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....
http://www.pinterest.com/fabricdragon/capsule-wardrobe/ My Pinterest board about Capsule Wardrobes.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capsule_wardrobe Wikipedia , of course
http://www.conselle.com/ Judith Rasband, CEO of Conselle Institute of Image Management has some really wonderful resources and classes.