Learning how to build a capsule wardrobe or minimalist wardrobe will help you save money and reduce your stress and anxiety. It will help you keep only the pieces that you love and can wear with many different outfits. It's also great for upcycling your clothes instead of buying clothes you never wear.
You will be able to wear the same pieces throughout the year and seasons. This will greatly reduce the amount of clothing you need, which will save you money! So, before we get into how to create a capsule wardrobe, let's cover exactly what it is!
What is a capsule wardrobe?
A capsule wardrobe can be a great way to develop your personal style, curate your closet, and save time. Most importantly, it will save you money as you hone in on your fashion goals. It is a collection of classic and essential items that don't go out of style and can be styled to suit every season of the year.
The items in your capsule wardrobe can be complemented with seasonal or trend items, but the foundation of your wardrobe is built on classic staples. The staples can be used with a variety of pieces so that they fit with several different outfits.
So, instead of having 15 pairs of pants, you may have 3 or 5 that can be worn with several tops. The same goes for tops; you may have 5-9 tops that can be mixed and matched with the bottoms and accessories in a variety of outfits.
It’s all about minimizing the number of clothes you have and having multiple pieces that all work together for multiple outfits.
Keep in mind a capsule wardrobe is different from a style uniform. With a style uniform, you essentially create a style theme and build your outfits around it.
Why should I build a capsule wardrobe?
Ever stood in front of your wardrobe with a ton of clothes looking back at you and nothing to wear? I've been there one too many times. Looking at a closet full of things I didn't love, I wasn't sure why I bought or had purchased for my unrealistic "dream" life and had never worn.
I was tired of it. I wanted to be able to walk into a closet that housed only things that I really loved and quickly be able to find what I wanted to wear for any occasion.
While my closet is still a work in progress, the time I've saved getting ready has increased by leaps and bounds. I'm also more particular about the pieces I buy with my hard-earned money. If you've had the same experience as I have, then you might want to seriously consider starting a capsule wardrobe.
Using a capsule wardrobe reduces the number of clothes that you need. It means you will have more space and less anxiety over what to wear. Not to mention the stress and anxiety that is caused by just having so much stuff.
It also makes getting ready easier and faster! Plus you save money by buying fewer clothes. These are just a few good reasons why I practice minimalist fashion!
How do you build your own capsule wardrobe?
Determining how to start a capsule wardrobe is really not hard. It all starts with a plan and minimizing what you already have. You want to reduce what you don’t wear and then find pieces that go together for different outfits.
Building your own capsule wardrobe is very simple. This helps eliminate clutter while making the most of your budget. There isn’t a set number of pieces to make your minimalist wardrobe. Just try to keep what you can wear over and over with many different items.
This will help you reduce the number of pieces you have while keeping what you really love. Of course, if it's easier for you, you can use a capsule wardrobe formula. This does limit the number of pieces you have but may make it simpler for you starting out.
For instance, the 1-2-3-4 capsule wardrobe formula is where you keep 1 jacket, 2 bottoms, 3 tops, and 4 additional items. This may be a bit strict to start with, but you get the idea. You can use this for your seasonal wardrobes on top of your basic wardrobe to limit the amount of clothing you have.
The important thing to remember about learning how to build a capsule wardrobe will be different for everyone. Just choose a capsule wardrobe formula or method that is easiest for you!
5 Steps on how to build a capsule wardrobe
Here are 5 key steps that you can work on right away to help you build the capsule wardrobe of your dreams!
1. Eliminate: think less, not more
The first step to creating a capsule wardrobe is to take stock of what you already have. Once you've done that, you'll then go through a process of elimination. This means taking everything out of your closet and doing a closet purge.
Go through your clothes, shoes, jewelry, purses, etc., and sort them into 3 piles. Depending on how much you have, you can start with your clothes and then do your shoes and other accessories on a different day.
This is a good time to keep track of how many items you have and visually see how many go together. The idea is to reduce the number of items you have overall and keep ones that can be matched with several other items.
While you are taking inventory and going through your closet, really think about how many tops, bottoms, and accessories you actually need. If you have 10 pairs of jeans, do you really need that many? How many sweaters do I need? How many pairs of shoes do I need?
Those are the things to think about while you are sorting your clothes. You can set a number if it helps you sort but be sure to keep what you absolutely love and things that will be the base of your capsule wardrobe.
The three piles will be broken down into the love pile, the maybe pile, and the gotta-go pile. Make sure to touch every piece of clothing as you are building your wardrobe. As you do this, create a transition area for items as you are cleaning out your closet. This will help you sort and stay organized.
The love pile
These items will be things you love and will wear without question, e.g., your essential and classic clothing - these things can immediately go back to your closet. Creating a capsule wardrobe that you love will help you stick with your new minimalist fashion goal.
If you live in a place that has multi seasons, you can split this pile according to the season and then rotate the items through your closet as needed each season.
The maybe pile
These items will be things you like but aren't entirely sure about, don't quite fit right, etc. Put these items aside for 30 days and then come back to this pile and go over them again. If you still feel unsure about them, then it's time to let them go. Remember creating a capsule wardrobe means downsizing, so keep that in mind when using this pile to make decisions.
The gotta go pile
These pieces are the multiple duplicates, things you regret buying, have never worn or never wear, don't fit into your lifestyle, or you simply just don't like. You can sell these things to earn some extra money or donate them for other people to use. I've had a lot of success selling pre-owned designer handbags.
Once you are done going through your closet, this is a great time to organize the items you have left! It will help streamline your wardrobe if you organize items by tops, bottoms, accessories, and then by colors. So, decluttering your closet is the first step on how to build a capsule wardrobe.
2. Identify the gaps and make a capsule wardrobe checklist
Once you've cleaned out your closet, you will have a clear idea of what staples are missing from your closet. You can then make a capsule wardrobe checklist of things you need to purchase to fill in the gaps.
After you have spent all that time cleaning out your closet, the last thing you want to do is fill it back up again - so be very strict with your list and stick to only including the things you truly need, will use, and love. There are some great minimalist clothing brands you can check out as well.
Part of creating a capsule wardrobe is minimalizing what you have. When you have fewer options, it’s easier and faster to decide what to wear.
3. Plan out your capsule wardrobe checklist and create a budget
It can be tempting to go out and buy your entire wishlist all at once. However, you don't want to do it at the expense of your financial goals. Start by pricing out the items you want to buy (with a focus on buying the best quality you can afford). Then create a priority of the items you need to purchase first.
Decide how many pieces of each type of clothing you want for your wardrobe. For instance, 9 tops, 5 bottoms, 5 shoes, etc. Then build on your capsule wardrobe with accent pieces. This will help you plan out what you really need.
Once that's been done, build shopping for your capsule wardrobe checklist into your monthly budget after your bills and savings goals have been met for the month.
Taking this approach will make sure you are staying on top of your financial goals. It will also give you time to decide if the item on your list is something you really want to own.
It will also give you time to find a good deal. Search for coupons or shop offseason to find the best price. Don't be afraid to buy a pre-owned piece either. If you buy clothes that are of high quality and won’t go out of style, it won’t matter when or where you buy them.
You may even find that after a few weeks of having it on your list, you don't really want it. Delaying the purchase will save you money and minimize the number of items that you end up buying for your capsule wardrobe. Check out our list of luxury items every woman should own for inspiration.
4. Master the remix, have fun
The whole point of having a capsule wardrobe is to streamline your closet. This way, you always have something to wear; But that doesn't mean it has to be boring.
Remixing your outfits by putting them together in different pairings and with different accessories is where the fun with your wardrobe really begins and how you can start to develop or improve on your own personal style.
Don't be afraid to try out different pairings as you dress up each day - have fun with your capsule wardrobe. You'll find that because your wardrobe is made up of things you truly love, you are less compelled to go out and buy subpar items. This, in turn, will keep more of your hard-earned money in your pocket!
5. Maintain your capsule wardrobe
As you progress learning how to build a capsule wardrobe, be sure to reassess your closet each season. This will help you eliminate the things you fall out of love with, are no longer your style, are too old or need to be discarded, etc.
Performing this routine assessment will help you keep your closet space clutter-free and allowing you to maintain your gorgeous capsule wardrobe.
Finding a plan that works
The next step in creating your wardrobe is finding a plan that works for you. There are numerous books on curating your closet, and these are some of my favorites.
This book is all about streamlining your closet so that you can save money by buying less and minimizing closet clutter. It will help you master your style while sticking to your budget. Plus, there is a workbook to go with the book to make it easier to plan out your closet.
Another favorite book of mine is How to Get Dressed: A Costume Designer's Secrets for Making Your Clothes Look, Fit, and Feel Amazing by Alison Freer.
This book will help you style the clothes you already have. She will help you make your clothes fit and look better without going on a shopping spree!
These two books will help you minimize what you already have while making what you have work for you. You will look and feel better, and your budget will thank you.
You can even do a minimalist challenge where you try to only where a small number of items for a set time period. This will help you see that you can live without all the clothes.
Project 333 does a 3-month challenge where you try to only wear 33 pieces in the 3 months. You can join their FREE challenge here. Finding the right plan for you is how to build a capsule wardrobe you will love.
Capsule wardrobe examples
So, now that we covered how to create a capsule wardrobe, let's check out some capsule wardrobe examples to get you started!
Spring capsule wardrobe examples
Part of learning how to start a capsule wardrobe is getting essential pieces for the various seasons. Spring is a combination of cooler and warmer weather, so you will need some light layers and maybe a medium jacket, depending on where you live.
Emily's essential Spring capsule wardrobe post features a fashionable yet simple 24-piece collection. If you want to add some fun culture to your style, then you can also check out Leanne's Spring French minimalist wardrobe that features 30-pieces of fabulous fashion items!
Speaking of Spring, be sure to check out our awesome spring bucket list ideas!
Summer capsule wardrobe examples
The summer heat can't compare to a sizzling summer wardrobe! The key to any capsule wardrobe is streamlining and finding pieces you can mix and match during the hotter months.
Sarah's summer capsule wardrobe examples include slinky tank tops, bodysuits, maxi shirt dresses, and more. If you're looking for a versatile yet timeless summer look, then also check out Sheila's starter Summer minimalist collection!
Fall capsule wardrobe examples
Like Spring, Fall brings a mix of weather, and that means dressing in layers. You can spruce up your personal style with versatile syles of hats and scarves. We are firm believers that you can be fashionable on a budget, so of course, we recommend Sarah's budget-friendly Fall wardrobe ideas!
In addition, Carolyn's classic Fall wardrobe features a stunning sweater dress, a newsboy hat, and shimmering gold hoop earrings that will pair with almost anything! There's nothing better than adding a touch of class to your outfits.
Finding versatile pieces you can pair together is how to create a capsule wardrobe that's stylish and budget-friendly!
Winter capsule wardrobe examples
You can look as cool as the crisp Winter feels with the right outfits! Whether you prefer a glamorous look or a more casual chic style, you can find fashionable pieces that suit your taste.
Gabrielle makes looking chic easy with her amazing Winter capsule wardrobe examples! This post features leather pants for an edgy style and also trendy cardigan looks to choose from.
Create a capsule wardrobe you will love
Now you know how to create a capsule wardrobe you will love! Remember, building your wardrobe can take time as you fine-tune your closet and let go of the things that cause the clutter. You may also make some mistakes as you learn how to build a capsule wardrobe but remember it's an ongoing process.
Make it a goal to be intentional about what you buy. Try your best to ensure that every single item you put into it is a worthwhile wardrobe investment. Making a plan and a capsule wardrobe checklist for what you need or want will help you be intentional about what you buy.