Ciao, welcome back to my blog!
In today's post, I will share with you how to find your own personal style and build the perfect capsule wardrobe for you.
When I was in my 20s I loved to experiment with clothes and trends hoping to find my style.
After hitting my 30s, I finally understood what my signature style is and today I will explain how I did it.
I am not a personal stylist or a style consultant (or image consultant), however, I have been working in retail for 10 years and I picked up all the best secrets to find what kind of clothes work and which style suit best my clients.
Admittedly, discovering how to spot my personal style improved my ability to help other people finding their fashion style too.
What is a capsule wardrobe?
If you are not familiar with the concept, a “capsule wardrobe is a term coined by Susie Faux, the owner of a London boutique called "Wardrobe" in the 1970s. According to Faux, a capsule wardrobe is a collection of a few essential items of clothing that do not go out of fashion, such as skirts, trousers, and coats, which can then be augmented with seasonal pieces.” Wikipedia
As a result of owning fewer clothes, all the items should be chosen to be paired together without effort and should be worn regularly.
A minimal, capsule wardrobe doesn't have strict rules.
A common misconception about the capsule wardrobe is that it is usually made of a specific number of total black outfits, no patterns, no bright colours, only neat shapes.
This is a stereotype. There are indeed people that adopt this kind of perspective, which is totally fine but it doesn't have to be like this for everyone.
A capsule wardrobe is simply about owning less, carefully selected items that work perfectly for you and make you feel great about yourself because they suit your taste, your lifestyle and your values.
Look at the exemplary capsule wardrobe below:
It is not all black and white and it has a specific style, it has colour and it has personality.
Another great of inspiration is Melissa's blog "A closet rotation", where she shares her style and amazing tips and tricks on how to how to Build a Seasonal Capsule Wardrobe on a Budget
Benefits of embracing a capsule wardrobe
These are the reasons why I am a firm believer in the capsule wardrobe:
Classic, timeless pieces in colours that suit you and shapes that are flattering to your body shape will last for years, they will never go out of fashion and they will always look relevant.
All the items will always work nicely together allowing you to be quicker to create outfits and therefore to get dressed in the morning without the anxiety of: "I don't have anything to wear".
Not following temporary trends will make you save money and you will always feel confident in what you are wearing.
Sticking to fewer but well-chosen items will improve your personal style making you feel unique.
How to choose the right items to build the perfect capsule wardrobe for you?
There are several things to consider to start with your capsule collection.
The list below is the exact order you should follow to find your own personal style and as a result, the right clothes for you.
It is not going to be a quick process. It will require months to understand what you actually wear and to decide if your style suits you or your lifestyle.
Don't get discouraged: take your time.
The longer you take, the better the results will be.
1) Your lifestyle
Think deeply about what you are doing daily.
What your activities and habits are?
Fashion choices and lifestyle are interconnected: our style is always evolving because it is a reflection of what we are doing with our clothes at a particular time in our life.
My personal style now in my early 30s while living in London is not going to be the same as my style when I was a 23 years old student in Italy.
And yes, if your style is still the same after 10 years, then there is surely something wrong.
Personal style quiz:
Are you a mum?
Are you working full time in a conservative environment?
Do you go out often after work or do you prefer to relax at home?
Are you sporty?
What your hobbies are? Do you need specific clothing or equipment for your hobbies?
Do you travel a lot?
What is your budget?
How many seasons do you have where you live?
All these questions will define what you need to keep in your wardrobe from what you already own.
For instance: I live in London, where there are 4 seasons, but the winter months are usually longer than the summer ones.
I work full time in retail management, so my daily dress-code is smart-casual.
I am sporty but I don't go to the gym, I rarely go out when I am off and when I do is for casual dinners/events.
Consequently, I will need the majority of my clothes to be suitable for work, I need comfy shoes as I stand 9 hours a day, what I wear at work is ok for my free time and I will need comfy loungewear to stay at home/workout.
When you break it down like so it will immediately look like an easy task.
2) Find your signature style
This section is deeply related to the one above and it is a consequence of self-awareness and intentionality.
Many wardrobes are a hot mess of several trends put together but not connected. They often are the result of impulsive shopping.
Does the classic: "How cute, I'll take it!" (without pondering first if it will match what you already own) say anything to you?
Intentionality plays a big part in building a great minimalist capsule closet.
The truth is that unless you define your REAL style, you'll keep struggling with your wardrobe.
Below you will find an effective method to determine what your signature style is.
The question that we need to ask ourselves after being aware of our lifestyle is:
What do I like? What do I need?
Recognising the difference between need ( if something important is missing) and want (something that we desire) is crucial.
On top of it, sometimes it is difficult to decide what we truly want as well.
There are too many alternatives and possibilities out there and it makes our plan to select even harder.
Another question to ask yourself is:
What do I hate about my wardrobe?
Maybe your aesthetic doesn't match your lifestyle and as a result, you are frustrated because you are not wearing enough of the items that you actually like but only what is practical.
For example, you love silk dresses and fancy heels and you bought several of them but they are all sitting in the wardrobe untouched because you actually don't go out much and you have to wear a uniform at work.
The silk dresses and fancy heels suit your aesthetic but they clash with your lifestyle when you wear other kinds of clothes. My advice here is to face reality: who do you really want to be?
If you feel very depressed about it, maybe it is time to change your lifestyle to match your style. It's 2020, we have the freedom to do so.
Alternatively, you might opt to wear your best clothes every day, despite their unpracticality.
On the other hand, you might find this new awareness eye-opening and you might want to be even more specific about which items you are wearing the most to discard the ones you love but that you don't use.
If that's the case, it would be beneficial to play a game for a couple of weeks:
Turn all the hangers in your wardrobe stand the other way round.
Every time that you are wearing something, put it back as you normally would.
After two weeks, check the items that have not been touched (you will see that the hangers are still on the other side).
This simple trick will show you what you are wearing the most and it will help define your fashion style, which is crucial to achieving cohesiveness.
Fun fact: did you know that most people doing this exercise found out that they were only wearing 20% of their wardrobe 80% of the time?
Now, that 20% is the base of your true style.
From now on, keep the 20% most worn items in your wardrobe and pack the rest 80%.
Put it somewhere hidden and wait at least for a couple of weeks.
This time will allow you to experiment with several combinations with the most worn items and it will give you an idea of what you really are.
Taking pictures of your outfits every day is also a good method to find out what your favourite combos are.
After the two weeks, take out some of the items you liked the most from the 80% you put aside and check if any of them can be reconsidered, maybe trying new outfit combos with the original 20%.
Anything that is really not working is to be sold or donated.
Repeat the process until you get rid of everything that is surplus and is not working effortlessly with the rest.
While being in this part of the journey, the following step is crucial to decide what to keep and what to give away so include it in your experiment. It has a separate point because it is rather important and it needs to be considered on its own.
3) Consider what suits you the most
Certain fabrics. colour palettes and cuts are more flattering on us than others (check my previous post "Fashion hacks to look put together at all times" where I deal with it deeply)
Spend some time to know what your body shape is, what colours are great against your skin and which fabrics look amazing on you.
To do so, take pictures of your outfits daily but don't share them with others.
You should look at them as a reference of what you like, what combos you are wearing often and what really works on you without having another person's style or point of view interfere with what you are trying to figure out.
You don't want to please others, the main reason you are doing this is to please yourself.
Your style diary, collected in a few weeks, will give you a huge hand deciding which style you'd better opt for.
You can also decide to opt for a capsule wardrobe planner if you prefer pen and paper.
For instance: if you love and suit light colours, delicate flowery patterns and you look great in flowy A-line dresses you might want to stick with a feminine and romantic look rather than a tomboy.
This is just one example but the range of choice is endless.
4) Don't check Pinterest or your Instagram account to find inspiration
I know it sounds ridiculous for a blogger to say so, but you are trying to understand what style and clothes suit and work for you here, not what looks amazing on other people with a different body and a different lifestyle. Don't compare yourself to other people, you are unique and special.
5) Declutter ruthlessly
Many people start from this step but I think it is a gigantic mistake.
Decluttering only the right items will be possible and it is going to be an easy task only after acknowledging who you are first.
Taking everything out of your entire wardrobe and making a hell of a mess in your bedroom will only overwhelm you and make things even more confusing.
Your old pair of jeans or your super comfy loungewear set may not sparkle joy, but you are still wearing them every day.
Marie Kondo's method of sorting things out doesn't really make sense for me, even though I respect and love her.
Having clear in your mind what suits you, what your signature style is, being aware of your actual lifestyle is vital before decluttering to discard only the wrong items: the ones that don't get regular wear, the cuts that are not flattering for your body and the trends that are unsuitable for the new you.
This is not possible to declutter properly at the beginning of this journey when things are still a bit mixed up and you don't really know what to do.
5) Wait before buying new items
After decluttering, the temptation of shopping to fill the potential gaps in your wardrobe is very high, but buying new things at this point would be like decluttering without having sorted out what your personal style is first.
I think it would be better to wait for at least a month before making any purchase.
You need this time to allow your brain to combine the (hopefully) few clothes left together and get used to experimenting with the style you chose.
Remember that buying new clothes doesn't make you more stylish, style is what you actually do with them.
Until yours is fully formed and you have a better idea of what you are doing, restrain yourself from shopping and play with what you already have.
9 times out of 10 you will realise that you don't need what you think is missing from your downsized wardrobe but you might actually need something that was not so obvious when you first started this process.
My practical tricks
Hang pre-made outfits in your wardrobe to make your life easier.
It is quicker to get dressed in the morning when you can find straight away a selection of ready outfits waiting for you.
The navy cardigan goes nicely with that printed dress? Great, put it on the dress already, you'll save time for the next time.
Do you usually wear a black blazer and a white shirt together? (who doesn't?)
Layer them together on the hanger.
Accessories are often treated as a second, less important category while in fact, they can be crucial to the success of all your outfits.
How many times did you have a great outfit in mind but then you realised you didn't have the right bag or a pair of shoes to match the look you envisioned?
My advice is to choose a neutral colour that you like, that suits you and that goes with the majority of the items you already own and then build a set of accessories of the same shade in the best quality you can afford.
As a result, everything will work amazingly together and you will always look on point.
For example, in my wardrobe, I have got one black belt, a black pair of boots, black sandals, black pumps and a black bag. No need to think too much about how to style them and with what. They will always work with every single outfit I chose to wear.
If you think that matching accessories are boring, feel free to break them with other neutral accessories or maybe add a pop of colour but remember that this will require more work and efforts.
Same thing with jewellery: the best practice is to find the metal that suits you the most and stick to it. Find a cute set of dainty pieces that you can wear every day with basically everything. They will elevate your outfit without effort while making you look more put together.
Thank you so much for reading my post today, I hope you found it interesting and inspiring!
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What about you? Have you found your signature style?
I would love to know what your thoughts are, so let me know in the comments below!
If you like my style and you would like to shop my favourite pieces, click here
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