Today I want to talk about creating a capsule wardrobe because since I discovered this way of organising my clothes it has totally changed my life. OK, ‘changed my life’ might be a bit dramatic but it has made my life a lot easier and it brings me a lot of joy.
I have to hold my hands up and admit that I don’t know any of the ‘rules’ when it comes to capsule wardrobes. Some people say you need an exact amount of items in your capsule wardrobe and others stress the importance of an exact shoe to handbag ratio and that number should be squared and multiplied by four to figure out the number of jeans you should have. Some people make things way too complicated!
For me, a capsule wardrobe is simply a small, curated selection of my favourite clothes. I like to display my capsule wardrobe in a way that makes it easy to see everything so I can easily select outfits and not feel overwhelmed by choice.
It’s funny how having fewer clothes available to me actually helps me wear more and shop less.
When I have lots of clothes, they end up getting scrunched up in my draws and squished onto my rails. I can barely see my clothes and if I dig down to the depths of a draw then the item I find is bound to be a creased mess. So I end up wearing the same things again and again – it’s basically just whatever is at the top of my draw because I can’t be bothered rummaging. There are items in my cupboards I’ve forgotten about completely and two draws are filled with things that don’t even fit! Why are those size 6 jeans and an old maternity dress cluttering up my bedroom!?
Unlike some people who create a capsule wardrobe, I didn’t get rid of all the clothes that don’t fit with my current collection of clothes. Even if they go to the charity shop, it feels like a massive waste so I put the majority of my clothes into storage boxes in our attic and just keep a small selection out.
Is a capsule wardrobe for you?
If you answer yes to a few of these questions then a capsule wardrobe is probably for you!
- Do you feel overwhelmed when you’re choosing your outfits?
- Do you have a wardrobe full of clothes but still feel like you have nothing to wear?
- Do you regularly go shopping because you feel like you have no suitable clothes?
- Are you unsure what your signature style is?
- Are you worried about the environmental impact of fast fashion?
- Are you an emotional shopper and buy new clothes to bury emotions and for a quick pick-me-up?
- Are you bored of wearing the same things again and again?
- Do you look at other people and wish you looked as well put-together as they do?
- Do you regularly change outfits multiple times before finally deciding on what to wear?
- Do you wish you spent less on clothes but keep buying things you still don’t wear much?
- Do you wish you looked better but also spent less time and money on clothing?
- Do you wish your mornings were easier and less stressful?
- Do you wish your home had less clutter?
If you’ve answered yes to one or more of these questions then a capsule wardrobe could be for you!
Where do you start with creating a capsule wardrobe?
Start really, really minimal
I’ll admit that I’m not really minimal with my capsule wardrobe anymore but the first time I did it I was and I recommend you do the same for your first capsule wardrobe.
If you have an abundance of clothes and can’t imagine living with just a few items then you need to give it a go to realise you’re better off with fewer things!
Once the realisation that ‘less is more’ sinks in you will never look back. Honestly, it’s a gamechanger and you’ll want to apply this minimal theory to all areas of your life.
You’re going to feel so calm, so grounded and life will feel much simpler. So aim for a capsule wardrobe with about 25 pieces in it.
As time goes by you will evolve and realise what you do and don’t need and what you realistically need for your lifestyle. I currently have a baby and two young children so I often get messy and need an outfit change so I definitely can’t get by on a really minimal wardrobe at the moment.
Get ALL your clothes out and place them in a pile
Most people will begin by placing all their clothes on the bed. Yes, everything. Coats, bags, shoes, activewear, work clothes, loungewear, PJs, the lot.
Personally, I don’t organise underwear in my capsule wardrobe but now might be a good time to have a good sort out of your undies and chuck anything you no longer wear.
What to donate
Once you’ve got all your clothes out you can start sorting through them to find what you no longer wear and can send to the charity shop/sell/give away.
How to decide if it should be donated?
- If you haven’t worn it for a year or longer
- If it doesn’t fit
- If it doesn’t make you feel good when you wear it
Be ruthless! Go on, it feels good.
You don’t need to get rid of everything
While I do think you should be ruthless, I also don’t think you need to get rid of everything. I’m adding a step here that most people don’t mention – putting anything you’re unsure about into storage.
I have 6 boxes of clothes stored in my attic. I don’t 100% love them but also don’t hate them. This is also where I store seasonal clothes, clothes for occasions and clothes I’ve stored away simply because I don’t have space for them right now.
I love storing things in the attic because it makes me more ruthless with my capsule wardrobe. I’m not afraid to go really minimal with my capsule wardrobe when I know I have a back-up-wardrobe in the attic!
But, realistically, it’s a pain in the arse getting things out of the attic so I very rarely do it and I don’t have any need for these extra boxes of clothes. It’s just a safety net and I like it.
Each time I recreate my seasonal capsule wardrobe, I get these boxes out of the attic and I find it easier and easier to donate more and more to the charity shop as it becomes apparent that many of these items will never make it back into my capsule wardrobe.
What do you want to include in your capsule wardrobe?
OK, so now you should have a considerably smaller pile of clothes and it’s time to think really hard about what you wear, how you wear it, when you wear it and what you’re currently happy or unhappy with.
Really think about which outfits make you happy. What do you feel nice in? What makes you feel amazing? And be realistic about what you do. I work from home so I very rarely have any need for formal clothes so this is something I need to take into account when I’m putting together my capsule wardrobe.
It’s not an opportunity to shop
Remember that creating a capsule wardrobe isn’t about creating an opportunity to shop for new clothes, it’s about looking at what you’ve already got and finding new ways to put items together.
It can be tempting to think, ‘If I had one pair of perfect blue jeans, I could get rid of these four pairs of old jeans….’
Don’t do it! You don’t need more stuff.
Seasonal vs a layered capsule wardrobe
Some people like to create a new capsule wardrobe for each new season while other people will keep the same capsule wardrobe all year round but will layer their items differently depending on the temperature.
I prefer to have a seasonal capsule wardrobe for three reasons:
- I get bored quickly so I like rejigging my capsule wardrobe every 3 months
- I like to have a colour theme for my capsule wardrobes that reflect the season
- I never, ever wear skirts or dresses or short sleeved t-shirts in the winter so I don’t need these cluttering up my wardrobe
Creating the foundations for every outfit
The theory behind a capsule wardrobe is that you can create the framework for every outfit using just a few staple items. These few items should be high quality and fit perfectly because you’re going to wear them a lot.
For me, the framework for almost every outfit I wear always begins with denim and a vest. This is my base for almost every outfit. I have 3 pairs of jeans I LOVE and I have 7 white vests. I do have a couple of denim skirts too but I almost always wear jeans.
Everyone does this part differently but I think it’s easiest to start with whatever you’ll wear on your bottom half and use this as a base. Make sure you have 4-5 AMAZING bottoms – whether that’s trousers or jeans or skirts or shorts. And from there, make sure you have about 10-15 tops that can be rotated between almost all of your bottoms.
Accepting my style uniform + creating a capsule wardrobe that matches your lifestyle
My uniform of jeans and a white vest isn’t very exciting but this is my style uniform. It took me years to accept my style uniform! I thought I was so boring wearing jeans everyday and wanted to be one of those girls who wears floaty dresses and bright skirts. But whenever I wore a floaty dress I felt uncomfortable and just wished I had my favourite jeans on.
From there I could add a t-shirt or a shirt, a light jumper, a cardigan or a thick knit.
I could go for heels or flats or trainers or boots. I could carry a backpack or a shoulder bag and I might add bold jewelry or a simple necklace.
I find it easiest to stick to a colour palette for each season. This is mostly so I can keep accessories to a minimum so I know my bags and shoes will match any outfit combination.
For me, I’ll usually go for neutrals + another colour.
As you can see, for autumn I’ve gone for neutrals + autumnal colours.
In the summer I opted for a lot of blue and white.
Neutrals for me are black, white and denim.
Display your capsule wardrobe clothes nicely
It’s really important for me to display my clothes in a way where they’re visually appealing and I can see everything. This means putting everything on a clothes rail and not storing it away in our walk-in-closet but actually having it out where I can see it.
This makes it even easier to see everything in one place and select your outfit each morning.
The rotation of clean clothes
Now this is something I haven’t seen anyone else do but – if I say so myself – I think it’s genius!
If you’ve had a massive clear out of clothes and displayed everything on a rail then you may be left with a few empty draws. If this is the case then I highly recommend doing this…
When my clothes come out of the wash I fold everything away and put them in my draws and I don’t get them out of my draws until I’ve worn everything on my rail.
This means I don’t keep wearing the same things again and again and use every item of clothing in my capsule wardrobe.
I have enough clothes to give me a new outfit for about two weeks. So every two weeks I’ll get everything back out of my draws, steam my clothes, hang them up nicely and arrange them nicely again, making sure everything is back in the right place.
I also HATE ironing so steaming everything in one go is much better for me rather than steaming a few things at a time.
I have this clothes steamer and it’s one of the cheaper ones on Amazon but it’s brilliant.
My capsule wardrobe staples
A black t-shirt
A white t-shirt
A cosy cardigan
A statement coat
An everyday coat
A ‘going out top’
1-2 other jeans
To summarise how to create a capsule wardrobe
If that all seemed a bit wordy and complicated, basically – just put 80% of your clothes into storage and put the remaining 20% on a clothes rail.
It actually is that simple!
If you create a capsule wardrobe then please do share your pics with me on Instagram as I’d love to see!
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