How to create a capsule wardrobe: your guide to looking perfect while saving money and time

If you love looking put together, but struggle to find the time to curate the perfect look, a capsule wardrobe might be for you. Read our top tips for creating your dream closet.

How to create a capsule wardrobe: your guide to looking perfect while saving money and time

If you love looking put together, but struggle to find the time to curate the perfect look, a capsule wardrobe might be for you. 

Whether you’re too short on time in the mornings to put a cute look together, or simply have so many clothes that choosing what to wear feels overwhelming, you might feel you’d be better off having a small collection of versatile clothes that you love and can mix and match easily.

After all, nothing feels better than clearing out the clutter and knowing that no matter what you reach for in your closet, you’re going to love your look. 

In today’s blog post, we’ll be talking you through what a capsule wardrobe is, and the simple steps you can take to build one that’s a perfect fit for your everyday life.

What is a capsule wardrobe?

A capsule wardrobe is a small, carefully chosen collection of clothes that work well together. The idea is to have fewer items that you really like and wear often, instead of a closet full of things you hardly touch.

In an ideal world, you should be aiming to have between thirty and forty items in your capsule wardrobe. And that should include everyday clothing and shoes. But remember, there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to your perfect closet. If you want to try cutting your closet down to fifty items to begin with, that’s still a great place to start!

How to start building your capsule wardrobe

If you’re thinking about building a capsule wardrobe, you’re probably a busy mother or working woman making a lot of decisions in your day already. And because of that, crafting the perfect minimalist closet can feel like a big chore in itself! 

That’s why we’ve broken down the whole process into a few simple steps. Here’s how we recommend you get started with building your capsule wardrobe:

  1. Declutter your closet

It’s hard to create a capsule wardrobe when you’re not really sure what you love or what you have! So, start the process by sorting through your closet and getting rid of any old or unworn items that you know you won’t miss, so you’re left choosing from items that you genuinely love. 

Go through your wardrobe by category (starting with dresses, then pants, then shirts, and so on), laying out the items from each group out on your bed. Then sort them into piles of what you want to keep, what you don’t, and what you’re not so sure about. 

A good rule of thumb is to not keep anything you haven’t worn in the last year - especially if you can’t see yourself wearing it over the next month. Donate or sell all of the things that ended up in your ‘no’ pile - and also everything you put in your ‘I’m not sure’ pile. Remember - you have to be brutal here to end up with a closet you're obsessed with!

While you’re sorting through your clothes, pay attention to what kinds of colors, fabrics and styles you’re throwing straight into the ‘keep’ pile. This will give you insight into what kind of items you really love, which will help you out when you get to step two.

  1. Assess your day-to-day style needs

Start by thinking about your personal style and what you actually need outfits for. Consider your daily activities, where you go, and what you like to wear. This will help you pick out pieces that fit your lifestyle.

For example, if you’re working in a corporate office most weekdays, your capsule wardrobe will look a little different from a full-time mom or part-time personal trainer. 

  1. Pick out your core pieces

Focus on picking out key items that can be mixed and matched easily. These could be basics like jeans, a white shirt, a blazer, and a simple dress. These pieces will be the foundation of your wardrobe.

Look for quality basics that are both functional and versatile. A functional piece of clothing is practical, useful, and suits your current lifestyle. A versatile piece of clothing easily pairs with other clothes, can be styled in different ways, and can be worn in different contexts.

When evaluating the versatility of a garment, consider how easily it can be mixed and matched with other pieces, colors, and patterns and whether you can wear it to different events or in different seasons. Of course, you also want to set aside a few formal pieces for special occasions like weddings.

You can pick favorites, eliminate duplicates, and identify what’s missing more easily when you look at everything together.

Although your core pieces will look different depending on your job, lifestyle and personal sense of style, here are some pieces you might want to consider as staples of your wardrobe:

Bottoms:

  • A great-fitting pair of denim jeans
  • Black seasonal trousers
  • Lighter seasonal trousers
  • A midi skirt
  • A flattering pair of denim shorts
  • 2-3 pairs of workout leggings

Shirts and blouses:

  • 5-6 core tank tops and T-shirts (all in different colours) 
  • 2-3 dressier tops or blouses
  • 2-3 workout tops (in different colours)
  • Your favourite swimsuit
  • 1-2 midweight sweaters
  • An everyday cardigan
  • A light knit
  • A chunky knit

Dresses:

  • An LBD (‘little black dress’)
  • A light linen dress
  • A maxi dress
  • A sweater dress

Outerwear:

  • A denim jacket
  • A versatile blazer
  • A trenchcoat
  • A thicker Winter coat
  • A leather jacket

Shoes:

  • Flip flops
  • A pair of neutral but glamorous high heels
  • Everyday white trainers
  • Athletic trainers
  • Black heeled boots
  • Strappy sandals
  1. Add some accessories

Accessories like scarves, jewelry, bags, and shoes can add personality to your outfits. Choose five to ten of your favorite accessories that you love and that go well with your core pieces, but only have one of each. For example, just choose your one favorite scarf, your one favorite pair of gloves, one smart black bag, one beach bag, a hat you love and your one favorite pair of sunglasses.

  1. Practice mixing and matching outfits

At this stage, you’ve already picked out your favorite pieces, and your aim now is to be able to put together 10 everyday outfits that you genuinely love from your new minimalist closet. 

If you can’t do that based on the core pieces you’ve chosen, it might be time to revisit the items in your capsule wardrobe to address any gaps or put back any core pieces you didn’t end up reaching for when creating your looks. 

Have fun with this stage, as one of the best things about a capsule wardrobe is how versatile it can be. Experiment with different combinations of your clothes and accessories to create new looks for different occasions. You could even take photos of your favorite looks to put together a mini lookbook on your phone!

  1. Display your chosen items in a place where you can see everything

Another one of the best things about having a capsule wardrobe is that when you have less items, it’s easier to see all your items, ‘shop your closet’ and put together outfits from what you have.

Gone are the days of all your tops being crammed together in one drawer, or too many dresses and jackets on the rails to know. 

You can use your new minimalist wardrobe as an opportunity to present everything you own beautifully and clearly, helping you appreciate what you have more, and making your wardrobe a stress-free place to be. It’s like having your own little boutique!

  1. Keep your capsule wardrobe updated

Once you've built your capsule wardrobe, keep it updated by regularly assessing what you have and what you need. Swap out seasonal items and refresh your accessories to keep your looks interesting.

Maintaining your capsule wardrobe

When it comes to maintaining your capsule wardrobe, we recommend the ‘one in, one out’ approach. That is, whenever you buy something new, you’ve got to commit to selling or donating one other item in your wardrobe. 

Remember to be strict with yourself and ONLY keep new purchases which you absolutely adore, and which you’re confident will go with the rest of your wardrobe. If your new purchase doesn’t meet that criteria, send it straight back to the store!

If you’re looking for a great way to streamline your returns process - along with your wardrobe - why not give doorstep pickup returns a try? With the ReturnQueen app, you can save hours of time on packaging, posting and keeping track of returns by scheduling your returns to be picked up right from your doorstep. Just download the app to try it yourself - your first 7 days are completely free, no strings attached! 

No post office trips on her to-do list today!

Remember to ‘try before you buy’!

Our top piece of advice for anyone looking to try out a capsule wardrobe is to make sure you ‘try before you buy’. That means not immediately throwing all your old clothes out, but keeping them stored away, so you can try the minimalist fashion lifestyle out before you commit to it long-term. 

You can still simulate the capsule wardrobe experience by keeping all your other clothes out of sight and out of mind. But if in six months time you decide it’s not for you, you won’t have to spend a fortune repurchasing all your old outfits again.

It might also take a few months to realize there are certain items in your capsule wardrobe you’re not wearing as much as thought you would, or that one special dress that you now really miss, so it’s great to give yourself the option to switch things out or add and remove items while you’re still learning what type of capsule wardrobe works for you. 

You’re ready to start building your perfect capsule wardrobe!

Creating a capsule wardrobe is a great way to find your sense of style and make getting dressed every morning an easier and more fun experience. By focusing on quality over quantity and choosing pieces that you really love, you can build a wardrobe that works for you and saves you time and money in the long run. So why not give it a try? 

To find out more about how you can simplify your life even further with hassle-free doorstep returns, find out more about how ReturnQueen works and download the app here.