Capsule Wardrobe Week 1: Colours

About 10 years ago, I started getting smart about my wardrobe. I settled into my style a bit, was earning a decent wage working and started thinking about clothes beyond buying cheaply trendy items from fast fashion chains. Around that time, I “chose” my neutrals for each season and they’ve pretty much been the same ever since.

Most wardrobe planners will get you to establish colour palettes in the early stages. This can be fun, but also a lot of work and sometimes limiting. Not everyone wants to wear the same four colours all the time! Not everyone wants to commit to wearing the same colours for years, because you’re not realistically going to create an entirely new capsule wardrobe each year. What I do instead is set a few neutrals as the backbone of my wardrobe and let my feeling that season choose anything that works with them.

In the cooler months, I wear black and in the warmer months, I wear white and naturals. I wear grey all year round as it goes with both white and black. This has simplified things so much for me and has allowed me to pare down my wardrobe to just a few staples accessories, but I never find myself panicking to find the right shoe or bag for an outfit. I already have it! I have basically stocked my closet with the appropriate shoe or bag for every occasion and weather. It sounds like a lot, but it’s not.

I’ve invested in these pieces so they last me a long time. Every year, I typically have to replace one or two items and can really take my time finding the perfect one. I also spend money on repairing items and highly recommend you find a “shoe guy” (or gal or whatever) who has a positive attitude when it comes to fixing items you love. I’ve had so many people tell me to just throw out my boots because they’re not worth replacing the zipper on. (If you’re local to Ottawa, I highly recommend Max’s Shoe Repair on Wellington. He hasn’t ever told me he couldn’t fix something and has revived countless purses, boots and sandals for both my husband and me. )

If you’re interested in my shoe and bag must-haves, here’s my list:

Winter (late fall, winter and early spring) :

  • Every day crossbody bag
  • Tote bag for work or shopping
  • Crossbody/clutch for special occasions
  • Sneaker
  • Nice flat
  • Rubber boot
  • Waterproof, insulated riding boots for snow
  • Pump for special occasions
  • Nice boot for special occasions

Spring/summer:

  • Every day crossbody bag
  • Tote bag for work or shopping
  • Crossbody/clutch for special occasions
  • Sneaker
  • Nice flat
  • Every day sandal
  • Nice heel for special occasions
  • Sun hat

I find this strategy extremely practical for a handmade wardrobe in that you get to add to your capsule year after year. Since I’ve been doing this for a while, I’ve also discovered other colours I can commit to and know I will continue to love for years and years (burgundy and blush, if you hadn’t already guessed). These serve as my pops of colour in an otherwise fairly neutral wardrobe.

Am I saying you need to wear exclusively black and white? Heck no. But, I am saying it you need to pick a few colours you will love forever and make sure everything you sew or buy can be worn with them. This will ensure that you get tons of wear out of your makes and always feel put together. If you’re interested in the idea of a small, neutral wardrobe that focussed on quality and not quantity, google Five-piece French Wardrobe.

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