How to build a capsule wardrobe

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How to build a capsule wardrobe

What does capsule wardrobe mean?

A capsule wardrobe is a collection of a few versatile items of clothing. This means you look stylish as it is easy to mix and match tops and bottoms. With a capsule wardrobe, you have outfits for any season and every occasion. The concept of a capsule wardrobe is credited to Susie Faux, who started the London boutique, Wardrobe, in the 1970s to help women develop their style and confidence. The idea was popularised by Donna Karan in 1985 when she released her influential collection, Seven Easy Pieces. I became interested in the idea of a capsule wardrobe when I fell pregnant. I didn’t want to buy a lot of new items of clothing that I would only wear for a few months of my life. But I still wanted to look stylish, and not repeat outfits. You can build a capsule wardrobe for everyday. You can also build a capsule wardrobe for specific activities, like travelling, work, or for hiking on a winter day.

Why you should build a capsule wardrobe

1. Be stylish

Do you have a wardrobe full of clothes but nothing to wear? You’re not alone. A survey of 1,000 women conducted by ClosetMaid found:

  • the average woman has 103 items of clothing
  • 47% struggle to pick an outfit before going to work
  • 10% are depressed each time they open their closet doors
  • 21% have clothes are that unwearable
  • 33% have clothes that are too tight
  • 24% have clothes that are too loose.

With all these problems, no wonder it’s so hard to put an outfit together. Capsule wardrobe to the rescue. Each piece in a capsule wardrobe has been thoughtfully selected. The items fit you well. You can easily coordinate your tops and bottoms. You have the right clothes. You look and feel stylish. Add extra style with accessories,  jewellery, and hairstyles.

2. Save time

  • Decision-making. More clothes means more choices to make. 50% of women surveyed by ClosetMaid planned their outfits a day or two before they actually wear it. Save the time and energy you use for outfit decision making, whilst also looking stylish. The average person makes 35,000 decisions a day, including what outfit to wear. Successful people like Barack Obama, Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs wear the same thing every day. Barack Obama wears only grey or blue suits. Mark Zuckerberg wears grey Brunello Cucinelli t-shirts. Steve Jobs is usually seen in a black turtleneck, jeans, and New Balance sneakers. Now you don’t have to go to the extreme of having a set uniform like these guys. Having a capsule wardrobe makes it quick and easy to get dressed, rather than pondering for minutes, hours or days. This saves you brainpower too. When you have a capsule wardrobe, you avoid the distraction of getting dressed. It’s a simple and easy task. You can focus your decision-making power to more important things.

  • Finding the outfit in your wardrobe. Having a capsule wardrobe means you don’t have the clutter of unwearable clothes – clothes that are too tight, too loose, don’t fit your style, ugly, too out there, you would never wear again, you have never worn. You can find the top, pants, and jacket you want to wear. You don’t have 4 items of clothing on the one hanger just to make all your clothes fit in your wardrobe. With a capsule wardrobe you can easily grab the top, pants and jacket you want, and know it will go together.

  • Shopping. The average woman spends 190 hours and 18 minutes a year shopping for clothes, shoes and window shopping. Over 70 years, that’s 13,321 hours or 555 days or 1.5 years. Having a capsule wardrobe means you can spend less time shopping as you require less clothes, you don’t need to browse as often, you spend less time trying on clothes, you only shop when something needs to be replaced. Having a capsule wardrobe and knowing what key colours you wear and styles means you save time shopping. For example, Naomi Simson, founder of RedBalloon, wears red as her public uniform. Knowing she wears red makes it easy when she goes clothes shopping.

  • Packing. With a capsule wardrobe, you can spend less time thinking about what to pack, looking for what you want to pack, and packing. Instead, you can use your new extra time to research what you want to see, do and eat during your holiday. Perfect for any holiday destination. Whether it be to England, the USA or Sri Lanka.

3. Save money

The average woman has a wardrobe worth $5,000:

  • $984 on tops
  • $655 on shoes
  • $540 on dresses
  • $476 on coats and jackets
  • $413 on handbags
  • $341 on jumpers and cardigans
  • $338 on pants
  • $316 on jeans
  • $283 lingerie
  • $234 on skirts
  • $179 accessories
  • $147 on sleepwear
  • $127 on shorts
  • $121 on swimmers
  • $102 on scarves
  • $77 tights and stockings.

Though this average wardrobe worth could easily be thrown out the window if you own a Chanel handbag (the large side pack costs $12,520), or a pair of Jimmy Choos (the Diamond/F costs $4,995). Women in their 20s are more likely to have high-end handbags, and women in their 40s have the most expensive shoe collections. One in 10 women admits to owning more than $12,000 worth of clothes, shoes and handbags. By having a capsule wardrobe, you save money because you are buying less. You don’t need to have a million tops. Just a few will give you hundreds of outfit combinations. You also save money because you won’t be buying the same item just because you can’t find it in your wardrobe. Your wardrobe will be clutter free and you will be able to find items easily. Also with a capsule wardrobe, you won’t forget you had the item or a similar one and buy it again. As you will have less, you will know exactly what you have. Another benefit is that you will spend less on contents insurance. Yes, you should insure your clothes. Your wardrobe will be valued less with fewer items.

4. Save space

By having a capsule wardrobe, you will save space. Less wardrobe space is required for fewer items. You can easily see all your clothing options whether they be hung up, or folded away in drawers. The Marie Kondo method is recommended for folding clothes to ensure you can easily see what you have. Creating a capsule wardrobe is a great way to start spring cleaning excess clutter.

5. Be happier

You will be happier and stress less by having a capsule wardrobe. You will always be put together and looking stylish as all your pieces will look great on you, and they are versatile so go together well. You will also be less stressed when packing. When you pack, you are taking a mini capsule wardrobe. As before, all tops, bottoms, jackets, handbags and shoes are versatile and go together, so it will make packing a breeze.

6. Make money

By creating a capsule wardrobe, you will be able to make money. When you declutter your wardrobe and create a capsule wardrobe, you will find items you no longer wear, never worn, are too tight, too loose, or you don’t like. These excess items can be sold, making money to buy any missing capsule wardrobe items.

Steps to build a capsule wardrobe

1. Declutter

The first step to creating your capsule wardrobe is to declutter your clothes. I recommend the KonMari method to do this. For each item of clothing ask yourself, does it spark joy? Keeping a clutter free house and organised home, starting with your clothes, will make you happier and stress less.

2. Review

Now that you have decluttered your clothes, review what you have left compared to the essential capsule wardrobe items you need in your wardrobe (see below).

3. Buy these items

Buy the missing items to complete your capsule wardrobe. Consider buying sustainable fashion.

4. Enjoy your capsule wardrobe!

Look stylish and fabulous. Check! 🙂

What should be in a capsule wardrobe?

There are a few essential wardrobe items that make up a capsule wardrobe – 33 pieces to be exact. This includes tops, bottoms, outerwear, shoes and handbags. Lingerie, active wear, loungewear and accessories have been excluded as they are a bit more personal, dependent on your lifestyle, or personal style.


  1. Black Tee. Perfect for all occasions – wear to the office during the week, or to the shops on the weekend. Looks great with everything – pants, shorts and skirts. Effortlessly chic.
  2. Light Tee. Classic white tee works a treat. Almost white like off white, cream, beige, light grey and dusty pink all work well too. A light tee is simple, stylish and easily pairs with any bottoms.

  3. Coloured Short Sleeve Top. Add a bit of oomph and colour to your wardrobe. Stand out and look effortlessly chic.

  4. Coloured Short Sleeve Top #2. A change to style and colour adds variety to your wardrobe. These can have caps, be sleeveless, tanks or even singlets.

  5. Coloured Short Sleeve Top #3. Another colour or style to spice things up.

  6. Coloured Long Sleeve Top. Perfect on its own to match with any bottom. Also great for layering on top of a tee or short sleeve top. Works well under any jacket.

  7. Coloured Long Sleeve Top #2. Both fitted and relaxed styles work. Also full long sleeve, 3/4 sleeve or half sleeve lengths are so versatile and shake things up.

  8. Coloured Long Sleeve Top #3. Perfect for mixing and matching to create endless outfits.

  9. Black Long Sleeve Top. Elegant and casual at the same time. A black long sleeve top is such a versatile piece for your capsule wardrobe.


  1. Blue Jeans. Classic blue denim jeans. A good pair is needed in any capsule wardrobe. The best cuts for style and versatility are skinny, slim or straight. This way they can fit into boots, match well with heels, and look fabulous in relaxed or fitted tops. In terms of where your jeans should sit, it’s based on personal preference. I like hipsters. Mid-rise and high-rise work well too. Check out this post for tips on how to wear high-waisted jeans.

  2. Black Jeans. Perfect styling for smart casual and casual occasions.

  3. Black Pants. Like jeans, pants should be skinny, slim or straight cuts for the most versatility. Perfect for work, a night on the town, or when you want to dress smart casually.

  4. Light Pants. Mixing it up with a pair of light pants for summer and spring.

  5. Light Casual Pants. Great for weekends in the cooler months.

  6. Shorts. A good length falls somewhere between just longer than short shorts and above the knee.

  7. Casual Skirt. Wear in summer or spring. Also great in cooler months if you wear with leggings and boots, or just a warm jacket on top.

  8. Black Skirt. Go from desk to dinner.

  9. Light Skirt. A contrasting colour and style to increase the variety of outfits at your disposal.


  1. Warm Dark Jacket. A must for winter to ensure you keep toasty. Only one is needed. Practical and stylish. Select a fitted jacket.

  2. Black Cardigan. Perfect for the shoulder seasons, cooler summer nights, or as an extra layer in the depths of winter.

  3. Black Blazer. Wear to the office, evening occasions, with dresses, smart casually.

  4. Light Blazer. A different style and opposing colour to add versatility to your capsule wardrobe.

  5. Casual Jacket. Weekend wear.


  1. Black Boots. Great for winter, when it rains, just cause.

  2. Black Heels. For the office, dancing, a night out, to look great in jeans.

  3. Tan Wedges. To pair with a bright, light dress.

  4. Sandals. For a relaxed look.

  5. Flats. For long walks, travelling. Black ballet flats are great. Good for the office, holidays, weekend, with dresses.

  6. Flats #2. A pair of sneakers. Pick a plain colour like black, white or navy for added versatility.

  7. Black Strappy Heels. When you want to feel extra feminine.


  1. Black Tote. A must have. For your Mary Poppin moments, but small enough to look stylish.

  2. Tan Tote. To match your tan wedges.

  3. Black Clutch. For fancy occasions or when you want a smaller bag.

How to build a capsule wardrobe

3 thoughts on “How to build a capsule wardrobe”

  1. 1.5 years spent shopping, that’s so sad!!! Definitely time for us to shop less. It’s interesting that the list doesn’t include dresses although they’re actually a great way to keep your wardrobe minimal.

  2. This was a very interesting post! And after reading I again want to check my closet 😀 Actually, I am every half of the year cleaning my closet and I am happy about that because I am always keeping space for new clothes and I am not filling my closet too full!

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