The concept is simple: you have a core set of clothes, and from that you can create multiple outfits. The key to making this work is having pieces in your wardrobe that go together easily.
This is where the capsule wardrobe comes in. A capsule wardrobe consists of a few key items that are versatile and can be worn with each other, creating multiple outfits. This way you don't need a ton of clothes to create multiple outfits.
The minimalist in me loves the idea of having less stuff, but I'm not always so good at following through with it. So when I read about the capsule wardrobe, I figured it was a great way to have less stuff and still be able to create multiple outfits.
The challenge for me was figuring out how to make this work on a budget.
For those who don't want to spend money on expensive boutique brands (or even new clothes), this may be the perfect solution! You can easily build a capsule wardrobe on a budget with some helpful tips.
What is a Capsule Wardrobe?
A capsule wardrobe is a set of clothing that you have for different seasons and situations. The main idea behind the wardrobe is to have versatile pieces that will work with other items in your wardrobe.
The idea behind the capsule wardrobe is that you only buy clothes that fit your style and work with one another. It's not about wearing all black or dressing up like an astronaut for every occasion – it's about having a few items of clothing that can be mixed, matched, layered, and worn together to create outfits for any occasion.
The goal of wardrobe planning is to have outfits for every occasion, without needing to pack lots of clothes in your closet. It may also help reduce the amount of stress around what to wear in mornings or on days when you don't have time to plan ahead.
If you transition to a minimalist lifestyle and want to significantly and quickly downsize your closet contents, either for space or sustainability or home renovation purposes, then a capsule wardrobe is for you. You can get rid of certain items that are no longer needed, while keeping the capsule wardrobe.
The best part about this style is that you only need to keep pieces that work well together, which keeps things simple and easy to maintain. You can also mix and match pieces from different capsule wardrobes for different outfits, which helps prevent getting bored with the same look over time.
Capsule Wardrobe Essentials
A capsule wardrobe must be versatile – that means items in your closet should work with all of the other pieces. This can happen if you build a color palette, or by choosing neutral shades and textures for each group of clothing. You can easily create a capsule wardrobe on a budget, as well. We'll go into ways to save as you build your capsule wardrobe later in this post.
In order to keep an aesthetically pleasing balance between formal wear and everyday clothes, take into account how the capsule wardrobe will be used. For example, you may not want to have too many items that are only appropriate for everyday wear if you'll need to wear a suit to work or a dress (or suit) to a formal dinner. On the other hand, if you'll only be wearing the capsule wardrobe for everyday purposes, it may not need as many formal items.
You can also use a capsule closet to create different outfits and styles. For example, if you're going into the office but want to remain casual, wear your jacket over an easy-to-wear dress or skirt with tights and strappy sandals or knee high boots.
Take into account your local climate, as well. If you all seasons, you'll want a capsule wardrobe that is versatile for fall/winter as well as spring/summer. This type of capsule closet may include items such as a dress, jacket, skirt and tights/tights to wear with boots in the winter months. It would also need casual everyday clothes like jeans and tops during spring and summer.
Use this capsule wardrobe essentials list as a basis for building your own closet.
You also want to decide on your color palette, which is typically one or two colors. For example, if you choose black and white as your color palette then all of the items in your capsule wardrobe will be either black, white, or a combination of both. You can stick to neutral colors for many items and add a pop of color with a statement piece, like an orange blazer or scarf.
The most important thing is to assess your lifestyle and pick pieces that will be useful for you in the weeks ahead. For example, if you have sports games coming up then it's best to include items like athletic shorts and running shoes so they are easy to find when you need them.
Benefits of a Capsule Wardrobe
There are many benefits to this type of wardrobe so I want to touch on the most important ones. This type of wardrobe is very practical and easy to maintain. It's much easier to have a few pieces that you can mix and match than it is to have an entire closet full of clothes. This is especially true if you have a job that requires you to dress for the weather, or if you like to change your outfits throughout the day.
Minimizes decision fatigue
Having a capsule wardrobe lessens the stress of trying to find what you want to wear in your closet. It also makes it easier to pack for trips and move.
I've found that having a capsule wardrobe is less stressful when you're looking for something to wear, because you already have an idea of what looks good on you and what doesn't. It also makes packing for trips easier because there's no guessing about whether or not it will all fit in your suitcase. Lastly, I've found it makes moving easier because you can pack up your entire wardrobe in a weekend with minimal effort.
Saves time and money
A capsule wardrobe is easy on the wallet because it only consists of a few items that are versatile enough for various occasions, like work or play.
Every closet will be different, so some may have 15 items while others may have 25. However, all of the items work together to create a cohesive and complete look.
This is not about having the most expensive items, but rather the best quality for your money. You can have an entire wardrobe of designer pieces and still not have a capsule wardrobe.
Quickly assesses what needs updating
You can quickly assess what you need to update because it's easy to see the items that are missing, damaged or ill fitting. You'll also likely discover that you have a lot of clothes and accessories that are duplicates or triplicates, which is especially common with handbags.
I was surprised to find that I actually had a lot of clothes and accessories. In fact, the amount of t-shirts in my closet was a bit overwhelming.
If your closet has become cluttered with clothes that have been worn a few times, switching over to a capsule wardrobe will save valuable storage space and make everything more accessible.
Having a neat, organized closet also makes it easier to stay on budget.
It's amazing how many things you don't really need when you start going through your clothes with a critical eye
Creates awareness of current clothing habits
We all have clothes that we don't wear because they're uncomfortable or unflattering. A capsule wardrobe will help you become more aware of what clothes are in your closet and why they haven't been worn again, which can be a huge step towards breaking bad habits and creating a wardrobe that you love.
I've been struggling with this for years, and I'm not alone. According to the EPA, Americans throw away an average of 68 pounds of clothing per person each year. That's a lot of wasted money, time and resources!
The easiest way to make sure you're not wasting your hard-earned cash on clothes that don't fit, flatter or suit you is to build a capsule wardrobe.
Increases likelihood of wearing clothing
You're more likely to wear clothing that you feel good in and is appropriate for the occasion, which will make your life much easier.
The problem with buying less clothing is that it can be hard to figure out what you have in your closet, especially when you're starting out. I've been there and had no idea what I had.
The capsule wardrobe is the answer to this problem! It's a great way of having a lot of outfits with just a few pieces. In fact, I've been able to get rid of most of my clothes and only have a few key pieces that I mix and match to create multiple outfits.
A complete capsule wardrobe might cost about $500-$1000, which may seem like a lot of money if you don't have much in the way of savings or a large budget for clothes.
The good news is you don't have to start from scratch. You most likely have the basics to start building a capsule wardrobe right now. If you have a few key basics, you can build your capsule wardrobe over time.
The first step is to look in your closet and find the pieces that are versatile and work with a variety of other pieces. This is the fun part because you get to pull out all your clothes and start playing around with them!
Don't be afraid to shop consignment stores.
You'd be surprised what you'll find at a consignment store. I've found brand new clothing, tags still on them, in the shops around me. It's a great feeling when you find a $50 pair of jeans for $5 and they'll go great in your capsule wardrobe.
For instance, my favorite brand and style of jeans run about $60 a pair. I cringe at spending that much, but I've been lucky enough to find gently used pairs for $5-10/each at my local consignment store. With stores like this, building a capsule wardrobe on a budget is easy to do!
Buy clothing you love
Buying what you love is always the best way to avoid regretting your purchases in the future and wasting money on something that doesn't fit right or isn't flattering.
Buying clothes with cash also helps make them feel more valuable, which can help when it comes time for wardrobe purging.
I've been working on building a capsule wardrobe for a couple months now and it's been going well. I'm still not completely there, but I've made great progress towards having a wardrobe of clothes that fit my lifestyle and my body type. And clothes I enjoy wearing!
Invest in staples
The idea of a capsule wardrobe is to have clothing that you can mix and match. It's good practice to invest in versatile pieces like black pants, neutral shoes, basic tees and skirts, etc. It's also a good idea to invest in classic items that will last you for years, such as quality leather shoes, high-end denim, and tailored blazers.
Stylish staples can go a long way in any capsule wardrobe.
Think outside the box
You don't need to stick with what you know. Try a new color for accent or a different cut for your skirt. Mix it up.
I'm not saying that you have to buy something new every time you do your wardrobe edit, but I am saying that if you're going to splurge on one item, make sure it's an item you love and that you will wear a lot.
A capsule wardrobe should be tailored specifically for your needs, so expand your horizons and experiment with different styles that work best for you!
Invest in quality items
Quality items will last longer and you won't have to worry about ruining your capsule wardrobe with one bad purchase. It's better to save up for a more expensive item that you'll wear time and again than buy the cheaper version of something, only to find out it doesn't work well with what else is in your closet.
I feel this is especially important when it comes to your footwear. Comfortable shoes and boots are very important.
Don't buy it all at once
Start with a couple of key pieces that you know work well for your lifestyle, and find out what outfits they pair best with
Think about the items in your closet that are already working for you; take those into consideration as you shop online or at stores so you don't buy anything redundant
Then slowly build up to more items to build your wardrobe and lifestyle.
Ready to build your capsule wardrobe?
Now that you know the benefits of a capsule wardrobe, it’s time to get started building your own. You may not have all the clothes in your favorite colors and styles at first, but don't let this discourage you; there are plenty of ways to build up an impressive collection on a budget.
You can have a capsule wardrobe without spending much money. If you shop at thrift stores and discount retailers, you can fill your closet with quality items for very little money. You also can shop at consignment shops and sell your used clothing to make room for new items.Start with the essential items and then go from there! Use our handy, step by step guide to help build your capsule!
What are your essential items going to be? Share your great finds while you build your capsule wardrobe on a budget!