We’ve all been there… looking at the closet, not sure what to wear. Trying on an outfit that just doesn’t feel right and then trying on another. We can stand in front of our clothes and seriously think, “I have nothing to wear.”
Well, this is not the case when you create a capsule wardrobe! I’ve found that it makes getting dressed everyday seamless (see what I did there?) and that I am much more at ease about going out when I know I have good outfits to wear in my closet.
But, how do you make a capsule wardrobe? I’m so glad you asked! This post covers the steps you’ll need to follow to build your own functional, capsule wardrobe, with my own experience and advice thrown in.
What is a Capsule Wardrobe?
Before we get into all the specifics of creating a capsule wardrobe, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page.
A capsule wardrobe is a collection of clothes and accessories that includes only items considered essential. These wardrobes first appeared in America in the 1940s as a way to purchase your entire wardrobe at once. They were advertised then as a small collection of garments designed to be worn together which harmonized in color and line. I saw an advertisement that noted the whole wardrobe could fit into one suitcase!
I’ve personally seen capsule wardrobes become more popular in the last couple of years as the minimalist movement has also gained popularity. Some wardrobes I’ve seen have as few as 16 items total!
Why a Capsule Wardrobe?
Now you may be wondering why I chose to do a capsule wardrobe. Good question! For me personally, I knew that I would be moving across the world this past January and I wanted to downsize my closet as much as possible.
I also knew that our move from California to England would bring a big change in the weather. The clothes that I wore all the time in California would simply not be warm enough for England, so I needed to get warmer clothes in my wardrobe as well.
For those two reasons I saw this as a perfect time to try out a capsule wardrobe and see if I liked it. And, now that I’ve been wearing my wardrobe for the last two months, I can confidently tell you that I LOVE it!
Having all my clothes match makes it very simple to get dressed everyday. There’s no staring at all my clothes wondering what will go together, I already know that they will go together because they are all in my color palette (more on that later).
It was also very easy to pack up my capsule wardrobe for our move here. I only have 30 pieces of clothing so it all fit in our suitcases just fine. (See how we packed our suitcases here.)
On a more personal note, I also think that having a capsule wardrobe has made me a better steward of my clothing. Now instead of having clothing in my closet that I don’t use because it doesn’t match or I don’t have the right thing to wear with it, I wear all of my clothing items. And, now that I have clothes I like to wear, I find myself taking better care of them so that they will last longer. I’m also not constantly looking for items to wear so I don’t spend a lot of money on clothing all the time. We can honor the Lord with how we steward our clothes!
I hope you can see how much a capsule wardrobe has helped me! And I think it can do the same for you! If you’re feeling like you have too many clothes and you want to downsize, or maybe you know you spend too much on clothing and you want to stop, a capsule wardrobe is just what you need!
How to Create a Capsule Wardrobe
While this is the first time I’ve personally done a capsule wardrobe, I got a lot of information from my mom who has done capsule wardrobes for a while. And my mom got inspiration and information and a few specifics from https://www.theviviennefiles.com/ That website has SO many options for capsule wardrobes and even more detailed instructions if you want to check it out. Be careful though, it can be a black hole and give you too many options. So only look for a little while. Some of the things I share in this post were learned from Janice’s super helpful website.
Preparing Your Capsule Wardrobe | Choosing Your Color Palette
Now, before you head to your closet and throw out a bunch of clothes so that you can buy more, let’s take a step back.
The first step in creating a capsule wardrobe is choosing your color palette. This was an overwhelming task for me! How will I know what colors I want to wear for the next couple of months?
There are lots of ways to choose a color palette for your wardrobe. You’ll need a few neutrals and few accent colors. I’ve seen whole capsule wardrobes based on a colorful scarf or inspired by a wallpaper print.
But, the easiest (and most economic) way I found to find your color palette is to use your own clothes. Yep. You already have a color palette of sorts in your closet, you just have to find it.
So, pull out all your clothes and sort them by color. Then look at the colors you have the most items in and that could possibly be your color palette that you already own. It’s likely that you own a lot of similar colors, those are the colors you are naturally drawn too. And, those are the colors you will most likely want to have in your color palette. Your color palette should not be the rainbow, try to have at least two neutral colors and two accent colors.
This was the method I used to find my own color palette. I pulled out all of my clothes and sorted them by color. I had a lot of colors in my closet, but there were 5 that had the most pieces overall: navy blue, cream, gray, blush pink, and turquoise. Here’s the palette that came to the top:
See how easy that was? These are the colors I’m naturally drawn to and ones that I already own in my closet. This is a win-win situation because not only did I know which colors I liked for my palette, but I also didn’t have to purchase as many clothes cause I already owned these!
Now, if this method of using your own clothes doesn’t work for you, maybe you’ve pulled out all of your clothes and nothing really comes to the top for a color palette, then I suggest you take a look at the website I linked above. She has TONS of capsule wardrobes to look at and I’m sure you will find inspiration there. You might have just one or two pieces that you really LOVE, those could be your inspiration for your entire capsule wardrobe palette. There’s lots of flexibility in choosing your palette.
You could also look at the tones of your complexion and hair to help you pick your color palette.
Keep in mind that your capsule wardrobe is not going to be what you wear forever. Depending on where you live, your capsule wardrobe will most likely change with the seasons, which is just a couple of months. So, if you pick a palette and then realize you don’t like it as much as you thought, you can change it after a couple months when you prepare for the next season.
So, while there is a lot of flexibility in how you choose your palette and which colors you choose, there should not be flexibility in this next step.
Purging Your Closet | So Your Capsule Wardrobe Will Fit
Now, this may be the hardest part of creating a capsule wardrobe. But it’s also really important to make your capsule wardrobe work!
Get rid of the clothes that are not in your color palette.
Yikes! That may sound like a lot of clothes and a lot of waste. But if you used the method I outlined above where your own clothes created the palette, you shouldn’t be getting rid of too many clothes.
This actually made purging my closet VERY easy. I was no longer making decisions about how much I liked certain items, nor did I have to think about the last time I wore something. I simply just had to see if it was in my color palette. Then, when it wasn’t I could put it in the donate pile. And when it was, I could keep it in my wardrobe.
And, by the way, I do suggest you donate your clothing. Or, even better, if you’ve got the time, sign up for Poshmark (use the code, MILKFREE379 for a free $10!), take pictures, and sell your clothing online. You could even use what you make from your old clothes to purchase new items for your capsule wardrobe.
I will say, it was a little bit difficult to get rid of everything that was not in my palette. I had this one black dress that I really liked, but navy blue is my neutral color, so it had to go. But now that I’m a few months into using my capsule wardrobe, I can tell you that it’s definitely worth it!
You don’t want to keep that one-off item because you most likely won’t wear it. The whole point of a capsule wardrobe is that all the clothes match together and it’s very easy to get dressed everyday. So get rid of whatever garments do not match your chosen color palette.
If you did not find that many clothes in your closet to make up your palette, then maybe hold on to a few clothes that are not in your palette and get rid of them once you have filled in some of the gaps in your capsule wardrobe.
Fill Your Closet | With Your Capsule Wardrobe!
Now that you’ve purged your closet and removed those items that do not fit into your capsule wardrobe palette, it’s time to fill in any gaps that are left.
You don’t want to totally buy a whole new wardrobe, you’re already using the clothes you have. So just fill in the gaps with pieces you might be missing. Keep the items to as few as possible and see how it goes.
This is another step that provides you with flexibility.
Would you like to only have a certain number of clothes? Maybe 30 garments? Maybe more?
Maybe you’d rather have more clothing and more options but all in the same palette?
Whatever you choose to do, do it and stick to it.
Maybe you already have three pairs of jeans that you love, don’t buy more. Focus on tops that will fit with your palette and expand that way. If you have plenty of tops, look for neutral trousers to go with. If your closet is full of dresses in your palette, find a sweater that can go over the top or a pair of slacks and a blouse. Maybe you just need one or two more tops to complete your capsule wardrobe, that’s an easy fix.
I feel like I can’t give too many instructions on how to exactly build your wardrobe piece by piece because it will be different for everyone. This is where I would say that Pinterest comes in handy. Use it for inspiration regarding how many pieces to have in your wardrobe and what your capsule wardrobe should be made up of. Be sure to keep in mind what activities you do on a regular basis when filling your wardrobe. If you are at home all day with kids, go casual. If you work at an office, dress it up. You get the idea.
Here is my winter wardrobe for your inspiration.
And, maybe this goes without saying, but do not count your undergarments or workout clothes in your total count of clothing. They are just part of your wardrobe whether you count or not!
If you’re not sure where to purchase clothing for your wardrobe, I would suggest getting it all second-hand! I have a whole post about shopping at thrift stores that can help you. And, if you’ve never used the Poshmark app (use the code, MILKFREE379 for a free $10!), then you should also check that out. It is easier to be specific on that app because you can directly search for an item whereas if you are in the thrift store you just have to look through what is there.
I bought all of my clothes for my winter capsule wardrobe second-hand and I’m so happy I did! It saved a lot of money and I love the thrill of the hunt for a specific item in the thrift store.
It doesn’t have to cost a fortune for you to create a capsule wardrobe! Using as many of your own clothes as possible and shopping second-hand will really make it affordable.
Try It Out | Wear Your Capsule Wardrobe
Now that you’ve filled in any gaps so that you have exactly what you need in your wardrobe, it’s time to try it out!
Go for a couple weeks without buying any clothing. Wear your capsule wardrobe.
Not only will this give you a chance to see your hard work in action, but it will also solidify your wardrobe as you go. You’ll find out exactly what you are missing and want to add to further complete your wardrobe. And, maybe you won’t miss anything, then you did a good job planning it out!
So do it! Go try it for a couple weeks. Then come back here and tell me how it went! I’d love to know if you enjoyed creating and trying out a capsule wardrobe.
Having a capsule wardrobe has really made my life as a busy mom MUCH easier and I want the same for you, friend. So give it a try. Let me know if you have any questions in the comments.
My Winter Wardrobe | Navy, Blush, Gray
Dressing Modestly | Theology of Clothing