Learn how to create a capsule wardrobe using the 4-step visual guide! This is a step-by-step guide and includes a printable download, tips and resources.
What Is A Capsule Wardrobe?
A capsule wardrobe is a collection of clothes that can mix and match to make many outfit combinations. Most capsule wardrobes are seasonal, meaning you rotate some or all of the items seasonally (about 3 months each). You can also have a year-round capsule wardrobe, where you have a set number of items in your closet that you wear throughout the four seasons of the year.
Did you know that of all the clothes in our closets, we only wear about 20% of them? Chances are, you pick your favorite clothes to wear…ones that are comfortable to wear and that you look great wearing.
Why Start A Capsule Wardrobe?
There are many advantages to using a capsule wardrobe! Here are just a few advantages…
- Many outfit combinations on hand so you can get dressed quickly
- Saves you money by either wearing the clothes you have or buying fewer clothes
- Eliminates decision fatique – smaller wardrobe means fewer choices to make getting dressed easy
- Eliminates clutter by having a neat and tidy closet
- You get to wear your favorite clothes!
What Is Included In A Capsule Wardrobe?
Number of Pieces:
So, how many pieces make up a capsule wardrobe? It really varies from person to person and the climate you live in. Seasonal capsule wardrobes on average have 22-35 pieces and a yearly capsule wardrobe has 50-65 pieces.
Types of Pieces Included:
You always include tops, bottoms, layers (weather permitting) and shoes you wear everyday. You can also include outerwear (weather permitting).
Types of Pieces NOT Included:
- Jewelry, handbags and accessories (these are completer pieces which complete your capsule wardrobe)
- Workout clothes (unless it’s an all-athleisure capsule wardrobe)
- Undergarments (underwear, bras, socks)
- Formal wear (fancy dresses, skirts, business clothes, etc.)
Before You Start Your Capsule Wardrobe…
Have A Few Basic Essentials In Your Closet
Capsule wardrobes are built upon core closet essentials. What are Core Closet Essentials? They are clothes that are solid, neutral colors, in classic styles that are timeless and also known as “basic essentials”. I talk about basic essentials a lot here on the blog! They make up the core of our closet…the foundation in which we build a wardrobe upon. If you have your core closet essentials, then you can create your capsule wardrobe easily each season! Examples of core closet essentials are black pants, a white tee, a black blazer, blue jeans, white blouse, black skirt, etc. You can find all the recommended core closet essentials, with over 400+ outfit ideas, checklists, season capsules and more in Simplified Style®: The Dressy & Casual Collection – A Year-Round Core Closet Essentials Capsule Wardrobe.
What Is Your Lifestyle?
Before you start your capsule wardrobe, think about your lifestyle and what you wear everyday. Identify all the activities you do every day (i.e. work, taking care of the kids, running errands, going out with friends, etc.) and how you spend the majority of your time. You’ll want to create your capsule wardrobe based on your lifestyle. Example 1: If you work in a business office throughout the week, but are off on the weekends, then your capsule wardrobe needs to have a majority of dressy clothes and a few casual clothes. The Workwear eBooks series, The Essential eBook Series or The French Minimalist eBook series are pre-made capsule wardrobe collections (with shopping links and outfit ideas) for that type of lifestyle. Example 2: If you are a stay at home mom and are busy with the kids and live a casual lifestyle, then your capsule wardrobe needs to have all casual clothes. The Stay At Home Mom eBook series would be perfect for this lifestyle. To match your lifestyle with a capsule wardrobe eBook, see the How It Works page!
Select Your Base Color & Choose Your Color Palette
It is important to decide on the colors you will use in your capsule wardrobe. You want to limit the colors you use in your capsule so that all the pieces will easily coordinate. You can use either only neutral colors or a combination of neutrals and accent colors.
Black or Navy as your base color? If this is your first capsule wardrobe, you may want to choose navy OR black, just one base color. It’s easier to learn the capsule wardrobe process if you use just one. Black and navy are the two most commonly used colors in capsule wardrobes. Black is an all-around great base color to use because it goes with so many other colors. If you would rather not use black, then navy goes well with several other colors as well. If you don’t like navy or black, you can use a shade of brown as your base color instead.
Color Palette (Only neutrals OR neutrals & colors?)
- Only Neutral Colors – Since the colors in this color palette are all neutrals, the clothes and shoes are easy to coordinate! Neutrals include black (or navy), gray, white, ivory, beige, camel, tan and denim.
- Neutrals & Accent Colors – This color palette is a mix of neutrals and colors. If you will be using color in your capsule, I recommend using from 1 to 3 accent colors so your clothes and shoes will coordinate well.
The Base Color & Color Palette For This Capsule
For this capsule wardrobe, I am using Black as the Base Color and All Neutrals as the Color Palette. You can also use Navy as the base color! Just substitute 1) the black jeans with either dark wash jeans or navy pants, 2) the black skirt with a navy skirt, 3) black flats with navy flats and 4) the black striped tee with a navy striped tee.
Here is what the finished capsule wardrobe will look like, so let’s get started creating your capsule!
How To Build A Capsule Wardrobe In 4 Steps
I’m using just a few pieces in all neutral colors in this capsule wardrobe to make it easy for beginners to learn the process of building a capsule. These 10 pieces will make 48 outfits! If you want to add colors to your capsule, see this post, “How To Start A Capsule Wardrobe With Color: A 5-Step Visual Guide.”
I’m using just a few pieces in all neutral colors in this capsule wardrobe to make it easy for beginners to learn the process of building a capsule.
Step 1 – Add Your Tops
First, choose a few tops in your color palette. I chose 4 tops: a black striped short sleeve tee, white short sleeve tee, white button-down shirt (use code “LEANNEBLACKMON” to receive $25 off at checkout on Grayson.com) and a chambray shirt.
Step 2 – Add Your Bottoms
Step 3 – Add Your Layers & Outerwear
Choose one or more layers for your capsule (weather permitting). If the weather is warm where you live, you may choose to skip this step. I chose one layer for this capsule: a beige open cardigan.
Step 4 – Add Your Shoes
Shop the 10 Piece Capsule Wardrobe:
Shop the other items in the photos:
Expand This Capsule Wardrobe
Download the FREE Capsule Wardrobe Planner here – a tool to help you discover your personal style, select your core closet essentials, choose your colors and patterns and create your capsule wardrobe.