Capsule Wardrobe: How To Get Started

I’m sure by now you have heard the term “capsule wardrobe“, and if you haven’t you’ve definitely heard about minimalism.

So, what is all the hubbub about these things? Why are they so desirable?

A capsule wardrobe is a minimalist closet. It’s making a conscious effort to limit what you put in your closet to make getting dressed simpler. The goal is to have a small wardrobe of things that you love to wear, make you look good, and to have full outfits that are easy to put together quickly.

Here is a list of qualifications for what goes in a capsule wardrobe:

  • Fits properly 
  • Is flattering and makes you feel good 
  • Is in good shape 
  • Has other items that go with it to make a full outfit 
  • Fits in a general color scheme 
  • You have space to store it 

How to make a capsule wardrobe from what you already own

Having a simplified wardrobe doesn’t mean you need to get rid of everything and start over. You may very well have most of the wardrobe that you need! The most common problem most women have is having too many items that clutter up the closet and make it hard to choose outfits efficiently.

The very first step to creating a minimalist wardrobe is pretty easy to guess. You need to give yourself a couple of hours and go through EVERY piece of clothing that you own, including coats and shoes. Go into this willing to part with some things and ready to simplify. Go through these steps thoughtfully.

  1. Look at every single item of clothing that you have. Make a yes, no and maybe pile.
    • Yes – I LOVE this item, I wear it often and I can’t even consider getting rid of it
    • Maybe – I like this item, but I’m not sure if it’s necessary or how much I wear it
    • No – I never wear this/I don’t like this/It doesn’t fit anymore
  2. Bag up your “NO” pile for charity. Now it’s time to work on the “MAYBE” and “YES” piles.
  3. Go through your maybe pile and try each thing on one by one. Ask yourself these questions…
    1. Does it fit properly? The answer should be yes.
    2. How long has it been since I wore this? If you haven’t worn it a year, it’s time to let go. 
    3. Does this item make me feel attractive? The answer should be yes. 
    4. Do I genuinely like this item? The answer should be yes. 
  4. If you said “no” to any of the above questions, that item needs to go in your charity bag. Now it’s time to go through the remaining clothes!
  5. Ask yourself these questions about the “yes” pile:
    • Is it still in good condition?
    • Does it fit properly?
    • How long has it been since I wore this?
    • Does this item make me feel attractive?
    • Can I make an outfit with other items that I own?
  6. Once you are done going through your pile, put the reject items in your charity bag and try to put away the rest of your items in your closet and drawers. If you do not have enough space to neatly store everything, consider the questions one more time until you can store all of your clothes in the space that you have.
  7. Make a list of items that you need. If something you love is falling apart, look for a replacement. If there’s an item that you really need to complete your wardrobe, or if the item that you have doesn’t fit properly or you don’t like it, look for something better. If you almost have a complete outfit but never wear the clothes because you’re missing an item, write down what you need to make that outfit ready to wear. Having full outfits that are attractive and are easy to pull together is the best part of a minimalist wardrobe.

Problem Solving

What if I love something, but it’s getting old, has a hole, or is pilling? There is nothing wrong with holding onto a sub-par item until you can find or afford something better. If you only have one pair of denim jeans that doesn’t fit quite right or has a hole, you can’t give it away today. If your winter coat won’t button but you can’t afford another one, you will have to make do. This is the beauty of the list mentioned in #7. Put the items in order of importance and when you can get the replacement item, give away or toss the item that is subpar.

What if I really want to love an item but I just never wear it? This is such a classic girl problem. This has happened to me so any times in my life it’s embarrassing. I purchase an item on a whim, or maybe because it’s in style and I feel like I have to have it… then it just sits in my closet. But I would feel guilty getting rid of it because I spent good money on it. But what use is it doing in my closet? If you don’t love it, you don’t love it. That’s okay. You can try to sell an item online or just give it away. There’s no point in keeping something that you will never use. I promise you will feel better just getting rid of it instead of looking at it every time you open your closet and remembering that you wasted your money.

What if it doesn’t fit anymore? If it’s an item that you don’t really need, just get rid of it and don’t look back. However, if it’s a vital piece of a full wardrobe or if you just absolutely wore it all the time, you do need to find a replacement that fits you properly. Put the item at the top of your “clothing needs” list and start searching!

What if I have an item that does not fit the color scheme? This is entirely up to you as an individual. A great component of a capsule wardrobe is the option to have a general color scheme (with pops of color of course!) that make it easier to purchase items with little thought, as well as to put together outfits. Most women who do this choose 2 “bread” colors (tan/navy/black/grey/white), 3-4 “meat” colors (this is the real color scheme) and then the “condiment” colors are whatever you find that looks good with those.

For example, for my spring/summer wardrobe, navy and white are my base colors. Sweaters, colored pants, purses, shoes, basic tops, layering items, coats… these items I generally pick in the base colors. When it comes to printed things, fun tops and dresses, extra sweaters, accessories…. these things I pick in the “meat” colors. In the spring/summer for me those are coral and yellow.

When it comes to “condiment” colors, these can literally be anything you want. The key to picking wisely is thinking about how many other items you need to pair with the piece. For example, you probably shouldn’t get a fun or random sweater, coat or shoes. These are items you need to wear regularly and be able to pair with lots of other things in your closet. But if you find a really adorable dress or top that you just can’t live without, as long as you know that it will go with your base colors, you are good to go!

What if I love the item but I don’t have anything else that goes with it? You have one of two choices. You can figure out what you need to purchase to go with the item to make a full outfits and put those things on your list, OR you can choose to sell or get rid of the item you are not able to wear. What you shouldn’t do is just sit it in your closet and hope that you magically someday have exactly the right thing to wear with it. Having a put together wardrobe means putting in the effort to have great outfits that are easy to put together. If you aren’t willing to put the effort in to make an outfit with this item, then you probably don’t love it that much anyways.

. . . . . . . . .

There are so many benefits to having a capsule wardrobe. I hope that this gave you enough information to think about taking the plunge! You won’t be disappointed. There’s no feeling quite like knowing every item in your closet and knowing how to put them all together.

And, in case you didn’t notice, there is no limit to the amount of items you can own. The key is that all the items in your wardrobe are wonderful and fit well and make you feel good. Now, how much more can you ask for? Let me know if you try this and how it went in the comments!

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