Ever since I began studying and learning about pattern drafting and design, I’ve obsessed about creating a kind of “collection.” This probably stems from my internal, imaginary fashion designer. Many others who also create their own wardrobes seem to refer to “capsule” collections in a similar way. In my mind, these two are related but not quite the same. And since I’m about to embark on yet another long-term project involving just such a goal, I thought I’d begin my process by defining exactly what I’m doing (probably not what an “artist” would do, but I’m my own kind of artist) then moving directly into the creative process that got me going.
First, what is a capsule wardrobe and why is my collection different?
There is a suggestion among many (if not most) people talking and writing about capsule wardrobes that they are predicated on the notion that you’ll be down-sizing – or perhaps right-sizing? – your wardrobe. In other words…
Well, that’s my definition based on what I’ve seen.
According to Wikipedia, that all-knowing online encyclopedia of varying accuracy, the term was actually coined back in the 1970’s by a London boutique owner named Susie Faux. Since I am of a “certain age” I do seem to recall that there was a flurry of interest in wardrobes that were well-thought-out enough to actually have all the pieces work together creating a cohesive style for the wearer. I, however, was young enough at the time to think that more was better when it came to my clothes. I most assuredly do not think that any longer. Thirty to forty items might seem like a lot (and this was the original capsule wardrobe recommendation), but if you go into an average woman’s closet, you’re going to be boggled by the number of pieces she owns. I know I am.
In 2016, the closet organizer company ClosetMaid polled 1000 women in the US and found out that on average they have 103 pieces of clothing in their closets. Presumably, that doesn’t include all those pieces folded in drawers! As an aside, they also found that these women admitted that they actually like only 10% of those clothes. (When I looked this up I was also staggered to learn that “… Americans throw away more than 68 pounds of clothing and textiles per person per year …” ) So maybe we do need to “capsulize” a bit!
The definition of a capsule wardrobe as it was originally conceived was a group of essential pieces that don’t go out of style, and that form the basis for adding fashion pieces seasonally. And there were rules.
- Colour: There needs to be a cohesive colour scheme and the colours chosen should be the most flattering to your complexion and hair.
- Shape: The pieces should be chosen from the classic shapes so as to flatter your particular body shape (not really specific to capsules)
- Fabrics: The garment should be constructed of high-quality fabrics so that they are amenable to wearing numerous times through the mixing and matching that will go on.
Fast forward to the twenty-first century, and capsule wardrobes seem to be created for a variety of reasons: the business capsule, the travel capsule (presumably different ones depending on the climate of the destination), the weekend capsule.
One can only conclude that if you have numerous capsules in your wardrobe, you essentially have a whole lot of clothes. So, we’re back to where we started. I think I like Susie’s approach to basics.
In my view capsule wardrobes are one type of beast, a collection a bit different. Although it has to be said that they have a number of characteristics in common: colours scheme, shapes and fabric choices among them.
My “collection” will be a group of garments that I am designing around a common theme and aesthetic for a specific season. In the case of my first such grouping, it will be what I’m calling a cruise collection. But my cruise collection does not conform exactly to the cruise collections as articulated by the real fashion industry.
The web site The Business of Fashion (and a fascinating one it is) defines a cruise collection this way:
“Cruise Collections, or resort or holiday collections as they are otherwise known, launch between the two main ready-to-wear seasons; Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter. Originally, they were created with the jet set in mind and catered for a client who needed a wardrobe for their mid-season travels to climates different to their own. Now, they have been adopted by many of the big brands as an opportunity to inject an entirely new must-have mid-season collection into market.”
It is the last sentence of their definition that truly embodies what they are these days – a mid-season collection. My cruise collection, on the other hand, really is going to be for a client (me) who needs a wardrobe for my mid-season travel to a climate different from my own. It will actually be for a cruise. In the winter. In the Caribbean.
My husband and I have been on lots of cruises (if you don’t believe me, just visit our travel blog at www.thediscerningtravelers.com). We’ve traveled through the Mediterranean several times, both eastern and western; we’ve done the South Pacific; we’ve done China and Japan; we’ve done the Panama Canal along with Ecuador, Peru and Chile; we’ve done a Cunard trans-Atlantic and we’ve been on numerous Caribbean cruises. And I’ve always gone on these cruises with a well-selected wardrobe of ready-to-wear that works for travel.
This year I want to take along a little collection that I’ve designed and made for the purpose.
My project begins with a design inspiration exercise. I’m going to share with you a sneak peek of where I’m headed with this project. Stand by for the next post on my creative process and getting to an inspiration board, fabric choices and potential designs.
 Closet cast-offs clogging our landfill. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/mattias-wallander/closet-cast-offs-clogging_b_554400.html
4 thoughts on “A new project begins: Creating a “collection” not a “capsule””
I’ve never been a fan of capsule wardrobes, in my mind or most I’ve seen online, it’s filled with black, grey, somber colours and few pieces(10 at the most), I’m more a colourful girl myself and limiting my wardrobe to just a few pieces is something I can’t comprehend.
next year I want to take an inventory of items needed for my dream wardrobe and start working on them, I see myself being busy for the whole year, lol.
lots of luck in your endeavour.
Hi Chioma…In my view, the original notion behind a capsule wardrobe means that you have those capsule basics so that you can add on those colourful pieces that demonstrate your personal style and personality. That’s the kind of capsule I could get behind and seems to be more useful than all these individual capsules with — as you say — somber colours. Anyway, thanks for the words of encouragement! The project is interesting already! Cheers. ~GG