When I first learned about capsule wardrobes, I was intrigued by them, but starting one of my own seemed like to overwhelming of a task and I didn’t know where to begin. It’s my hope that these tips help make it seem like a more manageable endeavor if you’re starting one of your own.
Clean out your closet //
This is the hardest part. Start by taking everything out of your closet (and dresser) and pile it all up on the floor. Go through each piece, one-by-one, and really truly evaluate if that item deserves a place in your wardrobe. Have you worn it in the last year? Do you feel amazing when you wear it? Does it bring you joy? Is it one of the pieces that you find yourself reaching for over and over again? Then keep it.
If it is too old, worn out, faded, stained, doesn’t fit, or you just don’t feel great when you wear it, get rid of it. Don’t let yourself feel guilty if you bought something (or someone gave you something) and you only wore it once so you feel obligated to hang onto it. Letting it go is better than feeling guilty every time to see it hanging in your closet.
For me, this step was a process that took several months. I cleaned out multiple times, each time becoming increasingly more ruthless about what I got rid of. You only wear 20% of your wardrobe 80% of the time. Think about how free you would feel without all the extra clothing baggage. You probably need to keep less than you think you do.
For more tips on how to purge your wardrobe, I recommend The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
Make a list //
Now that you’ve successfully cleaned out your wardrobe and the only items you have are ones that you love, it’s time to evaluate what you have and what you need. Be careful when adding items to the list of things to purchase, though. Capsule wardrobes are about making use of what you have, so take careful stock and don’t purchase anything impulsively. However, if all of your jeans were too small and you had to donate them, definitely get a new pair of jeans. If you found yourself without a basic you know that you’d get a lot of wear from, put it on this list.
Purchase what is missing //
I recommend shopping secondhand or purchasing from ethical companies. (My ethical shopping guide will be coming soon!) Always purchase quality over quantity. You’ll be wearing that same black tee shirt multiple times a week so you’ll need one amazing one that will hold up, not five flimsy ones that will fall apart and get faded and pilled in the wash. (Speaking of t-shirts, if you’re looking for a remarkable one, the ones from Everlane are beyond compare and the best out there, in my humble opinion.)
Separate seasonal pieces //
Pull out your shorts, sandals, sunhats, and swimsuits and separate your beanies, wool scarves, coats, and snow boots. Some items will work in any capsule (like a simple t-shirt, cardigan, and a pair of jeans) but some items will vary depending on the season you are in. If it’s autumn or winter, go ahead and pack away all of those spring and summer items now and vice versa.
Curate your capsule //
Usually, capsule wardrobes are anywhere from 30-40 items, but feel free to do what works for you. The only rule is not to add anything that you do not totally and completely love. Maybe sure you include clothing that you adore wearing, but also wardrobe staples that you can mix-and-match. For my winter capsule wardrobe I stuck to only 33 items including bags, shoes, scarves, jewelry, and other accessories. Next time, I think I’ll still include bags and shoes in my capsule, but I won’t count scarves, hats, or jewelry since I like to be able to mix and match my accessories a bit more. It’s a learning process and, the longer I do this, the better I will learn what works for me and what will best set me up for success.
After you’ve selected your items, pack away what didn’t make the cut. Those are the items you can reevaluate next season and see if you want to incorporate them into a future capsule or if it’s time to get rid of them.
Do you have a piece in your capsule that you thought you would wear a lot and it ended up not going with anything? or being less comfortable than you had anticipated? Feel free to swap it out. This is not supposed to be a miserable experience, but instead, a learning process of what works for you and how you can feel more free while dressing with less. Don’t punish yourself. If the sweater is too itchy or the shoes give you blisters, switch them out.
Interested in reading what other capsule wardrobers (is wardrobers even a word?) have to say about starting theirs? Check out these links to some of my favorite blog posts and youtube videos:
I hope you find these tips helpful as you embark on your capsule wardrobe adventure!
Feel free to share about your experiences in the comments below, I’d love to hear from you.