T-Shirt - Design

How to Start a Capsule Wardrobe

The concepts of a capsule wardrobe, minimalism and investing in quality pieces may seem to oppose each other at first, but the truth is it's all about balance. In order for a user to fit all these three concepts, the key focus is to balance what you buy. If you are purely focused on having a balanced wardrobe through everything else, but neglect accentuating your basics by investing in quality pieces, then you're not going to feel as if you actually have a well-coordinated wardrobe.

The ultimate goal when starting out on the journey of building a capsule wardrobe is to make sure that you don't overbuy. If this was a recipe, the rule of thumb would be to make sure each ingredient has been used at least twice in your wardrobe. This way, you only need to buy what you like and you won't regret any purchase.

In this post, I'm going to touch on the main aspects, benefits and essentials to make it as easy as possible for you to start a capsule wardrobe. Once you transition your closet, you'll notice the added benefits from not stressing over what to wear every day.

What are the benefits of a capsule wardrobe?

A capsule wardrobe is a type of clothing strategy in which you only have a few pieces of clothing that are chosen for their versatility. This strategy can help make your clothes last longer and be more comfortable.

A capsule wardrobe is an easy way to simplify your life and save money. You can avoid spending too much time shopping for clothes, looking for the perfect outfit, or having to think too hard about what you're going to wear on any given day.

There are many benefits of a capsule wardrobe. For example, it is easy to maintain and can be easily adjusted for different seasons. It is also easy to dress up or down depending on the occasion without having to worry about what you might wear. The key to using a capsule wardrobe are strategies.

What are some essential capsule clothes?

White T-shirts are perfect for days when you don't know what to wear. It's also a great base layer if you are planning on going for a run. Pair it with jeans and a blazer on casual Friday, or rock it with shorts or skirt on the weekend.

Some essential capsule clothes for a capsule wardrobe are leggings, jeans and sweaters because these layer perfectly as an undershirt to keep your itchy sweater from rubbing on your skin and causing irritation.

Solid blouses are the perfect for any occasion. These can be dressed up or down and there's a huge variety of colors, prints, styles, and fabrics to choose from.

What are the different types of pieces that make up a capsule wardrobe?

A capsule wardrobe is a way of dressing that simplifies your style. It has all the essential pieces you need to create an outfit for any occasion. Capsule wardrobe pieces are ‘perfect' if they usually fit easily into any given outfit, go with most pieces of clothing and require little to no thought.

Depending on your lifestyle, your capsule wardrobe will be different than the next person's. If you dress professionally for work, you'll have more appropriate clothing for the office. Whereas, your neighbor may dress casually at work and off work. The pieces covered here are, in my opinion, the necessary essentials for any capsule wardrobe. You will then build the rest of your wardrobe around them.

start a capsule wardrobe

The Tank Top

A tank top is a summer staple and another layer under a somewhat see-through blouse.

Short Sleeve Tee

This is the most versatile piece in your wardrobe. You can wear it tucked into a skirt, under a blazer or even sleep in it (sometimes I do!).

Long Sleeve Tee

Wear it under a sweater in the winter, for added warmth, or by itself over some blue jeans or leggings and high boots.

Blouse

Adding a blouse underneath a sweater balances out the look and can even provide some warmth as well as style, especially if it has sleeves. A blouse can be dressed up or down. For the casual look, toss on a pair of jeans. Or pair it with some pleated slacks for a more professional, office look.

Sweater

Whether you like lightweight sweaters that are perfect for a cool, summer or fall night as well as layering under a coat in the winter or a bulky, cable knit sweater to keep you toasty warm; this is definitely a staple in the capsule wardrobe.

Black Dress

Every woman should own a black dress. Not necessarily the ‘little black dress' so many talk about, but any form of black dress. You'd be surprised how many occasions this dress can get you through.

Cardigan

My favorite is the long, flowing cardigan with pockets, but get the style you like. Not only will it keep you warm on cooler days but it can hide those coffee stains on your shirt.

Blazer

The ultimate piece to put a look together. Toss on a pair of jeans, some flats and your short sleeve tee. Then, grab your blazer and you've got a great look for the day!

Jeans and/or Ankle Pants

Jeans are a universal classic, perfect for work or leisure. Ankle pants are a great alternative to stiff slacks in an office setting, too.

Black Skirt

Choose a skirt shape that works for your body type. There are many styles to choose from including skater, pencil and A-line.

What are the key colors in a capsule wardrobe?

The ‘starter' colors for your capsule wardrobe should be black, white, gray and beige/brown. These are neutral colors, so you can build your wardrobe color palette around them.

Neutral colors easily add versatility to your wardrobe when paired with other colors.

Black – best to pick a black that's a little sheer for a scarf or a cardigan, and solid black pants. This is the undercoat of your wardrobe, protecting you from distractions and distractions from your wardrobe.

This color also neutralizes other colors (especially blush blush) without making you identifiable as wearing a particular color, which can be useful when mixing and matching.

White – needs no further explanation, but you can add in white for style.

Gray – gray finishes and shirt contrasts on a white background can be intriguing and subtle, but gray on white is more stark and high contrast.

Beige – although it might be hard to pull off, adding just a touch of camel in the mix can work well.

Color Principle: Main + Neutral + Contrast – keep this in mind as you strategize and pick your clothes:

Your main colors are something only you can decide on. These are the colors you find most in your closet already.

Your “contrast colors” are those colors that balance your main and neutral colors to make the look cohesive. Stick with only a couple contrast colors at first. You may find these change over time.

How to build a capsule wardrobe list

Capsule wardrobes are a way for you to organize and pare down your outfits to make it easier to find what you need.

Create a capsule wardrobe list by categorizing your clothing in different groups. For example, if your wardrobe includes pants and jackets in every color you wear, only keep the pants in a separate category from the jackets.

Identify colors that you wear frequently as this will help you build your color palette.

Start small by focusing on just one area of your clothes: Workwear, Business casual, Everyday, etc.

My suggestion would be to only increase by 25% at a time. For example, if you normally own girl's business casual clothes, start with two pieces. By incrementally building this wardrobe, it is easier to build the quantity of then the quality of your clothes  rather than starting with an unneeded number of pieces, or choosing a whole category of clothing you don't need. It is important to be selective while building the capsule wardrobe. Whether this is based on style, economy, or need is up to you.

First, think about what your differentiating factors are between each of your existing clothes. For example, do you have pretty much all dresses? Maybe if you cut back on your  number of dresses and added in some more cardigans and blazers, you can quickly add in other essential wardrobe items.

Second, think about what you are reaching for when in a bind. Is it always that one pair of jeans? This would be an essential item for your capsule wardrobe. Perhaps it's always that v-neck tee. Yep, essential item.

Next, think about your style preferences. You'll want to make sure that this wardrobe is full of items that fit what you like and do it well. (Even if you're on a budget, the rule of style still applies. Don't buy things that don't make you look or feel great.)

Final thoughts as you start

Remember, the thing that you're building is a capsule wardrobe (hence the name). You can add things to it later, but that's it. The goal of only having this many items is to get you thinking about what's left in your wardrobe instead of what you haven't worn already. It will also help pare down your options, because you won't need all those other things you thought you wanted from stores anymore.

But remember: if you feel claustrophobic or there's a brand or color that doesn't suit your body type, always take the time to go back and revisit your list. You don't have to discard anything or throw anything out, but rethinking the items you own carefully adds greater value over time.

Let's get started on this process of organizing your closet. Ready?!

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