How to Build a Capsule Wardrobe: Ultimate Guide

A study conducted by ClosetMaid revealed that the average American woman has more than 100 clothing items in her wardrobe. The unfortunate thing is that the average woman likes only 10% of these items. This isn’t surprising considering how many times we hear women complain they have nothing to wear while staring at a wardrobe full of clothes.

If you can relate to the “I have nothing to wear” phrase, you may want to consider a capsule wardrobe instead of getting frustrated every morning trying to find something to put on.

A capsule wardrobe has become a very popular lifestyle choice, with more and more women adopting it every day. And far from the myth that a capsule wardrobe is boring and limiting, it is actually very flexible and versatile if you know how to work around it.

Read on to learn everything there is about this fashion lifestyle. You will also learn how to start and build a sustainable capsule wardrobe. As a bonus, we share a capsule wardrobe checklist to make it easy for you to get started.

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What is a Capsule Wardrobe?

A capsule wardrobe is a collection of a limited number of clothing items that can be mixed and matched to create a variety of outfits. The idea behind a capsule wardrobe is to have a small yet versatile selection of high-quality pieces that can be worn for a wide range of occasions rather than a large number of low-quality items that are only suitable for specific occasions or styles. 

organized capsule wardrobe

Capsule wardrobes are designed to be practical, stylish, and easy to maintain, and they can help people save money and reduce clutter in their closets. 

Typically, a capsule wardrobe will include a mix of tops, bottoms, dresses, outerwear, and shoes that can be paired with one another to create a variety of looks.

A capsule wardrobe simply helps you create an effortless style for yourself so that your everyday dressing is quick, easy, and stress-free.

Who is a Capsule Wardrobe Ideal for?

A capsule wardrobe is a great choice for anyone who wants to streamline their wardrobe and have a simpler, more cohesive style. It is particularly helpful for people with limited storage space, as a capsule wardrobe requires fewer items and hence takes up less room. 

Capsule wardrobes are also a good choice for people who want to save money on clothing, as the focus on quality over quantity can help you invest in pieces that will last longer and be more versatile. You will also avoid shopping aimlessly as your outfits are more streamlined.

Additionally, a capsule wardrobe is a good choice for people who want to be more mindful of their impact on the environment, as having fewer clothing items can reduce the demand for new clothing production, which can be resource-intensive.

Considering that the fashion industry is the biggest contributor to landfills, adopting a capsule wardrobe greatly favors mother nature. It is estimated that 85% of the clothes we throw away end up in landfills. That’s a pretty huge number!

Ultimately, a capsule wardrobe can be a good choice for anyone who values simplicity, versatility, and sustainability in their wardrobe.

clothes on a rack

How Many Clothes Should Be in a Capsule Wardrobe?

No set number of items should be included in a capsule wardrobe, as it will depend on your personal style, needs, and preferences. Some people prefer to have a very small capsule wardrobe with just a handful of pieces, while others may have a slightly larger collection of items.

A common middle ground is to aim for around 30 items, including tops, bottoms, dresses, outerwear, and shoes. This can include a mix of different types of clothing, such as formal wear for work, casual items for weekends and days off, and a few special occasion pieces.

That said, the key is to have a cohesive collection of items that can be mixed and matched to create a variety of outfits rather than focusing on a specific number of pieces. It’s also important to choose high-quality, timeless items that you will actually want to wear rather than just filling your wardrobe with a large number of items that may not be suitable for your needs.

laid out capsule wardrobe

Pros and Cons of a Capsule Wardrobe 

Like everything else, a capsule wardrobe also comes with its own set of pros and cons which include:

Pros:

Simplifies your wardrobe: Having a smaller number of clothing items can make it easier to decide what to wear and can reduce clutter in your closet.

Saves you money: By focusing on high-quality, timeless pieces rather than a lot of trend-based items, you can save money in the long run by not having to constantly replace clothing that goes out of style.

Encourage you to be creative: With a limited number of clothing options, you may be more inclined to get creative with your outfits and try new combinations that you might not have considered before.

Reduces decision fatigue: With a smaller number of items to choose from, you may find it easier to get dressed in the morning and can spend less time deciding what to wear.

Cons:

Limited options: Having a smaller number of clothing items can make it feel like you have less flexibility in your wardrobe, especially if you don’t have enough pieces to suit a wide range of occasions.

Requires investment: Building a capsule wardrobe typically requires investing in higher-quality pieces, which can be more expensive upfront.

May not suit everyone: A capsule wardrobe may not be a good fit for everyone, especially those who enjoy having a large variety of clothing options or who have a specific dress code for work or other events.

How to Build a Capsule Wardrobe: Step by Step

Ready to start building your capsule wardrobe? Here is a step-by-step guide to get you started.

Step 1: Determine your Style

 Before you start building your capsule wardrobe, take some time to think about your personal style and what kinds of clothing you feel most comfortable and confident in. This will help you choose pieces that reflect your personal aesthetic and that you will actually want to wear.

If you don’t know what your style is yet, Vlogger Bestdressed has a great tutorial on how to find your style. We suggest watching it. You can also take this quick quiz to find your style.

As you find your style, keep in mind what your lifestyle is as well. What you do primarily or the majority of your time will determine how your wardrobe will be. For instance, if you work from home, your outfits will differ significantly from an attorney or a banker working full-time.

Step 2: Identify your Needs

Consider the types of occasions and activities you typically dress for, and make a list of the kinds of items you need in your wardrobe to accommodate those situations. For example, do you need formal wear for work or special events? Do you need casual clothing for weekends and days off?

Your needs will guide you on what types of clothing you need to invest in.

lady putting clothes on a wardrobe

Step 3: Edit your Current Wardrobe

 Go through your current clothing and identify the pieces that you wear regularly and that fit well. 

A clever way to identify the clothes you wear regularly is to do a 30 day-track. You can do this manually by taking pictures of your everyday outfits or simply using a website like Cladwell. Though it’s a subscription site, it makes your tracking so much easier.

You should have three piles of clothes, 

  • Items that you’ve worn in the last 30 days
  • Items you haven’t worn in the last 30 days but wear every once in a while
  • And items that you completely don’t wear 

Set aside the items you predominantly wore in the last 30 days to be included in your capsule wardrobe. The second pile will most likely include seasonal clothes. We suggest sorting them out once more according to seasons. For instance, one pile will be for spring and summer clothes, and the other will be for winter and fall.

See what a winter capsule wardrobe should look like in the picture below.

winter capsule wardrobe collection

The rest of the items you can donate, sell or recycle. Especially items that you’ve not worn in at least 3-6 months or items that don’t fit well. This, of course, does not include the occasional outfits you wear once or twice a year, like to a wedding or office dinner. These items are separate from our capsule.

Your capsule wardrobe should only include the day to day items like office wear or your weekend outfits.

Step 4:Find your Color Pallete

Though not a necessary step, we highly recommend it. Finding your color palette will help make your future shopping so much easier. Go back to your 30-day tracking and pick out the predominant colors in your outfits. Document and keep that for your future reference when shopping.

Step 5: Identify Gaps in your Wardrobe

Now that you’ve set aside the foundational pieces for your capsule wardrobe, it’s time to make a list of your needs and compare it to the items you’ve set aside. Are there any gaps that need to be filled in order to have a complete capsule wardrobe?

Make a list of the items you need to purchase to round out your wardrobe.

colorful clothes on a rack

Step 6: Choose High-quality, Timeless Pieces

Guess this is the fun step. Shopping for new items. In this step, you want to focus on choosing high-quality, classic pieces that will stand the test of time and can be mixed and matched with other items in your capsule wardrobe. Avoid trendy or seasonal items that are likely to go out of style quickly.

Step 7: Organize your Wardrobe

Once you have all of your clothing items, arrange them in a way that makes it easy to see and access everything. Consider organizing your wardrobe by category (e.g. tops, bottoms, dresses) or by color to make it easier to put together outfits.

Step 8: Mix and Match

Now that you have your capsule wardrobe in place start experimenting with different combinations of items to create a variety of outfits. Don’t be afraid to mix and match different pieces in unexpected ways to create new looks.

capsule wardrobe checklist

30-piece Capsule Wardrobe Checklist

Here is a sample 30-piece capsule wardrobe checklist:

CategoryItems & Quantity
Tops2-3 blouses2-3 tops2-3 t-shirts1 sweater1 cardigan
Bottoms2-3 pairs of jeans2-3 skirts1 skirt1 pair of dress pants
Dresses1-2 casual dresses1 formal dress
Outerwear1 jacket1 coat
Shoes1 pair of sneakers1 pair of boots1 pair of dress shoes1 pair of sandals
Accessories2-3 scarves1 belt1 bag1-2 pairs of earrings1-2 necklaces1-2 bracelets

This is just a sample list and can be customized based on your personal style and needs. You may want to include more or fewer items in each category or add in additional categories like swimwear or activewear, depending on your lifestyle and the types of occasions you typically dress for.

Can a Capsule Wardrobe be Trendy?

You can include trendy pieces in your capsule wardrobe as long as they are high-quality and can be easily integrated with the rest of your clothing. For example, you might choose a trendy accessory, like a statement necklace or a pair of shoes, that can be paired with a variety of outfits. 

Just be mindful not to include too many trendy items, as they are likely to go out of style quickly and may not be as versatile as timeless pieces.

Wrapping Up: Should you Invest in a Capsule Wardrobe?

Whether or not you should do a capsule wardrobe is a personal decision that depends on your lifestyle and personal style.

There are several benefits to having a capsule wardrobe. It can save you time and money because you have fewer clothes to choose from, which can make getting dressed in the morning easier and more efficient. It can also help you develop a more cohesive and polished sense of style because you have a limited number of items to work with.

However, a capsule wardrobe may not be right for everyone. If you enjoy having a wide variety of clothes and enjoy the process of constantly updating your wardrobe, a capsule wardrobe may not be the best fit. 

Additionally, if you have specific needs or preferences that require a larger wardrobe, such as a uniform for work or a particular type of clothing for a hobby, a capsule wardrobe may not be practical.

Ultimately, whether or not you should do a capsule wardrobe is a personal decision that depends on your lifestyle, personal style, and specific needs. It is important to consider what works best for you and your wardrobe.

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