How To Start a Capsule Wardrobe: A Beginner’s Guide

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how to start a capsule wardrobe

Minimalism is a trend that has been steadily gaining in popularity over the last decade. Modern culture is full of minimalist principals. The declutter movement has made it clear that there is a strong connection between our mental health and our physical surroundings. From having a few key pieces of furniture to freeing up space in your home and applying that principal to your wardrobe, you are on your way to start a capsule wardrobe.

What is a Capsule Wardrobe?

A capsule wardrobe consists of a small number, typically 25-50, of pieces of clothing. With a few classic pieces of solid colour and a few statement pieces to bring in your personal expression, a capsule wardrobe saves you time, money, and space.

Why Start a Capsule Wardrobe?

holding leopard print handbag

There are many reasons to start a capsule wardrobe. First, If you are feeling like your morning routine is too lengthy or overwhelming, simplifying your wardrobe can force you into a simpler decision-making process that will save you time and energy.

Second, if you find that you constantly seem to be purchasing new items of clothing only to ask yourself months later, “Why did I even buy this? I never wear it,” this is another good motivation to starting a capsule wardrobe. You will notice a great savings in your spending, and if you start to notice a difference, reward your positive change by putting the money you used to spend on excessive clothes and fashion accessories into a savings account or holiday fund.

Lastly, simplifying is another reason to start a capsule wardrobe. With the hectic pace of modern life in the digital age, it is all too easy to get caught up in the temptation to have everything. This leads to over-consumption and is not good for the environment. If everyone made the decision to simplify their possessions and reduce their consumership, the world’s landfills, oceans, and forests would all be better for it.

How to Start a Capsule Wardrobe

capsule wardrobe rack

Part of the appeal of starting a capsule wardrobe is that it’s a simple process that is completely customizable. There are no hard-and-fast rules, and this makes it a great option for a wide variety of people with different needs and lifestyles. Each and every capsule wardrobe should share the basic principal of simplicity, while also reflecting the individual tastes and preferences of its owner.

The great thing about starting a capsule wardrobe is that you very quickly gain an understanding of your own fashion needs.

Step One: Declutter

The first, and for many, the hardest part of starting a capsule wardrobe is decluttering your clothes. This is an essential jumping-off point to starting any successful capsule wardrobe.

Start with the items you haven’t worn over the last year: gone. Next, move onto those pieces you are holding onto in a desire to one day feel comfortable in them. You should only keep and wear clothes that make you feel good. Also stick with items that can be easily mixed and matched. Keep in mind that each capsule represents a given season, so it’s not as if you will be wearing those same items all year round.

Ready to get clutter free this year? Use this Mini Declutter Binder Kit to help you organize your home with ease. Sign up below!

Step Two: Analyze Your Current Lifestyle

Now that you’ve finished decluttering your closet, take a look at your current clothes situation. You’ll pull from here to create a capsule wardrobe but before you do, consider your current lifestyle activities. Grab a blank sheet of paper and create a pie chart to help you visualize how you spend your time. Fill up the pie chart by estimating the percentage (out of 100) for the following lifestyle activities:

  • Active: gym, sports, etc.
  • Work: Office, meetings, etc.
  • Casual: errands, coffee shop, etc.
  • Lounge: Comfy, relaxing at home, etc.
  • Going Out: date night, restaurants, etc.

Then ask yourself, “Does my clothes align with the activities I do throughout the week?” For example, you might struggle with finding outfits appropriate for work. You look in your closet and notice that you have more casual wear and not enough work-appropriate clothes. Have enough pieces that align with your top 2-3 lifestyle activities. Even better if you can find clothes that work for more than one of the activities. At the end of the day, you want to make sure you have the right balance between your wardrobe and current lifestyle. 

casual outfit in jeans

Step Three: Create a Seasonal Color Palette

Based on what you have in your closet and the season, create a color palette for your capsule wardrobe. Choose up to 3 main colors that best represent the essence of your style concept for the season. These are colors that you will be wearing a lot. 

Next, have 2 neutral colors to balance out the other shades. Colors like black, gray, and tan should suit your basics like simple tops and cardigans. Lastly, have up to 4 accent colors to add variety. Accent colors which are usually bold colors or prints, should work for accessories (i.e. leopard handbag, red heels, etc) or single pieces (i.e. tops, shorts, etc) and you would pair them with key pieces. 

For a versatile wardrobe, these pieces need to be able to mix well with most of the other pieces in your closet to maximize the number of outfits you can build.

Step Four: Build Your Capsule Wardrobe

hanging jackets on wardrobe rack

When it comes to building a practical and enjoyable capsule wardrobe, it is all about maintaining a blend of classic mix-and-match items. The classics never go out of style; a denim jacket, blazer, black slacks, and a white button-up blouse are examples of items that can easily blend with other items to create a custom look. A couple of print patterns, scarves, and hats make the ideal accent pieces to breathing some spicy expression into your ensembles.

Once you have worked your way down to 25-to-50 pieces, you’ve made it through the hardest part. If there are pieces you would like to add to your capsule but is currently not in your closet, add it to your shopping list!

***Note: Sleepwear, intimates, or workout wear don’t count as part of your capsule because these pieces must serve only their proper function. Now, if you want to wear a piece that’s not part of your capsule wardrobe for a specific purpose (i.e dressing up to go to a party or event), that’s perfectly fine. The whole point of having a capsule is to have something to wear daily so you feel less stressed about your clothes. No more standing in front of the closet thinking “I have nothing to wear!”

Step Five: Create Outfit Formulas

Once you worked your way down to 25-50 pieces, it’s time to start putting together outfit combinations that matches your current lifestyle. There are so many formulas you can put together like a jean jacket, floral dress, flats, and a tote.

create outfit formulas in capsule

On a sheet of paper, create outfit formulas using 3-5 pieces: (top + bottom + shoes + accessories // or // jacket + top + bottom + shoes + accessories) from your capsule. This will help you visualize your wardrobe, save time and create simple, well put-together outfits. This should last you for 3 months. After 3 months, reassess your wardrobe and eliminate things you no longer love, are out of style, too old, and etc. This will help keep your closet clutter-free!

Again the whole point of a capsule wardrobe is to streamline your closet so you always have something to wear. You’re not going to make perfect picks every time so remember it’s a learning process. Try out different pairings, dress it up and have fun!

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