How capsule wardrobes became a consumerist hoax

WWith a whopping 662.7 million views and counting, #capsulewardrobe is among TikTok’s most popular fashion trends — and it’s not hard to see why. A method that promises to dry your wardrobe with a set number of pieces It is eliminate the dreaded roulette wheel of what should I wear? Who wouldn’t?

Since its introduction in the 1970s by London boutique owner Susie Faux, the capsule wardrobe – a collection of trend-proof pieces that can be mixed and matched to create endless outfits – has carved out a niche in the fashion community. Gaining popularity in the 1980s with Donna Karan’s Seven Easy Pieces collection, the concept saw a resurgence in the 2010s when early fashion bloggers adopted a distinctive uniform of neutral pieces. Still, the capsule wardrobe remained relatively on the back burner of fashion until 2020, when so many people were focusing on the essentials, seeking simplicity and re-evaluating their lives – and suddenly, the idea of ​​a capsule wardrobe was more appealing than it was. Never. Many of us have filled our closets with beige blazers and white T-shirts since then.

When I heard about the capsule wardrobe, I was convinced. sign me up I thought as I read the articles, followed the bloggers and bought all the things I was told I needed to create my own capsule wardrobe. I created a separate little space in my closet just for my capsule wardrobe so I wouldn’t be distracted by the rest of my clothes. I even started documenting my journey on my blog. I was fully invested.

For a few weeks, things went well. I was less overwhelmed as I looked in my closet and felt like I found my style. That is, until I tried to style that little black dress, the one every capsule wardrobe expert says you needed. I’ll spare you the details, but it just wasn’t working no matter how hard I tried. So I fell back on “What should I wear?” spiral I was trying to escape. I was so confused! I followed the steps, bought all the stuff, and right before my eyes, the “perfect” capsule wardrobe was failing me. I had streamlined my closet to make it work better, and in an instant, it made things worse.

All these purchases, and for what? In our consumerist society, the capsule wardrobe concept is not just about filtering your clothes; it’s about buying even more “better” items. And it’s not about having a single capsule wardrobe, but having several of them. Three years after the capsule wardrobe’s big comeback, the idea has extended beyond the original concept of a collection of clothing you wear year-round. There are now capsules of work, seasonal, and vacation wear—not to mention the rise of brands like ADAY, Cuyana, and Quince, whose ethos is the capsule wardrobe. Even fast-fashion brands are getting in on the trend: H&M encourages shoppers to “be more discerning about the clothes we buy” in a guide to building a capsule wardrobe for workwear.

I had streamlined my closet to make it work better, and in an instant, it made things worse.

But brands are just responding to consumer interest in capsules. Fashion publications show readers how to adopt a capsule wardrobe by adding their affiliate links throughout their articles for readers to buy. If you see something you really want to buy, great, but the whole idea of ​​a capsule is to eliminate the need to constantly shop. To me, it’s counterintuitive to preach “less but better” while promoting purchase at the same time. It also didn’t escape me that featured pieces — a $250 bodysuit, a $1,300 black dress as in this Vogue article — are often too expensive for the average person. These squanders are often considered “investment pieces”, making you think that you need to spend that kind of money and that somehow spending beyond your means is a wise decision.

And what about that distinctive uniform that bloggers and influencers have popularized? It’s a minimalist starter pack, all in neutral tones: white buttons, black pants, beige trench coats, and that little black dress. Because the capsule has been defined this way for years, many people believe they need these exactly things to have their own capsule wardrobe — and then they add those items to their cart. But this style might not work for everyone; not for me or TikTok user @thevictorialau, whose video about his own wardrobe failure inspired my own TikTok. People say that the point of a capsule is to have a select number of garments that can be mixed and matched for endless looks, but what they don’t say is that it should be tailored to you. It should suit your lifestyle, the colors you like, and (most importantly) the pieces you like to wear.

It’s common to find fashion creators selling the benefits of a capsule along with pieces their followers “need”, especially since this can add up to big commission checks. However, far fewer extol the benefits of settling for what’s already in the cupboard. “The influencers in this space have a duty to always encourage people to consciously buy their own wardrobes first and foremost, as that is the true spirit of capsules and minimalism,” says Christina Mychas, a fashion influencer who promotes the concept. of minimalism. “When influencers start disguising overstuffed outfits as a capsule wardrobe, that’s when it seems a little more disgusting to me — how to capitalize on the trend by using the hashtag instead of actually participating in the lifestyle.”

With all this capsule wardrobe madness, it’s easy to get sucked in and lost, along with your cash. But do not need be like that. We all have a built-in capsule that exists in our wardrobe: it’s those pieces that we constantly gravitate towards. If you want to create your own capsule, use these gems as a guide, only buying when looking to replace or fill a hole you find. Your capsule should be a reflection of your personal style, so it looks the way you want it to and takes time to build. If you feel any pressure, it might not be the right time to create one. Personally, I woke up from my capsule wardrobe sleep and have an edit of clothes that suit me. And it does not include a little black dress.

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