• Tara Deighton

The Vintage Inspired Capsule Wardobe ~ How to create your own unique style

It’s so easy to get stuck in a rut sartorially speaking and this happened to me in a big way a few years back. Getting dressed had become a purely functional fact of life and, whilst I made beautiful things for clients, nothing I wore inspired me or made me feel good. I decided this had to change!

Luckily, at this moment of decision, I came across Anuschka Rees book ‘The Curated Closet’ and it was an absolute game changer for me. Initially I was interested from a sustainability point of view but found it to be incredible in helping me get my joy back as far as my own personal style was concerned.

I worked my way through the whole book, which took me a few weeks and I’ve never looked back. I would recommend getting a copy of this book and completing the wardrobe audit and related activities before you begin the process of planning your own Vintage Inspired Capsule Wardrobe. But please buy it from an independent bookseller!


Along with the ideas in this book, I also recently put together my own capsule wardrobe for a road trip around Europe based on my vintage inspired sense of style. I had looked in Pinterestland and beyond for Vintage Inspired Capsule Wardrobe ideas but found little so thought I would put my ideas here, in case you feel inspired to create your own Capsule Wardrobe. I’ve done this from my own style point of view, but the ideas and principles would work whatever your style personality is.


First things first: INSPIRATION

I put together a mood or inspiration board seasonally and I keep a notebook full of ideas, images, sketches and fabrics to inspire me. This Autumn/ Winter, I’ve chosen a very 'strict' colour palette of black, greens, metallics, dark florals and bright berry pinks. And I’ve thought very carefully about what gaps there are in my wardrobe, what things I wear the most and why and the items I wish were in my wardrobe but currently aren’t.


Then CONCEPT...


A wardrobe is made up of the following types or groups of garments:


HERO pieces ~ These are your everyday core pieces of clothing; The basics and the staples that form the foundation of your wardrobe. Depending on your lifestyle needs {which you identify perfectly if you work through the chapters of The Curated Closet} these will vary. But most people want to include jeans or several pairs of trousers, a skirt or 2 and a selection of tops that co-ordinate with the bottoms. There may be a jacket, either smart or casual and if you are so inclined {I really am} a dress for everyday wear. I would keep the colours and fabrics in as cohesive a palette as possible as I have done with my inspiration board.

These are the patterns I have used for my handmade capsule wardrobe. I then have thrifted and vintage pieces that I've added in to create more individuality and outfit options.

This is a fabulous pattern and is a little capsule collection in and of itself! I've made a couple of pairs of the trousers, the collared blouse and I want to make the all in one, possibly in black velvet with statement buttons and the hooded shirt would be fab in satin to add an element of Starlet Glamour. A capsule wardrobe doesn't need to be boring or, indeed, sensible!

I LOVE this top! Made in different fabrics, it's perfect as part of a capsule wardrobe.

I've made this Nina Lee London top so many times and it goes with everything. It can be a Hero piece in your wardrobe, or if you go all out with the fabric, it becomes a very handy Wildcard addition!

No wardrobe, capsule or otherwise is complete without a Tea dress and this one is a real winner ~ a 1930's reproduction pattern and it would look amazing in all sorts of fabrics and prints depending on your preference.

A vintage inspired wardrobe has to have a circle skirt and I use my own sewing guide to make mine. The Agnes Tee is a lovely shape and made in a variety of prints, works brilliantly within a capsule wardrobe.


A little note on COLOUR....

You can easily work out your ‘colours’ by googling what are my style colours or what season am I. You can even pay someone to work it out for you! I haven’t done this for myself. I like the colours I like and I’m not especially concerned with whether they suit me or not. If they make me happy, then that’s the beginning and end of it.


WILDCARDS ~ These are the crazy one offs that don’t fit your formula in terms of lifestyle or colour palette. They add va va voom and uniqueness to your wardrobe and individuality to your personal style. They may not make sense but when you wear them, they fill your heart with joy.

L to R ~ V1627 | Misses' Special Occasion Dress and Sash | Vogue Patterns, my vintage pattern with dragon embellished pockets, vintage traditional kimono or Haori jackets, Dita! I have no need for opera gloves, veiled hats or stockings and suspenders but a Wildcard item can be whatever you love! Also, a vintage car, your preferred make and model can be classed as an accessory {please see below!}


ADORNMENTS ~ These are the accessories that seriously raise your game. Learn from the ladies of the past who invested in a wide variety of coordinating accessories that meant that the few garments a lady owned had a life span and personality far beyond the minimal number would suggest.

Your accessories can be either in basic colours, I tend to go for black and am starting to look for dark greens now, or you can use your accent colour. I also want to get leopard print accessories simply because I love the print even though I haven’t included it on my inspiration board this season.

Accessories can also become your signature pieces, as demonstrated in the following.


SIGNATURE pieces ~ These are either items or adornments that recur through your personal style and become what you’re known for.

When you look at style icons, you can clearly see their signature style. Anna Wintor~ that hair and sunglasses. Charlotte Gainsborg ~ Shirt, blazer, faded jeans. Iris Apfel~ bewelled beyond forever and, again, statement glasses.

Accessories are a brilliant way to add signature style to a capsule wardobe.


I’m known for my love of dark florals, my hand tattoo { I don’t advocate getting tattooed to add a signature panache to your style though!} and my fringe.

You can identify your own signature style by noticing when people say that something is very you or you may realise when analysing your wardrobe that you only wear breton tees or you always wear a beret. These are your signature pieces.

And if you don’t have one, this is the time to decide you want one! Always wanted a pink bob, like Zandra Rhodes? Do it! Only ever want to wear sparkly socks ~ start a sparkly sock collection! This is an opportunity to really express yourself and you can make that statement as loudly or as quietly as you want!


One last thing…I don’t believe in rules per se! If I followed the ‘rules’ about what I should wear for my shape and colouring, I wouldn’t look like me! I wear what I love and what feels like me. I’m lucky in that I don’t dress to please others, I dress to please myself! And that’s the brilliant thing about vintage inspired style and being a dressmaker! I can create my own unique style by making something for my wardrobe.

After all is said and done, getting dressed should be a pleasure and an opportunity to show our unique wonderfulness to the world! I’m still that little girl who loves her dressing up box and still believes that each new day is an opportunity to play dress up!


I hope you have been inspired by some of these ideas and I also hope, more than anything, that you have the confidence to express the wonderfulness and beauty that is uniquely you through the joy of creating and showing the world your own unique style!


Love, Tara x

© 2020 Tara Deighton