Do you often feel like you have nothing to wear even though your drawers are bursting at the seams? Are there pieces in your wardrobe that you haven’t worn for months or even years?
It happens to just about everyone. You buy a few items that you’re sure you’ll wear all the time, but after wearing it once or twice it doesn’t seem quite as flattering as it did at the store, or maybe it doesn’t really go with any of your other clothes. So, into the back of the closet, or drawer, it goes, and every time you see it you silently promise to wear it again—but of course not right now.
How do you break this cycle and end up with a manageable closet full of clothing you actually love and wear? If anything you’ve read so far feels a little too familiar, you should consider creating your own capsule wardrobe.
What is a Capsule Wardrobe?
Not familiar with the capsule wardrobe phenomenon? No problem. Capsule wardrobes are a minimalist approach to clothing. They focus on building a closet of clothes you love that can easily mix and match to make several different outfits.
While capsule wardrobes don’t technically have a specific limit of clothing items, many guides seek to trim down your seasonal wardrobe to about 40 pieces of clothing, give or take a few depending on the strategy. You can pick your own personal limit, but we do suggest setting a limit of some kind, especially the first year.
What Counts in a Capsule Wardrobe?
First, let’s clear up what does and does not count in your clothing limit. Count items that fall into the following categories:
- Jackets and coats
Don’t worry. Items like underwear, basic tank tops, socks, accessories (including everything from bags to scarves to jewelry), do not count. You also get a pass on things like special occasion pieces (clothes you’d wear to weddings, fancy parties, etc.), exercise clothes, pajamas, and things you’d wear for working outside.
How Do You Get Started?
Empty Your Closet
Seriously. Empty your entire closet including the boxes in the back, your drawers in your nightstand, etc.
The only way for you to get an accurate view of where you are and where you are going is to empty out everything that currently stores your clothing.
Sort Your Clothes
Next, you need to sort your clothes into different categories. Be brutal; there is no room for unfounded sentimentality here.
- Love it: Only choose items you consistently wear that are in good condition. If you can’t remember the last time you wore the item, or if it’s been more than 3 months, then it doesn’t belong in this category.
- Not sure: Items you can definitely see yourself wearing, but they don’t count as a go-to. You can include a few of these items in your wardrobe on a trial basis. If you don’t wear it by the end of the season, it’s on the donate list when you go through this again next season.
- Donate: Anything in great condition that you simply don’t wear goes into this category. If you’d like to try and sell your clothes instead, go ahead!
- Throw Away: It’s old, ripped, stained, etc. Stop holding onto it; toss it.
- Freebie: This category includes anything that falls into the “doesn’t count” category such as socks, accessories, workout clothes, formal wear, etc.
- Out of season: Items you love that just don’t work with the season. Put these items in a box and bring them out when the weather (and trends) are right.
Shop to Fill Gaps
Now that you’ve pared down your wardrobe, compare what you’ve got with the list below under “What Pieces Do You Need?”. If you have gaps, you’ve got an excuse to go shopping. Make sure to bring a list and stick to it. Now is not the time to buy whatever catches your eye.
What Pieces Do You Need?
The items you’ll need will depend on your local climate, your personal sense of style, your budget, etc. We’re going to introduce a basic list of items that should work throughout the year.
One of the most important things to keep in mind when creating a capsule wardrobe is the power of neutrals. If you mess with too many patterns and colors, you will minimize the outfit combinations you can create. It’s better to generally stick to a neutral color palette for your clothes and to use items that don’t count, like your socks or accessories, to bring loud colors and personal flavor to your outfits.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you need to toss the items you absolutely love. If you have pieces of clothing that aren’t on this list that you can honestly say you wear all the time and will continue to do so, keep them. This isn’t about sacrificing your style; it’s about simplifying your life.
- 3 solid-colored tees. Choose from black, white, grey, and navy.
- 1-2 graphic tees you’re happy to wear over and over.
- 1 patterned top with weather-appropriate sleeve lengths. We recommend stripes.
- 2-3 blouses or button-ups for work. Pick your favorite style. Choose from easy-to-match colors like black, white, navy, grey, blush, mint, etc.
- 1 lace camisole.
- 1 fine knit sweater. You can substitute sweaters for something more weather appropriate if you live in warm climate.
- 1 chunky knit sweater.
- 1 neutral-colored cardigan.
- 1 neutral-colored knit vest.
Jackets and Coats
- 2 blazers. One should be black and the other can be a color of your choice or pinstriped.
- 1 denim jacket
- 1 biker jacket
- 1 trenchcoat
- 1 wool coat
- 1 dark wash pair of jeans.
- 1 light wash pair of jeans.
- 1 black pair of jeans.
- 1 white pair of jeans.
- 1 black leather skirt, or other material of your choice.
- 1 pair of slacks. Feel free to alter this number if your work dress code requires more. You can also substitute skirts if that’s your preference.
- 1 little black dress.
- 1-2 night on the town dresses. (optional) You can deviate from the neutral mandate.
- 2 work-appropriate dresses. Again, alter this number according to your work dress code and preferences, just be sure to balance it with slacks and skirts.
- 1 pair of sneakers
- 1-2 pairs of flats. If you choose two, pick different colors.
- 1-2 pairs of heels.
- 1 pair of ankle boots.
What Do I Do When Seasons Change?
When seasons change, look through your “not sure” items. If you haven’t worn them, donate or toss them. Take out any items that don’t work for the season and store them in a box and bring out seasonally appropriate wear that you have been storing.
Capsule wardrobes may take a bit investment of time in the beginning, but you’ll soon start to reap the rewards of a simplified closet that expresses your personal style better.
A Woven Pear sockscription is a great addition to a wardrobe capsule. They provide a great way to keep your wardrobe fresh through the seasons without investing in a million different outfits. Browse our selection or start your sockscription today!