The Power of the Capsule Wardrobe

A rail of clothes from a capsule wardrobe

A rail of clothes from a capsule wardrobe

Natasha Vaughan tells the story of the importance of key wardrobe pieces

Grandmas and old aunties in boucle zip cardigans joke about needing Gok Wan to wave his magic wand over their wardrobe, and five years ago, I might have agreed with them. Oh, poor Gok! Stick your feet up and give it a rest, my love. Once we’ve seen one colour-pop trench coat we’ve seen them all. I will, however, reluctantly admit to there being one good and current Gok recommendation – the power of the capsule wardrobe.

It’s taken a lot of money and a lot of regrettable impulse buys to realise that there’s  nothing chic about a closet collapsing with the weight of wasted ‘I-forgot-about-you’s’ and ‘what was I thinking?’s’. Moving into university halls was especially shocking – I slung everything into two or three suitcases and only when unpacking realised that just half of the first one would fit in the teensy-tiny hole in the wall that they expect you to dress yourself out of for a full academic year. Cue my first dilemma as a student – what clothes to put in and what clothes to leave out.

It didn’t take me long to learn that organising your university wardrobe is the key to organising your university life. The thing is, there’s always a Tuesday Revs night that requires a cute skirt, or, if you’re as good a chef as me, there’ll come a day where thanks to all those takeaways, leggings are “all that [fit] you right now” – to quote HRH, Regina George. The simple task of dressing up that skirt or quickly finding those trusty black leggings becomes a hassle when you have to wade through a clothing bomb site.

A messy pile of clothes

So, before returning for my second year, I ebayed the stuff I hadn’t worn for three months or more, and pulled myself together. Keeping things to a minimum, I picked up a few staple pieces that were versatile, so I could easily find something to get dressed in with just five minutes before a lecture. Updated with a statement necklace or blazer, a plain jersey dress looked different each time I wore it, and I wasn’t scraping together my pennies to buy something new every week either.

Now, I might be a little too sad, and a little too much into reading Cosmopolitan, but actually knowing what I had in my wardrobe and spending my money carefully made me love fashion again. Finding a top I actually liked and I could wear several ways was better than buying a couple of blouses ‘just because’ and then leaving them in the carrier bag for a week because I wasn’t all that bothered.

To be honest, I really do think that I owe my status as an independent young lady of education – looking like, and acting the part – to that teensy-tiny hole in the wall in my first year. Oh… and to Gok Wan too. I guess what I’m trying to say is, sometimes old advice is the best advice. Don’t get me wrong, Gok’s advice is old, but on this occasion, it just happens to be the best. You know it’s true; if you buy cheap you buy twice, but if you buy a pair of trousers you can wear more than twice, then give yourself a pat on the back.