Drastic Fashion: A decade of far-out capsule wardrobes with KASITA CEO, Jeff Wilson

There are lots of ways to do a capsule wardrobe, but we’re a fan of Jeff Wilson’s “eccentric” approach to the minimal closet.


Behold the capsule wardrobe: antidote to fast-fashion, boon to tiny homes, and a solution for all who want to lower their daily “decision fatigue” levels. Originally coined by London boutique owner Susie Faux in 1970, the idea of a pared-down wardrobe stocked with a few high-quality staples made a big splash in the 1985 fashion scene when American designer Donna Karan launched a seven-piece women’s line around the concept.

But while the label itself is relatively new, the idea of a simple collection of coordinating pieces isn’t exactly novel. Before the 19th century advent of the sewing machine and ready-made clothes, virtually everyone but the moneyed elite was limited to an everyday outfit or two, a special occasion piece, and a few seasonal accessories. Clothes were made to last for years—or even a lifetime.

If you’re considering a modern capsule wardrobe, you’ll find that most how-to guides emphasize the same tradition of moderation and quality (Caroline Rector’s guide over at the Unfancy blog is one of our favorites). But in this day and age, just because the clothes are limited doesn’t mean the fashion has to be too. Some people prioritize adventure over pure function when it comes to building a minimalist closet—among them KASITA CEO Jeff Wilson, whose primary wardrobe staple has always been a twist of extreme.

So, in an homage to creative capsule wardrobes of both past and present, we present the many evolutions of Jeff’s closet. (And for the record, we don’t personally recommend allocating half your wardrobe to bow ties.)

 

jeff wilson capsule wardrobe 1

KHAKI PERIOD (2007-2011): Picasso had his Blue Period, Jeff had his khaki years. For nearly half a decade his closet consisted of one Brooks Brothers wrinkle-free, French Cuff shirt for each day of the week, three short-sleeved white shirts, three pairs of Dockers khakis, and three pairs of shoes. Apparently even two colors was too extreme, because towards the end he ditched the white shirt and replaced it with—you guessed it—a khaki button up.

 

jeff wilson print explosion

WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE (2011-2013): At the end of a teaching semester in 2011, Jeff received a student evaluation that said, “dude, enough with the khakis already.” He took the advice to heart, trading in the Dockers for a collection of psychedelic prints and 70’s polyester bright enough to be seen from outer space. Still, he maintained a relatively compact wardrobe (one that didn’t emphasize shoes), because does it really matter if the top matches the pants? No, it does not.

 

dumpster-days jeff wilson

DUMPSTER ATTIRE (2013-2014): When you’re living inside a converted dumpster, you’ve got a capsule wardrobe by default. During his year-long dumpster experiment, Jeff adopted the bowtie that came to define his newly minted “Professor Dumpster” persona. At the height of the experiment he had four pairs of pants, four shirts, three pairs of shoes, three hats and nearly a dozen bow-ties stowed in the floor of his dumpster (An exceptional bow-tie-to-shirt ownership ratio, as noted by The Atlantic.)

 

jump-to-it jeff wilson

JUMP TO IT (2015): What’s the real secret to paring down your wardrobe? Converting to one-piece jumpsuits, obviously. The epitome of function, jumpsuits halve your closet by eliminating the needs for coordinating tops and bottoms. Just throw one on and head out the door like Jeff did in 2015, when his wardrobe consisted primarily of two blue jumpsuits, one grey jumpsuit, a Stetson Open Road, and a pair of black Converse.

 

back-to-black jeff wilson

BACK TO BLACK (PRESENT): In a move that’s (alarmingly) reminiscent of the khaki phase, Jeff’s current wardrobe (two black shirts, one pair of black Levis jeans, two pairs of Converse, and the Stetson) is a return to the mono palette—this time inspired by New York street goth and the need to camouflage espresso stains. Nevertheless, it’s probably the closest he’s come to a traditional capsule wardrobe in the last 10 years, so for that we have to give him a little credit.