Capsule Crush Or Crushed By The Capsule?

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By Michelle Crowe




A beautifully edited capsule wardrobe is a time saver.


We’re living in the golden age of basics. One can find the perfect little black dress, an elegant white shirt, and jauntily slouchy trousers from many design houses. It’s a breeze to pull together a chic ensemble with just a few core pieces from the dressing room, hence the rise of the capsule wardrobe. Inspired by the ruthless editing that packing for a trip requires and informed by the idea that people wear 20 percent of their wardrobe 80 percent of the time, curating the perfect capsule wardrobe has become a goal for many.


The Khaite Viola sweater, loved and worn by many capsule curators.


Tantalized by the allure of investing in fewer, but better clothes, and thrilled by the idea of saving time and preventing the brain drain of too many choices, this feels like a wonderful way to shop. Until one looks around the Art Institute of Chicago and realizes that nine other people are wearing the same striped sweater and seven of them have topped off their knits with very similar trench coats.


Tziporah Salamon’s book, The Art of Dressing.


This happened to yours truly. I’m still not sure if was comforting or embarrassing, probably a little bit of both. It felt good to be part of the crowd, but not to conform completely. Perhaps the answer is to choose capsule pieces in a more vibrant palette than black, white, and beige. Some can mix and match prints and patterns with aplomb. The incredible Tziporah Salamon, who will speak to the Chicago Costume Council on June 11. It’s doubtful that this icon restricts herself to a strict capsule wardrobe though.


This luggage set from Steamline is a wonderful excuse for not packing light.


Luckily, our regular readers, who are  some of the best dressed people in our fair city have found just the right mix of go-to staples and statement pieces. After a brief foray into the strict capsule, I’ll be migrating back to this manner of dressing. Look for me with a giant brooch pinned to that trench coat, or an ikat print skirt instead of plain black. It’s all about balance.