Too many clothes in your closet? How to create your capsule wardrobe, with go-to essentials and investment pieces

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Hong Kong-based “recommerce” platform Hula

What is a capsule wardrobe? It’s the answer to that moment in the morning when, running 15 minutes late, you fling open your dresser and flounder over what to wear.

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Do you pull on one of the three jumpers you have in blue and, if so, which one? Which pair of trousers will it go best with – the culottes (you have three) or the ankle grazers? Tan? White? Never mind, jeans will do – when you’ve figured out which of the five pairs you want to go with today.

Then you check the weather forecast – well, it’s actually too warm for a jumper, you’re still in your underwear and you’re now half an hour late.

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If this feels like a personal attack, it’s not. Think of it as your wake-up call to clear your closet in the same way you spring-clean your home.

Hong Kong-based “recommerce” platform Hula

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Personal eco-stylist Polina Milashevskaya says capsule items should be able to mix and match with each other.

A capsule wardrobe should consist of a limited set of items that can be easily mixed and matched with each other, says personal eco-stylist Polina Milashevskaya, known on Instagram as @styleit_green.

There are several rules when it comes to creating your capsule wardrobe, she says – choose timeless pieces, versatile pieces, interchangeable clothes (“a great rule of thumb to follow is 1/4, which means one bottom piece should go with at least four different top combinations”), and stylistic variety in shoes and accessories.

Winnowing down your wardrobe to 25 to 50 pieces – including clothing, shoes and accessories – means you can make the most of your wardrobe, says the Hong Kong-based stylist.

“[Following the Pareto Principle], around 20 per cent of your effort produces 80 per cent of the results. You’d be surprised to know that the same applies to your wardrobe. We wear only 20 per cent of what we own. So having a capsule where you use every single piece helps you to maximise the value of every item you have.”

Milashevskaya says a curated wardrobe removes the stress from your relationship with your clothes and eliminates “decision fatigue”.

“As you have carefully selected the items for your capsule, you will always feel good in your outfits and be confident in your choice,” she adds.

Perhaps more importantly, choosing high-quality pieces that last a long time “encourages slow fashion and conscious consumption” and reduces your carbon footprint. It also saves you time – and money – when shopping.

“You won’t be as easily seduced to have a compulsive purchase because you have an existing framework in place,” Milashevskaya says.

Rebecca Ling, founder of clothing brand Parallel 51, agrees that capsule wardrobes can be “both sustainable and friendly on your wallet”.

The Hong Kong label’s conscious approach to fashion means it focuses on “timeless designs and flattering fits that you’ll wear” again and again, not fast-fashion trends – vital when taking a minimalist approach to your clothes.

Hong Kong-based “recommerce” platform Hula

Rebecca Ling, founder of clothing brand Parallel 51, believes in having five to 10 items you wear repeatedly.

“The key to starting your capsule wardrobe is to pick five to 10 items that you wear on repeat,” Ling advises. “These will be the foundation items of your wardrobe. Once you find designs that you like, make sure you have those pieces in essential neutral colours and any accent colours that you like.

“To add some variety to your capsule wardrobe, you can also choose these staple designs in a print or pattern that matches with your neutral and accent colours.”

These building blocks, Ling adds, can be used to “create many different outfits for all types of occasions by styling with different accessories and shoes”.

Hong Kong-based “recommerce” platform Hula

Sarah Fung, founder of Hong Kong-based re-commerce platform Hula, recommends shopping for vintage clothes.

Let go, too, of the notion that high quality has to mean expensive – or that it has to be boring. Sarah Fung, founder of Hong Kong-based “recommerce” platform Hula, says that stand-out pieces can be found if you shop vintage.

“If you can’t afford high-end brands, shop from a luxury consignment store,” Fung says. “Shopping pre-owned opens up a world of styles and brands you might never have considered or could afford previously.

“If you want a more unique look, without wearing what everyone is wearing this season, shop for vintage items that are unique and not so recognised – these pieces will become your wardrobe treasures and will help define your look.”

Hong Kong-based “recommerce” platform Hula

Overwhelmed by all those outfits? It’s time to create your capsule wardrobe collection. Photo: Shutterstock

When it comes to choosing fabrics, “take a look at fabrications that are easier to maintain or that can be cleaned regularly such as silk, cotton, bamboo – rayon or viscose – and linen mixes,” Fung adds.

“To be more sustainable, some pieces in your wardrobe can be worn at least three to seven times before being washed. This will ensure your pieces won’t look old and over-washed too soon.”

There is no real right or wrong way to curate a capsule wardrobe (apart from not doing it all). If you find it hard to part with anything, ask a ruthless friend or three to help determine if something truly does spark joy, or if it’s time to let it go.

When you’re done, you’ll probably discover that the pieces you’re left with are the ones you truly would and do wear all the time.

Just don’t then immediately go out and buy more to fill your newly empty shelves. That’s so 2021.

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