top of page

Core Wardrobe vs. Capsule Wardrobe: The Realistic Approach to Simplifying Your Wardrobe

Have you heard of the concept of a capsule wardrobe? The term conjures up visions of a minimalist collection of clothes, all in a harmonious color palette, fitting any situation you may find yourself in. While this sounds appealing, it's essential to question: How realistic is this for your lifestyle?

Understanding the Capsule Wardrobe: A Chic Mirage?

While the capsule wardrobe may be an aesthetically pleasing concept popularized by fashion influencers and minimalists, it isn't always a practical choice for everyone. Especially if you have a dynamic lifestyle, love experimenting with styles, or have specific wardrobe needs based on your professional or personal life, adhering to a strictly minimalist wardrobe might feel limiting.

Embracing the More Realistic ‘Core Wardrobe’

In contrast to the capsule wardrobe, a 'core wardrobe' is a more feasible concept that simplifies your wardrobe without sacrificing your style. Think of it this way - about 80% of everything you own forms your core wardrobe. This includes your day-to-day staples that you can dress up or down, from basic tees and denims to your favorite leggings and sweatshirt.

The remaining 20% of your wardrobe can be reserved for trendier, more occasion-specific pieces that add a dash of excitement, like that fabulous pair of heels you wear once a year or that vibrant pink blazer that fits you perfectly and brings you immense joy.

Tips for Building Your Core Wardrobe

1. Invest in Quality Staples That Fit Well

For most people, staples include denim, athleisure pants (think leggings or joggers), layering tees, tanks, and quality sweaters, etc. All of these pieces, although basic, should be quality, fit well and and offer versatile styling options. You also should beware of having too much of this wardrobe category.

To keep your closet from overrunning with staples, keep tabs on duplicates. If you own more than one of something, make sure it's something you reach for more than once per week. Now, exactly how many of these staples you should own is up to you and your laundry habits. You can get away with very few if you buy high quality pieces and wash them gently on a regular basis.

2. Include Great Layering Jackets

Layering jackets or sweaters over your staples will allow you to dress them up or down. Layers include light jackets (leather, denim, quilted cotton, twill, etc), casual blazers, shackets, and cardigans. All of these options can add versatility to your wardrobe.

Layers are also important for transitional seasons, like spring and fall. Your staple t-shirt will take you through the entire year with just the right collection of layers.

3. Choose Versatile Shoes

These days a clean, a casual sneaker can take you almost anywhere looking stylish and put together. I recommend having a classic black or white sneaker, a chic leather shoe (flat or loafer), a simple yet elevated boot, and if you are more on the causal spectrum, add another trendy sneaker (think cool Nikes, not whatever you're wearing to the gym). These shoes will cover you from casual errands to dressier occasions.

Of course you'll need seasonal shoes but I'd lump those under the next category...

4. Embrace Seasonality Mindfully

Consider seasonal clothes as a smaller group of staples, like summer dresses or winter boots, and everything in between. If you live where summers are short, focus on versatile summer pieces that work in transitional seasons, like a dress that can be layered with a jacket and sneakers or boots. Your seasonal items should complement, not overwhelm, your core wardrobe. Store off-season pieces out of sight to declutter your daily selection.

Enjoy seasonal trends mindfully. If you vacation somewhere warm annually, invest in quality summer pieces and try a few trends. But avoid overly trendy items unless you're sure to wear them several times each season. Remember, buying a trendy luxury jacket for a one-off winter trip might not be the best investment unless you plan on wearing it for years to come.

5. Don't Overthink It

Consider these tips and categories as forming the major part of your core wardrobe. Don't worry about exact calculations, the goal is simplicity. If you're stressed by a closet full of clothes yet nothing seems wearable, identify your top 5-10 items in each category and visualize the various ways to combine them. If something crucial seems missing, like a specific staple or jacket, note it. Then, keep a lookout for a high-quality version of this item for your next buy. This approach simplifies your wardrobe while keeping it versatile and personalized.

Focusing on quality, fit, and versatility, the core wardrobe provides a practical and flexible alternative to the allure of a minimalist capsule wardrobe. It's about simplifying your dressing routine, boosting your confidence, and authentically expressing 'you'. The next time you're swept up by the dreamy concept of a capsule wardrobe, pause and reflect on the core wardrobe. It might just align better with your dynamic lifestyle and personal style.


bottom of page