Capsule Wardrobe – What Is It And Why Am I Trying It?

Capsule Wardrobe – What Is It And Why Am I Trying It?

The basic idea of a capsule wardrobe is that you decide on a certain number of items (usually 25-35) you will have in your wardrobe for a certain amount of time (usually 3 months or a season). During that time you won’t change any of your wardrobe or make any clothing purchases. At the end of the given period, you would then swap out a few seasonal items and possibly make a few conscious purchases to add to your next capsule wardrobe and then repeat the process for another season. This is both supposed to help curb impulse purchases and remove the stress of not knowing what to wear by helping you create a versatile wardrobe filled with high quality pieces that can be worn in many combinations.


My motivation to try a capsule wardrobe

The reason why I wanted to try a capsule wardrobe is twofold.

On the one hand, I am hoping that it will help me make the final leap into slow fashion, because as part of the capsule, all my clothing purchases will be planned and not impulse buys. Usually when I take the time to make a purchase, I make much better and more informed choices. The second reason, is that I have been feeling really out of touch with my style. The majority of my clothes is a crazy array of things I have had for the past 5 years, combined with a number of ill-fitting necessity purchases I have made more recently and things I have gotten from others. Needless to say, it doesn’t match well and I fail to feel at home in most of my clothes.

I am hoping to use the capsule wardrobe to find my style in a deliberate and controlled manner. Rather than following my impulse to give away more than half of my clothes and go on a shopping spree (that I would probably end up hating after about 30 min when I get a hammering headache from the music in the cheap fashion stores).

My goal is to take the time to make a few select purchases at the beginning of each new wardrobe to replace pieces that I feel I have grown out of and to also make my current wardrobe more function. At the same time I want to use this chance to bring higher quality and more sustainable fashion into my closet, that will also last longer.


What will my capsule wardrobe look like

My goal for this first capsule is less perfection than endurance. I really want to keep the no purchases/no swaps rule for the next 3 months. So from November until the end of January (maybe February for being more within the seasons) I won’t be purchasing or changing any of the clothes in my capsule.

I decided to start with a capsule of 25 pieces excluding:

  • Shoes
  • Underwear & socks
  • Outerwear
  • Sports clothing
  • Sleepwear
  • Accessories

The reason I excluded these items is because, firstly, I don’t own a lot of them anyway and, secondly, because it wouldn’t make sense to count something like underwear in my capsule.

In the way I built my capsule, I loosely followed the free capsule planner by Unfancy.

What should yours look like

This is the part were you can experiment and find what fits you best. You can really make your capsule wardrobe any size you want (but try to stay within reason, the idea is to only have what we truly need). Between 30-40 seems to be popular.

I made mine smaller for two main reasons: 1. because I work from home, so I don’t wear outdoor clothes every single day (I’m trying to make it a habit though) and 2. because I excluded a lot of items. Some choose to include accessories, or shoes or outerwear. It all depends on you and your shopping habits. For example if you own 30 pairs of shoes right now and have a habit of buying more without needing them, including shoes may be a good idea.

What is a capsule wardrobe and why am I trying it?


Taking stock of your current wardrobe

The first thing you need to do is take stock of your current wardrobe. Take everything out of your closet and divided it into categories. Shirts, dresses, sweaters & cardigans, dresses and bottoms.

Next, I decided to count how much clothes I had. This is optional, I only did it out of interest.
In total I had:

  • 40 shirts
  • 10 bottoms
  • 13 dresses
  • 13 sweaters

That makes 76 items of clothing. I noticed a few things in doing so, such as that I only own 1 long sleeve shirt or that the majority of my shirts are sleeveless. I also noticed that I only owned 1 pair of shorts (with the tag still on :O) and 1 skirt.

Going through your closet in this way can help you get a good overview of what you own and what you have a tendency to buy and forget about (like the shorts, I didn’t seem to recall I owned).


Defining your style

Next comes my favorite part, which is assessing your current wardrobe as well as your dream wardrobe to take steps to define your style. Taking the time to really think this part through and even taking notes has really helped me get some clarity about how I would like to look and feel in my clothing.


First, I defined a color palette made up of neutral and accent colors. Pick colors that you have in your wardrobe and that you really enjoy wearing and feel comfortable in. This may change in the future, but that is totally okay. For instance, one of the things I want to do is coordinate my colors better and stick to colors that work well with my skin tone because right now I have some colors that look pretty bad on me in my closet.

What works

This next part is probably one of the best steps to take if you are prone to bad purchase decisions. Sit down and make a list of the items of clothing that work well for you, both in terms of fit, feel and look. This list can include anything really, brands, cuts, combinations etc. This is to help you have a clear idea in your head of what you will enjoy for many months when you go to the store to buy something.

These are the things I determined work well for me:

  • Fit & flare dresses
  • Levi’s Skinny Jeans
  • Long cardigans
  • Flower patterns
  • Sleeveless buttoned blouses
  • Layering
  • Flowing cuts
  • Black tights

What doesn’t work

Then go through the exact same process but focusing on things that don’t work. For some odd reason, I found this one a lot easier than the previous one.

This is what doesn’t work for me:

  • Shorts
  • Patterns with many colors
  • Short skirts and any type of pencil skirt
  • Pastel colors
  • Short tops
  • Tight sweaters
  • Long sleeve t-shirts
  • Things that need ironing


Once I  had gone through all these steps, I found that I already had a much better idea of what my style would look like. If you want to go above and beyond, take a moment to look over the last three steps. Try to summarize your style in two or three sentences to give you a concise idea of what it is.

To sum it up, I feel most at home in two basic combinations, either a skinny jean with a short sleeve or sleeveless top in a wider or more flowing cut (and a tank under in winter). Depending on weather a long cardigan added over this. Secondly, I love wearing dresses, especially fit and flare dresses with black tights and a long cardigan over. You can see these combinations below in my go to outfits.

what is a capsule wardrobe and why am I trying it


Building my first capsule wardrobe

From there I went on to the actual building of my capsule wardrobe (who knew there were this many steps? 😛 It went a lot faster than I am making it sound though). This part was probably the hardest for me, because I needed to both let go of some clothes and constantly remind myself that winter was coming (to keep my capsule functional).

Sorting my clothes

First, the part that most people struggle with: Sorting the clothes. Sort all your clothes into a yes, no or maybe pile. If you have a hard time with this, check out these beginner tips on how to dress with less.

The shocking thing for me was that out of my 76 items of clothing only 30 made it to the yes pile!

Once you are done with the first sort, gather up your no pile and put it in a bag to go to the thrift store or a friend that loves hand me downs. Clothes that is in too bad a shape to be handed on you can turn into rags for cleaning.

Once the no pile is out of site, it is time to tackle the maybe pile. Your goal is to have each of these items in the yes or the no pile in the end. I tried on each of the items and made a decision based on how I felt in them. I did add a couple of items to yes, even though I felt unsure about them and decided that if I didn’t add them to any of my next capsules I would give them away.

Pack up whatever you added to the no pile so that it is ready to be given away. Now you should be left with only a yes pile. This will be the basis of your capsule.

Selecting my capsule content

You are now finally ready to get to the nitty gritty. Selecting the content of your capsule! Don’t worry, it won’t always take this long, after a few capsules it will just be a matter of swapping out clothes and that will be it (I hope… :P). If you are not sure where to start with the first one, here are some guidelines I followed when putting together my capsule:

  • Take a look at your calendar and consider any special events or trips you need to consider, put aside clothes for that.
  • Put away all seasonal items that do not match the current season.
  • Begin with more basic items, such as pants and sweaters.
  • Once you covered the bare essentials, add in your favorite pieces that are also seasonal.
  • Fill up the capsule until you have reaches the number of items you decided on or a few less if you want to have room for purchases.

what is a capsule wardrobe and why am I trying it

Planning extra purchases

You can now plan any extra purchases if you still have space in your capsule. These items are included in your 25 items, so keep that in mind! The only item I decided to buy was a second long cardigan to keep warm during the winter. After these final purchases, as part of the capsule I will not be doing any more clothes shopping until the last week of my current capsule.

Try to use this chance to make extra purchases to also make better purchase decisions, opt for slow fashion or shop second hand, pick items that match your newly defined style and that you can have for a long time.


My go to outfits

From my capsule content, I decided to pick some go to outfits to make mixing and matching a little easier on the spot. These outfits represent some of my go to styles and outfits that I feel most at home in. That way I have an idea what I am looking for when I don’t know what to wear in the morning.

Firstly, I enjoy layering. As you may have noticed, I don’t have any long sleeve t-shirts. Instead, the way I survive winter is by adding layer after layer. On a normal day you will see me in something like this. Jeans, a tank top and another shirt layered over it. Then depending on need I would add a sweater and my jacket.

A fit and flare with tights and my black shoes is my go to for something a little more classy. Like a night out with friends or a dinner. During the cold months I usually add a scarf to it.


Out of site out of mind

The final step is putting the clothing that didn’t make it to the current capsule away and out of site. I used my suitcase to store it in. The important part is that you shouldn’t set yourself up for failure by leaving it in your closet and then constantly being tempted to abandone your capsule. Remember it is only 3 months. You can do this!

Have you tried doing a capsule? Or are you planning on trying it?



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Ever wondered what a capsule wardrobe is? I answer that question and many more in my post about my first capsule wardrobe

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