I’ve mentioned a few times this year that I’ve switched to a capsule wardrobe.
I’ve never had a huge wardrobe to begin with (when my sister Merrick came to visit us in our Arizona house, where we had a MASSIVE walk-in closet, she said “it just doesn’t seem right that you have such a big closet and own so few items of clothing”) and every time Bart and I have bought a house and looked at houses where other people were still living, it was very clear that we have significantly less clothing than the average person.
I’ve never been the kind to hold on to a lot of extra clothing (in our last move, I actually donated my wedding dress because I just didn’t want to store it any longer, so you can imagine that I CERTAINLY don’t have a bunch of clothes from high school or college sitting around), so transitioning to a capsule wardrobe wasn’t as extreme as it might be for others.
All that said, if you’re wondering how to build a capsule wardrobe, here are a few tips that have helped me make the switch and keep it low stress. I hope they’ll help you if you’re considering trying it out!
How to Build a Capsule Wardrobe
- There are no rules! I think it’s easy to really overthink the logistics of a capsule wardrobe, but the great thing is that there are NO RULES. There are no capsule wardrobe police coming to check that you aren’t calling it a capsule wardrobe when you have more than 30 items. You can count shoes or not count shoes. You can have a work capsule wardrobe and a separate casual capsule wardrobe. A capsule wardrobe should work for YOU, not the other way around. One afternoon in January, I just took every item out of my closet and then put back the pieces I absolutely loved wearing. Voila – capsule wardrobe. I didn’t aim for a certain number, I didn’t stress about whether to count workout clothing or pajamas or if my number of tops or jeans or skirts matched anyone else’s numbers. And if I realized I was missing something a few weeks in, I just bought it. It doesn’t have to be perfect on day 1.
- Don’t worry too much about mixing and matching. This is a big question I get asked and I blame fashion bloggers (I kid!). But every post I see about a capsule wardrobe seems focused on how to make 49 outfits out of three items. It doesn’t have to be that complicated. You can wear your top with a pair of white jeans or a pair of blue jeans. You can just wear a dress you love every week. The same way! If you have a capsule wardrobe with 40-50 pieces in it, you can wear a completely different outfit every day for 2-3 weeks before you repeat. (Spoiler: most of us do this anyway, with or without a capsule wardrobe). Every piece in your wardrobe doesn’t have to work multiple ways.
- Lean on your accessories. This doesn’t have to mean a thousand necklaces or wearing things that make you feel uncomfortable, but a few fun pairs of shoes (my leopard sandals are one of these for me!), a few hair accessories like these clips or hair ties, a couple of fun earrings, and a hat or two go a LONG way to keeping outfits feel fun and fresh.
- Do a mid-season check. I switch my capsule wardrobe every 3-4 months as a new season rolls around, but around the halfway mark, I like to go through and see if there are things I’m not wearing. Is it because I don’t ACTUALLY like them (I ditched another 10 items a month or so into my first capsule wardrobe)? Is it because I don’t have the right shoes or pants to wear with them? It’s helpful to adjust after a few weeks or months when you can more clearly see how you’re using it.
- It doesn’t have to be forever. Trying out a capsule wardrobe doesn’t have to mean you’ll do it forever. Pack away the rest of your clothes and try it for a month. If you love it? Great! If you hate it? That’s fine too – pull everything back out. I have a big plastic bin in one of my girls’ closets where I keep my off-season clothing and I keep some in-season clothing that I didn’t love enough to include in my capsule wardrobe but am also not QUITE willing to give the boot yet. It’s okay to experiment.
Any other questions about how to build a capsule wardrobe? I’m a zero percent expert but 100% a real person trying to look decent on a daily basis, so I’m happy to help if I can!
And if you have great advice about how to build a capsule wardrobe, I’d love for you to share your expertise!