Book review: 1000 Outfits From Just 30 Pieces (Wendy Mak)

Casual hourglass, Reviews, Uncategorized, Wardrobe planning

I’ve always been a bit interested in the capsule wardrobe idea – if you got it just right, you’d probably look good most of the time.  And I like variety, so I like the idea of having a good solid ‘basics’ wardrobe, whilst updating a few key pieces and accessories each season to stay up-to-date but without costing the earth.

I don’t yet know if this concept will work with the type of style I’m trying to achieve.  I’ve always been a bit of a classic girly dresser by habit, just because I achieved that look a bit easier with my figure, and the capsule works well with that look.  But I’ve always wanted to do that edgy-cool-casual type of look (google Ellie Goulding casual or, like, Cara Delevigne casual to get the gist).  So we’ll find out during my exploits whether this capsule wardrobe thing can be adapted for the style we’re aiming for (or does the fashion move too quickly for the capsule to work?).

Buuuut anyway.  Back to the book.

After browsing around for a good book on the above topic, I came across Wendy Mak’s book on Kindle and downloaded it very cheaply.  It was exactly what I wanted – an actual list of fundamental wardrobe items, complete with reasons why I needed them in my wardrobe.  Also she includes a long list of the supposed ‘1000 outfits’ at the end of the book.

The explanations as to why you need each piece in your wardrobe are invaluable because I think this will enable the reader to adapt the capsule from the fairly ‘classic’ and middle-aged style Wendy proposes, to a more youthful or edgy style.  However, Wendy has also cleverly included casual and smart looks within her 30-piece wardrobe, and if you start changing up the pieces, the ability to dress smart and casual may come unstuck a bit.

After reading the book, I followed her instructions and developed the list of 30 pieces (they were either already in my wardrobe or had to be bought in newly).  I actually built this capsule wardrobe right before we emigrated from the UK to New Zealand.  It was brilliant because we moved over with just two suitcases, and my capsule fit in such a small space, and yet provided a multitude of good outfits.

So, did it work?

Well I do feel that since I invested time and a bit of money in developing this capsule of 30 items, I’ve not lacked any key pieces in my wardrobe.  I just feel like I can construct a whole load of outfits from not very many clothes.  I’ve existed off a small wardrobe for the last six months in NZ, and this wardrobe has sorted me out for both work and casual, somehow.  So overall, I’ve been delighted with the results.  Of course, since moving here, I’ve wanted to buy the odd pieces of clothing – like yet another white tee or some accessory or other.  But I’m quite sure it’s saved me a whole bunch of cash on not-very-useful clothing.

Over time, I’m also going to gradually update my capsule pieces to better quality ones, now that I know Wendy Mak’s capsule works for me.  So for example, I came to NZ with a thrifted high-waisted black skirt from ‘Morgan’ and have more recently replaced it with a more expensive, lovely quality skirt from ‘Cue’ in NZ (gorgeous high quality Aussie brand by the way).  So bit-by-bit I’m hopefully going to look a bit better dressed.

What are the cons of the book/capsule idea?

Well the 1000 outfits listed at the end actually included outfits which were identical to each other, save for changing the handbag for example.  So for me, a change in handbag didn’t really constitute a separate outfit although I’m sure it could change the look somewhat.  Similarly, I don’t consider it a new outfit when you change just your silk scarf.  But overall, I didn’t find this detracted too much from the principles of the book.

Also, as mentioned earlier, the capsule pieces Wendy suggests are in a very ‘classic’ style.  It remains to be seen if this works for a different style.

Wendy is quite open with the fact that she designed this capsule with the Australian weather in mind.  It’s proved quite helpful for me now I live in NZ (even though it’s a bit colder here), but it may need some tweaking for colder or more variable climates.  I found myself wondering if you really need a capsule for each season, rather than just one for the whole year.

Lastly, after about 6 months of using this capsule of clothing, I’m just starting to get a bit bored.  But bear in mind, Wendy does suggest you update with 3-6 pieces every season and I’ve not paid much attention to that so that may explain why I’m getting bored with the same clothes.

Anyway, if you like the sound of this book, Amazon should have hard copies or Kindle copies for you for a few bucks.  I got the Kindle version, and the colour pictures and ‘1000 outfit’ charts at the end don’t display as well as in the paperback, but this was ok for me.

Have you tried a capsule before?  Do you reckon we could adapt the idea for a casual hourglass style?



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