Maybe you’ve heard about a capsule wardrobe but you have no idea what it is or why someone would want one.
Do you feel like you are in a constant state of doing more and more laundry?
Do you find yourself always buying new clothes from the sales racks, and your closet bursting at the seams?
Even though you have a closet full of clothes, do you still wear the same outfits over and over and grimace when they are dirty?
You don’t have to live this way. If you put together a capsule wardrobe, life can be easier! Your mornings can be easier! You will finally have a closet that doesn’t look like pure and utter chaos. (Been there, done that.)
Transform your mornings
I used to hate mornings and getting dressed.
My morning would involve sorting through clothes crammed tight into my small, cluttered closet and trying on three different outfits.
I would then struggle to find the perfect pair of shoes, before heading out the door late and aggravated.
Then, when I started my decluttering challenge and took a no-shopping challenge, I learned how to create a capsule wardrobe.
I don’t want to be limited by a capsule wardrobe.
After reading about capsule wardrobes, it was a bit terrifying, the idea of taking everything out of my closet and surviving on only so many pieces of clothing.
There was no way I could throw out or give away perfectly good clothes.
There was also no way I could survive on so little. The concept seemed a bit crazy and extreme.
I tried it anyway.
You can do it! Let me show you how to put together a capsule wardrobe, without any crazy rules!
What is a capsule wardrobe?
If you search for the definition of a capsule wardrobe, you will see many variations.
At the core of it all, a capsule wardrobe is usually a collection of timeless pieces that can be used for a particular season, event or trip, or for the entire year.
You can create a business casual capsule wardrobe, a casual capsule wardrobe, a capsule wardrobe for moms or an athletic capsule wardrobe.
When you are ready to declutter your closet, the easiest way to start the process is to create a capsule wardrobe. That helps you eliminate the pieces you will never wear and put some sense of order into the chaos.
A capsule wardrobe will also depend on your lifestyle. You may have a business casual capsule wardrobe with a few pieces of casual wear.
Or, your capsule wardrobe many be primarily casualwear with a couple pieces of dressier wear.
If you are active, I would suggest a separate but smaller athletic wear capsule wardrobe.
The benefits of creating a capsule wardrobe:
1 – You will save money.
If you are not spending money every week or month on new clothes, your bank account will thank you. (Confessions of a reformed shopaholic.)
2 – Your closet will have so much space!
When you declutter your closet and learn how to create a capsule wardrobe, your closet will look huge, even if it is small.
Clothes will no longer be crammed into tight spaces. You will have empty shelves, and your organization will make sense. You will literally be able to grab your outfit with little thought and effort in the mornings.
3 – Packing for trips will be so easy.
If you create a capsule wardrobe, packing a capsule wardrobe for travel becomes a breeze.
You no longer will have to sift through all of your clothes to find the outfit you love, as you will already love everything in your closet. See #4.
4 – You will LOVE everything in your closet.
When you force yourself to go through your closet and pick out only a few timeless pieces of clothing, you will have picked out and kept only the items you love.
This means getting dressed in the morning is actually fun because you will love anything you choose to wear. No more throwing outfits on the bed because you hate how they make you look.
What’s not included in a capsule wardrobe
There are certain items that you do not have to include in your capsule wardrobe, but ultimately this is up to you.
In my capsule wardrobe guide for beginners, I do not count underwear, socks, swimsuits, or workout clothes.
When I say workout clothes, I’m talking about clothes you actually workout in. If you wear yoga pants or other athletic wear as part of your daily wear, they should become a piece in your capsule wardrobe.
How to put together a capsule wardrobe
There are a lot of folks out there who will tell you a capsule wardrobe should not have more than so many pieces. For me, I like the flexibility to choose the right number of pieces for my current lifestyle. However, if you do better with rules and guidelines, I did give you my suggestions.
Capsule wardrobe guide:
Is there a right number of clothes for your capsule wardrobe?
When I first cleaned out my closet, I had so many clothes that I wore and loved.
I broke the rule of 30 pieces other decluttering gurus suggested. I ended up with close to 50 pieces of clothing in my capsule wardrobe, but I was still purposeful with what I selected to keep.
I also kept all seasons in my closet. I live where it is 60 degrees one day and snowing the next. I want access to all seasons. It simply makes life easier for me.
Hard and fast rules for the capsule wardrobe:
The pieces had to be timeless.
I didn’t want to buy a new wardrobe every year. The whole point of decluttering my closet was to live a simpler life and to save money on buying new clothes.
Each item had to be able to be matched at least three ways with other items.
Jewelry and shoes are included in the capsule wardrobe guide for beginners.
You really don’t need that many pairs of shoes. Gasp, I know.
Take it slow
Take it slow. Hide items for an entire season if you can’t part with them just yet. My guess, after a few months, you will forget you owned some of these items you were clinging to so tightly initially.
If it pains you to part with your shoes, try hiding them in storage for a month or two. You will learn mornings are so much faster and your feet are so much happier when you have shoes you love and match most of your new capsule wardrobe.
Besides, you know you have those cute shoes in your closet that cause you to have blisters. Let them go. They don’t make you happy. Chances are, they make you miserable in more ways than just blisters.
I once had a pair of 4 inch leather booties I LOVED! However, every time I saw them, I felt guilt. I felt guilt for the money spent on them and guilt for never wearing them. Finally, I let them go. My heart and my feet have never been happier once they were gone.
If you have a super small closet (or even no closets), check out this article on how to create a capsule wardrobe with a very small space.
Capsule wardrobe colors:
The key to being successful in learning how to put together a capsule wardrobe is to first create a color guide.
You don’t want to go willy-nilly with your color selections. It will make matching items through several combinations nearly impossible.
Your capsule wardrobe color guide doesn’t dictate you have to have a minimalist capsule wardrobe full of black, white, and gray outfits. Boring.
Pick three to four base colors
First, pick three to four base colors for your capsule wardrobe.
These will be the timeless colors you will be working with when creating your capsule wardrobe. Nearly everything will match one of these base colors.
Pick three complimentary colors
Now that you have your base colors picked out, pick out three to four complimentary colors. They will be what you mix and match with your base choices.
Pick two accent colors
When learning how to create your capsule wardrobe, pick two accent colors. Make these your favorite colors, the colors you feel most confident when wearing and the colors that give your wardrobe a fun pop.
It’s probably easy to see what your accent colors will be when you look in your closet right now. Mine was bright blue. I think I had 10 blue shirts. It was glaringly obvious it was my favorite color.
Here are suggestions on how to create a capsule wardrobe for different lifestyles:
Core capsule wardrobe list:
- Dress pants
- Casual pants
- Solid tee
- Go anywhere bracelet or necklace
- Tennis shoes
Listed are 19 items that will likely build the core of your capsule wardrobe. Pick your favorite items in each category.
Add to these core items in the capsule wardrobe list to create a capsule wardrobe that best suits your lifestyle. I’ve listed out some ideas below for you.
How to create a business casual capsule wardrobe
I used to think I needed a new outfit (or five) every month for work. When I finally decluttered my closet, I had 10 blazers of various colors and nearly 40 blouses. I had nearly as many pairs of pants. It was ridiculous.
Once I created a capsule wardrobe for work, I finally started wearing only the pieces I loved.
You know what happened? No one noticed I was wearing the same pieces over and over again, and… I got a lot more compliments!
You may be surprised. When you make a a capsule wardrobe for work, you won’t be limiting yourself. Rather, you will be showing up everyday confident, in pieces you love.
Business casual bottoms
For a business casual capsule wardrobe, consider five to six base pieces.
This can be dress pants, skirts, and maybe one pair of jeans. I suggest no more than one unique / print pair of pants or a skirt. Even then, it should match at least three tops.
For example, I kept a pair of fire engine red dress pants. They matched a black shell top, white sweater combo, and a print black-and-white blouse. These were my favorite dress pants and although less versatile than black, were still used on a regular basis.
If you have six bottoms in your capsule wardrobe, you can wear five timeless and easily matched pieces most weeks and throw in your unique bottoms twice a month.
Business casual tops
When creating your business casual capsule wardrobe, decide how many tops you want. Actually, come up with a number.
When I first decluttered my closet, I had 38 blouses for work. No one needs a new shirt every day for almost 2 months of work, in one season.
I actually started to forget which blouses I owned because I wore them so little.
Ten blouses should be more than sufficient. That means you will not repeat a shirt for two weeks while at work.
If possible, I recommend having only shirts you can wash at home. This will save you a ton of money on dry cleaning costs. You can buy really nice dress shirts and blouses that can be washed and hung to dry or dried on low.
If you buy yourself cardigans and sweaters, you can extend your summer capsule wardrobe into the fall and winter. Three or four cardigans in classic colors like white, gray, black, brown, or beige work really well for an all season capsule wardrobe.
More formal wear and dresses for your business casual capsule wardrobe
You should have one formal interview suit in your closet that is classic and can be worn for many occasions. Then, have no more than two blazers that can be worn casually or dressed up in your business casual capsule wardrobe.
For those who like to wear dresses, three business casual dresses should be sufficient. You can pair them with cardigans or wear them alone.
Business casual capsule wardrobe shoes
Talking about pairing down a woman’s shoe collection is often a touchy subject for many women. However, if you have some classic pairs of shoes in basic colors, you can have a minimalist capsule wardrobe that is much easier to maintain.
Reducing your number of shoes does not mean you have to reduce the quality of your shoes. If you’re buying shoes less often, you can often spend more money on the shoes that you own.
Buy shoes that you love and wear them frequently. Like a good cardigan, classic dress shoes in the colors of black, gray, and beige work really well.
I liked having two pairs of heels and two pairs of flats for work.
How to create a casual capsule wardrobe
The size and style of your casual capsule wardrobe may depend on your everyday style choices and lifestyle.
When I was working full time outside of the home, my casual capsule wardrobe was quite small. However, when I started my career inside the home and while staying home with my children, my casual capsule wardrobe changed dramatically.
The best solution for creating a casual capsule wardrobe is to determine the total number of pieces you want.
If you are also maintaining a business casual capsule wardrobe, I recommend no more than 11 pieces. This would include five bottoms, one dress, and five casual shirts. All of these pieces should be interchangeable for the most part.
If your primary wardrobe is casual wear, I recommend a capsule wardrobe of no more than 30-40 pieces of clothing, to include shirts, bottoms, dresses, shoes, and outerwear.
A full-time casual capsule wardrobe, for me, would include six bottoms.
In the summer-time, I will have four pairs of shorts or cropped pants and two pairs of pants.
In the winter time, six pairs of pants.
I will typically have 14 casual shirts, 2 cardigans, 2 sweatshirts and then my shoes. If you prefer dresses, then tweak the numbers to include them.
For shoes, I have a pair of tennis shoes, hiking boots, riding boots, flats in two basic colors, two pairs of dressy sandals, a pair of black heels, my Teva sandals and a pair of flip-flops. That’s 10 pairs of shoes.
Capsule Wardrobe Accessories
Costume jewelry can be an addiction for many women.
I learned from my jewelry obsession that I was wearing 20% of my jewelry 80% of the time.
When creating a capsule wardrobe, paring down your jewelry into a few classic and timeless pieces will make getting dressed so much easier in the morning. It will also save you money when you stop buying more pieces.
One of the ways I stopped myself from buying more jewelry (and other non-essential items) was to stop going to the shopping parties my friends were hosting, like Origami Owl. You can still be a good friend and not buy their stuff.
Purses can fall into your capsule wardrobe accessories.
You don’t NEED twenty purses. I know. Take a minute to breathe. 🙂
I don’t want to rain on your parade if you are a purse lover, but unless you are using all of your purses on a regular basis, you can probably get away with two or three. At the very least, you can probably get away with no more than one purse per season and maybe one special occasion clutch or purse.
Try it out. Maybe put your purses you don’t use on a regular basis in a closet hidden out of the way for a few months. See if you even miss them. My guess is, you won’t.
A capsule wardrobe makes getting dressed easier and saves you money
Mornings are so much easier when you have a capsule wardrobe full of timeless, classic pieces.
It eliminates sorting through your clothes to find what matches and what you like to wear. You already love everything there, and everything already matches several ways!
A capsule wardrobe also saves you money because you can take a break from constantly buying new clothes.
Finally, a capsule wardrobe makes packing for a trip so much easier when you have fewer pieces to sift through and you love them all.
Other capsule wardrobe reads:
If you want to be inspired, take a look at Courtney’s take on a capsule wardrobe with Be More With Less. She used a capsule wardrobe as a catalyst for simple living, and it did wonders for her!
All my stay at home moms out there. Check out Corina’s free download for a mom capsule wardrobe. She’s got great ideas to transform you from frumpy to cute.
For specific capsule wardrobe ideas, check out Practigal Blog. She has capsule wardrobe ideas for all seasons.