Thursday, November 21, 2013

A New Capsule Wardrobe: what is a capsule wardrobe?

What is a capsule wardrobe (or cluster)?

A Capsule, or Cluster Collection, is a set of clothes that can be intermixed to create a large number of  outfits from a few pieces.

The goal is to have every top in the collection go with every bottom, and every jacket or third piece go with everything else. In practice it doesn't always work so  neatly... but in order to make a group work well, every item should go with as many other items in the cluster as possible.

If you had an "ideal" cluster, 5 to 8 items of clothing  could carry you through  two weeks of work without repeating an outfit exactly.  A typical cluster  has more like 10-12 items (weighted toward more  blouses or tops), and can therefore make far more outfits.

In order to make the MOST of your capsule wardrobe, each item in a color should be very very different, so if you wanted to have two skirts, they should be two different colors or styles (or both).  You will get the most  different looks if  you don't repeat a shape or style  within a small cluster.

To give a very simplified  example:
Black Pants, Skirt, and Jacket (3 items)
with a white blouse (4)
and a print cowl neck top (5)
and a black top (6)

can obviously make a number of slightly different outfits (the black top creates the appearance of a dress when worn with the skirt)

If you then add in a  white skirt in a different style (say the black skirt was a pencil skirt, and the white skirt is a full skirt) you multiply your options...
add a white  sweater? again...

Since so far the only color has been in that print top ( item 5) you can also  add  items in that COLOR... and increase your options again!  If that print top had a green color in it, and you start adding in green options.....

A capsule wardrobe obviously lets you  pack a lot of days  worth of clothes into  a suitcase, but it also make getting dressed a lot easier, since you already know EVERYTHING you can put together in that set works!

If you are choosy about  picking only colors that really suit you, then you will be able to  dress well without having to put much thought into it in the morning.

Having just come back from Judith Rasband's Fabulous Fit seminar with my brand new custom for me patterns ....I am re doing  my wardrobe, starting with a simple cluster.

In my case I will be sewing a cluster of at least 5 items, and then filling it in with a lot of store purchased  items I already own!

In my next post I select my fabrics....

LINKS: My Pinterest board about Capsule Wardrobes. Wikipedia , of course Judith Rasband, CEO of Conselle Institute of Image Management has some really wonderful resources and classes.


  1. This. This is what I want. And this is what I will encourage Peggy to work on as she is losing the weight. (She is scheduled for gastric bypass surgery on Dec. 11th.)

  2. This has always struck me as a practical way to manage ones clothing needs