If you’ve spent much time reading about minimalism or the minimalist lifestyle, you’ll have likely come across the concept of a capsule wardrobe (sometimes called a capsule collection).
What started as a niche concept is quickly becoming more mainstream, and with the likes of Marie Kondo sharing her decluttering and organizing ways, and a big shift towards more sustainable brands, it’s no wonder the idea of a capsule wardrobe is appealing.
But first, we’ve got to ask…
What Is A Capsule Wardrobe?
Essentially, a capsule wardrobe is a significantly reduced collection of clothes you own that you mix and match and wear on repeat.
And before you go thinking that it’s wearing the same shirt day in day out, that’s definitely not the case.
Although Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg definitely supported that idea.
Usually you would pick classic pieces, often from the same color palette or in neutral colors, and them mix them up in different ways to create new looks.
With a capsule wardrobe concept, you stick to a set number of items, that are often high-quality pieces (quality over quantity), which is a more sustainable approach to fashion and to how we create a minimalist lifestyle.
Why You Should Have A Capsule Wardrobe
Having a wardrobe full of clothes you love is great, but it can also be expensive, and having too many options might even make you want to spend more money.
A capsule wardrobe on the other hand is all about finding simple outfits that work together (creating mix and match outfits), which means less time thinking about what you’re going to wear, and more time enjoying the clothes you’re wearing.
Some of the benefits of a capsule wardrobe include:
Reduce Clutter & Overwhelm
If you’ve ever had to declutter your wardrobe, then you’ll know the feeling of overwhelm that comes from the clutter our clothes can cause.
Have you ever just stood looking at all of your clothes but still feeling like you have nothing to wear?
A capsule wardrobe helps you avoid that.
Everything you have in your capsule wardrobe looks good on you, works together, and you love – so you won’t feel overwhelmed with the ‘what to wear’ question, and you will have less clutter too!
Less Decision Fatigue
Do you know how many decisions we make every single day? More than I’d care to count.
And our decisions start from the moment we wake up.
Do I press snooze or get up? Do I press snooze again? Should I have my coffee first or go to the toilet? Should have have hot coffee or cold coffee? What should I have for breakfast? Should I have breakfast?
That’s just a minute fraction of the decisions we make, often without even realising, each and every day.
What a capsule wardrobe does is reduces that decision fatigue because you don’t have to scan your clothes and go through the process of mental elimination of what to wear, you have fewer items and therefore fewer options, but you know the options you have are the best for you.
Maintain Routines & Time Management
Having a strict routine is another way to help reduce decision fatigue .
Why? Because if you always start your mornings with coffee and meditation, then that’s what you do. Always.
With your clothes, stick to the same type of outfit every day (for example all black or all grey). That means less time thinking about what to wear, and more time getting things done!
Another great benefit of a capsule wardrobe is that it allows you to avoid trends.
I’m not saying don’t buy anything new ever again- I think we all know the dangers of buying something just because it’s on trend, but having one or two timeless pieces in your wardrobe that are stylish means you can avoid the fickle trends of the fashion industry.
Now, this might not be the main reason you want to have a capsule wardrobe , but it is something that happens thanks to having one.
A well curated capsule wardrobe means you are buying less clothes, so you are spending less money on them . And if that’s not cause for celebration then I don’t know what is!
Better For The Environment
Having a capsule wardrobe is better for the environment .
When you buy less clothes , you are using less resources to produce them and transport them. Plus, when you have fewer clothes in general , you are more likely to take care of them so they last longer too.
As we said earlier, one of the best benefits to having a capsule wardrobe is that it basically eliminates the ‘what should I wear’ question.
That means less time stressing about what you’re going to wear, which in turn reduces mental clutter and stress .
Less stress is always a good enough reason to start a capsule wardrobe today.
How To Create A Capsule Wardrobe
Creating your own capsule wardrobe is easier than you might think.
It’s really just about deciding what kind of style you want, and then sticking with it by only adding items that fit into that style.
Here are the steps you need to take.
Decide What Look You Want For Your Capsule Wardrobe
The first step is to decide what look you want to create with your capsule wardrobe.
Are you aiming for an everyday, corporate look? Are you looking for more of a relaxed ‘I don’t care’ weekend style? Do you want to be super stylish but always up to date on the latest trends (do it if it’s your thing!)?
Making this decision will help determine how many clothes and in what colours/styles you go for.
The next step is to go through everything you own in your entire wardrobe and decide what stays and what goes.
Audit and Declutter Your Current Wardrobe
You will probably find that over time, without even realising it, you have acquired more clothes than you actually wear . This is so true for me- I always seem to say “I need a white shirt” or “I need black trousers” when in reality I only have one of each.
So this part involves an honest appraisal of your wardrobe.
You are going to get rid of anything that doesn’t fit the style of capsule wardrobe you desire, doesn’t fit anymore (hello maternity clothes!), or just really isn’t your cup of tea. Get rid of duplicates too if they’re still hanging around in your wardrobe!
Create a donate pile in your wardrobe and pass anything on to the thrift store or Goodwill that is in good condition.
Remember, you want to create your perfect capsule wardrobe, if something doesn’t fit with that vision, then it needs to go.
Choose Cross Seasonal Items
This is a big one.
Most capsule wardrobes are designed to be worn for more than one season. This means you want items on hand that can stand up to different weather conditions- think cosy jumpers in winter, and airy linen trousers in summer.
You don’t need loads of these cross seasonal pieces (I would say aim for 5-7) but they are key to making sure your wardrobe lasts longer and doesn’t become obsolete halfway through the year.
Alternatively you could have a core capsule wardrobe, and a seperate seasonable capsule wardrobe. This way you could have your classic key pieces in your main collection, and then a small collection for the colder months including winter coats like a black blazer or trench coat (plus a few extra under layers for warmth).
You may also need to have one or two items reserved for special occasions so you don’t have to go out and buy a new outfit each time (the best part with this is that you can easily change up some classic dresses to create entirely different looks without having to spend a fortune).
Stick To Easy Pieces & Basics
It’s going to be a lot easier creating a capsule wardrobe if you stick with easy, neutral pieces and fill in your gaps with interesting accessories.
By keeping things simple, you are making life easier on yourself, and it will help ensure that you don’t go crazy trying to achieve a certain look (you can do that with accessories and statement pieces).
These versatile pieces form the base of your wardrobe and allow you to create a whole range of different looks.
Staple pieces for you might include denim jeans, basic white top, black blouse, and a few basic t-shirt options in the base color you had chosen, or even in your favorite colours..
Invest In Quality Pieces (And Avoid Fast Fashion)
One of the best ways to make sure your capsule wardrobe lasts is by sticking with high quality pieces .
You don’t have to spend a ton- just making an effort to invest in clothes that will last longer makes a big difference.
Build Out Your Capsule Wardrobe
Once you’ve decided what kind of style suits you best and narrowed down your clothing choices, it’s time to start buying pieces that fit into your new capsule wardrobe.
If you want a simple, every day look, stick with black and neutrals .
Don’t forget staple items like white t-shirts , jeans , a classic little black dress , blazer and so forth.
Stick with quality materials too- cotton is a great material for clothing as it breathes well against the skin and doesn’t cling or hold dirt. Avoid polyester as much as possible too!
If you’re looking for more seasonal versatility in your capsule wardrobes, think about adding lighter neutral colours such as cream or nude . Darker shades are good too as they can be worn in autumn/winter seasons without making you feel
Add Accessories & Accent Colors
Once you have your wardrobe basics nailed down, it’s time to build out your look with accessories and accent colours.
This can be as simple as a statement necklace or as complex as working in lots of different prints and patterns (without going crazy!).
When putting together an outfit think about what items can be used multiple times- if you buy something like a blue skirt , don’t just wear it with plain coloured tops! How else could you dress it up or down?
You can also use accessories to help tie in accent colours too (think pops of turquoise, yellow, orange etc).
How To Maintain A Capsule Wardrobe
Once you put together your first capsule wardrobe, it’s time to maintain the momentum!
This doesn’t mean you have to buy anything new (unless you really want to!) but just think about the clothes that are currently in your wardrobe and how they fit into your current capsule.
You can use this as an opportunity to swap things out too- if a garment isn’t working for you anymore, don’t be afraid to get rid of it and replace it with something else from within your wardrobe!
You’ll probably find after a few months pass by, that some items might start getting worn down or tired looking. That’s where buying quality comes back into play- why not invest in a couple of staple statement pieces so you have high quality basics on hand?
These are some other ways you can make sure you maintain your capsule wardrobe:
One Item In, One Item Out
One of the best ways to keep your capsule wardrobe organized is to follow the one in, one out rule .
This means that for every new item you buy, one must go.
You may find that you need to buy some new items to fill in the gaps in your wardrobe and add to your essential items. At this time you may not need to adhere to this rule, particularly when you’re first setting your wardrobe up, but as you get used to your minimalist closet, be sure you don’t fall back into the trap of buying a whole heap of new outfits and undoing all of your hard work.
Aim To Keep Less Than 40 Items
The whole idea of a capsule wardrobe is to reduce clutter and overwhelm and to keep things minimal and simple.
If your capsule wardrobe has 120 items in it, in every color, then you’re not quite there yet.
You should aim for having less than 40 items in your wardrobe at once- anything more and you might end up spending all your time trying to put together outfits!
While there’s no hard and fast rules about the number of pieces you have, getting your wardrobe down to as close to 40 pieces as you can is a great start.
Avoid Clothes Shopping
If you’re in the habit of buying new clothes all the time, stopping yourself from doing so can be super difficult.
The best thing you can do is avoid clothes shopping altogether by limiting your wardrobe to only things that fit into your capsule (it’s okay if you like to buy shoes and bags, but remember the one in, one out rule!).
This also means avoiding sales- if you can be persuaded into buying something because of a good deal, then it is probably not the best thing for your wardrobe.
Before you go clothes shopping again, think about why you need to buy anything in the first place. Do you really need this item?
Stick To Your Personal Style
Rather than buying something just because it looks nice, only buy pieces (when needed) that fit your personal style and that work the best with your body shape.
For example, if you’re more of a boho chic kind of person, don’t just buy every pair of shoes that has a huge shine on it. You might want to consider investing in some flat leather boots with studs instead.
Think back to the original concept you had for your minimalist wardrobe and stick with this rather than following the latest fashion trends.
Save Your Money
To keep you motivated to not buy new clothes all the time, put the money aside you would have spent on clothes into a savings account.
After six months, go out and treat yourself to something you really want- but remember , it should be something that fits with your capsule wardrobe (or something entirely different)!
Change Up Your Accessories
If you’re getting bored with your wardrobe, an easy way to liven things up is to change up your accessories.
Swap out the items you have for new ones, get a new pair of boots, a scarf, or some new jewellery to give your look a totally different vibe.
There you have it! With all these tips, creating and maintaining a capsule wardrobe should go swimmingly!
Remember though: the best way to get results is to take action and really focus on your current lifestyle and situation.
Figure out what works for you and why certain items are important for your wardrobe- don’t just blindly follow rules you find online.
And most importantly- have fun with it!
Stick with this guide and you’ll be on your way to a great capsule wardrobe that fits in perfectly with your new life.