How to Start a Capsule Wardrobe

Cleaning out my closet to size it down had way more of an impact on me than I expected it to. I used to have so much stuff in my closet, I once challenged myself to see how long I could go without wearing the same shirt twice. It was 4 months.

Needless to say, I had WAY TOO MUCH. And because of that, I constantly forgot what I did have which caused me to buy things on impulse. And even though I had SO much, I still remember feeling like I had nothing to wear. But how is that possible?

When we have a huge wardrobe packed full to the brim, we don’t typically have any kind of system in place to filter what is coming in to our closet or going out. It’s basically closet chaos.

We aren’t as picky with what we buy. If it’s on sale and it fits well enough, we feel like we’re getting a deal! We buy things without thinking if they’ll coordinate with something we have already because we have to have SOMETHING in there they’ll go with. Or worse, we buy an entire outfit instead to make sure it works.

Paring down your closet to only include things you truly love and feel your best in changes the way you shop because you are fully aware of what you have in there, you’re constantly thinking of ways to style pieces with things you already have, and in my experience, you develop a sort of pride in your closet.

I like to think of myself as the curator of my closet. Curators at museums are very picky with what they show because they only show the best. I only want to wear things I look and feel my best in. I no longer scour over the clearance section hoping to get lucky with something that kind of fits that I’ll wear once or twice and forget about. I shop with intention for what I want and don’t feel the urge to add in things that won’t add a ton of value to my closet.

How to Start Your Own Capsule

So now, if this has all resonated with you and you’re ready to get started on your own capsule, I’m so excited for you and I’d love to share my tips on how to go about it. See all my Capsule Wardrobe posts here.

1. CLEAN OUT YOUR CLOSET

Yes, just like every other post you’ve probably found or will find on this topic, you need to clean out your current closet. Start by setting a few hours aside to thoroughly sort through it all so you only have to do it once.

Take out EVERYTHING. Try on as much as you can to see how you still feel about it. If there are things you wear often and already know you love, put those in the KEEP pile.

This will be hard, I’m not gonna lie. You’ll feel guilty about getting rid of things you spent money on, or that someone gave you, or that you used to like or it used to fit or whatever else pops into your head.

The only “rule” I follow for my capsule is “do I really LOVE this piece?”. Does it make you feel your best? Does it flatter you? Do you feel confident in it? If you were shopping RIGHT NOW, would you buy it again and pay full price for it? If you hesitate on ANY of these questions, let it go.

If you can’t full on get rid of something, put it in a box and store it out of your closet for a few months. I promise you’ll forget all about it. And hey, if you don’t, get it out and add it in, no harm done!

You can also sell your clothes, which is something I do all the time and make a good side hustle at. Learn how I do it here.

2. NOTICE WHAT YOU KEPT AND GOT RID OF

Once you get it down to the pieces you know you’re keeping, storing, and getting rid of, take mental stock of what you have left. It might feel like you don’t have enough. Don’t worry, we’ll get to that.

You’ll probably notice patterns to the things you wanted to hold onto and the things you let go of. Is there a certain silhouette you kept a lot of? Did you get rid of a lot of skirts? These are really important things to take note of because they will help you shop in the future!

When I cleaned out my closet, I got rid of almost every skirt and dress I had. I never wore them, or if I did, it was maybe once a year. Not enough to keep holding on to them. This includes fancy dresses, too! How likely are you to want to wear something you already have instead of getting something new?

Now when I’m shopping, I don’t buy skirts or dresses. While I really LOVE the style and love how they look on others, they aren’t practical for me or my life and I know from past experience I won’t wear them enough. If you have any pieces like this, make a mental note so you know to avoid this in the future.

3. CHOOSE A COLOR PALETTE

We have it down to what to keep, so now let’s determine the color palette we want to focus on. I have a whole post on how to choose a color palette, so I’ll just give the highlights here.

In what you’ve kept, there’s probably a theme of colors. You may realize you favor black pieces, or have a lot of grey. This will be really helpful in determining you color palette because it shows what you feel your best in and of course we want to keep on that trend.

When choosing a color palette, you’ll choose your base colors and your accent colors. Base colors are typically neutrals that you’ll have your classic pieces in such as black jeans or a white blouse. Accent colors are the pops of color you add into your neutrals to give your look more personality and your own flare of style.

I try to stick to two accent colors a season as I prefer neutrals in everything and having too many color options can be overwhelming. The purpose here after all is to have as many things in your closet go together as possible. But you can have as many as you like and they don’t need to be seasonal if you don’t want.

You can also use prints and patterns as accents, or textured pieces like a leather jacket or fur vest to add some character to your capsule.

4. KNOW YOUR LIFESTYLE

This is such an important thing I want to address. When you’re creating your own capsule, you need to think about what’s most practical for your own life. A stay at home mom is going to have way different capsule than someone who has to dress up for work every day.

You want to have things that will let you be your most comfortable that you can be. The main goal of a capsule wardrobe is to simplify your life. You don’t need to keep things you USED to wear if you’ll probably never wear them again.

Let’s use the SAHM mom example because this happened to my sister. She used to have to dress up for work. When she had kids and decided to stay home with them, she was still holding on to all those clothes “just in case she went back”.

I reminded her of 2 things: 1, she probably wouldn’t want to wear the same things years from now as her style would change 2, she’d probably want new things for a new job that she felt her best in, not something that’s been in the back of her closet for 5 years. She kept a few of the really classic pieces (black slacks, white dress shirt, etc) and donated the rest so someone else could use them.

Now her closet mostly consists of jeans, leggings sweaters and easy care blouses because THAT is what suits her lifestyle now. I’m not saying get rid of EVERYTHING in there if you don’t wear it every day. I dress super casual at my job now, but I do still have 3 suits from my corporate days in case I need them. I’m just saying don’t keep ALL of it because you just don’t need it and realistically won’t wear it.

5. DETERMINE YOUR STYLE & BUILD!

Once you have it narrowed down to what you’re keeping from your own closet, this is the fun part. We’re going to BUILD it up!

The pieces you’ve kept will be your base. Take account of everything you have and think through how you’ll pair these pieces together. If you’re having trouble figuring out how to style something you kept, search it on Pinterest! For example, “how to style a denim jacket”. You’ll get more inspo than you know what to do with!

Speaking of Pinterest, this will be a great way for you to determine your style. If you’re not sure of the look you want to go for, start searching fashion looks on Pinterest and create a board dedicated to how you want your style to be. You can search things like Preppy, Boho, Edgy, Minimal, Posh, Classic, Glam, or Romantic to get started.

It’s important to remember step #4 here: KNOW YOUR LIFESTYLE! As I mentioned, I got rid of basically all of my dresses and skirts. This was because they didn’t suit my lifestlye. I do, however, LOVE the way they look. I love how people style them so many ways, but I know I just won’t wear them in my own closet. Know and acknowledge what you’re not going to want to wear on a daily basis.

You also need to remember step #2: WHAT YOU KEPT AND WHAT YOU GOT RID OF. If you were trying to make flare jeans work for you and they just weren’t, DON’T buy another pair hoping this time will be different. Sometimes we have to learn to ADMIRE styles on other people and appreciate them from afar because they just aren’t practical for us!

Once you’ve had a good look through your remaining pieces and had a chance to create a board with ideas on how to style them as well as looks you want to try in the future, it’s time to make a list.

List out the pieces you feel are missing from your closet. Things you need to add in to fill some of the gaps. This doesn’t mean you need to go out and spend a bunch of money right away. I guarantee you have enough left over to work with for a few weeks.

I say make a list because this will help you not buy things on impulse as well as to not forget what you want. Keeping your newly chosen color palette in mind, slowly build up your closet with new classic base pieces and fun accent pieces.

When shopping, keep the Rule of 3 in mind. Avoid getting pieces that you can’t style at least 3 ways with things you already have in your closet. I try to go for close to 10 looks per piece to make sure I’m getting my money’s worth! There’s no point in getting something you can’t mix and match in your capsule…that’s the whole point!

Accessories are my favorite way to add character to my closet, so don’t forget about them! They’re also probably the cheapest way to change things up. I have some great accessory tips on #7 of this blog post.

6. CURATING YOUR CLOSET IS AN ONGOING PROCESS

This will not be an overnight process. You’ll get a lot done when you complete your initial clean out, but you’ll be adjusting a lot as you go. I think people assume this is a quick process and don’t understand why it’s not immediately everything they were expecting. After my big clean out, my capsule has changed pretty significantly as I honed in on my style.

The more time goes on, you’ll start to notice way more how you like the fit of things, what colors you look and feel best in, and what you want your style to be. Don’t be afraid to let more things go or add more things in to make it exactly how you want it.

You’ll also get sick of things and your style will change as you go. This is completely normal. I often joke that my capsule wardrobe is revolving because I do add and remove things multiple times a year.

Just remember, you need to LOVE everything you have in your closet. If you hesitate and aren’t sure on something when you’re shopping, it’s a no. Or if you’re home and you try something on you’ve worn 100 times and just aren’t feeling it anymore, it’s gotta go. You just won’t get the amount of wear out of those hesitation pieces, trust me.

I hope you’ve found value in this post and it helps you on your capsule wardrobe journey! Check out all my other capsule wardrobe posts here if you’re looking for more info.

If you have any tips of your own on getting started, I’d love to hear them! Leave a comment below 🙂

Thank you so much for reading, I truly appreciate you being here!

meet dani

a life + style blog dedicated to helping you love everything in your closet & create simple, classic affordable looks with a capsule wardrobe.

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