this capsule contains:
V: The perfect capsule wardrobe should include pieces that reflect your style, what you love to wear and offer a limitless number of outfits that can effortlessly be everyday staples.
B: Whilst it may seem to be a recent trend, the term, ‘capsule wardrobe’, has actually been alive longer than the Pinterest pages and endless YouTube ‘I tried a capsule wardrobe for 30 days!’ videos would have you believe. In fact, this idea of minimising the items of clothing you own, right down to a set number of carefully curated pieces suitable for every occasion, was actually born in the 1970s. The brain child of Susie Faux, the owner of a London fashion boutique, the ‘capsule wardrobe’ gained tract and was popularised in the mid-80s by designer Donna Karen, who envisioned the concept as one to suit the working woman. Stylish, but still practical. Nothing too flashy. Women were finding themselves in the workplace, a decisively male dominated sphere, and they wanted to be taken seriously. And this no-nonsense, easily reproduced guide was the perfect solution.
B: With this most recent revival, it can feel as though the trend is one which fits firmly in the category of that highly privileged market, those who own too much stuff and wish to curate and cultivate this into a very specific minimalist aesthetic. Because, of course, this ‘capsule wardrobe’ appeals to those who have the choice to choose between the things that they own, as it ultimately stems from the nouveau bourgeoise desire to liberate oneself from the amalgamation of years of bowing down to Capitalist Consumerist ideology. It would appear that this rekindled fascination with pining all our clothing items right down to the bare (albeit, very stylish) essentials, speaks to some deeper desire to unburden from the constraints of, quite frankly, owning too much fucking shite. And, personally, I cannot say that this idea does not appeal to me. Which is why, Valentina and I decided to give it a go. I like clothes, and I have more than my fair share of them. What can I say? I’m a hoarder at heart and, spoiler alert, barely a week had passed by since we had limited our wardrobe contents to under twenty items, and I was already bargaining my way into adding more and more clothes into the mix. I was struggling.
V: Personally I have accumulated a large amount of clothing during the years of senseless shopping, but now that my style has changed and defined a little more there are many skinny jeans I don’t wish to wear anymore. Summer began and it was time to try reducing my bulky closet so Bria and I decided to give each other a capsule wardrobe. We chose to give each other 12 to 20 items in our capsule wardrobes that could style well with one another, but still have some colour and a couple of pieces that catch the eye. At the beginning it was exciting to think that I would only be wearing clothes that I love and definitely don’t wear enough, and with the sun shining outside a capsule wardrobe was exactly what I needed: more sun less clothes!!!
However as the weather slowly, but surely became more grey (classic Scotland) the second week of the capsule wardrobe began to feel less exciting and more daunting, any plan to have so many little pieces at a time felt like a project that I didn’t want to sign up for in the long run, I was missing my white flared trousers and I could not imagine the windy cold long winters of Edinburgh without my minimum of 4 layers and during the morning’s desperation of planning an outfit for the day, that felt like it was all I had. Now that I allow myself with a few more items of clothes I can clearly see what went downhill, the shock from going to limitless to limited options, was real. Looking forward I would consider having less, but planning is needed: there needs to be a vision. What colours would I like to wear more? or what clothes do I love, but don’t wear enough? what is practical and what is not?
B: I realise that this whole concept, the basic ‘minimalist’ principles of having to limit down the things you own (because, let’s face it, they are starting to take over your life) is a privileged issue indeed. It calls to some long held truth regarding the vastly different states of the world, the ways in which we are separated into two awful, unjust categories: the haves, and the have-nots. I am extremely fortunate to consider myself part of the former, and I will not ignore the fact that whilst here I sit, bemoaning the fact that I was very temporarily (spoiler alert part two, I barely lasted two weeks of this experiment) without the other half of my wardrobe, it is the very startling reality that there are people who could not fathom owning so much excess, whose very first concern is to fulfil their basic needs, and becoming a ‘minimalist’ is not so much as a lifestyle trend so much as it is a necessity.
V: So you guessed it, it’s time for another Pinterest board. I like the idea of the capsule wardrobe and maybe I’m speaking too soon, but I shall absolutely have another attempt at it and change it every month which defeats the purpose of it to an extent, but it will feel like going shopping and getting new clothes without having to spend anything.
B: With this in mind, I guess I should also highlight that ‘fashion’ is not necessarily synonymous with the big, bad Capitalist agenda to fill our lives with inane shit, before encouraging us to throw half of it away, start fresh and then slowly fill us back up. Back to square one. However, I do believe that the only way to view the way we use clothing and the means by which we style ourselves, is one tinted in negative shades. Style is fun, experimental; it is the way to communicate to the stranger on the street some part of who we are. We can express ourselves, or not. We can care about what we look like, or not. Either way, the things we choose to wear (or not wear) certainly do say something about who we want to be seen as, the kind of person we aspire to be. And in this sense, clothes do matter.
This is indeed the part in which I shamelessly defend my hoarding ways. It stands to reason that with this ability to translate our desired perceptions onto our own physical image, comes the problem of the two becoming misaligned. And here is my defence, dear jury, because I am not one singular aspect of the numerous factions of my personality. I am constantly changing, evolving, switching from moods and emotions like the flick of a switch. And so how can I possibly reflect this in the way I dress if I am to limit myself to the normcore, frankly quite boring, and so-called ‘necessities’. And who is Susie Faux, or Donna Karen, or anyone for that matter to dictate to me what I am ‘supposed’ to view as the most necessary items I should own? Who can tell me that I should sway out that shiny, fluorescent green anorak, in favour of a more subtle, and ‘versatile’ black coat? Why should I settle for practical, wearable, classic, when I want to be bold, playful and individual. I want to look back at photographs, ten, twenty years from now and think: ‘What the fuck was I wearing?’