- "Capsule wardrobe" is a phrase often used to describe closets with minimal, versatile clothes.
- Celebrity stylist Tara Swennen compared it to a food recipe: "You need the key ingredients."
- But there are myths about capsule wardrobes, including that they contain only neutral colors.
"The basics are the key things to think about," she said. "You need your base ingredients and then you can sort of throw a dash of this or a dash of that in."
For those that don't know, a capsule wardrobe is a closet filled with minimal, versatile items that maximize your number of outfits created. According to TikTok, there have been over 367 million views of videos associated with the phrase, which shows that interest in the organizational method has picked up in recent years.
Even so, there are misconceptions about what it means to have a capsule wardrobe. Swennen, who has styled for the likes of Kristen Stewart and worked with famous other stylists including Rachel Zoe, helped Insider debunk four popular myths surrounding capsule wardrobes.
If you think capsule wardrobes always lack color, think again
A simple Google Image search under "capsule wardrobe" will churn out photos of nude-colored clothing. But is that all a capsule wardrobe really is? According to Swennen, no.
"If you are looking at the general guidelines of a basic capsule collection, yes, you are going to start with your neutrals, but it doesn't have to stop there," Swennen, 42, said. "If someone's favorite color is red, then the base of their capsule collection might be black and navy, but it's going to be very red heavy."
There is more emphasis on color-blocking — using two or three solid colors in an outfit — rather than removing color altogether, she added.
In general, color palettes in a capsule wardrobe focus on neutralsbecause it makes the collection versatile, Swennen said. Neutral colors, like white, beige, brown, and black, are easy to pair with colorful or patterned garments and accessories.
The "whole point," Swennen says of a capsule collection, "is to build an outfit around the basics."
Starting a capsule wardrobe does not mean you discard everything you already own
Swennen describes herself as a "sustainable stylist" and says building a capsule wardrobe requires "the opposite" of getting rid of everything you already own.
"You can build your capsule wardrobe entirely from a collection that you have," she said. "It's figuring out the pieces you're going to wear routinely every week. I'm all about repurposing things that you love and building upon those things well."
She suggests beginning with an assessment of your wardrobe's favorite pieces, something she does for her clients. Anything that hasn't been worn consistently over the past year, or at all in the last three years, should not be part of someone's capsule wardrobe, she said.
Trends change, but capsule wardrobes are built for the long-term
Fashion trends come and go, but when it comes to capsule wardrobes, Swennen says they are specifically built to sustain the never-ending evolution of style and tastes.
"The idea is to figure out what pieces will last the longest," she said. "You want to buy high-quality pieces."
The capsule element of your wardrobe are pieces that are routinely worn and are designed to last, she added. Instead of using your money for trendy pieces, Swennen said that it's better to put funds toward a capsule collection.
"That's where you get the bang for your buck," she said.
Sometimes dubbed "boring," capsule wardrobes actually promote creativity
"The misconception is that the base of the outfit is boring, and leads the rest of the outfit to be so, is completely erroneous," Swennen said. Capsule wardrobes don't hold back creativity, she added. They enhance it.
For example, take a monochromatic all-black look. Swennen explained that it is the backdrop for anything, from a pop of color on the shoes to a bold accessory or extreme print.
"Where you have fun is in layering pieces on top of the capsule collection pieces," Swennen said. "The creativity comes in the last little steps, and that's where the best pieces of one's outfit really come together."