Calling Bullshit On Having A Capsule Wardrobe

’Cause no one, apart from maybe Jennifer Aniston, has three crisp white T-shirts hanging in their wardrobes


by Dolly Alderton |
Published on

Sometimes I hear adults say they do things, and I really don’t believe them. I don’t believe anyone really rinses dishes before they put them in the dishwasher, for example. I’m sorry, but I don’t. And I don’t believe people do overnight hair masks once a week (too greasy, too much fuss, messes up your bed linen). I don’t believe everyone’s allergic to gluten (no one was complaining of bloating when Jesus fed the 5,000) and I don’t believe anyone makes their own puff pastry. But the biggest lie we’re told – the glistening, jellied jewel in the crown of pork pies – is the myth of the capsule wardrobe.

The Capsule Wardrobe. The minimalist collection of clothes that contains simple, key pieces that will last forever and a few interchangeable, seasonal garments. An idea created by designers in the 1970s and has been leaving people feeling guilty when they stare into the chaos of their overflowing drawers ever since.

The first time I heard the expression was when I was a teenager and my mum was horrified by the state of my cupboard, heaving under the weight of £5 vintage dresses from Camden market or 23 Topshop tank tops in all the colours of the rainbow.

'You need to create a capsule wardrobe, darling,' she explained. 'Invest in a few high-quality, basic separates, then buy your…' she searched her thoughts as she gestured at a hot pink T-shirt with the slogan ‘F IS FOR FAG HAG’ on it 'more fun things cheaply, from the high-street shops.'

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The idea of investing large amounts of money in basic pieces of clothing that will shape my outfits forever is completely foreign to me. Firstly, my personal style changes more than Lauren Goodger’s Instagram avatar. And secondly, if I’m going to spend loads of money on clothes, it will be something bloody outstanding. Like a sequin jumpsuit or a Barbarella one-piece, or a pair of those incredible platform, suede, over-the-knee boots. Maybe in red. Hey, that would be cool, wouldn’t it? I digress – point is, I’m never going think it’s OK to spend £200 on a white shirt.

I say we stop this myth of The Capsule Wardrobe and we celebrate the chameleon chaos of the cheap, cheerful and wildly varied. So I present to you – The Capsule Wardrobe VS The Real Wardrobe.

Capsule Wardrobe: Three identical plain white cotton T-shirts, immaculately made and tailored (on Jennifer Aniston's recent instruction) to skim over your body perfectly. The starting canvas for every cool, casual outfit.

Real Wardrobe: 28 T-shirts, one white, but gone a bit grey because you accidentally put it in with a dark wash when you were hungover. Plenty of slogan or branded ones to charter your life through various phases: Jack Wills, RAG week, Coldplay, 'NO MORE PAGE THREE.'

Capsule Wardrobe: A timeless black jacket that fits you like a glove.

Real Wardrobe: A cheap black jacket that you were forced to buy when you were a sixth former to wear for your school’s open day. Never had to buy another one as it does the job sufficiently for its required events – interviews and funerals. For high days and holidays however, you have a more wide-ranging selection of jackets. There’s the boucle for when you’re feeling French, the acid yellow, the (p)leather biker, the faux-fur gilet, that nice tweedy one from when you were going through your ‘heritage’ phase. The preppy houndstooth and that silly sequin one you’ve never worn.

Capsule Wardrobe: Two camisoles in neutral colours to wear under jackets and cardigans. Possibly in a luxurious fabric, maybe silk.

Real Wardrobe: Ten strappy tops you’ve picked up from here, there and everywhere including a few that you think might have been part of a pyjama set. Or a thermal vest. Underwear as outerwear, yeah? It’s a thing.

Capsule Wardrobe: One pair of expensive, slim-fit, mid-blue denim jeans you will wear forever.

Real Wardrobe: Eight pairs of jeans, none worth over the value of £40. Boyfriend, skinny, ripped knee, flared, pastel coloured, jewel coloured, black and acid wash.

Capsule Wardrobe: Matching underwear sets in black, white and nude. Three pairs of matching knickers to every bra, so you never have to mix and match your colours.

Real Wardrobe: Enough knickers to sew together and make a quilt to lay flat and cover a British county. Fun, silly knickers, sexy knickers, frilly knickers, knickers for certain outfits, horrible, holey grey knickers, delicate knickers purely “for show” and the knickers with good memories.

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Capsule Wardrobe: One evening clutch, one black leather day bag and one brown leather day bag. Plus a chic overnight bag and good, grown-up luggage.

Real Wardrobe: Eight bags of which you wear just one (black leather, large enough to carry everything) until the handles break off and you have to find one identical. A Virgin Active rucksack you got free with your short-lived membership and now use for weekends away. A large, trusty suitcase you’ve been using since your year nine geography trip to Swanage and now carries all the markings of adolescent adventures, including travel tags from trips to Thailand.

So, there we have it. You’re not alone. We’re all searching through the same amount of wardrobe rubble when we get ready for work every morning. And we’re all buying our puff pastry ready-made and frozen too.

Like this? Then you might be interested in…

Here’s How To Make Your Summer Wardrobe Work For Autumn Too

Confessions Of A Summer Phobic Dresser

Catcallers Don’t Care If You’re Wearing Hotpants Or An Overcoat

Follow Dolly on Twitter @dollyalderton

Picture: Getty

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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