Stop, Swap & Shop: How To Build Your Capsule Wardrobe Like A Pro

how to build a capsule wardrobe

Ever looked into your wardrobe that has piles and piles of clothes in it and thought, “I have nothing to wear!”?

Or purchased clothes you never wore after that one time in the dressing room?

How often do you go shopping for clothes and shoes?

This may have sounded like something out of a commercial, but honestly, most of us will be able relate to the questions above. Too often, we splurge on things we don’t use; too often, our wardrobe is a total mess! I know mine is. For anyone like me out there, we have the perfect solution – capsule wardrobes!


how to build a capsule wardrobe

Image Courtesy – Vivianna Does Makeup


Capsule wardrobes began way back in the 70s with a slightly different approach as compared to today; they have recently came back with huge bang and the Internet is swooning over this trend right now!

The basic idea of a capsule wardrobe is to have a limited number of clothes in your wardrobe. You can switch out items every few months – it doesn’t mean you start stocking up all over again!

You simply take out a few pieces and replace them with some new ones so the basic essence of your wardrobe (and most of your clothes) stays the same.

For example, you could switch out a dress or two or maybe a few shirts, depending on the season or the place you’re living in (you wouldn’t really want to wear skirts in the dead of winter.) But the “condition” is you have to keep the same number of clothing pieces in your wardrobe; if you’re adding in a new dress, you have to pull out an old dress (or a pair of shoes or a top… you get the idea.)

Note that it doesn’t count formals, gym clothes, underclothes – but more on that later.

In all honesty, this idea of a capsule wardrobe does have many advantages. Most importantly, it curbs your shopping expenditure (really, who buys only how much they need?) because you know you only have these many clothes that you will use for the season. Also, since you have to select a limited number of pieces, you’ll definitely end up keeping the ones that really, really flatter you and discard the ones you bought on the spur of the moment that look great in the dressing rooms but outright horrendous when you get back home (it’s happened to all of us, admit it).


how to start a capsule wardrobe-600x449PinchofYum

Image Courtesy – Pinch Of Yum


Apart from providing for a much cleaner and more understated look, like beauty & lifestyle blogger Anna of ViviannaDoesMakeup says, when you actually get around to buying more clothes, you’ll have a precise idea of what exactly you need and what you should buy, so you will basically shop better than you ever did before. It’s a win-win situation!

Keeping all this in mind, the next obvious thing would be to find out how to create that perfect capsule wardrobe! But don’t worry, we got you covered. Read on to know how to embrace this convenient, latest trend, like a pro!

Put A Number On It

Decide how many pieces you want to have in your wardrobe. Caroline, creator of Unfancy, the inspiration behind several thousands of capsule wardrobes, says you can pick any number you want but if you’re really confused, go with 37. That makes your wardrobe large enough to cover the entire season and small enough so you wear everything that you have chosen.

Additionally, you might also want to decide a fixed number for each type of clothing and for your wardrobe. You can go for a select number of tops, dresses, jeans, shoes. It becomes easier to break down each category and therefore decide the total number of clothes you want for the season. Lindsay of Pinch Of Yum took a slightly different approach and divided her tops, bottoms and shoes while leaving her “base” clothes (that included stuff like formals, jackets etc) aside.


how to build a capsule wardrobe

Image Courtesy – Pinch Of Yum

Time to Spring-clean (Your Wardrobe)

Anna suggests clearing out your wardrobe as one of the first steps towards building your dream capsule wardrobe. It makes sense because once you have all your clothes and shoes in front of you, it makes it easier to shortlist what exactly will find its way back in and what won’t. Take out all the stuff in your closet and follow the next step.


Divide And Conquer

You want to divide your clothes into three heaps (or neatly folded stacks, if you’re that kind of person).

So your first pile is the one that goes right back in; this consists of the clothes you just can’t do without. It could be stuff related to the season or your favourite shirt that you wear every third day. These clothes are like your proverbial nude pair of heels; you need them (except, you don’t really need heels).

The second pile also goes back in, but in a different shelf, preferably in another room. These are the clothes that you love but can’t wear at the moment, maybe because they aren’t apt for the weather right now or any other reason, really. You can pull out these clothes when you want to change up your wardrobe a bit later, after the season gets over.

how to build a capsule wardrobe

 Image courtesy: Vivianna Does Makeup

The third one also has to go, not in the wardrobe, but out of your house. I suggest giving these clothes to those who need them, maybe an orphanage, but it’s your choice, as long as they don’t come back in. We understand this might seem daunting because it’s not easy parting with clothes (oh, ask me that!) but these are the ones you’re never going to wear so keeping them will just be a waste of space. You know that as well.

If it’s still really difficult, then I recommend thinking about the number of times you’ve worn a particular piece, the likelihood of you wearing that in the future and how useful it really is. It’ll provide closure, mate.

Still seems impossible? Dump them in another room so you can’t see them daily. Period.


Time To Shop!

Please note that this is entirely optional. Okay, who are we kidding, this is probably the best part!

Once you’ve decided the number of pieces you want, you’ll have a better idea of what you don’t have that you can’t survive without. In this case, you can buy a few clothes to complete your wardrobe.

Remember that building capsule is all about minimalism; this doesn’t mean you have to limit yourself in any way but try to buy as few clothes as possible. Like I said, this is completely voluntary. The first time that she did it, Caroline didn’t buy any new clothes for herself at all! You don’t have to make a shopping trip if you’re satisfied with the clothes you have.


how to build a capsule wardrobe

Image Courtesy: Unfancy

What About The Rest?

As previously mentioned, a capsule wardrobe essentially does not include formals and the likes. If you require those on a daily basis, you can probably divide your capsule wardrobe into two or three mini capsules. That way, you can make your new wardrobe without compromising on your routine.


Plan, Plan, Plan

This might seem an unnecessary point, considering we’ve already mentioned that you should break down your wardrobe depending on your lifestyle, but it’s imperative to plan a bit before making the leap to a capsule wardrobe. Caroline recommends breaking down your 37 pieces into 4 jackets/coats, 9 pairs of shoes, 15 tops, 2 dresses and 7 pairs of bottoms. This might seem too little, too much or just right, depending on your budget. You can always mix and match and create your perfect style with any pieces of clothing you own!


how to build a capsule wardrobe

Image Courtesy – Unfancy


A good idea would be to download and print this capsule wardrobe planner  to have everything you need to remember in one place.

Anna also advises to start looking more closely at your wardrobe a week or two before a new season starts so you can decide if you need any new clothes for the next three months. This is more relevant if you’re living in a place where the weather changes drastically with the season, and thus, even the colour and type of clothes that you wear.

But ultimately, you need to remember that there are no rules or laws that you need to abide by, while building your capsule wardrobe. You can follow this process, alter it a bit according to your tastes, like Lindsay did by adding “base clothes” to her capsule wardrobe or just make a whole new process for yourself! And that is the beauty of capsule wardrobes. There are no dos and don’ts in this; you can make your capsule wardrobe the way you want to; whether you decide to have a few pieces in it or many, whether you buy new clothes or not, it’s entirely up to you.

Remember, it’s supposed to be a fun activity, a process through which you can understand your fashion sense, style, what you like to wear and what you don’t! This minimalistic trend will definitely simplify your life, help you declutter your space and enable you to understand who you really are – and that’s what is really important.

Featured Image Courtesy: Unfancy

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