What is a Capsule Wardrobe? Easy DIY Instructions
If you can never find anything to wear even though your closet is bursting at the seams, you’re not alone.
For many people, choosing their outfit every morning is an ongoing, frustrating affair. The more options you have, the more confused you become when it comes to getting ready. So, what should you do to get rid of the daily outfit struggle?
We're here to help you reorganize your clothing and build a capsule wardrobe. Read this article and discover how to build a fresh wardrobe for yourself that you'll love.
What is a capsule wardrobe?
The term, capsule wardrobe, coined by Susie Faux in the 1970s, is a collection of limited, sustainable and chic clothing. It refers to having a few essential items that can never go out of style.
In other words, it’s a set number of clothes that can mix and match with one another to create a variety of outfits. A capsule wardrobe starts with making a conscious selection of evergreen clothing that you love and won’t mind wearing over and over again.
To create your own capsule wardrobe, you’ll need to find clothing “staples” that work for you. Things like neutral camis, convertible purses, a jacket, a tried and true pair of jeans, and a little black dress are all examples of wardrobe staples you’ll probably want to include.
Capsule wardrobes don’t need to be large or complicated. The goal is to have go-to pieces that you can easily layer or mix-and-match. By only having a few clothing staples and understanding how they work together, you can streamline your life by streamlining your wardrobe.
Over time, you will carefully and intentionally build your wardrobe with clothes that you absolutely love, so you’ll also feel like you have the perfect outfit ready to throw on at any time.
Organizing your clothes in this way is also good for the environment and your wallet. It helps you save money from constantly buying new items just because there’s a new trend.
Usually, items from your capsule wardrobe are worn for 3-4 months. After this, you can replace pieces that are worn out or that you don’t love anymore. Consider donating your old items if they’re still in good condition, or even selling them through an online marketplace like Poshmark.
Many people also find they like to rotate out items each season (e.g. they’ll have different dress shoes for summer and winter). If your goal is sustainability and less morning-outfit-stress, then try to limit how many items you buy each season.
Why do you need a capsule wardrobe?
Due to the influence of mass media and the culture of consumerism, buying new items as soon as they’re trending has become the norm for many of us. At times, we buy clothes just for the sake of keeping up with the latest trends.
Constantly changing your aesthetic based on trends leads to an unnecessary amount of clothes being wasted. I’m sure you have (or know someone who has) a pile of clothes sitting around that were worn a couple of times and then never again.
There is nothing wrong with buying clothing that you can afford, when you can afford it. However, indulging in fast fashion in high volumes is a burden on our pockets, our environment, and sometimes even other people who are forced to work in unethical environments.
A capsule wardrobe helps us take a step back before falling into the overwhelming pressure to buy more things. If you commit to buying less pieces, you’ll eventually have more money to dedicate towards buying higher quality, sustainable fashion.
You don’t need a capsule wardrobe. But if you’re concerned about the environment, sustainable fashion, and living a minimalist lifestyle, then it might be something to consider.
Pros and Cons of a Capsule Wardrobe
A capsule wardrobe has its own advantages and disadvantages. Before you start working on a capsule wardrobe, you should know the pros and cons.
- It can save you money – Capsule wardrobes can save money in the long-term. Though you may have to add new pieces to your wardrobe, these high-quality items will last longer than fast fashion pieces. Also, when making any new purchase, you will be conscious that you are adding another piece to your capsule wardrobe. This can help slow down impulse buying.
- It saves time – With only limited pieces to mix and match, you’ll definitely save some of those precious morning minutes that you used to spend staring at your closet and trying on different outfits.
It saves space – You gain more space inside your closet and dresser. Enough said.
- It enhances creativity - You will get an opportunity to experiment with the way you style your clothes. Wearing the same pieces in different ways can help some people feel more creative, comfortable, and confident in their style.
It can transform your look – If you think of your capsule wardrobe as a blank canvas, it gives you more space to play around with fun jewelry, hairstyles, and other accessories. You can still stay up to date with trends and change your aesthetic regularly with a capsule wardrobe!
- It imparts personal style – By being intentional about only purchasing limited classy, timeless pieces, you will have a “baseline” personal style that’s always polished. You will have a perfect wardrobe for you and only you. Some people feel that this adds confidence and flair.
- It can support human rights and helps reduce the impact of fast fashion on the environment. When you buy quality products from reputed brands, you will help advocate for fair working conditions and reduce the textile production impact on the environment.
- It may demand doing laundry more often - A capsule wardrobe means less clothing, so you’ll likely be spending more time washing clothes.
- Some people find it boring - Wearing only a few pieces repeatedly may become monotonous at times. However, you can overcome boredom by working in new accessories and seasonal items.
- Staying trendy takes more work - Limiting yourself to a capsule wardrobe can make it harder to keep up with trends. It’s not impossible, though! Use new trends as inspiration to recreate a new look from your existing wardrobe.
- It’s worth mentioning that it’s not off limits to purchase new items based on a trend. A capsule wardrobe is not supposed to be overly restrictive, it’s more about being mindful of your purchases and wearing all your clothing often.
- It needs detailed planning – A capsule wardrobe is meant to last for a longer period of time and be flexible. All of your clothing items should be planned thoughtfully, and it takes some time to figure out what clothing items you need in your wardrobe.
Some people only wear skirts and dresses, others live in leggings and hoodies. You’ll have to plan based on your own preferences.
How Much Does a Capsule Wardrobe Cost?
The cost of a capsule wardrobe depends on the number of pieces that you want to keep in your wardrobe, and the quality of the pieces you buy.
It also depends on what you already own. Do you have all of the clothing staples you need? Are you just looking to simplify your wardrobe and get rid of old pieces? If so, you can start your capsule wardrobe for free.
If you need to buy new clothes, you could have a relatively inexpensive wardrobe full of staples for under $200 if you buy from fast fashion retailers. Unfortunately, that means you’ll likely have to replace your clothing more often.
If you choose higher quality fashion retailers, you'll pay a higher upfront cost, but you might reduce the cost-per-wear of your clothing over time. Also, high quality fashion retailers are not just concerned with making sure you have a well-made product. They're often also concerned with sustainability and ensuring ethical working conditions for their employees.
What to Include in a Capsule Wardrobe?
Your capsule wardrobe can include whatever you want it to! There is no fixed list - it depends upon your personal choice, style and budget. To start, you can have a set of basics like t-shirts, jeans, dress pants, a blouse, a jacket, camis, shoes, handbags, and dresses that you can mix and match. Many people choose to go with neutral colors for their shirts and pants and then mix it up with brightly patterned dresses, jackets, or skirts.
Having a capsule wardrobe does not mean having a ‘boring uniform’. You should choose your pieces thoughtfully with intentions to wear them multiple times. Your capsule wardrobe should reflect your style and personality.
How to Build a Capsule Wardrobe from Scratch
A capsule wardrobe is definitely a more sustainable way to think about your clothes. However, it's easier said than done. With an existing over-crowded wardrobe, the thought of building a capsule wardrobe itself can be overwhelming.
But, we have some tips to make it easier for you. Start by following these simple steps and know more about which pieces you should invest in and which you should ditch.
- The first thing you need to do is organize things from your current wardrobe. Take everything out of your closet and remove clothing that you are sure you wouldn’t wear. To make it easy, take away clothes that you have not worn even once in the last six months. You do not need them anymore. Don't forget to donate or sell any items that are in decent condition to keep textiles out of the landfills.
- After this, work towards defining what your staple wardrobe consists of. Think of clothing items you wear every day. Make sure to include items like workout clothes, clothes to relax in and sleepwear.
- Now, comes your main wardrobe for work and play. Look for clothing you already own that has neutral colors. Picking neutrals or pastels helps you easily match with other tones. Some examples could be a white shirt, black sweater, white long sleeve tee and grey skirt. This will vary depending on your lifestyle and where you work. If there's a key item you need in a neutral color, like a pencil skirt or pair of slacks, write that down on a shopping list. The goal is to re-organize the items you already have, but if you don't often shop for key clothing items, you may have to purchase some clothes to get started.
- To ensure that you don’t over shop, decide on a number for buying particular types of clothing. For example, you can tell yourself that you'll buy 3 tops and 2 pants every season.
- Though there is no restriction to shop, make sure that whatever you buy works with what you already have and can be worn in a variety of ways.
A quick summarization to creating a capsule wardrobe includes keeping only clothing that you like and will absolutely wear, restricting the number of pieces that you have, making your wardrobe last for at least three months and not indulging in unnecessary shopping.
Also, it is important to remember that shoes and accessories are a part of your capsule wardrobe and should also be somewhat limited.
How Many Clothes Should Be in a Capsule Wardrobe?
It's up to you! While you may have as few as 10 core clothing items, your friend’s capsule wardrobe may have 30. The number varies from person to person depending on lifestyles and personality. It's not important to have a fixed number, but it is crucial to have all the basics that fit you properly and that are well-made so you can wear them over and over again. We suggest picking your top one or two favorites from each of the categories given below and you will be good to go.
- Swim/Outerwear (depending on the season)
- Accessories (sunglasses, convertible purses, etc.)
After you have chosen a few good basics in each category, start looking for pieces that can be useful for casual wear as well as formal meetings. This way you can have a capsule wardrobe that would be interesting and satisfying. Try to go for a bit of coordination in color palette and style as you will have to mix and match across categories.
What Does a Standard Capsule Wardrobe Look Like?
Now, let’s look at some typical capsule wardrobes.
A sample woman's wardrobe could have a belted trench coat, skinny jeans, a white shirt, a black blazer, a little black dress, a pair of tailored trousers, a pencil skirt, a sweater, a sundress, comfy sweatpants, a hoodie, a pair of ballet flats, a pair of boots, a tote bag, a scarf, jewelry and sunglasses.
Similarly, a sample men’s wardrobe would have a suit, a pair of jeans, a white cotton shirt, sweatpants, a hoodie, a pair of smart shoes, a pair of casual shoes, a watch, a jacket, a sweater and sunglasses.
Ethical Capsule Wardrobe
While creating a capsule wardrobe, we recommend keeping ethical shopping practices in mind. To ensure that it’s ethical, you need to be aware of a few things:
- Quality – Take care not to buy pieces that are lower in quality and won’t last more than a wash or two. Buy clothes from brands that are quality conscious and believe in thoughtful production. Be aware of the fabric quality so that it doesn't fade or fray. This saves you money and also helps our planet.
- Sustainability - Look for sustainably made clothes. This means look for sustainable clothing materials (like the cork material we use here at LaFlore Paris), recyclable or compostable packaging, and limited plastics. If sustainability is important to you, you should do your due diligence before buying from a company to ensure they didn't simply "greenwash" their marketing materials. Many companies say they're environmentally friendly but their actions show otherwise.
- Flexibility – Try not to be influenced by every new trend, especially clothing trends that seem like a quick fad. Instead, switch to ageless, classic, multipurpose clothing that can be easily styled.
- Comfort – Look out for pieces that are comfortable and fit you well so that you're happy to pull them out of your closet. If you're comfortable in all of your clothes, you are more likely to wear them more often.
- Tailoring – Don't hesitate to get clothing pieces tailored to fit you better if it means you'll wear them more often. Tailoring can also provide a fresh look and is your chance to add your own style to the piece. If you're someone who always likes to look polished, altering your clothing pieces can be a huge help.
- Repurpose – Try your best to say ‘no’ to one-time clothing purchases, like buying a new dress for date night. If you need something to wear on a special occasion and you're sure that you won’t be able to wear it a second time, consider renting your clothes instead. Alternatively, you could buy it and either donate it or give it to a friend after.
Where Should You Buy A Capsule Wardrobe?
You can buy your clothing for a capsule wardrobe from a single reliable store or you can shop from many different stores. The choice is absolutely yours.
However, the key is to restrict yourself and buy only what is required. When shopping, do remember that less is more and wearing the same clothing over and over again is not bad. Your focus should be on quality over quantity.
Capsule wardrobes can simplify your life and make it quicker to get ready in the morning. Creating a capsule wardrobe would mean having more time for your hobbies, feeling rejuvenated every day and contributing to a sustainable lifestyle. Getting ready should not be stressful but refreshing. Your wardrobe should make you feel more confident, ready to face the challenges of each day with ease and comfort.
So, get started and create a capsule wardrobe today. A great place to start is with a neutral, elegant convertible backpack purse that matches an endless number of outfits.