Imagine if you had a set of appropriate clothes that made you look good and feel great for EVERY aspect of your life. It is possible. You need to understand how the needs of your lifestyle translate into a set of understandable and manageable chunks that I call wardrobe capsules. This concept is an essential part of the process that I follow with my clients and I’d like to start using it on YLF too.

Wardrobe capsule: a set of clothing, footwear and accessories that satisfy the style needs in one area of your life.

The first step in wardrobe capsule creation is to assess your needs. You need to take into account what you do during the day, what you do for fun, where you go on vacation, the roles you play in life, the climate where you live – anything that impacts your choice of clothing, footwear and accessories. In some instances the items in a capsule form complete outfits (like a beach and poolside capsule), and in others the items don’t create complete outfits, but support several other capsules (like the weather resistant capsule).

To help you get started I will list some of the main areas in your life that impact your wardrobe needs. Once you’ve thought about these areas, factors like climate, age and budget will also play a role. Start making notes:

Getting around

Whether you commute on foot, by car or use public transport will impact your capsule choices. For example, I live in an urban area where the climate is cold and wet. I travel short distances by car, but I don’t have a garage and I’m on foot most of the time. These aspects of my life created the need for an elaborate weather resistant capsule. I have a whole slew of jackets, trenches, coats, scarves and umbrellas of different shapes, sizes, thicknesses and levels of dressiness. I also have several pairs of flat, or one inch 8-hour walking shoes and boots (some for rain and some for snow).

Parenting & Children

Casual or smart casual Mum-on-the-go capsules are imperative when you have young children. This capsule will comprise the bulk of your wardrobe if you’re a SAHM, but less so if you work part or full time, unless work allows casual and smart casual dress. I like to divide up this capsule even further so that my clients have a set of clothes for settings like: going to an amusement park, visiting a farm, playing in the park, camping, or attending sporting events.

Mothers to be will need a maternity wear capsule. In a sense, maternity wear will cover most areas of your lifestyle, but it is sufficiently specialized that it deserves a capsule of its own. Also, understanding your other capsules will make it easier to build this one.

Social life

Your life stage and how you spend your leisure hours gives rise to different types of capsules. For example, you might need a date night capsule, a fine dining capsule, a party capsule, a clubbing capsule, or theater capsule. In most cases, these capsules require dressier clothing. But your social life might be more casual like having game night at home with friends, or attending BBQ’s in Summertime. In these cases a casual capsule will work.

Vacations

If you like to holiday in the sun, you’ll need a beach and pool capsule. If you enjoy Winter sports, you’ll need an après ski capsule. If you like to sail, you’ll need a boating capsule. There are countless vacation possibilities and some of them require a particular set of clothing, so make sure that those needs are covered too.

Work Life

If you work in the corporate world, you’ll need extensive business casual and/or business formal capsule. But if work dress codes are less strict like they are for me, you’ll get away with a small business casual capsule and a large smart casual capsule. Also think about whether business travel warrants its own capsule. For example, traveling for business might require smarter dress than working back home, in which case you’ll have a business travel capsule.

Travel

I also like to dress in a particular way when I fly and since we travel quite often it’s created the need for a traveling capsule. Of course, your travel capsule may be optimized for a different mode of transport.

Religion & Tradition

You might require a special capsule for religious practices like going to your place of worship. In these cases clothes are usually smarter or more modest than normal dress. Furthermore, religious beliefs might impact all of your capsules.

Sporting

You’ll need a workout capsule if you like to go to the gym, or the right gear when you practice a specific type of sport. For example, your sporting activities might require a cycling capsule, snowboarding capsule, hiking capsule, swimming capsule or kayaking capsule.

Lounging & Sleepwear

Everyone needs a lounging capsule. Curling up on the couch to read, or watching a movie at home requires comfy sweats. These are also the items we turn to when we’re home for the day and desperately want to get out of day attire and into something super relaxed. Old, beaten-up collegiate T’s and sweats won’t do. Treat yourself to something nicer. And if you wear sleep clothes, give that area of your wardrobe some thought too. A fun sleepwear capsule is a super idea.

Events

Weddings, Christmas parties, baptisms, bar mitzvahs, cocktail functions, auctions, special celebrations and fancy fundraising events require a formalwear capsule. If you attend one or two of these types of functions a year, you’ll need a small formalwear capsule, but if you attend several, you’ll need a more diverse one. If it looks like you will be attending many weddings over a period of time, then you may even consider a wedding wear capsule.

Wardrobe capsules are not to be confused with dress codes. In some instances, a capsule adheres to a particular dress code, like a formal wear capsule, but at other times it comprises of several dress codes. For example, a business travel capsule might comprise of three dress codes: casual (plane travel), business formal (client interfacing), smart casual (dinners out at night). The casual wear dress code on the other hand, covers capsules like in Mum-on-the-go and beach and pool.

Effective wardrobe capsule management helps you to decide where to skimp and where to invest. The strategy prevents unnecessary wardrobe duplication and identifies the gaps. It also allows you to become deliberate about changing your wardrobe when your lifestyle changes. And it saves you time. Once your capsules are in place, you’ll turn to the ones that are relevant for that day without fuss or thought, updating and evolving them when necessary along the way.

What are your important wardrobe capsules? Are there additional areas that you would add to my list above?