How To Create A Minimalist Capsule Wardrobe Inspired By Japanese Style | CoolJapan

There are many benefits to having a minimalist wardrobe: it reduces decision fatigue, which makes dressing up in the morning a little easier; it keeps clothing clutter to a minimum; saves closet space and more. But while we know that keeping a capsule wardrobe may be good for us, actually taking the steps to build one is easier said than done. To help you get started, we talked to Eri Kobayashi, a Tokyo-based closet consultant and founder of the Minute Style app. Ahead, her tips on how to create your very own minimalist capsule wardrobe inspired by the sleek aesthetic that Japanese style is known for.

Tip #1: Draw the line between necessities and desires

Creating a minimalist capsule wardrobe isn't just about choosing clothes, it's also about learning how to differentiate your needs versus your wants. "It could be different from person to person, but we more or less know ourselves and which items we need to buy. Let's say if I've worn out a knit sweater then I would need to replace it, right?" Eri said. Aside from that are our desires, which we may want to add to our wardrobe because they're kawaii or are on sale but aren't necessarily something that we really need in order to have a functional wardrobe. This is not to say that having a capsule wardrobe means we shouldn't indulge our desires from time to time, though, Eri said, but rather the purpose of drawing the line is to be aware of our purchases and strike a mindful balance between the two.

(Photo from: Alyssa Strohmann via Unsplash)

"The moment you start not thinking about your budget or the quality of a particular item, then it would be easier to buy stuff," Eri said. "But if you know you're kind of investing in your wardrobe then you would be cautious and thoughtful about what you buy." In the end, only you know what you truly need. It's something that you develop over time. "The more minimalistic you become, the more distinct your style will be," she said. Who knew creating a capsule wardrobe can also be so philosophical?

Tip #2: Pick items that complement your environment

In Japan, where one can experience four seasons, people make an effort to complement their environment. "You want to be part of it (the transition) through your fashion. Right now, as the colours of the leaves turn to yellow and red, people tend to blend and wear something that reflects those deep coloured-items. The same is true during sakura season when people naturally pick up pale colours," Eri said. For us tropical babes, Eri said that we can adapt this through picking pieces that will go well with our cultural events such as Christmas and Chinese New Year. 

Tip #3: Pay extra attention to fabrics, cuts and colours

"When you build a minimalist wardrobe, you want to make sure that all of them make you look good," Eri said. So how can you tell which fabrics, cuts and colours are the best for you? If you have the means, you may want to consult with professionals. But as a general rule of thumb, Eri offered some advice. In terms of fabrics, for a minimalist wardrobe, your best bets are natural ones such as cotton, wool and the like.

As for colours, we have this notion that a minimalist wardrobe is all about having neutral tones, but for Eri, a good capsule wardrobe should consist of colours that work well with your features. "There are three components of colour that you want to know when building your wardrobe: hue, brightness and saturation," she explained. This means that each person will look good when wearing a particular family of hues and it's a matter of trial and error to see which ones suit you. 

Aside from that, you also have to consider if you should go for contrast or not. "There are those who look better in a contrasting colour combination and those who look better in less-contrasted colour schemes," Eri said. "To determine which one you are, you can look at your eyes and see if it's distinct or vague in the rim." As she said, the minimalist wardrobe starts with knowing yourself. 

Tip #4: Go for separates

When creating a minimalist wardrobe inspired by Japanese style, invest more in separates so you can mix and match to create new looks. "For example, if you have seven tops, you can wear them on certain dates. If you have four bottoms that go with every top then you will have different looks every day for a month. You can add a few dresses here and there, too," Eri said. "Depending on your lifestyle, you may have a few more additions for special occasions. In total, 20 items will get you by for a month. If you are living in a place where the climate changes, then add some more to cover one season. If you are not, make sure you replace the item to keep your minimal wardrobe. Remember that dresses won’t add variety, thus, you don't need many of them for your minimalist wardrobe."

Tip #5: Have fun with your shoes and accessories

While you won’t go wrong with sleek and minimal designs (square toe boots are particularly hot in Tokyo right now!), Eri said that having shoes and accessories with colours and sparkles can add depth to your look. They also give a good contrast to your minimal look. So this is the part where you can totally dazzle up! 

Are you ready to create your own minimalist capsule wardrobe inspired by Japanese style?