Capsule Wardrobe /kapsəl wôrˌdrōb/ noun
A collection of clothes comprised of a limited, but versatile, number of items. Susie Faux, a London fashion entrepreneur, popularized the concept in the 1980s. Since then, its popularity has ebbed and flowed. And right now, it’s flowing like it’s on fleek.
So why so popular?
Well, the effects of the capsule wardrobe are quite coveted. They include:
- Dressing better
- Spending less money on clothes
- Having an easier time assembling outfits
- Enjoying a more organized and spacious closet
So now that we know what a capsule wardrobe is, and why it’s so great – how exactly do you put one together? What are the hard and fast rules?
Well… there are none. Just ask the creator, Susie Faux.
“The ideal size of your capsule will depend from person to person,” she says in her blog, Confidence Tricks. (1)
We’re all unique individuals. Each one of us is a special snowflake. And so what I need in my capsule wardrobe is different from what you need in yours. Because maybe we have different lifestyles. I don’t have to wear a suit to work each day, but maybe you do. Or maybe you have to wear a panda costume. I don’t know your life.
That however, is neither here nor there.
Let’s move on to the first step of making a capsule wardrobe:
#1 Figure Out What You Need
Assess how many outfits (and what kind) you need, based on your lifestyle. As an example, I’ll share what this looks like for me:
- Street Clothes – 14 outfits
- Work Attire – 7 outfits
- Night Out Get Ups – 5 outfits
- Yoga – 7 outfits
- Eveningwear – 4 outfits
- Sleepwear – 3 outfits
Let me offer a little context.
For me, street clothes are my bread and butter. It’s what I wear around town and usually at the office. (Lucky me, my workplace is pretty relaxed.) I’d like to have enough variety so that I can wear a different ensemble for two solid weeks – meaning 14 different get ups.
But then there’s times when I want to look more polished for work (i.e. meetings, site visits, presentations). Having a rotation of 7 outfits works well for me.
There’s also a sprinkling of occasions when I go out and want to wear something chic, fun, and flirty. Having graduated 5 ensembles is the right number for me. And of course, there’s sporadic formal occasions. Having 4 outfits on hand is a safe bet for me there.
Finally, I have a pretty active lifestyle to consider. I run 5-6 days a week, so having 6 outfits means I can do laundry once a week and comfortably have enough to wear. Meanwhile, I do yoga a few times a week. But my fellow yogis always look so sharp and stylish, I feel obliged to at least try keeping up. Having 7 outfits in rotation means I can wear something different for about two weeks.
#2 Inventory What You Have
This took a couple hours. I encourage you write down every item you own. Seeing all my possessions on paper forced me to realize the obscene number of clothing items I own. (Over 250. Yikes.)
After you make your list, write down how you feel about each item right next to it. The categories I suggest are:
- Love it
- Like it
- Meh bout it
(If you do this project in excel, it can come in handy – stay tuned!)
#3 Sort Your Clothes
Sort out all your meh pieces. Remove them from your inventory. If you used excel, you can sort your “meh” pieces into a separate list. Then, you can go through your closet at a rapid fire pace and weed them out.
If you have an excess of clothes (which I imagine you do, since you’re reading this article) there’s no reason to waste your closet real estate on sub-par garments.
Donate them. You’ll get a tax ride off.
#4 Create Outfits
Take a look at the list of outfits that you need from Step #1. Start putting together outfits, highlighting each item on your inventory sheet as you use it. Make it a point to repeat the same article of clothing in multiple outfits and in multiple categories. A key characteristic of a capsule wardrobe is having pieces that are highly versatile.
Keep going until you’ve hit your limit for outfits.
If you find that you don’t have enough clothes in your existing inventory to hit the quota for certain categories, then go ahead and create a wish list of the items that you need.
Once this process is complete, look at your inventory of clothes. Circle all the items that didn’t get highlighted.
These items are like the kid who didn’t get picket for flag football. (That was me. I was the equivalent of a drab cardigan for sports.) Take those textile bench-warmers, and put them in a bin labeled accordingly. If one of your key players gets injured (i.e. wine spill, iron burn, etc) you’ll have replacements at the ready.
This process is time consuming, but in the big scheme of things, I found it to be time saving. I shop with purpose now (hunting down items on my wish list) and have an easier time sorting through my closet.
I hope you have fun curating your capsule wardrobe!