So what is a capsule wardrobe?
In short, it’s 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.
Why so popular?
Well, the claimed 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
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.
We’re all unique individuals. And so what I need in my capsule wardrobe is different from what you need in yours. Most likely, we have different lifestyles. I don’t have to wear a suit to work each day, but maybe you do.
The first step of making a capsule wardrobe is to:
#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 – 6 outfits
- Running – 6 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 work. 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. 4 ensembles now is the right number for me.
And 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:
(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 Assess Your Clothes Inventory
Once you have pared down the clothing in your closet, assess how well the clothes you have meet your outfit needs. Write down what types of clothes you have an excess of, and which clothes you need more of. This will help hone your shopping pursuits so that you only buy what you need.