Your Very Own Capsule Wardrobe: What It Is and How To Make It

May 14, 2021 5 min read

Your Very Own Capsule Wardrobe: What It Is and How To Make It

Is your clothes closet turning into a huge pile of stuff you never use? We can relate! Our wardrobe tends to be full of tops that we'll "wear soon," jackets that don't match anything, and bags that never see the light of day. Yet despite this abundance of apparel, we always end up with "nothing to wear"!

Apart from the headache-inducing jumble we regularly have to deal with, our disorganized closets also derail our aspirations for a beautiful home we can be proud of. If you look at those lovely interiors featured in magazines, you'll notice that their closets are tidy and never crowded, no matter how small. It makes a huge difference in making the house feel calmer and more refined.

Their secret? A little lifestyle trick called a capsule wardrobe. Let's take a look at what a capsule wardrobe means, and how you can make one for yourself.


What is a capsule wardrobe?

Simply put, a capsule wardrobe is a selection of wearables in your closet that you consider the most essential. These include basic garments plus a few other pieces that you can mix and match with them. Also included are a few pairs of shoes, bags, and accessories. All these will stay in your closet while the rest can be put away (we'll talk about how later on).

A capsule wardrobe has two major benefits: it keeps your closet tidy and appealing, and minimizes your decision fatigue when picking out what to wear.

How many items should be in a capsule wardrobe? Some home organizing experts say between 30 and 50, but you're really free to decide for yourself. Just be sure you're honest with yourself when paring down your entire wardrobe -- you'll have to part ways with items that are extraneous or don't belong in your closet anymore.

So, ready to create your own capsule wardrobe? Read on for our easy guide!


How To Build Your Capsule Wardrobe: Step by Step

Spend an hour of your weekend for this little project. First thing's first: take out everything in your closet and lay them out on your bed and on the floor. It helps for you to see every item because you'll be picking and organizing among them. Lifestyle author Courtney Carver also says that putting the jumble on your bed motivates you to finish before bedtime. Clever!

Now, let's tackle this pile!


Step 1: Pick your basics.

Your absolute basic pieces are those that are neutral-colored, worn in your daily life, and timeless through the seasons. Examples are plain shirts, denim pants that fit you well, a versatile bag, an everyday coat, and a pair of day-to-night shoes.

Your basic selection should fit your lifestyle. For instance, if you spend most of your days in an office, you'll want to include a pair of smart-casual pants and your trusty office shoes. But if your lifestyle is more sporty or outdoorsy, you'll definitely have your trainers or sneakers as basics.

This base selection can be as small as 5 to 10 items total. Hang or fold them neatly in your closet space.


Step 2: Add some variety pieces.

Of course, you won't just be wearing plain shirts every day for the rest of your life! Go back to your bed pile and choose about 10 to 15 'variety pieces' for mixing and matching with your basics. Include an assortment of colors, prints, and styles. Here's an example selection:

  • 3 tops in various colors (not neutral)
  • 2 sweaters or jackets
  • 2 casual skirts or dress shirts for when you feel like dressing up a little
  • 2 pairs of shoes in different styles (e.g. athletic and classy)
  • 2 bags or purses in different styles
  • 2 choice accessories for casual wear (e.g. a bracelet and a scarf)
  • 1 dressier accessory (e.g. a necklace).

With your picks, you should already be able to visualize non-boring outfit combinations for casual or daily wear. Put these items back into your closet. You'll want to arrange them according to color, style, or whatever makes most sense to you.


Step 3. Choose some occasion-specific pieces.

For this step, look back at the past 12 months and recall the special occasions that required an appropriate attire. There were probably romantic dates, work functions, birthdays, camping trips, and more. List these down, then plan out one outfit for each of them.

Note that these outfits don't have to be all different. Many pieces in your closet are likely versatile enough to be worn to more than one occasion. You probably have a little black dress that's perfect for a cocktail party as well as a nice date. That denim jacket that keeps you warm outdoors might be cool as a coverup for your night-out party wear. And those stiletto pumps can go from office meeting to classy soiree.

Try to limit your occasion-specific pieces to about 15 items, including accessories. Add them to your closet, taking extra care with delicate fabrics and jewelry.


Step 4. Store other necessities.

At this point, you should have 30 to 40 items in your closet, total. Looks so breathable now, doesn't it?

Now, take stock of the remaining stuff on your bed and floor. Most, if not all, of these items are very likely unnecessary -- you could probably let them go now and it wouldn't make a difference in your life.

Still, see if there are items in the pile that you might actually need in the coming year. Maybe it's a particular winter coat, some quality exercise clothes, or even just an accessory that you can't bear to let go of.

You can keep items that you can "maybe" use, but remember, be objective and honest when assessing whether these could be necessary. Sometimes, we just tell ourselves we'll use an item later when it's actually just junk that'll sit in the back of the closet forever.

Once you've picked out the necessities, store them in appropriate boxes or baskets that can be stashed in your closet space. Containers help minimize clutter, especially with items that you only use occasionally.


5. Sort the rest -- and let go.

This might be the hardest step, because it's time to say goodbye to the rest of your pile. Sort these remaining items into two boxes: "To Discard" and "To Donate."

Discard objects that are no longer properly wearable, or those that would cost more to repair than to replace. These might include overstretched clothes, shoes that are worn thin, and garments with unfixable holes. Make sure you follow recycling and garbage guidelines when disposing of these items.

Donate objects that didn't pass your closet organization but are still wearable. Some people opt to sell these, but donating to a trusted charity is a nicer option.

If you're finding it difficult to let go of these piles, that's normal. A lot of us feel some sentimentality or even anxiety when getting rid of extraneous stuff.

Try the approach of organizing expert Marie Kondo: take some time to acknowledge the sentimental value of these objects, recall the purpose they originally served, then say a "Thank you" as you bid farewell. It sounds cheesy, but it works for a lot of people!


Cherish your capsule wardrobe!

Now that your closet is streamlined, clutter-free, and organized, you'll likely find it much more appealing. You'll wake up every day to an elegant and composed wardrobe that makes it easier for you to decide your outfits!

Maintain that feel by being deliberate in your buying habits: purchase only items that you absolutely love or absolutely need, and skip over the "maybe" stuff. That's pretty much the golden rule for a serene, picture-perfect, and livable home.

Happy organizing, from your interior decorating friends at Gear Den!

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