardrobe is pretty simple if you follow a few guidelines:
Determine the right mix for your life
We’ve all fantasized about quitting our office job and buying a farm but the reality of that is slim. Make sure you’re buying pieces that work for the life you have now: if you don’t go to formal events, then by all means don’t invest in cocktail attire. You can’t go wrong by starting with simple, clean silhouettes that work for numerous occasions, such as a pair of well-fitting denim jeans and a button down (chambray if you’re casual, pressed pinstripes if you’re not).
Choose your color scheme
Yes, color can be versatile and red is a neutral. Of course black, white, navy and gray will get you the most mileage, but that doesn’t mean you can’t add some hits of color. You just need to make sure the color works with the other shades and that it complements your complexion.
Find the best pair of jeans
Jeans will be a cornerstone of your capsule wardrobe so make sure you add the right pair. Opt for a darker rinse or raw denim for the most versatility; these are the easiest to dress up or down. For women, choose a classic cut like a high-rise with a slim fit. The Bluer Denim high-rise skinny is a great option for casual Friday, an evening out or wandering around that night market on vacation. For men, selvage denim offers a clean and polished look whether paired with a white tee or crew neck sweater. Bluer Denim has slim and straight styles in both indigo and black raw denim that will work with everything from neutrals to neons.
Invest in the right pieces
You don’t have to break the bank to fund a capsule wardrobe, but you do want each purchase to last. Look for natural fibers like cotton and linen when shopping for key items. Where it’s made is also important: apparel manufactured in the USA assures you that it’s been made under ethical labor conditions.
Fit your body type
One size does not fit all so stick to cuts that work for your size and shape. This is another great way to avoid the temptation of trends.
Steve Jobs famously wore the same Issey Miyake turtleneck on the regs, and while you don’t have to replicate his uniform, you can adopt the philosophy he shares with other great minds whose capsule wardrobe freed up valuable brain space to allow creative thoughts to flow. You won’t necessarily change the world, but you’ll have a lot more time and space to enjoy it.