Style Build: Creating a Capsule Wardrobe. An Introduction.

StyleHello Lovelies,

This post is the first in a series based on developing personal style and building a capsule wardrobe of basics that you can then add to season to season. I know I blog a lot about hair, makeup and baking mostly but I actually have a background in fashion. I did my degree in product design and development for fashion at the London College of Fashion and I have worked as a garment technologist, trims and accessories buyer, pattern cutter and style developer among other things in a career spanning almost 16 years (I started young! I got my first summer job at 14 cutting out patterns and sewing garments for a small boutique) before re-training as an mua and hair stylist.


I’ve spent a lot of time working in a room like this.

I’ve styled shoots, been a personal shopper and cleared out/organised many wardrobes and closets in my time. So, I figured I’d share the lessons I have learned, my eye for style (which is relative, these are just guidelines) and love of design. I have noticed that a lot of the capsule wardrobe advice talks about ‘classic’ or ‘simple’ pieces as a foundation for your wardrobe. I’m here to show you that even those of us with a more alternative style can build and develop working basics without even the faintest whiff of a ‘plain white shirt’ if you don’t what to. Everyone is different, so why would the same pieces work for everyone’s wardrobe? I understand that they are meant to be the basic staples that the rest of your stuff works around but really, if you’d rather have a Little Orange Dress instead of a Little Black Dress, then why the hell not? And quite frankly, I consider leopard print to be a neutral.

Leopard Print

Totally a neutral in my book.

There’s no room for navy and beige in my basic wardrobe (but if there is in yours, well that’s fine too). I guess the deal with the usual advice is that a lot of people are genuinely unsure of what to wear, have never experimented with clothes or have never thought about it too much. But I don’t think that means we all have to walk around like carbon copies. I remember seeing so many women who looked chic on a trip to Milan. Very chic in fact, very well put together and yet, no personality, no individual style shone through and it was kind of weird (being a Londoner from the Islington/Camden area, I grew up being used to seeing all kinds of weird and wonderful styles growing up).

So, here are the things I plan on covering over the coming weeks…

* Clearing out your wardrobe. The good, the bad and the downright fugly: Helping you evaluate what you already have and recognising any style patterns. Shopping your wardrobe. Helping you work out what to keep, what to customise and what to get rid of.

Is this your wardrobe?

Is this your wardrobe?

* Personal Style: Building on the previous installment where we look at any style patterns emerging from your current wardrobe, I’ll also guide you in deciding if this is what’s right for you or if you feel you’d like to make some changes/try something new. Get inspired!

*Suits You Madam: What to wear to flatter your body shape, height and colouring. Explaining the whole ‘warm’ and ‘cool’ thing that style consultants go on about.Body Types- Women

* The Basics: The workhorses of your wardrobe. Evaluating your lifestyle and tailoring your key pieces to suit you. I’ll do a ‘classic’ capsule collection comparison against several examples of my own.

*Wardrobe Additions: How to add pieces into your wardrobe from season to season. When to splurge and when to save. Looking at how many pieces you truly need for a versatile wardrobe. Looking at the 333 project and the Style Grid.project333hanger*Accessories: The staple accessories that will help you change up your outfits and add personal flair to your look. How to take an outfit from day to night.

*Putting it all together: Looking at my example capsule wardrobes to show you how to create many different outfit combinations.

*Mini-Capsuling: How to put together small (yet perfectly formed) capsule wardrobes for various scenarios. Including, short city break, business trip, country weekender, beach holiday and Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekender.

On top of that, I will be giving advice on how organise and store your clothes. How to fold things properly to save space and minimise creasing and tips on picking the right underwear for your outfits.By Rachel SylvesterI will be featuring some real life wardrobe hauls for you to see how I tackle other people’s closets in the real world. I’ll also be happy to help you with any questions you may have regarding your wardrobe and style. Whether it’s a garment you love but have no idea what to wear with it, how to customise and update an item, or how to freshen up your favorite dress etc. Simply leave a comment or email me via the contact page if you rather it be private.

I’ll also be doing ‘How to Wear’ posts as part of the Style Build series. Styling up one item in many different ways to show you how versatile garments can really be when you put your mind to it.

*PHEW!* Well, that was a lot to take in but I really hope you will enjoy this new series. Until the next time, thank you kindly for reading.



One dress, Two Different Ways.

Birthday outfit 1bHello Lovelies,

An outfit post for you today. For two out of the four days of birthday celebrations I had a couple of weeks ago, I wore the same dress. A home made 1980s batwing full skirted dress to be precise and I paid a mere £10 for it in Camden about 9 years ago. It’s served me well and I believe the trick to getting a lot of wear out of something is as follows…

a) Buy something classic, e.g Black pencil skirt, LBD, White shirt etc.

b) Buy something well made so it can survive a lot of wear and tear.

c) Buy something that ticks both a and b and you’re onto a real winner!



Back. Deep V.

Back. Deep V.

Full skirt.

Full skirt.

The dress is kind of a mixture of both as it has a classic 50s feel to it, it’s fairly well made in a durable cotton but the giant polka dots make it quirky and fun. It has a bateau neckline, nipped waist and, 3/4 sleeves and a very full skirt. The trick is to then learning how to wear it in different ways to make it versatile. And by wearing it different ways, I don’t just mean by pairing it with a different pair of shoes/belt/sweater etc, I mean also trying to put it on in different ways. Turn it back to front, turn it upside down, twist it, pleat and pin it, fold it, have fun! Here’s an example…

Birthday outfit 1aBirthday outfit 1cOn my birthday I wore the dress as a skirt. I simply turned the torso inside the dress, so that only the skirt part was visible. I teamed it with a black and white striped long sleeve top, pink sweater, pink tights and patent boots. Oh, and a leapord print hat/scarf with ears thing I made last summer. I also wrapped one side of the skirt across the front and pinned it to the side to give it an asymmetric drape.

Birthday outfit 2aBirthday outfit 2bThat weekend I wore same dress but this time I wore the dress properly, I pulled up a corner on the left and right front and pinned into place. I added a bow brooch to one side and finished the outfit off with a black 3/4 sleeve sweater, black tights and metallic silver converse…and pink animal ears, why not?

I think I may do a series on wearing the same thing different ways, I may even post more outfits with the same dress. I’d love to see how you dress up your favourite items to get more wear out of them.

That’s all for today, thank you kindly for reading as always.