How to Build a Capsule Wardrobe: 3 Simple Steps

Start Fresh in the New Year with a Minimalist and Sustainable Capsule Wardrobe

When you look in your closet, are you overwhelmed with the choices? Do you always grab the same top and jeans? You aren’t alone. Fast fashion and the pressure to stay in vogue can make shopping exhausting and leave you with a mess of a closet. In recent years, there has been a call for minimalist wardrobes, often referred to as a capsule. The theory is simple: Each season you rotate a number of interchangeable and well-made pieces that you love to wear. Why? Besides reducing your wardrobe space and budget, it makes getting dressed easier, and is more sustainable and keeps you looking timelessly chic.

Sound appealing? Here’s how to build a capsule wardrobe.

capsule wardrobe
Photo by Sarah Dorweiler on Unsplash.

1. Purge.

Dare I say that this is the fun part? Go ahead and rid yourself of anything you haven’t worn in months, or even years. If the quality is fading — toss it, or, if it’s still of decent wearable quality, donate it. If you don’t think it’s your style anymore — donate it. If you hesitate on whether you should keep or donate, go with you first gut instinct. Remember, you want to keep neutrals and pieces you can layer.

2. Choose a color scheme.

Neutrals that you can build upon are best, like black, denim, white, gray, navy, and beige. Add in a few pieces with a pop of color if it’s your style or save the patterns for the seasonal items you’ll mix in.

Below: Image via Caroline Joy, who is a pro at capsule wardrobes.

3. Time to shop!

Once you’re ready, plan out the remaining pieces to build your capsule wardrobe. This may seem overwhelming, but start with the season you’re in. Hopefully you have a few pieces from your existing wardrobe to build upon. Remember, you will want to choose classic shapes and high-quality fabrics, organic or sustainably made if you can find them, that will last.

Between 30-37 items is optimal and this includes outerwear, accessories, and shoes. Here is a sample winter wardrobe:

  • 2 pairs of jeans
  • 2 pairs of pants
  • 1 pencil skirt
  • 1 black dress
  • 1 party dress
  • 1 blazer
  • 1 cardigan
  • 2 sweaters
  • 1 sweater jacket
  • 2 blouses
  • 5 tees
  • 5 tops
  • 2 pairs of tights
  • 1 winter jacket
  • 1 hat
  • 1 pair of gloves
  • 1 scarf
  • 1 tote bag
  • 1 evening purse
  • 1 pair of black heels
  • 1 pair of waterproof boots
  • 1 pair of tall boots
  • 1 pair of flats
  • 1 pair of casual sneakers

If this task seems daunting, there are a few designers that offer eco-friendly capsule collections. Vetta, a sustainable and woman-owned business, caters to minimalistic, edgy, and casual styles and offers styling advice for each look. With just five of their pieces you can create 30 chic outfits (that is a month’s worth of outfits!).

Below: Image courtesy of Vetta.

Here are some other brands that make ethical and timeless staples that are perfect for building your capsule wardrobe:

Our advice? Give a capsule wardrobe a try for at least one season or even challenge yourself to 10 days. If you don’t want to throw away your spring or summer clothes yet, put them in storage so you can at least clear the space in your closet. A capsule wardrobe really is all about is saving the time, money, and space in your life for other things rather than worrying about what to wear. Remember, less is more!

Feature photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash.


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Macaire DouglasMacaire Douglas lives in Chicago with her husband and two sons. She proudly supports Share Our Spare, a local nonprofit that collects goods for children in need.







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