Do you have a capsule wardrobe?
I honestly never thought I did because I consider myself a maximalist when it comes to my wardrobe. My closet is constantly overflowing and love switching things up all the time and trying all different trends. But after creating 4 seasonal capsules for you guys and looking through my Instagram at my outfits of the past year I’ve realized that I definitely have a capsule wardrobe of sorts and a few go-to uniforms.
In case you didn’t know a capsule wardrobe is a selection of interchangeable clothing pieces that complement each other. And that can be mixed and matched with one another to create multiple outfits. Having a capsule wardrobe saves you time and effort when deciding what to wear. And will hopefully eliminate that dreaded moment of standing in front of your closet claiming you have “nothing to wear” (decision fatigue is a REAL THING)!
A capsule wardrobe is not a one size fits all type of thing. When it’s done correctly and you take into account where you live, your lifestyle and your personal style it allows you to save money and truly makes getting ready everyday SO simple. You’re on your way to having a perfectly curated closet filled with perfectly curated outfits that will make getting dressed in the morning so much easier! So here it is…my step by step how to build a capsule wardrobe post!!!
How to Build a Capsule Wardrobe
Analyze your Style
The best way to start a capsule wardrobe is to analyze your personal style. Do you tend to dress more classic or eclectic? Feminine or sporty? Bohemian or edgy? It’s ok if you don’t know too because the next step will help you narrow it down.
This is also a great time to take into account whether your job and daily activities require you to dress up on a daily basis or do you dress more casual. If you spend 5 days a week in a suit and heels your curated wardrobe is going to look very different than someone who is a stay-at-home mom or works in a casual office.
Track What You Wear for the Next 30 Days
Now it’s time to track what items in your closet you’re actually wearing. The easiest way to do it is to make sure all the hangers in your closet are facing the same direction. And for the next 30 days every time you wear something hang it back in your closet with the hanger facing the opposite direction. If you use dressers or shelves I suggest clearing our one drawer or shelf and placing the items you wear over the month in that drawer or on that shelf. I also suggest snapping a photo of your outfit everyday and creating an album in your phone of all the outfits.
Once the month is up take a look at the outfit photos you took, the items you wore and the items you didn’t wear. Do you see a pattern? Did you wear mostly color or neutrals? Did you wear jeans 25 out of 30 days?
Clean Out Your Closet
Look at all the items you didn’t wear in the 30 days and decide whether you’re going to keep them, donate/sell them (if they’re still in good condition) or throw them out.
First I suggest going through everything and toss anything that has holes, stains, is piling or has really just seen better days.
Then going through and put everything that doesn’t fit in the donate/sell pile. I know we all have items we save because “we’re going to fit in them again”. But honestly when we do they probably won’t be in style anyway so get rid of them now.
Once you do that collect everything that is out of season and put it in a separate pile. For example if you’re trying to create a cold weather capsule wardrobe then all of your sundresses and shorts are obviously going to be in the pile that you haven’t worn in the past 30 days. So instead of going through these things now put them in a vacuum seal bag and repeat this process during the warm weather.
Now look through the items you have left that you haven’t worn and think back to the last time you actually wore it. If it’s been more than a year or you don’t love it get rid of it.
If it’s a special occasion piece like a fancy dress or top make sure that it’s still something you would actually wear before placing it back in your closet.
Now look and see if you have any duplicates? Do you own 8 black sweaters? 5 white tank tops? 20 pairs of jeans? Do you REALLY need that many of the same item? I suggest tossing the fast-fashion versions of what you own and keeping the higher-end versions that are much more likely to last longer.
Once you’ve done this your closet should be significantly smaller, if it’s not try repeating the 30 day process again. I know it’s hard to part with items in your closet. But I always try to remind myself that if I get rid of the items that I don’t love then I’ll have room for a new piece that I do love (and will probably wear).
Choose Neutral Colored Essentials & Accent Colors
Now it’s time actually time to create a capsule wardrobe. Whether you’re a color lover or not, your capsule wardrobe will be filled with neutral colored essentials (but I promise we’ll be adding a few pops of color later).
Every capsule wardrobe needs the following neutral pieces:
- White T-shirt
- White Tank Top
- White Long Sleeve
- Black T-shirt
- Black Tank Top
- Black Long Sleeve
- Black Leggings
- Black Joggers
- Neutral Dress Pants
- Neutral Sweater
- Neutral Dress
- Neutral Coat
Do you own these 13 items or something similar to them? If so GREAT you have created a base for your capsule wardrobe. But it’s just a base because while these items will get you by, a capsule wardrobe isn’t meant to be boring.
Now it’s time to pick out an accent color or colors. Sticking to one color or color family will make getting dressed easy. Because pretty much everything you own will compliment each other. For example maybe burgundy is your favorite color to wear. Then you can incorporate not only burgundy into your capsule wardrobe. But also rose, wine, red, pink and any other shade in that color family. Not only will all these items pair well with your neutral colored essentials above, but they’ll also pair well together!
Add Layering Items
Depending on if you’re building a cold or warm weather wardrobe these layering items can look a little different.
For a cold weather capsule wardrobe your layering items include coats, tights, cardigans, sweaters, sweatshirts, turtlenecks, etc. All of these are necessities for surviving a winter and should be included in your staple items for the season.
For a warm weather capsule wardrobe your layering items include swimsuits, cover-ups, shorts, tank tops, etc. Again, items that are essential for surviving the season, but aren’t included in those first 13 items.
Add Patterned and Statement Pieces
You know I could NEVER create a post about how to build a capsule wardrobe if it didn’t include a few patterned and statement pieces. These pieces are truly what will take your basic capsule wardrobe to the next level.
For patterned pieces I suggest a great patterned top, dress or skirt that you can mix and match with the neutral items in your closet. Depending on the season you might consider floral, plaid, striped, leopard or another similar timeless print. You can see by my capsules wardrobes of the past that I always tend to stick to these 4 patterns because they never go out of style.
I love my statement pieces and season to season when I put together my capsule wardrobe for you guys I always include at least one statement piece that is also very wearable! For the Winter I love a faux fur coat, functional and statement making. For holiday you might want to go with something in a metallic fabric like a skirt! And for Summer maybe a colorful floral dress, the options for your statement pieces are endless. My only requirements for the perfect statement-making piece is that it’s something you love to wear. And it puts a smile on your face when you pull it out of your closet.
Add Shoes & Accessories
And last, but not least shoes and accessories because no outfit is complete with the finishing touches.
For shoes I think you need 5 core pairs of shoes for each season! In the colder weather you need sneakers, heels, casual boots, dressy boots and functional winter boots. In the warmer weather I think sneakers, heels, flats, casual sandals and dressy sandals are necessities! I suggest keeping your footwear relatively neutral. But if shoes are your “thing” I see no harm in adding a statement shoe into the mix!
Now accessories are really where you take your basic capsule wardrobe and really add some personality to it. Think jewelry, hats, scarves, handbags, hair accessories, THESE are what really add the extra oomph to your outfit!
Create Wish List for Missing Items
All in all your complete capsule wardrobe per season (alternatively you can do a warm weather capsule and a cold weather capsule) should include about 30 items of clothing, 5 pairs of shoes and 5-7 accessories (many of which can overlap from season to season).
Now take a look at your closet and see if you’re missing something? Did you toss your white long sleeve t-shirt because it had a stain on it? Did you your go-to black dress shrink in the wash? Create a note on your phone with your wishlist so that when you’re out shopping or when your favorite store has a sale you’re not shopping blindly, you’re shopping with intention.
Now that you know how to build a capsule wardrobe my favorite places to shop for the perfect pieces for your capsule is:
Important Things to Remember When Building a Capsule Wardrobe:
- Invest in Quality Over Quantity. While inexpensive items might seem appealing and you might think you’re saving money, in the long run you’re actually not. A fast fashion item will probably only last you 1-2 seasons, while a higher end piece from a sustainable fashion brand will last you years to come.
- Sign up for a Clothing Rental Subscription Service to be able to add trendier pieces into your wardrobe rotation without having to commit to them. I love nuuly (read my entire post about it here & get $10 off your first month), but Rent the Runway and Fashion Pass are also great options. Renting clothes allow you to expand on your capsule wardrobe, still save money and try new silhouettes that you might not ever have tried before.
Looking for capsule wardrobe inspiration for each season? I’ve got you covered there too! Check out my Summer, Fall, Winter, Holiday & Spring Capsule Wardrobes! I update these capsules every season so they are always stoppable and filled with outfit ideas.