What is a Capsule Wardrobe and 5 Steps to Build One

Hi everyone, it’s Emily!

It’s so easy to fall into the fast fashion cycle of buying and throwing away. It’s easy to buy clothes on a whim without really thinking about it, and you end up with a closet where you have nothing to wear or clothes you want to “save just in case” even though you only wore it once. 

A capsule wardrobe is a more sustainable approach. It focuses on a few- maybe 30- items of high quality, basic clothing staples. Staples are going to vary per person but the key is to coordinate it with your style and your lifestyle. It can be overwhelming to build at first, but I am going to help you through it.

A capsule wardrobe allows you to save money and time, ensures you always get to wear your favorite clothes, and keep a neat closet. In this blog, I’ll explain what a capsule wardrobe is, why you should build one, and 5 steps on how to get started. 

What is a capsule wardrobe?

A capsule wardrobe is a set number of clothes that can mix and match with one another to create many outfits. Typically, you wear a capsule wardrobe for spring/summer then swap it for your fall/winter capsule wardrobe. By having a set number of clothes per season, you limit your shopping and your spending.  

A capsule wardrobe is a great way to practice slow fashion. Instead of filling your wardrobe with tons of cheap, super trendy, and poor quality pieces. You can focus on fewer, high quality, more timeless styles. 

Why to Build a Capsule Wardrobe

Capsule wardrobes focus on quality over quantity. They are designed not only to remedy decision fatigue and visual clutter but also to reduce the harmful footprint the fashion industry has on the environment.

Although I recommend building your capsule from higher quality brands, which may be more expensive, you will ultimately save money by not having to shop frequently. You’ll save time picking out your outfits, and you’ll know you are going to wear something you love everyday. I also have to say having a very neat closet is an added plus. 

How to Start a Capsule Wardrobe

I would suggest reassessing everything in your closet. Look at each garment one by one. Now you need to decide if you should keep any of these styles. To assess your wardrobe go through the following 5 steps for each garment. 

But before I share the 5 steps with you, you should consider the following when deciding to replace or add items to your capsule. Everything needs to coordinate, and you should really consider a new item before you buy it. Ask yourself, does it go with 3 other items in my wardrobe? How many outfits can I create with this item? Does it fit with my personal style? Does the fit and silhouette work for me? Is the fabric comfortable? Does it fit with my lifestyle?

Step 1: You must pick a base color to coordinate your wardrobe. I suggest navy or black. You can also choose brown as base. I like black because it goes with so many colors, and it’s flattering on just about everybody. 

Step 2: Add neutral basic elements. Select a few pieces to keep in white, ivory, tan, beige, camel, and/or gray. Your essentials are tops and bottoms with solid colors, which are classic and never go out of style. This could be a white button up shirt, gray short sleeve tee, brown sweater, skinny jeans, etc.

Step 3: Select a few accent colors. You don't have to do this. Some people prefer to have a neutral wardrobe. This is the fun part for me. What’s your favorite color-blush pink, sky blue, olive green, ruby red? Go ahead and sprinkle a few tops of your favorite color in there. Make sure the accent colors coordinate with the base color. 

Step 4: Add patterned items and layers. You can add a few stripes, florals, plaids, polka dots, houndstooth. I would add 1-3 patterned items and make sure they coordinate with your base color. Then select your absolute favorite layering items like jackets, blazers, cardigans, and coats. You can add texture and color here. 

Step 5: Lastly, add in shoes and accessories. Choose a few neutral colors and maybe a few accents. I would say add 1-2 in the base color and a neutral pair as well. The number you choose can depend on your lifestyle. Then you’ll need to go through accessories, picking only the most wearable bags, jewelry and scarves to complete your outfits. I would choose 1-2 handbags. Black and beige are the most versatile. A statement necklace and/ or a scarf or two can complete the capsule.

Comment below if you’d like me to do more videos/blogs on my capsule wardrobes and slow fashion. Let me know if you have any questions or specific topics you’d like me to cover. Subscribe to my channel and click the bell to get notified when I upload new videos every Friday! 

Watch the full YouTube video here:

What to watch next? 

Watch my video on How to Coordinate Prints and Patterns

Watch my video on How to Unlock Your Creativity

Watch my video on Slow Fashion and Why I Believe in the Model

Watch this video on Fashion Design in the Circular Economy

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