How To Build A Capsule Wardrobe

How to build a capsule wardrobe

What the heck is a capsule wardrobe? I actually didn’t know myself until this week.

With the recent article I wrote about simplifying your life by decluttering, I took my own advice and downsized yet again. But now, I feel left with an extremely mismatched combo of outfits, shoes and accessories that I love, but don’t go together.

I began researching minimalist wardrobes and came across the idea of a capsule wardrobe. Less money and time on clothes? Only owning things I love to wear? Cue my new obsession.

I mean technically we all already HAVE a capsule wardrobe. It is the 20% of clothes that you actually wear all the time and love! And although you will probably come up with multiple definitions when looking up a capsule wardrobe for me it means, a simple, small-amount-of-items wardrobe in which every piece is fully used and loved.

It should help you save money while also allowing a couple new purchases from time to time [but purchases you actually need]. Everything is super comfortable, great condition, fits your body in a flattering way exactly the shape you are today and doesn’t take a lot of time to figure out what to wear. Again, a wardrobe that you LOVE!

I don’t know about you but I have never had this. The old Amy definitely did quantity over quality and always wore probably only 20% of everything. I would hold on to ‘skinny’ clothes and even hang them in daily view for diet inspiration. Well, no more! I take so many steps to feel positive and super inspired each day why can’t my outerwear also be a piece of that formula?

Want to join me on a capsule wardrobe adventure? I know it will bring some peace and simplicity to your mind [with the awesome bonus of financial savings as well]. Let’s do this!

Just remember that ultimately, dressing is always about attitude, feeling comfortable and confidence. Kate Moss. | How to build a capsule wardrobe

So where do we start? Here is what I discovered in all my research and then proceeded to spend my weekend doing:

1. Choose a color palette.
I shouted DUH to myself when I first read this. I mean I do this exact step to pack for traveling so that I have minimal items but multiple outfit options…why haven’t I thought to do this at home too?!

For the basics I either choose, black/grey/white tones or brown/cream/tan tones. That is your color base and helps with accessory and shoe selection by limiting the amount of those, but making them universal with each outfit.

And don’t worry it isn’t going to be a boring wardrobe, color accents [red, pink, blue, green, purple, orange, blue] and texture will be added. However, for now choose a color base.

2. Let’s shop.
Well sort of – we are starting with everything you own now aka shopping in your closet. Take a look at what you own already and definitely focus on whichever season it is now. Right now, it is winter here, and I am always cold – so I know my winter capsule will have more jackets and closed-toe shoes than other season’s capsules.

Oh yah, I didn’t yet mention that you get to do this super fun process 4 times per year! By changing your capsule each season you bring variety to your wardrobe, make it weatherproof, and each season feel like you are getting a whole new wardrobe as it has been 9 entire months since you last wore it! Isn’t that genius!?? Oh my gosh, I love this plan soooo much!

So with my base color palette in mind, I put all the clothes that are that color, are seasonally appropriate and I wear often because I love each item to the side. I then evaluated what I had and what was needed and I went shopping in my own closet and made a super short list for the rest.

I also, added a couple color accents and shopped from my existing accessories, purses, shoes and clothes for items that match and can be interchangeable. Everything else I set aside. Literally…in piles.

I ended up with the following items for my Winter Capsule Wardrobe in base color palette of black/white/grey with green and brown accents [and gold as my jewelry & accent metal choice for the season]:

BAGS: 1 small & 1 large
TOPS: 1 long sleeve flannel, 3 long sleeve dress shirts, 2 long sleeve casual shirts, 6 t-shirts [plain and graphic], 5 tops, 2 tanks for layering
DRESSES: 2 dresses [both can be fancy or dressed down] JACKETS: 1 front open sweater, 1 bulky front-open sweater, 1 faux leather jacket, 1 blazer & 1 peacoat
PANTS: 1 pair of nice jeans, 1 pair of hole-y ‘just for fun’ jeans, 1 pair of colored pants & 1 pair of leggings
SKIRTS: just 1
SHOES: 1 large pair of boots, 1 small pair of boots, 1 pair of ballet flats, 1 pair of heels, 1 pair of sneakers [it is winter and I want to keep my feet nice n’ warm] [This list doesn’t include my pjs and workout clothes]

Self-confidence is the best outfit, rock it & own it! | How to build a capsule wardrobe

I know these counts will change as I finish out winter. Remember that you need to customize it to be what you are most comfy in. For example, my pear shaped body’s legs aren’t super shorts-friendly so while your summer capsule may have 3 pairs of shorts on it, mine will only have 1. Instead, I will have more dresses and skirts than yours.

Some articles suggest 13 pieces only, some 33 and others unlimited. It is what works for you to keep it as simple as possible.

Also, I recently began a day job again where I wear things that I normally wouldn’t wear when working from home only. This will definitely change my counts. I sectioned my winter capsule to have work, dressy, fun, daily/active [you know, because I would live in yoga pants if I could] sections that are as interchangeable as possible.

And, focus on what you know you love. Just because a women’s magazine says you need certain staples doesn’t mean you really do. Unless it is a piece that you do use regularly and is easy – aka ironing and dry-cleaning usually mean you don’t wear it often.

3. What is missing?
You may not know what you need just yet. I anticipate perfecting my counts for winter throughout the next few weeks making spring that much quicker to put together. By next winter I will have this system down to a science!

BUT for now, I came up with a super tiny list of a couple things that I am ALLOWED to buy. Because I donated almost all of my purses [they weren’t in good condition, they were funky colors that isn’t go with anything I owned, and I didn’t love them], I now need 1 main winter purse that matches my color palette.

So when I go to the store I actually get to buy something without guilt, confusion of what do I need and which color to get it in etc. Shopping becomes fun while also being responsible. Seriously, is your mind blown because mine sure is. Again, why have I never done this!?

How to create a capsule wardrobe | Winter capsule wardrobe examples for tops and jackets

Tank bodysuit || John Lennon Tee || Graphic Tee || Black V-Neck || White lace blouse || Black lace top || Long sleeve knit tee || Plaid flannel || Mesh roxie long sleeve || Long sleeve linen top || Grey cardigan || Hooded black peacoat || Tribal-print open-front cardigan || Black blazer || Faux leather jacket

How to create a capsule wardrobe | Winter capsule wardrobe examples for bottoms, shoes and bags

Super soft American Eagle dark fancy jeans/jeggings || Fun hole-y AE Denim X jegging || A.N.A colored jegging || Forever 21 Black Leggings || Pleated Skirt || LC Lauren Conrad Riding Boots || Simply Vera Black Heels || Billie Boot || Tory Burch Ballet Flats || Converse Sneakers || Black Crossbody Bag || Brown Zipper Tote

[please note that some of my stuff is years old and no longer is for sale, therefore I found the closest matches possible above]

4. Plan ahead.
While I was going through clothes I made a pile of ‘Don’t Want Items.’ Even though I literally just donated entire bags to a local charity thift shop when I decluttered, I had quite a few items that I still did not need*. Again, because I don’t LOVE them enough to wear them, they don’t fit me RIGHT NOW and they don’t go with anything else I own.

*If any of these items are in great shape trying selling it online or via garage sale for some extra cash. Or donate to a local charity or small independent thrift shop where it will go to a good home, and the proceeds to a small business or non-profit. My free guide to downsizing and decluttering is here.

The other piles were placeholders for each season. One for spring, summer and fall. I put these in bags in my closet but out of sight. I know I will be better at selecting after a lil’ practice so for now, I am hanging on to these items to do this exercise each future season. You can buy as much as you want for next season’s capsule but I am choosing to use as much existing as possible to keep the budget nice n’ low.

Buy less. Choose well. - Vivian Westwood | How to build a capsule wardrobe

Overall, please keep the rules loose. The idea is to make it YOUR capsule wardrobe and have it be exactly what works for you. Always be fine tuning and reevaluating how many times you wore each thing. And regardless of what it cost, if you don’t love it or it doesn’t fit well – time to say goodbye to it.

For some additional inspiration and guidance, here is a great FREE capsule wardrobe planner that I came across.

Thanks so much for reading! I’m excited that you want to simplify your life by simplifying your wardrobe! Cheers to creating our first capsule together! Please let me know how it goes for you in the comments below.

Shop Amy’s winter capsule wardrobe items here:


How to build a capsule wardrobe | A step-by-step guide with free idea sheets. Let's simplify our lives by simplifying our wardrobe!


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