Fashion For Real Women

Clothing Capsules:
An Easy Way to Extend Your Budget

Clothing capsules offer a clever way to extend your wardrobe and do a lot with a little. By using the clothes you already have in new and different combinations, you give yourself lots of options without buying anything new. In fact, once you understand how clothing capsules work, you can build your wardrobe around them and give yourself tons of outfits -- and stop wasting money on impulse items that don't go with anything else you own.

The first thing you need to do is remember when planning clothing capsules is that you CAN mix and match your clothes. Often, we get in such a rut that we forget that there's more than one way of doing things. Once you break out of that way of thinking and try different things, you'll be amazed as what you can do.

So what's a clothing capsule?

A clothing capsule is a group of 5-12 pieces (jacket, skirt, slacks, etc.) that work in combination with each other in color, style, or mood. Black pants with a leapored print scarf, for example, or a white skirt with a navy and white top.

If you always wear certain tops with certain bottoms or always wear the same jewelry with a certain dress, realizing that you can wear those tried-and-true combos in different ways becomes very liberating. It also allows you to do a lot more with your wardrobe, enabling you to buy less, save more, and still look great all the time.

While there are no set rules, here are some general guidelines for building wardrobe capsules:

  • Solids mix more easily than prints.
  • Prints can bridge two completely different solids.
  • Simple, untrimmed styles are more versatile and become less dated.
  • Each piece should be in your most flattering color palette and fit both your shape and your clothing personality. Don't buy items that don't fit or make you look good.
  • Avoid trendy styles. What's "in" this year will be "out" next year and you'll be out the cash. Invest in classic styles instead to get more wear out of your clothes.

Now I know from experience that some women are really good at mixing and matching while others need a little more help. Arrange your closet for easy access by keeping all the pants together, all the jackets together, all the skirts together, etc., by color, so that you can see at a glance what you have to work with.

Study catalogs and window displays for ideas. Make note of how a jacket might be worn a little differently or how an accessory might be worn in a new way. It doesn't take a lot.

To re-emphasize: Start building your capsules with what you have. Often, the first inclination is to go run buy something new. It's not necessary. See what you have, see what you need, and add pieces as your budget allows.

In the meantime, experiment with what you have. Write down the combinations if necessary. You'll get the hang of this in no time.

Once you unlock your creativity by looking at your wardrobe every which way, you'll soon find yourself doing the same with other aspects of your life, like your home, your job, problem solving, etc. When you do, you'll be delighted at what your imagination can come up with. In the words of fashion designer Jil Sander, "Think more, buy less."


Diana Pemberton-Sikes is a wardrobe and image consultant and author of "Wardrobe Magic," an ebook that shows women how to transform their unruly closets into workable, wearable wardrobes. Visit her online at  .  Clothing Capsules

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