Minimal Capsule Wardrobe: How to Build One?

Having a minimal capsule wardrobe can be a great way to save money and simplify your life. By only owning a few essential items, you can reduce clutter and make getting dressed each day much more manageable.

Most people would love a minimal capsule wardrobe but have no idea where to start. It gets overwhelming and it feels like a minimal capsule wardrobe is not for you, you need to put too much effort into it and don’t even know if it’s going to lead you in the right direction.

Whether it is because you don’t know your style, you have too many clothes, or simply because you don’t know how to start, I have created the perfect solution for you. It’s going to make your minimal capsule wardrobe journey so much easier.

What is a capsule wardrobe?

A minimal capsule wardrobe is a collection of a few essential items that can be mixed and matched to create many different looks.

Capsule wardrobes are usually divided into a few basic items that you wear all the time and items for each season that have to be stored away until next year. This way you can have a small number of items that you love and use all the time, without having the visual noise and excess of a larger wardrobe.

The color palette

There is a misconception that a minimal capsule wardrobe has to contain neutral colors like black, white, and grey. But that’s not true at all! You can have a capsule wardrobe with any colors you want.

The important thing is that they match well together and you feel good wearing them.

If you love bright colors, then make that your capsule wardrobe theme! The same goes for prints and patterns. You can have a capsule wardrobe with all different colors and prints as long as they go together.

It all depends on your style

A minimalist capsule wardrobe doesn’t have to be restrictive or boring. It can be whatever you want it to be!

If you’re more of a classic dresser, you can build a capsule wardrobe around timeless pieces like a white button-down shirt, a black blazer, and a well-fitting pair of jeans.

If you’re more of a bohemian, you can build a capsule wardrobe around flowy dresses and tops, distressed denim, and earthy tones.

You can even have a different style for each season! For example, in the winter you might want to focus on cozy sweaters and jeans, while in the summer you might want to focus on something more formal or edgy.

In the end, it depends on your seasonal mood and overall style. The idea is to have clothes that match and that you love.

What is not included in a capsule wardrobe?

Again, there is this misconception that a minimal capsule wardrobe also contains things like underwear, socks, and pajamas. But it’s not true.

I mean, look at the definition of a capsule wardrobe. And then think if you need your socks to match your blouse. I don’t think so.

A capsule wardrobe only contains clothes and accessories that you would wear in public.

So here is the list that is not included in a capsule wardrobe:

  • underwear
  • socks
  • pajamas
  • gym clothes
  • hiking clothes
  • swimsuits
  • formal wear

That being said, it doesn’t mean that you need to have a ton of the things listed above. Keep it minimum. For example, you probably only need one pair of hiking shoes and one pair of gym shoes. Less is more.

How many clothes should be in a capsule wardrobe?

This is a cliche answer but it is completely up to you!

However, I have a few anchor points to make it easier for you. You will need around:

  • 25 basic/everyday&everyseason clothes
  • 10 clothing pieces for each season
  • And a few more clothes for special occasions

You might be thinking that this is still a lot of clothes. But again, a capsule wardrobe it’s about having a smaller number of high-quality clothes that you love and that match well between them.

It’s not about having a lot of clothes that you never wear and that are just taking up space in your closet.

The benefits of having a capsule wardrobe

There are so many benefits to having a capsule wardrobe!

Saving money

When you have a smaller number of clothes that perfectly fit your style and needs, you don’t feel the need to go out and buy new clothes all the time. You know what you have and you know what works for you, so you’re not wasting your money on things you don’t need.

More options with fewer clothes

It might sound counterintuitive, but it’s true. When you have a capsule wardrobe, you have a smaller number of clothes to choose from but you can create more outfit combinations. This is because all of your clothes go together!

You save time and energy

When you have a capsule wardrobe, getting dressed in the morning is so much easier. You don’t have to spend hours sifting through your closet trying to find something to wear, you already know what works and what doesn’t, so getting dressed is a breeze.

You feel good in what you’re wearing

You’re always going to feel confident and stylish, no matter what you’re wearing.

You support ethical fashion

When you have a capsule wardrobe, you’re more likely to buy high-quality, ethically made clothes. This is because you’re not buying clothes just for the sake of buying them. You’re being more intentional with your purchases, which is better for both you and the environment.

You are being more intentional

In general, having a capsule wardrobe makes you more mindful of your clothing purchases. You think about what you need and what will work with the clothes you already have. This helps you to avoid impulsive purchases and to only buy things that you truly love and will wear often.

Related: 35 Intentional Living Quotes to Make the Most Out of Your Life

Fast fashion vs slow fashion

A big reason why a minimal capsule wardrobe is so beneficial is that it helps you to avoid fast fashion.

Fast fashion is the idea of buying a lot of cheap, trends-based clothing. It’s the complete opposite of a capsule wardrobe, which is focused on high-quality, timeless pieces.

The problem with fast fashion is that it’s not sustainable. The clothes are often made in unethical and unsustainable ways and they end up in landfills after being worn a few times because of their poor quality.

Slow fashion, on the other hand, is all about buying fewer, better-made pieces. The clothes are made to last and they’re made in sustainable and ethical ways.

When you have a capsule wardrobe, you’re automatically buying slow fashion pieces because you’re only buying what you need and what you’ll wear for a long time.

This is better for both you and the environment!

Use what you have

Before we start with the steps on how to build your capsule wardrobe, I want to mention that you don’t need to shop all your capsule wardrobe. You are mostly going to use what you have.

I mean, who has the money to go out and buy an entirely new wardrobe? Not me!

You can definitely buy a few key pieces to add to your capsule, and I will guide you later on what those pieces might be. But for the most part, you’ll be using what’s already in your closet.

Whatever you do, don’t get rid of everything in your closet, and start from scratch. That’s a waste of time, money, and resources.

A step-by-step guide on how to build your minimal capsule wardrobe

This is the guide I wish I had when I was first starting out! If you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t worry. Just take it one step at a time and you’ll get there.

Look for style inspiration

Before you start building your capsule wardrobe, it’s helpful to have an idea of the kind of style you want. Look for style inspiration online or in magazines. This will help you to figure out what kind of pieces you need to look for.

The best place to start is Pinterest. You can search for specific items or just general style inspiration. Pay attention to versatile pieces, and that you can see yourself wearing over and over again.

Also, think about the colors you want to include in your capsule. Do you want a neutral palette or are you looking to add some color?

You don’t need to have everything figured out from the start, but it’s helpful to have a general idea of the kind of style you’re going for.

Keep in mind that you might be a combination of more styles, but one of them will be predominant. For instance, you might have a predominant casual style with a bit of romantic and formal style.

Think about your lifestyle

What do you usually do during the week? Do you go to an office job? Do you exercise a lot? Or do you have a lot of hanging out with friends?

Your lifestyle should dictate what kind of capsule wardrobe you build. If you have a more casual lifestyle, you might not need as many dressy items. But if you have a more formal lifestyle, you might need quite a lot of them.

A great tip is to think in percentages. Let’s say that you are working 40% of your time and your work requires quite a formal style, it means that you need 40% of your clothes to be suitable for work.
Then, about other 40-50% should be suitable for your free time and the rest of 10-20% can be dedicated to special occasions or parties.

Start sorting all of your clothes

Now it’s time to take everything out of your wardrobe! Yes, everything.

This seems daunting, but it’s necessary in order to get a good idea of what you have and what you need.

Once everything is out, divide it into three piles: keep, give away, and maybe.

  • The keep pile is for the clothes that you love and wear often.
  • The giveaway pile is for the clothes that you don’t wear or that you don’t love. These are the pieces that you’ll be getting rid of.
  • The maybe pile is for the clothes that you’re not sure about.

The maybe pile

At this point, you might have a ton of clothes in your maybe pile and little to no clothes in the giveaway pile. And that is totally ok. We will start solving this problem right now.

Go through each piece of clothing and ask yourself these questions:

  • When was the last time I wore it? Was it more than 2-3 weeks ago?
  • Does it fit me well?
  • Do I feel good when I wear it?
  • Is it comfortable?
  • Does it reflect my style? Or my personality? (Use your intuition.)
  • Is it timeless or is it a trend piece?

These questions will guide you in deciding whether or not to keep a piece of clothing.

If you still can’t decide, ask yourself this question: “If I saw this piece in a store right now, would I buy it?” If the answer is no, get rid of it.

Related: The Complete Guide on How To Get Rid of Clothes

Get rid of duplicates

You might still have a lot of clothes. And again, that is ok.

Go through your clothes and look for duplicates. Do you have two black t-shirts? Or three pairs of jeans in the same style?

Oh, I know, they are all comfy but we are trying to maximize the number of outfits with minimum clothes. That is the point of a capsule wardrobe.

You don’t need two of everything. So, get rid of the duplicates and keep only one of each item.

Remember: It is ok to have the same T-shirt but in a different color. What we don’t want is to have the same T-shirt in the same color.

Check the ratio between tops and bottoms

Right now you might have too many shirts and not enough pants or too many pants and not enough shirts.

This needs to be solved.

The ideal ratio is 30/70. This means that you need about 30% bottoms and 70% tops. But this is just a general guideline. You can adjust it according to your lifestyle and your preferences.

The idea is to try to get to a point when the proportion feels balanced to you.

Keep in mind: You want your clothes to match and be interchangeable. This is what we try to do when we build a capsule wardrobe.

Fill the gaps

This is one of the most important steps of all. Filling the gaps. This is when you need to observe, be creative, and use your intuition.

  • Do you feel like there is something missing in your wardrobe?
  • Do you find yourself reaching for the same clothes over and over again?
  • What do you need in order to feel more put together?
  • Do you need a blazer for work? Or a pair of comfortable sneakers for your free time?

Whatever it is, give it some time and let yourself know what you need. You don’t need to rush into anything.

At this point, you are experimenting with your style and finding what works best for you.

You might not get it right the first time but that is ok. Just keep experimenting.

Create building blocks

Building blocks are the foundation of your capsule wardrobe. They are the clothes that you will wear over and over again.

They are the pieces that you feel comfortable in and that you can mix and match easily.

Building blocks are versatile and timeless, and they reflect your style.

Some examples of building blocks are:

  • a white T-shirt
  • a black T-shirt
  • a black blazer
  • a pair of timeless jeans
  • a little black dress
  • a neutral sweater
  • a denim jacket

Remember: a capsule wardrobe doesn’t have to be neutral in colors. You can definitely add some color to your wardrobe. The only rule is to have colors that match between.

Always adjust your style

Your style changes all the time. It changes according to your new phases of life, your mood, or the season.

You might become a mom, have a remote job, or move to a new city. These changes will definitely affect your style.

That is why it is important to always adjust your wardrobe according to your current situation.

A capsule wardrobe is not set in stone. It is flexible and it changes along with you.

how to build your minimal capsule wardrobe

Final thoughts

A capsule wardrobe is a great way to save time, money, and energy. It is also a great way to find your personal style.

Start small and gradually build your way up. Don’t try to do everything at once.

And always remember: A capsule wardrobe is not about restricting yourself. It is about having less but better.

I hope you found this article helpful. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below. I would love to hear from you.

Cheers, Diana

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