The 1920s Had Capsule Wardrobes? Creating a Vintage Collection

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by Nicole Rudolph

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02.13.2024



With a big trip coming up and no clothing for it, it’s time to start building a vintage capsule wardrobe. Thankfully, they aren’t a new idea and history has a lot of tips for me! I have to plan for 15-20 days, and while 7 months may seem far away, there’s so much to be made. I figured the best place to start was with researching what wardrobe methods they had around the 1920s for vacations and for everyday.

Turns out, the concept of mix and match closets easily goes back to the 1910s and fills magazines from that time forward. Wardrobes for the year, season, on a budget, for going off to college, or even on a vacation can be found in nearly every edition. And though the exact fashions vary year to year, they had a lot of concepts in common to help guide their fashionable audience. Which makes perfect sense. It’s an era when mass production, availability of options, and copious print material make fashion even more accessible. And with events like WWI and the Great Depression, or opportunities like college and travel, knowing how to build a small and budget friendly wardrobe that would cover all your basic needs was a must!

They cover ideas of color scheme, essential garments, adjustable styles, easy care fabrics, and how to tie it all together with accessories. And even across the many years of styles, they often argued for the same basic concept. Stick to neutrals, choose your fabrics with care, and start with a suit. With this information and more, I charged ahead on assembling my own set. I already have a wide selection of coordinating fabrics that have been collected over the last couple years, the question was just what they should be and how to make sure they all work together. That’s where the paper doll concept came in to play.

Unlike most modern capsule wardrobes where you can try on pieces together to get an idea of what works, nearly all of this is still in yardage state! So I had to come up with a method that would allow me to test the pieces out that I want to make to see if they would really work. Thus, digital fashion plates that work akin to paper dolls. It made the process incredibly simple and clear! This would also work well with photos of actual garments or images pulled directly from fashion magazines of the time.

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🎶Music via Epidemic Sound (https://www.epidemicsound.com)

00:00 Modern Capsules
03:32 Early Wardrobe Systems
13:39 Colors, Fabrics, and Design
22:54 Outfit Variations

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