How to Build a Capsule Wardrobe


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So turns out capsule wardrobes are not anything new.

They have been a thing for quite some time. You know, as a part of the minimalist movement – and it’s very close to the slow fashion mindset.

I wish I could be a minimalist. I promise you I’m doing my best. But I’m a natural hoarder. I get very attached to the clothes I own – mostly to those that come with a story, like hand-me-downs, or gifts.

I’m trying to minimalize my wardrobe as much as possible, and maybe someday I’ll be able to build my own capsule wardrobe.

Oh, and I’ll be trying the 10×10 challenge soon, so stay posted for that. I expect a lot of decision making – which I’m TERRIBLE at – and some ugly crying.

Now let’s get to the point. Here you have a couple of questions I’ve seen going around a lot when it comes to capsule wardrobes:

How many pieces should your capsule wardrobe have?

There are people saying that 24 is the magic number. Others that 33 is the perfect amount.

I say: aim anywhere under 50 to get started.

Going too minimalist too fast may frustrate you and make you want to quit your capsule experiment.

What should I do with the clothes I don’t want in my wardrobe?

Remember: you’re trying a capsule wardrobe (partly) for environmental reasons. So don’t throw your clothes away unless they are 100% unusable.

If you can still give them some extra life:

  • sell them in your local second-hand store or online (thredUp, Poshmark, even on eBay,…), and make some extra $$ while you declutter.
  • donate them to charity shops (Oxfam, for example), or shelters in your area.
  • see if any of your friends/family members would want them.

Do you want to learn more about sustainable fashion? Check out our series Sustainable Fashion 101 or download the free Sustainable Fashion Beginner’s Guide here:

How to build your perfect capsule wardrobe

1. Evaluate your lifestyle

And think CRITICALLY about what you really need and what you’ll really use.

That hot pink dress you have is fab, I agree. But probably you won’t be wearing it to the office every week.

So be honest with yourself and think about what will be useful, practical and deserves a place in your closet.

I recommend you think about the amount of time you spend in different places in a normal week and make a checklist where you write down the things you wear the most.

For example:

  • I go to uni 3 days a week and mostly wear jeans and basic t-shirts+cardigans
  • The rest of the time, I work at home
  • I go out for drinks once a week and I love using my little black dress or black jeans with a sparkly statement top
  • I go for brunch on Sundays and I like wearing comfy stuff, like a flowy dress or mom jeans

Something like this will help you a lot while you try to make up your mind.

Very important: there’s no one size fits all for capsule wardrobes, we all have different needs and tastes and that should be reflected in them. That being said, there are a few basics we all use at some point that you might want to have in your closet, like a basic t-shirt, a white shirt, jeans, formal pants, and a biker jacket/denim jacket.

The idea is that you should have pieces that are easy to put together and that can match with the rest of your wardrobe.

2. Think about how your ideal style would look like

In this step try not to think about what you own, but about what you want your style to look like.

Why? Because if your dream style doesn’t align with what you already own, you won’t be happy with your capsule wardrobe, and you’ll get bored of it. You might be able to hang on with clothes that make you feel like…meh…for a couple of weeks. A month tops. And then you’ll feel that your capsule wardrobe has failed you and that you need more clothes. And you’ll probably go on a heartbreak impulse shopping session.

And that’s the opposite of what we’re trying to do here, right?

So back to my point. How does your ideal style look like?

Neutrals? Statement colors or statement prints? What colors make you happy seeing and wearing? What is the most important thing in an outfit for you?

Maybe even go and get some inspiration from Instagram or Pinterest (I have seasonal inspiration boards just for this purpose, check them here: Fall / Winter / Spring)

how to create a capsule wardrobe

3. Start by choosing what stays and what goes

This is the hardest part, I know.

Some tips so that you don’t lose your mind:

  • start by saying buh-bye all the clothes that don’t fit you anymore, or that you abhor. We all have that one corner in our closet with clothes we hate but we’re too lazy to get rid of. So attack it first.
  • if you have some similar pieces, choose your favorite one amongst them. For example, I have two very similar black going-out blouses, so I’ll have to choose only one – the most flattering one, the one with the best quality,…up to you.
  • always keep looking back at your checklist and some style inspiration from point 2. And avoid losing your focus at all costs.

4. Is there something you need to buy?

If not, perfect, you can skip this point!

If you do, you can always go to second hand or consignment stores.

But if you are really looking for that timeless staple that will give coherence to your capsule wardrobe and make your style unique and put together, I recommend you go look for it from sustainable clothing brands. They have the quality you’re looking for without compromising your values.

Always remember: having a great quality piece is x1000 more valuable than having 5 average-to-bad pieces.

If you want to buy something new, try to look for brands that offer quality essential pieces.

I love People Tree for this type of must-haves. I know I can always get from them long-lasting pieces that represent my values.

If you want to learn more about the different forms of sustainable fashion and how to find sustainable goodies, check this post.

5. After you build your capsule wardrobe

  • Do you feel there is something missing? If so, consider why you feel that way: is it a fashion craving you’re having? Or is it really something necessary?
  • Take care of your clothes properly and make them last.
  • Don’t be anxious about letting go of clothes and know that you can always rely on sustainable clothing rental services if you suddenly need something you don’t own.
  • Every once in a while, think whether there’s something that doesn’t serve you anymore, something that you don’t like anymore or something that you’d like to change.
  • Go through this process every season to reevaluate what you need.

Remember that your capsule wardrobe is a work in progress: it should live with you and evolve with you. Your style and your needs change with time, so the clothes that follow your path should change too.

Do you have some experience with capsule wardrobes already?

I’d love to know your personal tips and tricks! Comment them down below or head over to my Instagram to chat about them.

how to create your capsule wardrobe

What do you think?

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