University Life And A Capsule Wardrobe

by Clare Ince

Whilst moving off to university, uprooting my life to seaside living in Cornwall, I had a dilemma. Not only did I have to pack an entire double wardrobe into a suitcase, I only had half a bedroom to fit my clothes into. I didn’t want to take over mine and my roommate’s bedroom with my clothes, so a purge was necessary.

A capsule wardrobe had always seemed like an unobtainable dream, as my idea of what it all entailed was a rail of minimalistic couture. This was the first example I’d seen of a capsule collection featured in a fashion bible, so it set a slightly unrealistic ideal for a student trying to buy wisely. But it was something I always wanted to try, so I hit the Internet to look for advice and take note on what wise people before me had done to create their collection.

Some tips I found:

Have a practice run. A capsule wardrobe challenge called Project 333 first started in 2010, which sparked off a slight craze around the minimalist idea. Courtney Carver proposed the idea of wearing 33 pieces of clothing, jewellery and accessories for three months. By doing so, you will know for sure what is an essential piece of your wardrobe.

When I moved to uni and did an entire term on only a quarter of my clothes, I realised I needed a complete overhaul.

How about a uniform? There is such a thing as ‘decision fatigue’, which is the idea that you only have a certain amount of energy in a day, so reducing time spent making decisions about what to wear can only improve your productivity in other places. I read an article about an art director called Matilda Kahl who had at that point worn the same white silk shirt and black trousers to work, everyday for three years.

The first thing that struck me was an obvious trait these people had: restraint. I felt that buying with care, thought and caution was key to creating a capsule wardrobe. By this, I don’t just mean saying “that’s not for me,”. If you can buy a piece made from a material that will last, or in a classic style that will outlive its runway life, you will help both your purse and the planet.

What I did:

I set about streamlining my wardrobe to a select few pieces, which was definitely a challenge. My style takes on different moods, I can be ‘Garçonne’ one day and a pinch more glam the next, but my ideal is always a limited colour palette based around the season and what coordinates well with my skin and hair.

I imagined my wardrobe to be a mood board, and so wanted a few key pieces that can be paired with basics to create a number of combinations that all work well together.

My pieces are mainly comprised of items of clothing with cool silhouettes, whilst still being classic. Black boiler suits, Breton stripes, a black dress, flared trousers. All of which work for my figure, so I feel comfortable whilst still feeling confident, which the multitude of clothes in my old wardrobe never achieved for me.

Whilst I haven’t entirely reached a 33 piece capsule wardrobe, I can now satisfy myself with a suitcase-full to take back and forth on the train. The element of care is the most crucial aspect in my reduced-size wardrobe, what really has changed is that I know my own style now, what I feel comfortable in and own clothes that I actually love and work really well together. Before I started the capsule wardrobe, I bought a gorgeous bracelet from somewhere like Green Diamonds and it’s been perfect for my new style. It seems to go with everything which is exactly what I need! When choosing jewellery to go in your capsule wardrobe, make sure you have lots of variety.

A little list of handy hints and places to look out for:

1. Take care in your approach to shopping, some designers I really rate are Comme Des Garçons, eco-conscious pieces from Reformation, vintage Levis,  Knitwear and jewellery from COS/Arket, and eco-conscious trainers from Veja Paris.

2. Find your style, what you feel comfortable and confident in. Have fun with your style and play with combinations of basics, colour palettes and silhouettes.

3. Buy things that bring you joy.

Enjoy, and good luck!

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