Colourful 10 item wardrobe

The 10 item wardrobe does not have to be all black and white

In fact, it doesn't have to have any black in it at all.

The main argument against the 10 item wardrobe has been the lack of colour. And I agree. A capsule wardrobe with no colour is a little decaf, don't you think?

It's well and good if you are a Winter. A very minimalist, colour shy Winter.

But what if you're a Bright Spring, for example? You thrive on colour, you love prints and you need a black and white wardrobe like you need listening to a reading of the telephone catalogue for Northern Illinois, the 1964 edition.

But you're fascinated by the idea of having a core wardrobe of 10 fabulous items, timeless enough use and combine with different clothes and accessories for at least five years.

OK I'm up for the challenge (rubs hands gleefully, opening a new draft in URSTYLE).

The bottom line is that there is absolutely no law that says that black is the only colour that a capsule wardrobe should be built around. The trick is to know your best colours, and use those.

And let no one tell you that you need to have only 10 items in your wardrobe to be happy. If 20, 30, or 276 is your magic number of items, go for it! The important part is that your wardrobe is a conscious choice, and not haphazardly gathered mindless retail therapy. You deserve so much better.

Bright Spring 10 item wardrobe

Here's what I came up with. I've included a detailed account of how I chose these items as a bonus lesson in the Capsule Wardrobe Course, but look at all the wonderfully energetic outfits can be created with these 10 items as a starting point:

Bright Spring outfits

A Light Summer might put together something like this:

Light Summer 10 item wardrobe

...and a True Autumn? Look no further:

10 item wardrobe for an Autumn

See? No black anywhere. And all the more elegant for it, because you will look uniquely you, when others opt for the generic black/white/neutral.

And you still have so many combination possibilities, whatever occasion you dress for, whether it's a board meeting discussing next year's budget, or poker with the girls.

What do you think? I'd like to hear from you, in the comments or in an email.

About the author, Jorunn Hernes

Jorunn is a Certified Personal Colour Analyst, founder of Nordic Simplicity and Scandinavian Style Academy™, the fresh, simple, Scandinavian approach to getting dressed. Jorunn will avoid social settings with more than three people but can be lured out with snacks and the promise to talk about books.

  • Jorunn, color me happy to see you talking about color and pattern!! I get tired (literally–it’s draining!) from seeing so many people dressed in black, all year long. I’m infused with joy each day simply opening my closet and seeing all the pinks, aquas, oranges, ultra-violets, and navy enticing me to play! And patterns: playful dots, fresh stripes, dreamy florals . . . yes please!

    But now a very serious question: how do I become someone comfortable with wearing dresses paired with blouses under them, sweaters over them? I love the looks you’ve presented, but combining items in this way eludes me 🙁

    • Dear Susan, you have no idea how happy it makes me to read that you find my blog post inspiring. And now, to your serious question: becoming comfortable with extensive layering. The short answer is: you don’t have to. It is entirely possible to live a long and fulfilled life without wearing blouses under dresses, or wearing dresses on top of trousers. If you do want to dabble in creative layering, I would introduce a rule of simple + ornate, never ornate + ornate, if that makes sense. An example: to layer something long-sleeved under a dress, either the dress needs to be super simple in shape and pattern, or the top. I would never layer a flouncy patterned blouse under the floral dress in this blog post, but perhaps a simple, fitted long-sleeved T-shirt might be nice. Now, if this was a solid coloured dress in a very simple style, it might be possible to liven it up with a patterned blouse underneath. You know what? Layering is such an interesting topic, I’ll make a blog post about it! Stay tuned.

      • Jorunn, my heart just danced when you said, “you don’t have to” 🙂 In your experience as a color analyst, do you believe that ability (or adversion) to layering is at all affected by a person’s color season persona? Or, is it more a factor of body type/proportion? Can’t wait to read all about it!!

        • Hello Susan, that’s a very interesting question. In my experience, feelings towards layering might be more of a style preference than connected to Colour Analysis Season, but I’d like to have a think on how to challenge that. I think it’s more about the way you do layering. Layering is super helpful, both for variation of the wardrobe and for keeping warm, so this topic is worth exploring.

  • I am enjoying your 10 item capsule wardrobes. I do need a core wardrobe and I have way too much black in my wardrobe. I had guessed this was a bright winter capsule – close? Nope, But that’s next door to bright spring.

    • Hi Pat, thanks for your input! I had Bright Spring in mind when making this, but these two Bright Seasons are very close. They do share the need for high chroma, and for some items, if the colour is bright enough then it will work, for both Seasons. For Bright Spring, I usually include more prints (the Spring influence), and also perhaps a cooler beige for the sweater and boots. But there are definitely some crossover colours between the cooler BSp and warmer end of BW!

  • I am so happy to see the BSp version of the capsule wardrobe! I can’t really see myself doing a capsule wardrobe with only 10-20 items, but I would like to work more with actually putting outfits together in a more coherent way, rather than just throwing a top and a pair of pants on only to (sometimes) realise that they don’t complement each other as well as I had thought they would. And I’m already using the concepts of the capsule wardrobe whenever I go away for a holiday where I have to limit the luggage and be able to pair things in multiple ways. ?

    • Hello Charlotte! I’m glad it resonated with you. I think putting together outfits easily depends on a number of different factors:
      1. Having clothes that fit you well helps a lot.
      2. That the colours share properties that harmonize and make them look better for being together is also great.
      3. That the style of the clothes is coherent (it’s really worth it spending some time and energy figuring out what your style truly is)
      And there’s nothing easier and more satisfying than throwing on a top and a pair of pants when all the tops and pairs of pants in your closet are in a style that you love, in quality and fit that makes you look great and in colours that make you glow!

    • Charlotte, I was thinking this exactly!! For me also, it’s not about how many items, but learning how to put them together in a way that feels intentional 🙂

  • I would say that my usual wardrobe is no more than 10 items ever! I just rearrange about that number of items for summer and very similar, but long sleeved for winter. Do people have more than about 20 clothing items anyway, I am surprised, as A, I never find many I like, B, this is an easy way to live. I have always been envious though, of ladies who can find whole wardrobe full of clothes when they go out shopping. Am I strange?!

    • Hi Trisha, thanks for your comment! You’re lucky to be that way, but you’re in minority, I think. Most women have lots of clothes hanging in their closet but in reality, they use only like 20 of those items on a weekly basis. But having lots available to choose from gives them a sense of freedom. And it may be so, until the point where it just turns into useless clutter, the amount of clothing hanging there actually impairs your ability to put together coherent outfits.

      A simple test to do is to reverse the hanger of the item you have used, and then at the end of the week (or month), see how many of your items have ACTUALLY been used. It is a method I recommend, just to reveal if the clothes in the closet earn their keep.

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