What is a capsule wardrobe and can you put one together?

What is a capsule wardrobe and can you put one together?

What is a capsule wardrobe
(Image credit: Getty Images / Bonetta E+)

In today's fast-fashion world, it's easy to fill your wardrobe without breaking the bank. Plenty of people deal with overflowing closets. Yet, it's not uncommon to wake up in the morning and fuss about having ‘nothing to wear’. Sometimes the more options available to you, the more confusing it gets to pick the perfect outfit. If that sounds like you, a capsule wardrobe containing sustainable fashion brands may be your solution. If you have no idea what a capsule wardrobe is or how it can simplify your mornings, here’s what you need to know to make it work for you. 

What is a capsule wardrobe?

The capsule wardrobe refers to a minimal collection of outfits that can be worn in several different ways. The few items are carefully selected to suit various occasions and they are pieces that you hold dear. Rather than buying tons of dresses to suit various occasions, you might stick to a neutral, simple dress that you can easily update with accessories or dress down with a scarf. The important part is to find what works for you, what you like, and what you know you’ll wear over and over again. 

With this set up, choosing what to wear is effortless. Getting dressed becomes something you look forward to. The catch, however, is to clear the closet each season and only save a set number of pieces. According to the authority on the concept, Caroline Rector, the golden number is 37 items, which may vary by season. It’s not just about a specific number of items though. According to Rector, capsule wardrobes are about considering what clothes aren’t working for you and what space you can make for your actual favorites. Much like Marie Kondo’s tips for clearing clutter, find what brings you joy!

Why you should have a capsule wardrobe

The biggest reason you should embrace this idea is to spend less money on clothes. It'll also take you significantly less time to get dressed while still ensuring you look good. The closet is a reflection of an easy-to-understand framework that makes your mornings easier. Besides, it frees your wardrobe of clutter.

What is a capsule wardrobe

(Image credit: Getty Images / Bonetta E+)

How to start a capsule wardrobe

While there are no hard and fast rules, we have a few helpful tips on building the best capsule wardrobe. Overall, it's more about personal style than it is about fashion trends. Your closet should help you feel confident. If you want a capsule full of bright colors and lots of accessories, don't settle for less.

To start, clear the closet. Take every piece and note the last time you wore it. If it's been six months, it should find its way out of your wardrobe. It can be tempting, but don't be too lenient as you might end up saving everything for the capsule.

If this makes you nervous, you don’t have to get rid of them yet. At the very least, bring them to a different room. 

The idea is to have 37 items in your closet which you'll wear for the next three months. In this period, you won't shop for new clothes until the last two weeks of the season. This is when you'll plan for the next capsule.

Capsule wardrobes operate on the idea of less is more, so the idea is to buy fewer, higher quality items. This is where sustainable fashion comes in. By buying clothes less often, while also shopping consciously, you’re freeing up your closet while also being more eco-friendly.

Choose 10 items in each of the following categories: formal wear (smart pants, skirts, blouses, blazers), accessories (earrings, necklaces, bracelets, scarves), loungewear (yoga pants, sweatshirts, pyjamas), workout gear (pants and tops), layering (tanks and tees), outerwear (trench coats, jackets, hats), footwear.

Some categories might have less than 10 pieces, while others might have more. The idea is to strike a balance in your selection.  

At this point, identify three outfit categories that are most relevant to your lifestyle. Think of the pieces you can wear any time and to any function without a second thought. For example, do you have a top that you can wear while cooking or when going to a restaurant with friends? Can it easily be matched with several pairs of pants and shoes? These are the pieces you want to have in your capsule.

Choose and arrange every item according to their usefulness and versatility. The ultimate test should be how well each item fits on-the-go. If you feel like you won't wear something soon or during the season, don't hold it in the capsule. This calls for a lot of honesty with yourself and you will need to consider letting go of some items. 

Take Away

There you have it – how to build your capsule wardrobe while reflecting your style. Choose the items in your capsule carefully, remembering that the selection should be as slim as possible. If you can't quickly pair something with other items on the list, it probably doesn't belong there.

You'll have a lot of trial and error when building your capsule wardrobe. Keep it simple and enjoy the whole process without being too hard on yourself.