12 CAPSULE WARDROBE TIPS: A SIMPLE WARDROBE MADE EASY
A capsule wardrobe has many benefits and makes choosing your clothes and getting dressed quicker and easier. However, creating a capsule wardrobe can be daunting and stressful if you don’t know where to begin. Here are 12 capsule wardrobe tips and ideas for a simple wardrobe made easy!
MY 10-MINUTE RUSH IN THE MORNING
I have about 10 minutes each morning to get dressed, hair and teeth brushed and make-up applied. This morning, I squeezed this in after walking the dog, making sure my kids were ready for school and before leaving the house ready for school and work.
Admittedly, I could have longer to choose my clothes and enjoy a slower and more intensive daily beauty routine, but time is tight for me in this season of life.
And, with that limited time, I prefer to journal, exercise, look out of the window whilst drinking my tea, and eat a proper breakfast as part of my morning routine. These activities set me up for a better day ahead, in both body and mind.
One day I’ll have more time, perhaps when my kids have flown the nest and work is less demanding, but for now, spending time slowly deliberating on my clothes just isn’t a priority for me.
WHY CLOTHES ARE IMPORTANT
“What I wear is the least interesting thing about me.” Courtney Carver said this and I think it’s true for me too. However, I know that many people LOVE clothes – and I probably would too if I had more time, energy and bandwidth to be thinking about them!
However, whether we’re excited by our wardrobes or not, clothes ARE important.
They are an outward expression of our inner personality. They play a role in how positive and confident we feel about ourselves, which has an impact on our emotions on the inside and how we act on the outside. These are all important when life throws daily challenges at us and we have to expect the unexpected!
Moreover, first impressions count. Others make decisions (rightly or wrongly) on how we look, the clothes we wear and what message this sends out about our identity and how we’re showing up for our life, in whatever way is meaningful to us.
MAKING YOUR CLOTHES WORK FOR YOU
Having read this, maybe you’re feeling the same? Not enough time, inclination or energy to carefully choose today’s outfit but still want to present yourself to the day looking like you’re ready for whatever it may throw at you?
Well, this is where it helps to make your clothes work for you. To create a more simplified, intentional and minimalist wardrobe that’s easy to find, choose, sort and put on clothes that make you look AND feel good!
Having less clothes, decluttering clothes that you don’t wear and creating a more capsule wardrobe of pieces that you know you will and do wear is key to making your clothes work for you – whatever your style, lifestyle and fashion appreciation.
Not sure what a capsule wardrobe actually is? Here’s Wikipedia’s definition…
A capsule wardrobe is a small collection of clothes that can be put together in different ways and includes everything one would normally need to wear. The aim is to have an outfit suitable for any occasion without owning excessive items of clothing.Wikipedia
STRUGGLING TO CREATE A CAPSULE WARDROBE?
You may be thinking “if only it were that simple”!
How do I sift through piles of clothes that haven’t been decluttered in years? What if I get rid of something I later need? What if I lose weight and fit into it again? That T-shirt reminds me of my favourite holiday every time I wear it!
So, how do you sift through all of this when you don’t have time, energy or motivation to even choose your clothes carefully for today? It seems like an overwhelming task in itself, and that’s before you’ve even felt the benefits of a capsule wardrobe and dressing with less!
Of having a capsule wardrobe that makes getting dressed in the morning easy peasy.
12 CAPSULE WARDROBE TIPS TO HELP YOU MAKE A START
If you struggle with knowing what to wear each day, want to reduce your decision fatigue AND feel good about yourself in your clothes, all without spending a fortune, here are some capsule wardrobe tips to make it easier for you to get started.
1. Stop shopping for a while
Stop shopping and bringing yet more stuff into your home. Deal with the clutter and clothes you have first before you add clutter onto clutter. You’ll be able to better see what you’ve got, where your new stuff will live and identify any gaps in your wardrobe instead of buying clothes you don’t really need.
2. Clear out your closet completely
Take everything out of your wardrobe and lay all your clothes and accessories on your bed. Remember to include anything that’s currently in the laundry too!
Creating a blank canvas for your capsule wardrobe is much easier when your closet is clear and empty.
Sift through all your clothes and pull out the items that you wear regularly – every day or every week. For now, put them back in your wardrobe.
Everything that you put back in is there intentionally. You have carefully chosen those pieces because they deserve a place in your wardrobe, instead of them being there because you’d forgotten about, hidden or skimmed over them.
3. Make outfits from what you already own
Stand back, take stock. Why did you choose these particular clothes to go back in your wardrobe? The shape, the colour, the texture, the fabric?
What do you wear on a daily basis? What’s your go-to personal style? Think of it as a kind of uniform that you can use as a formula to plan your everyday outfits.
To give you an example, I wear jeans with a top, jumper or sweatshirt. I add a jacket or coat if needed and maybe a scarf if I’m cold or feeling fancy! This may not be the most exciting or elaborate, but I feel comfortable and ready for anything that the day brings.
I don’t want to be experimenting with new styles if I haven’t got time or energy. I just want to get dressed and get on with my day. This is the reason why many successful people also choose to wear the same thing every day – to free up their brains for other more meaningful activities and decisions.
Can you make complete outfits out of these clothes you’ve chosen? Do they co-ordinate? Can they be layered together? Dressed up and dressed down? How do you normally wear these items? Do you have favourite combinations or pairings?
Is there anything on your bed that you can use to add to your favourites hanging in the wardrobe to create complete outfits? Take those pieces from your bed and put them in your wardrobe. These additional items might not be your absolute favourites but if they help pull an outfit together then that’s good enough for now.
How many outfits can you come up with that you feel REALLY good in? Do you need more or less to get you through each week?
4. Try everything on
This may seem a waste of time but, in my experience, it saves time and frustration later on. You don’t want to be putting something on in the morning, only to take it off because it’s not right and have to search for another. This can be stressful and time-consuming. A few moments checking your clothes feel and fit right now will pay dividends on a rush weekday morning.
I like to try on every item of clothing in my capsule wardrobe. I try those pieces on their own and in different combinations. Play around with your wardrobe as you have it for the moment. How creative can you be?
If an outfit works, remember it. Take a photo, write it on a post-it note, stick it to the inside of your wardrobe, commit it to mental memory.
If any pieces feel uncomfortable or you don’t like a piece for any reason at all, however small or niggly, take a moment to understand why. Is it scratchy or too tight? If something doesn’t feel right, the chances are you’ll pass it over for something else every time you go to get dressed. In which case, does it really deserve a place in your wardrobe?
IMPORTANT – A capsule wardrobe only contains clothes that you actually wear and wear regularly.
5. Stick with your favourite styles and colours
I get overwhelmed easily with too much choice so, to make choosing clothes easier, I stick with a limited colour palette, perhaps using different shades or tones of colours for variety. I tend to go for blacks, greys, blues, greens and the odd maroon, berry or wine coloured piece every now and then. This also makes shopping easier, and everything goes with everything else.
Again, purely my personal preference, but I avoid busy patterns and stripes. I prefer plain for staple wardrobe pieces and add interest with an occasional top or scarf.
If you’re creating a capsule wardrobe but struggle with how to do it, don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Stick with what you know, what feels comfortable and safe, on the inside and out. Now is not the time to experiment – that time may come!
6. Give yourself options, but not too many
A common criticism of capsule wardrobes is that they’re boring and restrictive. We get stuck wearing the same things and have limited options. I think there’s an element of truth in that because for me personally, I want an easy wardrobe but I do still want to have fun with it.
The way I’ve found to do this is by finding a particular pair of jeans, top, jumper, sweatshirt or jacket that I like and then purchase this is in one, two or more colours. I know the style fits and suits me so that avoids the faff of trying it on and potentially returning it if it’s not right for any reason.
Different colours add variety and fun for me and other people assume that I have a far more extensive wardrobe than I do!
On the flip side, too many options leads us to decision fatigue and makes deciding what to wear each day more difficult. Find your sweet spot in terms of the number of options that helps you enjoy your wardrobe without feeling overwhelmed by it.
Again, my own very simple way of calculating whether I have enough options is to go with the days of the week. 7 outfits for 7 days. I’ll also have two or three more outfits just to ring the changes. This also helps if I get behind with laundry for a day or two and stops me having to plan too rigidly when I need to next get a load of washing on.
Another way of determining the size of your capsule closet is to use the space limitations of your wardrobe and drawers. If you find your clothes don’t fit in the space you have available, it might be time to let some go!
7. Use layers
This might not be possible for everyone depending on your climate, but where possible I try to buy clothes that layer well and can be used across different seasons.
A seasonal clothes declutter is a great idea but I do like to have all my clothes available to me throughout the year. The exception to this would be shorts, sundresses, heavy coats and boots etc.
Layering means that I can pretty much have the same capsule wardrobe throughout the year and just add or subtract layers depending on the temperature. It saves on shopping, money, time, effort and decisions!
8. Easy care
A while back I made the mistake of buying something that needed ironing. I wore it once and then donated it to my friend (who enjoys ironing!). I’d rather be doing many other things than ironing so I found that, although I loved the item, I always passed it by in favour of something else that I could just wash, dry and wear.
There’s no point keeping something in your capsule wardrobe because you like it but don’t wear it. It takes up space that could be used for something else you both like AND wear.
If you struggle with building a capsule wardrobe for yourself because of lack of time, motivation, energy or interest, then it might be likely that you don’t have any of these resources to spend on looking after high maintenance items.
Be kind to yourself and choose easy care items whenever possible!
9. Special occasions
Another common reason that people get stuck with creating a capsule wardrobe is what to do about special occasions. Everyday wear is relatively easy because you wear it every day. You’re practiced at deciding what to wear and these items probably form the majority of your wardrobe.
However, what about that dress (or dresses) you’re holding on to? Or what you’d wear for that exciting evening out? Or for when you have to look smart but you live in jeans and a sweater (hey, that’s me!).
I keep a few items in my wardrobe for these occasions.
- a black dress that can be dressed up with heels or down with flats
- a black jacket that can be worn over the black dress or equally well with jeans
- a black skirt that goes with boots or heels, and
- a pair of black trousers that goes with everything
Basic items, that go with different accessories to create a different type of look and can be glammed up or dressed down depending on the occasion.
They stay in my wardrobe throughout the seasons, and I haven’t yet come across an event to which I haven’t had anything to wear.
And, if I did get invited to something that my wardrobe doesn’t currently accommodate, I always ask myself what I could wear instead before I go shopping for something new. This saves money as well as time and effort!
10. Experiment with versatility
I have a black top that goes under a jacket for an evening out, a black top that goes with my shorts in summer, a black top that goes with my skirt and heels for a meeting, a black top that goes with my jeans for the school run, a black top that looks dressed up with a necklace and a black top that looks casual under my hoodie. I have a black top that I can tuck in to define my waist, and a black top that I can leave flowing on the days I don’t feel like tightness.
Guess what though – it’s the same black top for all these outfits!
It’s a plain, well fitting, well made, quality black top with no fuss or frills and it’s probably so boring that you wouldn’t notice it if I wore it four times a week.
But, the beauty of this black top lies with its versatility. And, of course, I have several of these same black tops because I love them so much.
I know it may sound boring to some and it’s not an option you might enjoy for yourself. Yet, if you’re looking for quick, easy ways to make a really useful capsule wardrobe then you might like to try this tip and find your own black top (or its equivalent)!
11. Start gently
If you’re struggling to create a capsule wardrobe, start gently.
You don’t need to follow any ‘rules’, or stick with a rigid number of items. If you’re not sure about whether to include an item or not, put it in your wardrobe and see what happens. Over time you’ll learn whether it’s something you reach for often, sometimes or not at all.
Ignore the perfectly curated Pinterest images of capsule wardrobes. YOUR capsule wardrobe can be whatever you want it to be. If you love neons and wear bright colours often, go for it. If you want to live in jeans and tops (like I do), go for that instead.
Try creating your own capsule wardrobe and see how it feels for a couple of weeks.
- Does it save you time and stress in the morning?
- Do you enjoy a simpler, less cluttered closet?
- Did you find yourself with not enough clothes, or too many?
There’s a saying “if in doubt, leave it out” and that could be a great motto for the experienced capsule wardrobe user.
But, if you’re new or struggling yet determined to explore the benefits of a minimalist closet for yourself, I’d say “if in doubt, leave it in… for now.”
You want to have a positive, beneficial experience every time you open your wardrobe doors, not one that adds to your stress levels!
Note: If you do find numbers a helpful guideline, try Courtney Carver’s minimalist fashion challenge Project 333 for some ideas.
12. Embrace change and evolution
Building on the point above, a capsule wardrobe will change over time to reflect your changing needs and styles.
You might buy new items, replace old ones, or just add to what you’ve got already. Your body shape may change, your hair colour may change. Colours and shapes that looked good once may not be so right for you now.
Remove the pressure of getting it right by knowing that you can adjust your wardrobe over time.
DECLUTTERING YOUR CLOTHES VS BUILDING A CAPSULE WARDROBE
You might notice that I haven’t talked much about actually decluttering your clothes.
If you’ve been reading this article and following some of the steps, you might even still have a pile of clothes on your bed from step 2 that didn’t make it into your capsule wardrobe!
As I mentioned earlier, decluttering clothes is far more complex than just getting rid of some unworn dresses and worn out boots.
Building a capsule wardrobe at the same time as decluttering your clothes can just seem way too daunting and pressurised and I think that’s why many of us struggle, especially when we come up against those Pinterest-perfect images that feel unattainable!
So, you have a choice.
You could declutter your clothes and just put back what you’re keeping and get rid of the rest.
OR you could flip it around and…
Pull out selected items from your entire wardrobe and use these as the basis for your capsule wardrobe but keep the rest just for now.
Both strategies are have their pros and cons.
Although I’m a passionate advocate of owning less clothes (and owning less stuff in general), decluttering has its place. If you’re struggling with lack of time, money, motivation or energy, it may be helpful to start with building a capsule wardrobe instead of decluttering your clothes (and emotions) as well.
In which case, box or bag up all the other clothes you own and keep them somewhere else. This way, you’re not getting rid of anything and if, further down the line, you want to retrieve it, then you can. Make sure you do remember to go back to those clothes and deal with them or else you’ll end up with a pile of clutter!
You might even find that your capsule wardrobe works so well for you that you don’t even need these extra clothes. Try it as an experiment for a couple of months or so and see how you get on. Put a note in your calendar to remind you.
Once you’re confident with your capsule wardrobe then you could gently tackle decluttering your clothes. Safe in the knowledge that you already have enough clothes in your wardrobe to wear and enjoy right now.
For more tips on decluttering clothes, I’ve included some helpful articles and resources below.
- How to be Ruthless When Decluttering Clothes – Decluttering clothes is so much more than getting rid of a few shirts you don’t like. Here are some tips on how to be ruthless when decluttering clothes so you can create space, fun and flexibility with your wardrobe.
- The Benefits of a Capsule Wardrobe for Reducing Waste – Building a smaller, more minimalist wardrobe has many benefits. If you would like to explore a capsule wardrobe for yourself, in this guest article from zerowaste.com we look at some of the benefits of a capsule wardrobe for reducing waste in the environment.
- Which Clothes to Declutter? Simple Questions to Help You Decide – Decluttering your clothes can make life easier and help you find what to wear with more ease and less stress. The question is though, how do you know which clothes to declutter? Here are some simple questions to help you decide.
- Simplify Your Wardrobe – A workbook to give your wardrobe a workout! A practical workbook to help you create a capsule wardrobe that works for you with clothes that make you feel good and look great, without hassle!
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I’m Antonia and on this blog I share practical inspiration to simplify your home, time and life. Follow me on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest! You can also subscribe to Balance Through Simplicity and receive regular simplicity tips straight to your inbox for free. Make sure you never miss an article plus you’ll get a copy of my free Declutter Starter Kit as a welcome gift!