I’ve been meaning to pull together my best capsule wardrobe tips for a while, and I’m so excited to partner with The Reset on this post.
If your closet is packed with clothes, but you feel like you have nothing to wear, a capsule wardrobe might be just what the doctor ordered. While it seems paradoxical, a leaner closet can actually make you feel like you have more options. A capsule wardrobe forces you to thoughtfully define your personal style, invest in timeless, well-made pieces, and fill your closet only with things that fit and flatter your current body.
Living with a streamlined closet has enabled me to spend less time and money shopping, and encouraged me to make more conscious choices about what pieces I invest in. Convinced? Read on for my simple capsule wardrobe tips so you can get started creating your own capsule wardrobe.
Step One: Choose a Quantity and a Timeframe
The number one question I am asked when it comes to creating a capsule wardrobe is how many items to choose. There is no magic number, and I don’t believe in hard and fast rules, so start by setting parameters that feel good and realistic to you. You still want a number? FINE. Courtney Carver, founder of Project 333 suggests selecting 33 items (including shoes and accessories) for a three month period. Caroline Joy, founder of minimalist fashion blog, Unfancy, opts for 37 items for a three month period, and excludes jewelry, accessories, pjs, and loungewear.
Personally, I skip the seasonal approach and focus on editing down each category of clothing I own to 10 items or less – i.e. 10 blouses, 10 sweaters, 10 bottoms, 10 dresses or jumpsuits, etc. This gives you a little more wiggle room, but skips the part where you’re packing up and rotating out your wardrobe four times a year. And here’s the part where you narrow your eyes at me and say, “but, Shira, that’s not realistic if you live in a place with real seasons,” and then I can share that I have lived in Chicago and London for years, and the only items I added to my California wardrobe were some snow boots, a warm coat, and some winter accessories like a warm scarf and hat that I tucked in a basket during the summer. Are we still friends? Let’s keep going…
Step Two: Create a Style Profile
Before you edit your wardrobe, or invest in any new pieces, consider how you want to look and feel in your clothing and create a clear vision for how you want to present yourself. Picking a few words like “effortlessly chic” or “classic and elevated” can help anchor your choices moving forward and keep you on track. If you’re stuck, try pulling out your very favorite outfit from your closet and describe it in a few words. Notice what colors, silhouettes, fabrics, and brands you enjoy wearing most. What themes do you notice? You can also browse Pinterest, style blogs or magazines for inspiration. Warning: for some this activity can feel soul-sucking. If so, skip it.
Step Three: Identify Your Color Palette and Outfit Formula
Start by selecting a base color, and a few accent colors, to work with for your capsule wardrobe. Make sure that the colors you choose can easily mix and match to create new outfits. My wardrobe is super neutral, and composed of black, white, gray, and denim, which makes it almost effortless to get dressed each day. Occasionally I get really wild and add olive or blush. I love to wear head to toe monochrome, often opting for a full white, black, gray, or chambray outfit. Maybe you love to make a statement with a variety of prints or bolder colors. You do you. The idea is to make it easy to get dressed and ensure that the items you select for your capsule can be worn interchangeably.
You will also want to pick a signature outfit formula for your capsule. I opt for straight leg jeans or casual pants paired with slightly looser sweaters and blouses. When I go to get dressed I know I can pick any top and any bottom to create an outfit that works. You might prefer a more fitted top and looser pants. Perhaps you’re a dress person. Maybe you just want to elevate your loungewear and call it a day. Just be intentional about the colors and basic silhouette you want to wear, and commit to it.
Step Four: Pick Your Favorites
Time for the main attraction! Head to your closet and pull out all of your favorite wardrobe essentials that align with your criteria. If you’re taking a seasonal approach, think about what wardrobe staples you need for the next three months, and what events you have coming up. Make sure you opt for versatile pieces that will be easy to use to create multiple outfits. Remember – a capsule wardrobe is all about making your life easier, so keep it as simple as possible while still retaining your unique personal style. If you’re stuck or struggling, try this simple formula: 5x tops, 5x sweaters/sweatshirts, 5x jeans and pants, 5x dresses, skirts, or jumpsuits, 5x pairs of shoes (flats, sneakers, heels, boots, etc.), and 5x accessories or seasonal items, for a total of 30 items. Adjust quantities as necessary for your climate, style, and career. Keep it simple.
Step Five: Fill in The Gaps
You may notice specific wardrobe gaps as you go through the process of curating your capsule. Clarify which items you want to invest in and jot them down so you can be more intentional when you shop. For example, my uniform of jeans and casual tops works well for my lifestyle, but I used to panic every time I was invited to a formal event. I don’t feel like myself in a dress, so (after years of trying to solve this problem), I was thrilled to find these vegan leather joggers, which I can pair with black heels and elevate with a chic blouse and handbag. Problem solved! Likewise, I have been on the hunt for a chic loungewear set for years. These cashmere joggers and boyfriend sweater checked the box and now my hunt is over. I encourage you to take your time and make sure to invest in high-quality, timeless pieces that make sense for your actual life. I’ve learned that I’d much rather have a couple of really nice sweaters, or a single loungewear set than dozens of mass produced, low quality alternatives. Choose well, and invest in the best.
Step Six: Get Creative
Now for the fun part! Add versatility to your capsule wardrobe by adding jewelry or accessories, swapping shoes to transition from day to night, or experimenting with new makeup or hair styles. Use this as an opportunity to layer, mix and match, and play with unusual color combos. You’ll be shocked at how many new outfits you can create just by “shopping” your own closet and thinking outside the box.
Being more intentional with how you dress, and filling your closet with fewer, better pieces, will help you simplify your daily routine, boost efficiency, and help you take your day by storm as your most confident self. Happy capsule-ing.
All images photographed by Vivian Johnson
Disclosure: The pieces featured in this post were selected by me and gifted by The Reset. No affiliate links are used in this post, and all opinions are my own. Thanks to The Reset for partnering with me on this post!