Sep 30, 2020

5 Steps to Starting a Capsule Wardrobe

If you claim to have nothing to wear despite having a closet full of clothes, it might be time to consider starting a capsule wardrobe. This is a curated selection of versatile clothes that can be easily worn in endless combinations. The term was created by Susie Faux in the 1970s who was frustrated with the lack of well-made clothing available. It didn’t become a mainstream concept until the mid-80s when designer Donna Karan developed a line focused on essential pieces collection.

Creating a capsule wardrobe will give you an organized closet that makes getting ready everyday a breeze. Here are five steps to starting a capsule wardrobe.


  • The first step to designing a curated closet is to evaluate what you already own. Which pieces do you reach for the most? Which pieces do you barely wear? Do any of these pieces not fit me anymore? Asking yourself these questions will make it easier to sell, donate, or throw away unneeded pieces.

    This is also a good time to think about what type of clothes to prioritize in your curated wardrobe. This includes which silhouettes are most flattering for your body shape and the type of fit that’s most comfortable. Make sure to also consider what your desired color palette is. This will ensure each of your pieces work together and make it easy to shop when you need a new item.

  • After you’ve decided which items to purge, it’s time to formulate your capsule wardrobe. You’ll find there are different suggestions on how many pieces belong in a capsule wardrobe. One blogger suggests choosing 37 year-round pieces, plus an additional four to eight pieces for each new season. For example, pieces relevant for summer could be sandals, a pair of denim shorts, and sundress.

    Another guide to follow is the Project 333 method. This author wrote a book that encourages minimalist living with 33 items or less in your closet for three months. This includes shoes, jewelry, and accessories (but it doesn’t include underwear or sleepwear). Start by dividing your closet into three piles: love, maybe, and toss. Then make a list of 33 items from the love pile that you’ll be wearing for the next three months.

    Experts suggest choosing pieces with a certain color palette rather than having a huge selection. This is because you want to be able to wear the items together without having to worry about if it will match. The more clothes match, the more outfits your capsule wardrobe will be able to provide.

  • It can be difficult to know which items are essential to include in a minimalist closet. Tan France, Queer Eye co-host and fashion expert, has broken down his recommendations for what to include in your capsule wardrobe.

    Here are the items he suggests for women.

    • One solid piece of outerwear (ex. trenchcoat, heavier coat)
    • Lighter jacket (ex. Blazer, leather jacket)
    • Button-up shirts
    • A fitted suit in a neutral color
    • Versatile knitwear
    • A few t-shirts (neutral and some colors)
    • A couple pairs of denim (non-distressed)
    • Statement belt
    • Dresses

  • Tan France’s suggestions for men are similar to the women’s list, but with slight differences. The same rules apply to both. You want high quality and neutral items that can be mixed and matched all year round.

    Here are the items he suggests for men.

    • One solid piece of outerwear
    • Black suit
    • Three button-ups in black, white, and blue
    • One or two neutral colored knitwear
    • Some neutral colored t-shirts
    • Denim pants (non-distressed)
    • Belt

    Using these lists as a general guideline will help you to dwindle down your closet into a capsule wardrobe.

  • Aside from peace of mind when staring at your closet, there are a lot of benefits to starting a capsule wardrobe. It gives you the opportunity to learn more about your personal style and embrace it through limited pieces. Plus, you won’t feel as obligated to partake in fleeting trends that come and go with each season.

    Capsule wardrobes are about quality over quantity. Instead of buying new items with poorer quality on a regular basis, having a capsule wardrobe allows you to think of clothing as an investment. This means buying higher quality items that will last for years rather than a cheap sweater that will unravel after one cycle in the washing machine. This mentality is healthier for your wallet too, since you will no longer foster the habit of sporadic shopping sprees.

    By investing in better clothing items less frequently, you will make less of an impact on the environment. Fast fashion consumerism is a toxic contributor to climate change, as calculations estimate the industry produces 10 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions every year. The less you shop, the less you’re contributing to this problem.

    Those who have transitioned to capsule wardrobes experience plenty of benefits. Eliminate items from your closet that you don’t’ wear by donating or selling. From there, you can put together your must-haves and basics to create a hassle-free, minimalist closet.

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