January 23, 2020
Creating a capsule wardrobe is starting to gain more popularity – and for good reason! We all need simplicity in our lives, and having a set of clothing you can rely on to fit, feel good, look good, and mix and match… what’s not to love! I have implemented the capsule wardrobe in my life in various stages for the past 5 years. I’ve done it all – got rid of everything and started from scratch, ( still ended up back where I started ) and taken it the slow and steady way to truly uncover MY perfect capsule, not just something that someone on the internet told me I needed.
I know the idea of creating your own capsule wardrobe can be overwhelming, “how can I get down to a set of 30 things I only wear every day?!” “It sounds so hard and complicated” “I don’t have time for that” etc. Well let me tell you, YES. You do have the time, and it will save you both time, money, and most importantly STRESS over the years. Really the question I’m asking is “can you NOT afford to implement the capsule wardrobe lifestyle?”
I’ve worked through several iterations of this lifestyle and have boiled it down into these simple set of steps and principles. It will take you a little bit of time in the beginning, but if you are truly wanted to make it a change that lasts, trust me- it’s worth the little bit of effort. So take a Saturday afternoon, hire a sitter or send the kids to your parents, or put on a netflix show and begin your capsule wardrobe makeover!
Here is all you need to know for creating a capsule wardrobe – step by step- without having to buy anything!
If you don’t know what you have, then you don’t truly know what your dealing with. My first step is to take out EVERYTHING from your closet. EXCEPT pajamas, workout clothes, underwear, socks or around the house tshirts, etc.
Once you’ve taken it all out do a brief sort through and anything you haven’t worn recently – try it on! Does it still fit? Do you like it? If so put it back in the pile, if not, put it in a pile to donate, sell, or give away.
Once you have gone through every item from your closet and evaluated for fit/ style, take your “keep” pile and move on to step two.
The capsule wardrobe is all about seasonal living. So creating a capsule wardrobe needs to start with the seasons. Having a set of items that ebbs and flows with the seasons and allows you to fully wear and utilize every item in your closet. Did you know that most people wear 20% of their clothes 80% of the time?! I think that speaks greatly to the need for the capsule wardrobe and mindset in our lives. Also, having too many choices or visual input when staring at our packed closet can create both stress and choice overload so that getting dressed becomes a hassle and burden instead of an empowering, easy task that allows us to show up in the world as our best selves.
Naturally the next step is what I call SEASONAL SORTING. Take your entire “keep” pile you created from step one and sort it by seasons. Organize them on a flat surface, aka a bed, the floor of your bedroom, the hallyway, etc, anywhere you have a nice linear space to work with. Start of the far left side of your space with winter items, and then layer them from left to right going through the seasons. Allow the seasons to overlap in your lineup to help you visualize how many / which pieces are transitional.
Now, this is where the real magic happens when creating your capsule. It happens slowly, over the course of the season but at the end of each season you will have a defined capsule and you’ll be ready to move on to the next season!
Take everything from your seasonal sorting lineup – and put away anything that is more than 1 season away. So if you were working through it right now, it is currently WINTER. So keep out WINTER, and WINTER/SPRING and then everything else goes into a clothing storage bin to be put up in the attic or stored under the bed. (This includes shoes!) I personally love to use clear bins so that I can easily see what is in them as I pull things in and out of storage.
Invest in some matching hangars. Trust me, it makes the whole closet space seem more open and fresh – I love these wooden ones from amazon, but depending on your budget, the solid white plastic ones also work well!
Next step is to take everything from the pile you’ve left out ( in this case WINTER, and WINTER/SPRING ) and hang them up! HERE IS THE IMPORTANT STEP –> Put everything back into your closet backwards. Yes, I said backwards. So you hang the hangar with the hook facing you instead of the normal way of the hook facing away from you toward the closet bar. Once you have worn something, when you hang it back up, hang it the normal way with the hook facing the closet bar. At the end of each season, you can easily identify what you have worn and what you haven’t. Whatever you haven’t worn, ask yourself – do I truly need to keep this? Or is it an item you could sell or donate and just borrow/ rent in the future should you need one. ( aka that party dress you wore to that one fancy work party 5 years ago… etc) I like to do this approximately every 6-9 weeks. It gives a very clear picture of what I am constantly wearing and what I should just let go. This includes shoes! Put them in your closet backwards, toes facing out instead of toes facing in. Once you’ve worn them, flip them around when you put them away.
At the end of the season, once you have removed the unworn items, you will have a clear idea of your style and the pieces you most frequently wear. This is very helpful for moving forward with creating your capsule wardrobe. Perhaps you buy another pair of high waisted jeans because that is the only pair you ever actually wore, and maybe in a different wash? Each season I like to have a few new items that I try to buy at the highest quality I can afford – thus creating a long lasting group of seasonal basic staple pieces. It is also only fair to allow myself to buy a few items each season to add to the fun looks or the trendier items. I still do my best to buy ethical, but I try to source these items at a lower price point since I know they most likely won’t be around for the long haul.
My best friend Emily, has super great style and she’s put together a few pointers of her own as well as a mid/low price range list of her staple wardrobe pieces. I’ll be working on mine as well as we move into the WINTER/SPRING season here in Georgia and that post will be coming soon!
Like Katherine, I have worked for the past few years to create the perfect capsule wardrobe and have only my favorite pieces and the necessities. For two of those years, I’ve also had to walk through a season of not knowing what my body would do size wise because of some health issues. As a result, my size continues to fluctuate and I’ve found some great pieces that work when I’m bigger than my average or smaller than my average.
Black is – and always has been– my favorite color to wear. I can dress it up, dress it down, and make it work for all the seasons. Most of my staples are black or can easily go with black. The tops I wear are things that can be styled well regardless of my size (could be anywhere between a 6 and a 10) but I still tend to stick to target or old navy for things like that. I do invest in my jeans, so I find higher quality jeans (madewell jeans are my fave) from Nordstrom Rack so they are less than half the price as I can find them in the store, and resell them on Poshmark when they don’t fit. These are the things I constantly have in my closet.
(like these or these)
White t shirt
I have two of these from past seasons in different patterns. I wear them in the summer with shorts and in the cooler months with cardigans!
I live in Pennsylvania, so our winter is ridiculous and who knows what the weather will be. I have my favorite shoes for when it’s dry, when it’s a little wet from melting snow or ice, and when it’s raining or snowing. The Brady Bootie was my Christmas present to myself and I love them! I haven’t worm them much because I don’t want to destroy them with the rain and snow, but I can’t wait to have these as a part of my wardrobe all year long.
When it’s a little more mild and I need to look a little more put together, I reach for these.
Bean boots are my go-to for rain and snow!
I’ve had this for years (mine has olive green snaps and pocket instead of rust) and I love it. So worth the investment!
I got a coat similar to this two years ago during patagonia’s winter sale. and I’m obsessed. I wear it every day during the winter and it keeps me warm when the temps are below freezing and doesn’t make me too hot when the temps hit the 50’s or 60’s.
They aren’t cheap, but I really do live in them!
Hopefully, these few staples give you an idea of what my most worn items are in my capsule wardrobe, and you can either identify similar shapes /styles you might already own – or click on any of these and it will take you right to the links to shop.
Remember, creating a capsule wardrobe that truly works for your life is a long game, not a one-stop shop. So take your time, follow my steps, and begin your journey towards a less stress, more joy lifestyle. One where you can care for the things you own because you’re not drowning in excess. One where getting dressed is simple and enjoyable each day, and that everything in your closet helps you look and feel like your best self.
Happy Capsule-ing friends! This is just the beginning of my capsule series, so stay tuned for weekly content around the capsule wardrobe lifestyle and what I’m wearing / how I’m styling the pieces that I own! Read more on how I create my seasonal capsule wardrobe here.
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