So you wanna start a capsule wardrobe. Awesome.
Since I downsized my closet, I’ve noticed a lot of benefits that I didn’t experience in the days of when my closet was overflowing. I think most people that whittle their closet down feel the same way.
But in order to get started, what do you really need?
This isn’t your typical “3 tanks, 2 long sleeve, 2 pants” type post. I’m just sharing what I’ve learned since started my own capsule wardrobe and hopefully it will help you with starting, building and maintaining yours!
TIP 1: Make sure you LOVE everything in your closet
If you haven’t done the “big purge” yet, you definitely need to start here. Take everything out of your closet to go through (yes, everything) and get rid of every single thing you don’t LOVE.
Be ruthless here. I’m talking if you wouldn’t pay full price for it right now, get it out of your closet. There should be no “eh” pieces in there. Sell it, donate, re-gift, whatever. Let it go.
You might be worried this will leave you feeling like you have nothing left. Don’t worry, we’ll fix that.
RELATED: How to organize your closet
TIP 2: You need good basics
I feel like every single capsule wardrobe I see on Pinterest is the same 40 pieces. That’s because you really DO need good basics. You’ll wear them all the time. Neutral basics are so versatile and go with everything.
This is not a place you want to skimp out, ladies. Get some nicer basics that fit well and are quality material because you’ll be wearing them and washing it twice as much (if not more) than anything you owned before this! Trust me, you’ll thank yourself later.
TIP 3: Choose a color palette
Capsule wardrobes work best if you stick to the same types of colors. The idea here to to keep things simple for yourself, and to do that, everything needs to go together really easily.
I’ve included my own color palette below. I stick to mostly neutrals (black, grey, white, ivory and tan) and for fall, I’m accenting with dark green and burgundy. Do I own things of other colors? For sure. BUT this is what I stick to most of the time because it makes it a lot easier.
If you’re unsure of what colors you want to use right away, at least know the ones you DON’T want to use. For example, I always avoid “warm” colors such as yellow and orange. They don’t look great on me, so I don’t buy anything in those colors.
I also accent with textures and patterns. I’m a big fan of suede, faux leather and leopard right now. I use these materials as accent pieces to add more depth to my outfits. Capsule wardrobes can feel kind of plain without little pops like this.
You can also use patterns as your accents such as plaids, florals or animal print. These are a little harder to mix and match, but if you stick in the same color palette, it helps.
TIP 4: Know what you like/don’t like & what works for YOU
Knowing your style is a big help when it comes to capsule wardrobes because you’re basically curating your closet around a few basic colors and spicing them up with little bits of your personality.
I love clothes because they give us so many options for self expression. You can wear the same shirt 20 different ways and it can look completely different each time.
When you’re trying to figure out what you want to have in your closet, stick to what you like and what looks good on you. For example, I personally avoid skirts and dresses because I just never wear them. I love them on others, but in my own closet, they just sit there.
Do you have pieces in your closet like this? I’m sure you can think of at least one! Maybe you don’t like the cut of something, or the color or pattern. If you know you don’t wear something, figure out what it is about that piece you don’t like and avoid it in the future.
It’s also important to avoid things that don’t flatter you. I think rompers are so cute but they never fit me right because I have a long torso. Sometimes we just have to admire looks on others but know when they don’t work for us!
TIP 5: Have go-to pieces/outfits
If you really want to simplify things, identify your “go to” outfits. For those days when you don’t have the energy or don’t want to put much thought into your outfit, these are life savers. This helps me not to overthink what I’m going to wear.
For example, when I go grocery shopping on weekends, I typically rotate through 3 different looks. They’re all really comfortable but still cute. For Date Night, I also have a few pieces I like to mix and match.
It doesn’t always have to be the same outfit, but knowing that certain pieces are better for certain events will definitely help make getting dressed easier. I tend to organize my closet by things that go together (all dress clothes together, causal things together, jeans, etc.) to help as well.
TIP 6: Know your style will change
Let’s face it: when you wear the same things all the time, you’ll eventually get sick of them. Or they’ll wear out and you’ll need to replace them. This is totally normal.
Each season, I anticipate that I’m going to be over wearing something I wore that time last year. That means it’s time to remove it from my closet (by selling or donating) and replace it with something new.
RELATED: How to shop as a Minimalist
When you need to replace a few things in your closet, take an inventory of what you have already and what you could use. Do this once a season to make sure you KNOW what you need. This will help you from buying things on impulse and building back up to a closet full of stuff with nothing to wear!
I typically keep a list in my phone of things I think would benefit my closet. Thinking them through helps me not to impulse shop and settle for things but to be ready when I come across something that will help my closet.
TIP 7: Accessorize, accessorize, accessorize.
My favorite tip of ALL TIME for your capsule wardrobe is…ACCESSORIZE!! This is my favorite rule for a few reasons:
- First, accessories can totally make an outfit. They add tons of personality to what can otherwise be very plain, bland pieces.
- Second, they’re inexpensive. You can have a LOT of variety without spending an arm and a leg.
- Third, it’s a great way to try out new trends. If you’re interested in a trend, you can easily try it out with some earrings, a scarf, headband, belt or purse without committing to too much to do so. Wanna try out the animal print trend but you’re nervous about rocking snakeskin pants? A belt or a purse is way easier.
- Fourth, shoes. Shoes are also a great way to accessorize! What girl doesn’t love an excuse to get some cute new shoes?! They’re also a really easy way to add personality to simpler pieces.
TIP 8: Don’t Settle!
Don’t buy things just because they’re on sale. Don’t buy things just because you kind of like them and might wear them (hint: you won’t). Don’t buy anything you don’t absolutely LOVE.
Real talk: if a $100 item is on sale for $50 and you get it because you kinda like it and feel like it’s a good deal, you’re not SAVING $50, you’re SPENDING $50. And if you don’t LOVE something, you aren’t going to get your money’s worth out of it, so save yourself the money and only get things you really LOVE. Have I said it enough?? I mean it! This makes a huge difference in feeling great in everything you own!
The main reason this is so important is you’ll be wearing everything in your closet more often than you did before. You need to love it all or you won’t want to wear it. There’s no point of having something in a capsule wardrobe you don’t want to wear!
TIP 9: Don’t put yourself in a box
When I first started downsizing my closet, I felt like I needed to have as little as possible to really have a “capsule wardrobe”. Like if I had more than 40 pieces, it wasn’t ‘capsuley’ enough or something.
But the truth is, it’s YOUR closet. What works for someone else might not work for you, and that’s ok. We’re all our own people. I love clothes, they’re one of my favorite things about life. This means I want to have more than 40 things in my closet because I enjoy variety, but I don’t want to have so much that I only wear each thing one time per season (that used to be an issue for me!).
Your capsule wardrobe is whatever works for YOU. Don’t limit yourself by what you think you SHOULD have.
TIP 10: Layers are your friend
The easiest way to mix and match everything in your closet is with multiple layers. You can change the whole look of an outfit by changing 1 layer. Jackets, cardigans, tank tops, sweaters, and coats are the best for layering you looks. I’ve literally worn the same outfit two days in a row and just changed the jacket I wore to a sweater and no one had any idea. Talk about versatile.
Layers are also good for the transitional months with Spring and Fall, but you might be thinking, “how can I layer in summer?!”. It’s harder, but totally doable. Not all layers are heavy. You can layer a button up shirt over a tank top, two tank tops layered together, or throw on a light weight knit cardigan to wear 1 top three ways. Jewelry is also a helpful layer in warmer months as it can change the vibe of an outfit without adding bulk.
And that’s it! My top tips for starting, building and maintaining your capsule wardrobe. I think the main takeaway here is make it whatever you want it to be because it’s YOUR closet!
If you have any tips of your own, I’d love to hear them! Share them below in the comments!