Capsule wardrobes are a great way to free up time and budget for other creative ventures. But, how can a capsule wardrobe work for you?
What Is a Capsule Wardrobe?
A capsule wardrobe is a small wardrobe made up of intentionally curated pieces that coordinate well together, fit the season, and embody your style. This type of wardrobe is great for people looking to cut back on waste, who have a small budget but still want to look put together, who don’t want to take a lot of time in the morning to get dressed, or who are just tired of thinking “I don’t have anything to wear!”.
1. Have Pieces That All Coordinate
Be picky with pattern
When I was first exploring the idea of creating a minimal wardrobe, I was finding it difficult to make multiple outfits out of the pieces I had. This was largely because both the tops and bottoms in my wardrobe had patterns. When I had a large wardrobe, this was not an issue because I had lots of basic plain pieces to pair the patterns with. However, in a minimal or capsule wardrobe, this isn’t an option. The easiest way I have found to make my small wardrobe work for me is to pick either the tops or bottoms to be patterned, and the other half to be solid. A lot of the capsule wardrobes I saw were very bland, and I love pattern and color! This is a simple way to easily incorporate it.
Make it work for your season
In the warmer months, I have solid colored tops and printed bottoms. This allows for lots of beautifully patterned summer skirts and fun palazzo pants and shorts. I also have dresses and rompers with bold designs and colors. In the colder months, I switch it up with patterns on the top and solids on the bottom. This is simple because I can wear my favorite jeans and long warm cottage skirts paired with knits that feature fun colors and designs. This method also makes it simple to transition between seasons. In the fall and the spring, I can start wearing long pants and layering a jacket over my shirts, and I know it will go well together because they are both non-patterned items that I can jazz up with accessories like scarves.
Choose patterned pieces first
Just like you wouldn’t paint your walls and then try to match furniture to them, when choosing pieces for your wardrobe, it is also helpful to start with prints. If you want to add a pair of striped palazzo pants to your wardrobe. Buy the pants first, and then use them to help decide what color tops you should purchase. It can also be helpful to look at all of your patterned pieces together, and see what colors overlap. Do you have red stripes on your shorts and red flowers on your skirt? A red blouse would be a great purchase to go with both pieces.
Can a capsule wardrobe be colorful?
Hopefully the above tips helped to show you that yes! A capsule wardrobe can be fun and full of colorful designs. I want my life to be colorful, and that includes my wardrobe. Being minimal does not have to mean wearing neutrals, or having only one pop of color.
2. Love Every Piece in Your Capsule Wardrobe
If you don’t love every piece in your capsule wardrobe, you won’t want to wear any of it, and you will also get bored really quickly. In order to find pieces that I loved, here are the steps I followed:
How to create a capsule wardrobe from scratch
- Decide how many pieces you want in your wardrobe. I decided on the 10 item wardrobe model from Jennifer L. Scott, which does not include layering pieces like t shirts, sweaters, or accessories in your 10 items.
2. To make it simple, follow the guide from step 1. Do you want patterned pieces on the top or bottom?
3. Choose 10 items that fit the season you are in. In summer, you can follow this:
Capsule Wardrobe Checklist
- 1 pair of patterned flowy pants
- 2 pairs of patterned shorts, 2 patterned skirts
- 2 summer dresses patterned or plain
- 1 romper patterned or plain, 2 plain blouses.
Remember, this can also include unlimited tank tops, jackets, and t shirts for layering. You can also have more than 10 pieces if you choose! This is supposed to work for your lifestyle, whatever that is for you.
4. When you have chosen the pieces you want to use to create your minimal wardrobe, take the rest of the clothes in your closet and put them out of sight in a bin or drawer. Put the clothes that you could wear that season in a place that is easily accessible. This is great if you realize your other black shirt fits best, or that yellow dress you thought you never wore would look a lot better than the one you put in your 10 item wardrobe. Store off season clothes in a separate location.
5. After a few weeks, note what you feel is missing from your wardrobe, and purge the items that you stored away. Keep the off season clothes and go through this same process a few weeks before you rotate your wardrobe.
6. If you do not have all of the items you want or need, keep reading!
Tips for loving the items in your minimal wardrobe
If you read the steps above and thought “I don’t have any of those pieces” then it is time to purge and purchase! Yes, you can still buy clothes with a minimal wardrobe. Let’s say you only have tons of patterned pieces, or all plain pieces. When I was starting my 10 item wardrobe, I realized that I didn’t have any blouses. What I meant by “blouse” is anything other than a t shirt. I essentially was looking for an upscale version of a t shirt, something with more interest. Check out the next section for tips on that. It is okay to take the clothes that you do not like and resell or donate them, and then purchase something new to try. It may take some trial and error before you find pieces that you love, that fit well, and that work with other items in your wardrobe.
3. Upscale Your Basics
By basics, I mean any of your pieces that do not have pattern. For instance, I have an orange blouse that looks and feels like a t shirt, but has beautiful lace detail on the sleeves. This elevates any outfit I put on and is simple to pair with everything. I used to only wear plain black t shirts, but I found a black t shirt in a silky material with embellishment on the sleeves. This has upped my game, and I know that in the transition seasons, it would look great with a pair of jeans and heels. Having basic pieces with a bit of interest makes your wardrobe more interesting and versatile.
Is a capsule wardrobe for creatives and fashion lovers?
People tend to think that capsule wardrobes are boring, or uncreative. If you are colorful and vibrant, it can be hard to see yourself in the photos of the minimal wardrobes online. I love fashion and clothes, and it was difficult at first to envision myself in the white shirt and grey pants I kept seeing. Luckily, grey is not the only way, and my capsule wardrobe has allowed me to curate clothes to look polished in any circumstance, and keep me from overspending. Taking basic up a notch is one way to make a capsule wardrobe reflect your personal style. Don’t be afraid to make a piece for your wardrobe, or up-cycle a piece. Adding new buttons or a tiny bit of embroidery can show off your creative side. Jewelry, scarves, and wraps that go from season to season are also a great way to accessorize your wardrobe.
4. “Tailor” Your Pieces
I know I know, getting things tailored is expensive. But, there are ways to tailor your wardrobe without making a single stitch.
Buy clothes that fit you well
The cheapest way to “tailor” your clothes is just to buy and have clothes that fit you well. Seems obvious right, but you know that pair of jeans I’m talking about, or that blouse that is cute but just a little too tight. When you try items on, make sure you sit in them, raise up your arms, and test how they look from all angles. You can even try rolling up the sleeves or cuffs of pants if you love an item that is a bit too long. If it doesn’t fit you in the dressing room, it won’t fit you at home unless you follow one of these next steps.
Belt, button, and blouse
If something doesn’t have quite the figure you want, try belting it. Belts add great shape, and can give the appearance of a tailored look. Almost everyone knows how to sew on a button. If you have a blouse that gapes at the boobs, you can sew an extra button in the gap to close it up. You can also just unbutton a button down top and wear it as a layering piece over a t shirt, or tie it up in the front. Tucking in shirts to give them a bloused look is a great way to create definition, and make an otherwise bulky top look flattering.
Learn some simple tailoring
If you don’t want to pay for a tailor, tailoring your own items is as simple as having a needle, scissor, and thread. If you have a sewing machine it is much simpler of course. But, shortening the straps of a tank top, mending a hole, or moving a button is as simple as a quick google. You can learn how to sew simple things! Comment below if you would like tutorials on some basic mending and hemming skills.
5. Quality Over Quantity
This is the mantra of the minimal wardrobe. Being minimal does not mean looking boring or unkempt. It also does not mean you have to spend hundreds of dollars on expensive pieces. Some ways that I find affordable high quality pieces are:
- Look in resale stores. Goodwill, salvation army, plato’s closet, and even online resale like poshmark it great! Resale is also a win for the environment.
- Buy pieces out of season. If you want to save some money, look at your out of season capsule wardrobe and figure out what pieces you need. If you need a new coat, the end of winter is a great time to look as stores sell the last of their stock.
- Buy nothing groups and freecycle are great resources for cutting down on consumption. You can offer up the items you clear out from your closet, and request specific pieces or browse through what is available to find the hidden gems.
- Estate and garage sales are a great way to find awesome pieces. If someone moves to assisted living, or out of the country, often the family will sell everything they can’t bring with them. Fur coats and gowns are easy to find at sales like this, and often for pennies on the dollar.
Bonus Tips For Creating Your Capsule Wardrobe
- Have undergarments that support *haha* your wardrobe. If you love strapless tops, then you need a great strapless bra or some pasties (my go to favorite).
- If you have a recurring need for a separate non capsule wardrobe that is okay! For example, I go to church every Sunday. Because of this I have four “Sunday dresses” that I rotate through. These are not dresses I would wear during the weekday, and therefore not part of my capsule wardrobe. This could also apply to someone like a wedding planner, or bridal consultant, who occasionally has to wear a specific wardrobe that is outside the realm of their capsule.
Want More Capsule Wardrobe Content?
Leave your questions and topic ideas in the comments if you would like to see more posts about minimalism, capsule wardrobes, or fashion. Would you want to see a basic sewing tutorial to tailor your own pieces? Let me know!