Have We Been Thinking About Capsule Wardrobes All Wrong?

For the past few years, capsule wardrobes have been sold to us as the answer to every sartorial woe, from nailing down your personal style to saving money — and also saving the environment. The idea is that curating a smaller, minimalist wardrobe of high-quality pieces that all go together means you'll have a polished outfit for any occasion, and a wardrobe that will last for years to come.
In this spirit, I've spent a lot of time curating my wardrobe. Over the past few years, I've focused on building out my collection of good quality basics like blazers, jeans, t-shirts, and dresses of varying silhouettes that work just as well for events as they do the office, and also, the weekend.
When I started collecting "forever" pieces, I also became more confident that I was dressing appropriately for all occasions, and as someone who doesn't really love standing out in a crowd or being the centre of attention, this approach has been overwhelmingly positive for me. A boxy black blazer can see me through almost any event, as can a maxi knitted dress, and when I layer the two together in winter — well, watch out baby, because that's my version of power dressing.
But over the past few months, I've found my magpie tendencies starting to return, and I now have an entire folder on both TikTok and Instagram dedicated to style that is all about layered textures, colours, and clashing prints. In short: I want to start having more fun with my wardrobe. Clearly, the algorithm has also started to catch on (probably thanks to those heaving folders of saved outfits) and served me a video by fashion creator, April Lockhart, that struck a cord.
"I know this is controversial — a lot of people say to invest in basic pieces, but to me, the pieces worth investing in are statement pieces," she said in the April 6 video. "You can get basics anywhere, but you know when you get a sick piece and it makes you feel so confident, like you can't wait to wear it... and it becomes a signature for you."
Lockhart's content is a ray of sunshine at the best of times, and in this video, she also makes a great point. Her style is probably best described as maximalist, with bright colours and bold prints aplenty, but it's also distinctly her — basically, she has captured the precise brand of bold that I would love to dabble through my own wardrobe.
The example she uses is a contrasting gingham and camel trench coat that is undeniably a statement piece but is also neutral enough to wear again and again. (Lockhart admits she's worn it 15 times in the past month.)
Her video made me question whether we've been approaching the capsule wardrobe all wrong. Perhaps born out of growing up in a generation where 'outfit repeating' was considered a dirty word, the capsule wardrobe many of us have been aspiring to for years is so neutral — and I'll say it, boring — that outfit repeating is almost unnoticeable since every outfit kind of looks the same anyway.
With the rise (and rise again) of maximalist trends like leopard print jeans, layered and clashing Scandi aesthetics, and the 'wrong shoe theory', not to mention the fact that every city-dweller is now an avid thrifter, the hallmarks of a capsule wardrobe are changing. I still firmly believe there are a few key pieces in your wardrobe that will always be worth investing in (think, the aforementioned blazer, t-shirt, and perfect blue jeans). But choosing to spend your money on statement pieces that can become signatures of your own personal style also sounds like a worthy pursuit, if you're someone who draws joy from the way you dress.
What constitutes a statement piece will of course be different for everyone. For Lockhart, that's a gingham and camel trench coat, whereas for me, it's the Ganni buckle ballerina shoes that I thought might be a bit too edgy for me, but actually make me feel like every outfit I pair them with is more fun. They're studded and bold, and not a style that I would traditionally go for (too loud! too attention-grabbing!) but I wear them often for the simple fact that I love them — and that's reason enough.
Investing in statement pieces doesn't mean we need to scrap our curated capsule wardrobe altogether. In fact, Chloe Mihailovich, another fashion creator, is proof of exactly this. In a recent video, she explained that buying an incredibly expensive (and incredibly beautiful) studded Khaite belt has totally changed her sense of style, proving that a minimalist and more traditional capsule wardrobe is still possible while investing in statement pieces.
I believe that choosing to invest in bold pieces that feel uniquely you offers a much-needed counterpoint to the hyper-speed trend cycle we're currently living in, where every micro-trend is just one fast fashion site away. This approach forces us to really think about how we want our wardrobe to look and what we want it to do for us. Plus, you work hard for your money, so you should spend it on pieces that foster a sense of joy and have you excited to get dressed in the morning.
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