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What is a Capsule Wardrobe?

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We all have moments where we stare into a sea of clothes and still have no idea what to wear. You go through your closet and find a shirt you bought in 2017 that you only wore once. And a jumpsuit that you regret buying. You move on to your 12th clothing rack and realize that your entire wardrobe is full of pieces that you won’t look at twice next season.

If you always go through this fashion dilemma, it might be a good idea to have a wardrobe re-set. It’s time to create a capsule collection that will last you a long time.

What Exactly is a Capsule Wardrobe?

Women's clothing rack with sweaters
Source: Unsplash/Alyssa Strohmann

The concept of a capsule wardrobe might seem like a recent Millennial buzzword, but it was started in the 1970s by a London-based boutique owner called Susie Faux. According to Faux, a capsule wardrobe is a few essential items and classic pieces such as shirts and skirts, that can be supplemented with seasonal pieces and accents like Jewelry. This idea was birthed after Faux found the fashion industry to be incredibly wasteful and impractical. Her goal was to therefore help women spend less money on fewer clothes that were of poor quality, didn’t fit well, and would most likely be out of fashion in the following year. This concept was mirrored in the clothes she used to sell. This included high-quality items that were versatile, minimalistic, and could easily be worn in different ways.

Eventually, the capsule wardrobe concept was adopted by American designer Donna Karan. In 1985, Karan released a capsule collection that contained interchangeable workwear attire called “Seven Easy Pieces.” Since then, the capsule wardrobe has taken off in the fashion world.

The benefits of a capsule wardrobe

Having your capsule wardrobe filled with high-quality clothing items can change your fashion life for the better, here’s how:

You will spend less time stressing over what to wear

Usually, before a special event, there’s always panic over what outfit to pick (I’m sure a lot of women can relate!). Trying to figure out how to put together a cute look typically takes ages and causes a lot of decision fatigue. However, creating a capsule wardrobe will save you from daily stress when picking out work clothes or outfits for special occasions.

If your current wardrobe is bursting at the seams, having fewer options is the best way to make getting dressed up quick and easy. You will always have something great to put on because every single item hanging in your closet is something you love. Plus, by narrowing your wardrobe, you will be able to define and understand your personal style more.

You Will Save Money (Your credit card will thank you for this!)
Flatlay of $100 notes and a red purse
Source: Unsplash/ Katie Harp

When your inbox is constantly flooded with sweet sales from your favorite fashion labels, it can be tempting to not make impulsive purchases! If you are a shopaholic, a capsule wardrobe can help you become a wiser shopper. I know that this may sound like a far-fetched fashion fantasy, but trust us, it’s possible to save your money on frivolous items.

When you follow a minimalist lifestyle you don’t need to go on big weekly shopping sprees because you will already have versatile staple pieces. However, in circumstances where you do want to add new pieces to your wardrobe, the best way to save money is to only shop once a season for your seasonal capsule wardrobe (e.g buying a few summer-appropriate clothes for the warm season). The quantity of clothes you buy each season is up to you, but just keep this in mind: less is more.

You will have a neat closet

There is nothing more satisfying than having a tidy Pinterest-worthy closet. It makes finding clothes way easier as it allows you to see all your clothes and accessories at glance. A well-organized wardrobe also gives you the flexibility to decorate as well! You can put design elements like candles, and oversized books.

Related post: How to Make Your Closet Look Like a Boutique

So if you’re finally ready to kiss the clutter goodbye, a capsule wardrobe will help you achieve an organized closet.

You will help reduce textile waste

An estimated 50 million tons of unwanted clothing is dumped in landfills every year, half of which is not biodegradable.

So if your clothes always have a short life span in your closet, it is a great idea to reassess the way that you handle your unwanted items. And the best way to do this is to simplify your closet by creating a sustainable wardrobe with timeless pieces. This means that you don’t have to worry about having a closet filled with pieces that followed fashion trends that you were inevitably going to get tired of and eventually dump in the trashcan.

How to create a capsule wardrobe

1. Donate or sell your unused clothes

The first thing to do is to create a donate pile of clothes that you no longer need. To do this successfully, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. “Do these clothes align with my daily activities and lifestyle?”
  2. ” How many different outfits can I create with this item?”
  3. “Does it flatter my body type?”
  4. “When was the last time I wore this?” if an entire year has gone by without wearing it, it’s best to give it away.

You can also sign up to online thrift store platforms like Poshmark to sell unwanted clothes (A win-win for your bank account and your closet!).

This is a great way to trim your closet to key pieces that you only need.

2. Set a number of pieces to be in your closet

Now that your closet has been cleared of items that don’t correspond with what you want in your capsule wardrobe, you have the perfect base to start building your minimalist closet! And it all starts by choosing 37 (or between 25-50) pieces that you can wear for the next three months. This includes tops, bottoms, dresses, outerwear, and shoes. Just make sure that you don’t add workout wear or loungewear as they do not count as capsule wardrobe essentials.

These 37 clothes can be broken down into the following categories: 9 bottoms, 9 shoes, 15 tops, 2 dresses, and 2 jackets. However, it varies by season. For instance, in the winter, you may need to add a few more jackets and bottoms to keep you warm.

Note: During the last week of the season or the third month, you can plan and shop for next season’s capsule wardrobe.

An example of a 26-piece capsule wardrobe
An example of a capsule wardrobe
3 Choose a color scheme

Now it’s time for the fun part! Select a base color of neutral shades that you will use to build your capsule wardrobe. These neutral colors must either be blue, black, white, or gray because they work well with so many other colors.

As for your accent colors and patterns, you can choose your favorite colors and prints! It could be polka dots, florals print, aqua blue, or a radiant yellow. You just have to make sure that these shades and prints will coordinate perfectly with your base color and complement your skin tone.

An example of a capsule wardrobe base color and accent colors
Examples of base colors and accents

Examples of Essential Pieces to include in your capsule wardrobe

Here are staple pieces that will help you form the ultimate curated closet:

White Shirt
Women's white shirt from Target
$ 20.00

Effortlessly sleek and neat, a crisp white shirt is a true closet hero. Whether worn with casual denim jeans or an elegant maxi skirt, a white shirt is a throw-on-and-go staple that brings instant polish to any look.

Black Blazer
Who what wear women's black blazer
$42.49

In a world of fads, a black blazer is a key item that will stand the test of time. It is a fool-proof way of adding a touch of elegance to even the most understated of outfits. And the best part? you can wear it for different occasions. Style it for work with cigarette pants and then take it straight to evening with a little black dress.

A midi Skirt

An ultra-versatile midi skirt can instantly dress up any outfit — simply pair it with a long sleeve top or a sweater and you have got yourself a smart look. Universally flattering and endlessly wearable, a midi skirt can work for quite literary any special occasion.

Black Jeans

Women's Black cropped jeans from Target
$29.99

The perfect pair of jeans is a wardrobe must-have — they can pull together all the other key pieces in your capsule wardrobe. They are also great for balancing out statement pieces like floral tops and eye-catching jackets.

Flats

Cute flats work well with just about any outfit we can think of. They have the power to take any casual look to new levels of chic. So If you don’t have flats in your arsenal, now is the time to invest in some.

By following these easy steps you can create a capsule wardrobe that can take you from stressed to organized! With a new and simplified wardrobe, you no longer have to worry about having nothing to wear every morning.

Now that the weather is starting to get chilly, that can only mean one thing: Fall is coming! It’s time to start building your Autumn capsule wardrobe.

Up next: Minimalist French Capsule Wardrobe for Fall/Winter

What is a capsule wardrobe?
What is a capsule wardrobe
Temwa Namandwa
Temwa is the fashion writer at My Chic Obsession where she covers everything from outfit ideas to the best styling tips . She lives for a good matte lipstick and LBD.