How to Plan a Capsule Wardrobe


Last week I wrote about what a capsule wardrobe is: a small, curated wardrobe with pieces that all go well together. It's a simple enough concept, but it can be a hard thing to approach when you're thinking about actually doing it. 

Here are six steps to help you create the perfect unique capsule wardrobe for you! 

Step One: Define Your Goals

Why are you interested in starting a capsule wardrobe? What are your goals for your wardrobe in general? Write down your top three goals and put them somewhere you'll see them every day- maybe above your mirror, or on top of your dresser, or the inside of your closet door. Every day when you get dressed you'll be reminded of why you're doing this, and why you should keep going even when it's tough. 

Step Two: Decide on Your Approach 

There are so many ways to build a capsule wardrobe: 

  • Caroline of Un-Fancy chooses 37 items each 'round', and switches things up every 3 months
  • Project 333 has you choose 33 items, including accessories and outerwear. 
  • Some people will build a smaller capsule for something specific, like a 'work capsule', and rotate in (and out) other more seasonal pieces. 

How you approach your own capsule wardrobe will be totally unique to you and your wardrobe needs. If a specific number doesn't work for you, then you don't have to choose one! If you don't want to include a certain category of garment (maybe you really just can't live without your shoe collection)- then you don't have to. This isn't meant to be a project in suffering, it's meant to make your life easier. 

Before you begin going through your closet, write down what approach you think will work for you, and then you can move on to the next step: 

Step Three: Plan

Once you've decided on your goals and your approach, it's time to get planning. Consider things like the weather for the duration of your capsule, any events you might be attending, and most importantly, what your life usually looks like. What sorts of activities do you do every day? Do you spend lots of time outdoors, walking around, playing with your kids? Or do you spend most of your time in an office with a dress code? It's important to consider these factors and choose your capsule accordingly. 

Step Four: Dump

Empty out your closet, chest of drawers, wherever you keep your clothes, and throw everything onto the bed, floor, or wherever else you can see everything. If you have a particularly large closet, you might need to do this in a couple of stages. Include any categories that you are including in your capsule: if you're including shoes, pull them out of the closet. If you aren't including jewelry, no need to remove it from your jewelry box. Remove any pieces that aren't in season, don't fit you well, or need to be repaired. You don't need to worry about getting rid of things just yet- just put your non-capsule items in a box or bag and keep them out of sight for the length of your capsule experiment. 

Step Five: Begin 

Once you've got everything laid out to see, begin by putting your absolute faves back into your closet. Things you already know you can't live without, things you need for practical reasons (like a raincoat or rain boots), or anything else that you already know you have to include. Move onto your second favourites, then third. Put aside anything you know you won't be including and move it into storage. 

Step Six: Refine

Once you've gotten the easy part out of the way, you can get to the harder decisions. Think about the plan you made in step three. Did you plan to include a set number of tops and dresses? Are you going to be attending any specific events? Sort through the remaining items and decide on the rest of the pieces in your capsule. Pull together some outfit ideas with the items you've selected. Can you create a lot of outfits without much deliberation? Try to choose pieces you know will go well together, and that can work for a number of situations. 

Once you've decided on your pieces, remove everything else from your wardrobe and put them out of sight. We will cover how to pare down your wardrobe another day, but you don't need to worry about doing that just yet. Simply see how life feels when you have less decisions to make every morning. And hey- maybe you'll find that capsule wardrobes aren't for you! That's okay. But I still think it's a good idea to try it out, even for just a month.

And that's it! The best tip I can think of to leave you with is not to stress about it. Don't be too hard on yourself- this is supposed to be fun, and while it might be challenging, it shouldn't be painful for you. 

Having a capsule wardrobe can be a fantastic lesson in learning to live with what you have. If you still aren't sure if you like the idea, try a shorter challenge first. The 10x10 challenge that Lee of Style Bee puts on each season is the perfect time to try, since it only lasts for 10 days.  

I would love to hear about your experiences and thoughts about capsule wardrobes in the comments below!