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Capsule Wardrobe: What Is It and How To Start One


How to Create the Perfect Capsule Wardrobe for You

If you’ve ever experienced decision fatigue from having nothing to wear despite standing in front of a wardrobe filled to the brim with clothing, you, like many other fashion and shopping lovers, might have a closet that doesn’t suit your life or personal style. 

In the era of fast fashion with a multitude of trends and styles coming and going at seemingly lightning speeds, it can be so easy to be swept up in fleeting trends that you end up confronted with a tightly packed wardrobe filled with clothes you don’t even like. This is certainly a costly habit that can end up getting quite frustrating, so what’s the best solution for it? 

Capsule wardrobes have been a huge part of the sustainable fashion movement and among people who live a minimalist lifestyle. And there are a ton of ways you can benefit from having one, too. From being able to save money to having an easier time getting dressed every day, here’s a guide to why you should start a capsule wardrobe and how to build the capsule wardrobe of your dreams.

What is a Capsule Wardrobe?

A problem with fast fashion, unplanned and emotional spending, and the resulting trendy collection you’re then stuck with is that you end up having a wardrobe filled with pieces that don’t go well together and can therefore only be worn in specific outfits, so you actually end up with less full outfits to wear and limiting yourself despite having much more clothes available to you. 

And when you end up frustrated because of this, you most probably default back to dressing in the same clothes and your favourite things you love to reach for. Having a capsule wardrobe completely eliminates the former problem and keeps the latter as a solution, in turn giving you a wardrobe that is defined by both comfort and personal style.

A capsule wardrobe is basically a minimal wardrobe, consisting of a small collection of essential and good quality clothes you know you will wear every day and that can be mixed and matched together. 40 is typically the magic number for how much clothing a capsule wardrobe consists of that style well together and that you can cycle through for multiple seasons, but this number varies and will totally depend on you. 

All the items in your capsule wardrobe should be pieces that you absolutely love and feel comfortable enough in to the point that you don’t mind wearing them every day, making selecting a daily outfit so much easier.

How Do You Start a Capsule Wardrobe?

There is a high chance you don’t like everything in your wardrobe right now, and only consistently wear a small percentage of what’s in there. This is a great starting point when you create a capsule wardrobe of your own for the first time. 

Track What You Wear

Before actually beginning the creation of your capsule wardrobe, the best thing to do first is to track what you tend to wear within the month. Most often, the clothes worn most within this 30 day period will tell you what you love and what you don’t and makes the decluttering process a lot easier when you get to it. 

Categorise Your Clothes

Once at the decluttering phase, the process is quite easy: simply create two piles. The first pile consists of the clothing you wear constantly and that make you feel happy and comfortable, while the second pile consists of items you can’t seem to let go, but never actually wear (the 30-day tracking period should help make your decision-making significantly). 

Donate or Sell

You can then donate or sell these clothing items second-hand to people that will appreciate them and give them another life. You can do this at the start of every season to slowly build a capsule wardrobe by the end of the year.

Shop With Intent

With your closet now stripped down to your most favourite clothes and essential pieces you already own, you can now figure out what you’re missing and what you need to add to your smaller closet. This is where the concept of intentional shopping comes in. 

To intentionally shop simply means that you put more consideration into what you buy and prioritise what you need to wear over what you want to wear, which is probably the most important aspect of retaining an effective capsule wardrobe. 

When you shop more mindfully for clothes, it’s best to look for classic pieces that are much more versatile so that every outfit you wear can easily be dressed up or down and won’t succumb to the fast-moving fashion trends of today. And most likely, the favourite things you’ve kept in your closet after your declutter are probably not the trendiest things, but the easiest to style and create diverse outfits with.

Dress According to Your Lifestyle

Another tip and a generally great mindset to keep when selecting pieces for your first capsule wardrobe is to dress for the lifestyle you’re living instead of the one you dream of having. 

For example, instead of buying the most stylish things that are pretty much only suitable for nights out, shop for simple clothing that you can see yourself wearing in the different settings you most often find yourself in, and that looks good on your body shape

Given their simplicity and how well they fall on your frame, they can easily be accessorised or partnered up with more dressy pieces in your closet while instantly flattering your body.

Your Own Capsule Wardrobe to Suit Your Personal Style: What Should Be in a Capsule Wardrobe?

Now that we’ve established what capsule wardrobes are, how to create them, and what to keep in mind when you shop for your own capsule wardrobe, we can now look into what specific pieces you should consider for your closet. 

As mentioned earlier, understanding your lifestyle and what you like as opposed to the fashion trends around you is the best way to know what pieces you need to help build a capsule wardrobe best tailored to you. After all, not everyone’s life is the same, and so therefore not everyone’s capsule wardrobe will be the same either. 

However, if you’re feeling stumped about what your capsule wardrobe needs at the moment, a great idea to help you select your clothing is to think about every seasonal capsule collection. As you definitely won’t be donning your summer outfits in the winter and vice versa, certain clothing will be stowed away for most parts of the year. 

The roughly 30-50 pieces you own will be divided by season, giving you a constantly rotating selection that keeps you excited for the next change in weather. A good frame of reference is to have about 15-20 items per seasonal capsule, given that you will also definitely have year-round clothes that are on high rotation.

While you might have certain items in your closet that need to be stowed away during certain seasons, there are also several clothes that you are sure to wear all year long and that will be in every season’s capsule wardrobe. 

These should be higher quality clothes that are sure to last, these clothes including t-shirts, jeans, skirts, dresses, light jackets, certain shoes, workout clothes like yoga pants, and others depending on your style and everyday life, and this is something to keep in mind when creating capsule wardrobes, as not every seasonal capsule requires completely different items. 

However, keep in mind that it’s best to keep your essential base in an easy-to-match colour palette in either neutrals or bright colours depending on your taste to make dressing even more hassle-free. 

When you have these year-long fashion essentials to wear at hand, you can then build a capsule wardrobe per season around them. 

Spring Capsule Wardrobe

For your spring capsule wardrobe, all you’ll really need to wear is a slightly weighty jacket, a couple of light sweaters or cardigans, a pair or two of jeans, a pair of appropriate shoes depending on what the weather permits, and a dress or skirt. While this doesn’t sound like a lot, every piece should be quite versatile and easy to style and layer so you can make several different outfits. 

Winter and Fall Capsule Wardrobe

For your fall capsule wardrobe and winter capsule wardrobe, layering is undoubtedly your best friend and makes creating a whole outfit much more creative and fun. There are countless pieces you can incorporate, but we highly recommend having a long coat, a few warm sweaters, one pair of jeans, warm trousers or black pants, a pair of heavy-duty boots or winter shoes, and a dress and skirt as your closet staple pieces throughout these seasons.

Summer Capsule Wardrobe

A summer capsule wardrobe might sound like a bit more of a challenge given the lessened layers, but this just makes the mix-and-matching process of dressing up all the more fun and is where you’ll really see the importance of having very versatile clothes, good accessories, and a colour palette of complementing shades in your closet. 

A mix of flowy and figure-flattering tops, shorts, skirts, sundresses, and two pairs of shoes like trainers or sandals will definitely get you through the warm season while expressing your personal style to its fullest.

Final Note

While emotional and unplanned shopping can be a fun and stress-relieving experience in the moment, it’s important to remember that these feelings will only be temporary, and the clothes that will slowly accumulate will only cause you more stress in the long run in many different regards, from money to clutter to pollution. 

This is part of why the idea of being able to build a capsule wardrobe is so appealing to many people, as it hits several birds with one stone. The capsule concept is slowly making its way into the average person’s life and closet, helping us to lead less cluttered lives, save money, lessen waste, dress up faster and happier, and find our own style among even more benefits

If you’re experiencing problems caused by clutter and excess clothing, then maybe this is the sign that you should shop in sustainable brands create a capsule wardrobe of your own.

Ellora Sharma

Ellora Sharma is a 26-year-old fashionmonger from Leeds. She discovered her love for fashion through the many intricate and flashy designs found in the Bollywood films she religiously watched when she was younger (and continues to watch to this day). She has since developed an affinity for colourful and distinctive clothing, and loves to experiment with her style on the daily. She wants to help others find the same kind of joy and fun in clothing as she has.

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