How to create a Capsule Wardrobe

Over the last couple of years, my wardrobe has seriously simplified. I found out about capsule wardrobes, and since then my morning dressing routine has totally transformed. Not only that, but over-indulgent shopping trips, wasteful purchases, tight budgets, and stressful closet clutter have completely vanished. I created my capsule wardrobe for the same reason I have chosen minimalism in other areas of my life: SIMPLICITY. What I found out along the way though, was that the less I owned, the more I valued, took care of, and actually WORE what I did own. Gone are the days of swapping outfit after outfit and claiming “I have nothing to wear!” Instead, I open my closet to an organized, minimal assortment of a few pieces that I love to wear, fit me well, and are functional, comfortable, and appropriate for whatever I have going on that day.

If you are looking to downsize your wardrobe to a capsule, here are a few qualifying questions that I ask myself before purchasing. For me personally, the following criteria are deal breakers. In order for a new clothing piece to be added to my closet, it must pass the following:

1. Does this fit me REALLLLLY well

i.e. it makes me feel confident, comfortable, and looks good on me. One of the questions I always ask myself (being a very active person and working as a photographer) is “can I sit criss cross, run, jump, and squat in this?” If the answer is no, my chances of actually wearing this piece is slim- if I am being honest with myself. If I bend over, am I worried about exposing myself? If I walk down a cobblestone path will I break my neck in these shoes?

Example: Below is a photo of all the shoes I own (minus a pair of rain boots on my doorstep). All of these shoes are extremely comfortable, even the one pair of heels. 

TIP: Think about wearing the piece in multiple occasions- work, home, an evening out. What are some of the things you do physically? If you have to lift boxes onto a tall shelf at work, choosing a short hemmed shirt that rides up might not be the best option. 

2. Is it good quality + low maintenance?

Does this item have good quality fabric, well fashioned buttons/zipper, and no damage (holes, pills, fraying, etc.). Must not be ‘special needs’ when it comes to washing because let’s be honest- ain’t nobody got time fo’ that!

Example: The below photo shows ALL my winter shirts. Three of these were given to me as Christmas gifts this year. They replaced 3 other sweaters/shirts that had pills, and fraying. I practice the ‘one-in-one-out’ rule so that I do not accumulate more than necessary.

Tip: If you love to shop second hand, (which I do for eco reasons) just be picky about what you choose. Inspect the seams to check for fraying. Choose brand names- not just because they are brand names, but because you trust the quality.

3. Does this go with the rest of my wardrobe?

Before I buy, I ask myself if the item will match more than one outfit. Bonus points if you can layer it. Can I dress it up, and dress it down? Is it either a neutral color or can be matched to multiple other pieces?

Example: This is a photo of my summer shirts, dresses, and skirts. Because they are all sleeveless, and neutral colors I can also layer them with my winter sweaters if it’s chilly. Neutral colors = more outfit options with minimal space usage.

Tip: The key to matching articles is choosing similar tones, and subtle patterns. You don’t have to limit to just neutrals. Pick a palette such as ‘burnt tones’ ‘jewel tones’ or ‘pastels’ and then branch off adding more pops and patterns that still match all your basics. Remember: Camel, sage, blush, navy, and even cheetah print can all count as neutrals!

4. When and where would I wear this piece to?

Do I feel confident that I would be able to wear this article for more than just a single event or activity? If I can wear it to a girls brunch, a night out, and a work event by adding the right accessories or pairing it with other dressier/ casual pieces then it is a win!

Example: I stick with black when it comes to dress clothes. It’s simple, it’s always appropriate for the occasion (funeral, wedding, work, date night etc.) and it’s timeless. Although trends come and go, a little black dress is always in style.

Tip: Choose neutral dress clothes and pair them with a patterned shawl for modesty, colorful scarf for warmth, or chunky jewelry for flair!

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1 Comment

  • Reply
    Dianne
    January 16, 2019 at 2:29 pm

    Love this, Melissa! I’ve been doing this too – not as few pieces as you have, but definitely fewer, more versatile, and more comfortable. Plus I’ve used the one in, one out rule for years!
    Love ya, girl!

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