Too many decisions before you start your day can leave you mentally exhausted. The fashion savvy are adopting one trick to get ahead: the capsule wardrobe.
Bzzzzz. Bzzzzz. You crack open one eye to find your phone vibrating dangerously close to the edge of your nightstand. 'Good morning!' sing a choir of Slack pings, Zoom meeting notifications, and social media messages, each demanding a quick decision. You fire away necessary responses as you dig through your pants drawer, only to find the ones that haven’t fit since 2019. Time runs out. You panic and throw on the roomy trousers you wore yesterday.
“Getting dressed should not stress you out,” said Nadine Naue, a Glamhive personal stylist and capsule wardrobe expert. As a former model and mom living in New York, her streamlined style gives off an air of chic confidence that seems impossibly aspirational. Her secret weapon? A capsule wardrobe.
The hashtag #capsulewardrobe has 1.3 billion views on TikTok alone and is gaining momentum. As the capsule wardrobe trend becomes more sought-after, Naue specializes in making it attainable.
Social media trends aside, capsule wardrobes have existed for years as a limited collection of your favorite pieces, assembled with your lifestyle in mind. The purpose of a capsule wardrobe is to cut out unnecessary decisions, stress, and negative energy so you can be the best version of yourself.
The sudden surge of capsule wardrobes is partly due to larger sustainability trends in clothing consumption. However, many are catching on to another benefit: they reduce decision fatigue.
Capsules are not just for those who want to consume less. As a model and stylist, Nadine’s long proximity to the fashion industry (she has worked with Vogue, Revlon, Marie Claire, and YSL…) has granted her access to the glittering closets of serious collectors.
“I noticed a lot of these people, they have the most amazing wardrobes, designers to the brim, and they end up wearing jeans and a white t-shirt every day,” said Naue. “I'm like, we have to change that.”
Follow a Formula
As a capsule collection expert, Naue has a general formula but tailors her approach to each client. First, she evaluates her client’s lifestyle--their career, closet space, style preferences and how they need to move throughout their day. Each capsule is completely different.
In her life as a mom, model, and stylist, she has optimized her warrobe to nail chic looks that can transition from client consultations to school pick-ups to shopping sessions. She organizes her capsules seasonally–one for spring/summer and another for fall/winter, just like a designer collection. This formula is perfect for her lifestyle, but her experience has shown her that a capsule is most successful when it is bespoke to one's unique needs.
If you don’t have a personal stylist to guide you through, use this general formula to get started. Naue recommends between five and ten pieces in every category, starting with five versatile and well-fitting bottoms. Then tops, and so on.
From there, consider how you can dress each item up or down. Think of accessories as having a specific job to do, not just as sparkly accoutrements. Shoes, for example, have the power to completely transform a look. In Nadine’s capsule, she plans for around six pairs of shoes, three bags, and keeps jewelry to a minimum.
Follow the Rules
When adding an item to the capsule, one of Naue’s rules is being able to create a minimum of five different outfits with it. It’s all about versatility. Take a classic white button-down shirt: you can wear it under a sweater, with a crop top underneath, wear it with a blazer, throw it over leather pants, or dressed-down denim. Are you counting? That's the magic five ways.
If your current wardrobe looks more like a sartorial circus tent filled with vibrant colors and wild prints, your approach to a capsule will look different. Naue suggests taking an intentional approach to color and prints. She finds that most people gravitate toward a specific palette, making it much easier to coordinate.
Prints can be eye-catching, but you may (oddly enough) get bored more easily. You may tire of showing up in that same bold floral print top for three brunches and two cocktail parties. One of Naue’s tricks is to pack away well-loved pieces in a treasure box for a year or so. This tactic, she explains, can give you the chance to fall in love with your favorite peices all over again.
Cut Out Negative Energy
Could holding onto excess clothing be causing you more stress? “Do not hold on to pieces that are not your size anymore. It's negative thoughts, said Naue. “We don't want that energy in our life.”
Cutting out pieces that bring up negative emotions or have run their course can be difficult, but once you start considering your wardrobe with intention, the process becomes clear. There are three paths you can take: pack it, alter it, or toss it out.
Keeping Up With It
In a recent episode of The Kardashians, Kim takes us to her warehouse-style storage unit. We follow her down aisles of archival fashion pieces as she points out the first dress she wore to the Met Gala before she sifts through every Yeezy sneaker ever made. This level of excess is awe-inspiring, but there’s only one difference between this reality and an episode of Hoarders: organization.
Structure is tantamount to keeping up with your capsule and avoiding decision fatigue. Naue recommends monochromatic hangers, spacing hangers, and packing away off-season pieces, whether you have a private warehouse or a couple of well-packed bins under your bed.
What if you want to add more to your current capsule? Fight the urge to add mindlessly to your closet by maintaining an ongoing shopping list. Notice your wardrobe is missing something? Write it down. When you’re out hitting a seasonal sale, consult the list to see if those 70% off butter leather knee-high boots are truly a necessity. Can you style them five ways? Then the answer may be yes.
The Elephant In The Room: Trends
It’s a common misconception that trend pieces don’t belong in a capsule. They can be versatile too. Naue asks herself, How many different ways can I wear it? Case in point: her favorite silver leather pants are a big statement, but her intentional way of creating looks makes them shine effortlessly. “I really dress them up,” said Naue. “I dress them down with chunky boots, I wear them with sneakers and a sweatshirt.”
Finally Take Control of Decision Fatigue
Naue believes this simplified lifestyle can extend beyond your closet and into other areas of your life, just take it from her clients: “All of a sudden they started tearing apart their kitchen,” said Naue. “They're like, ‘Oh, I don't need all that stuff. And they started thinking, what do I actually need?’ It's just a simplified lifestyle.”
Decision fatigue is a daily threat to mental focus, but having a capsule wardrobe in your toolbox can seriously declutter your mind. “There are so many things that we cannot control,” said Naue. “So just having that peace of mind, you know, I think is worth a lot.” So take back control, and start living a more effortless, simplified lifestyle with a capsule wardrobe.
Nadine Naue is available for personal wardrobe consultations, from a simple closet cleanse to bespoke capsule creation on Glamhive.