How to Build a Capsule Wardrobe

Do you ever have those days where you just can’t pick out an outfit you feel confident in? Well, we have a solution — the capsule wardrobe!

What is a capsule wardrobe?

A capsule wardrobe is a small, curated collection of your favorite pieces of clothing. The pieces should be versatile so you can easily mix and match.

There are no set rules for how many pieces of clothing a capsule collection must contain, but somewhere between 25-37 is a good guideline to follow.

A typical capsule collection includes clothing, outerwear, and shoes. Some people include statement jewelry and accessories (though this is more flexible). Underwear, sleepwear, and workout clothes are not included.

What are the benefits?

When you curate a capsule wardrobe, the focus is on quality rather than quantity. This ensures that you’ll have a closet full of clothes that you love and are confident in wearing.

A capsule wardrobe will also save you time and energy in the morning, as there are less options to choose from and nearly everything matches! Plus, your clothing takes up less space, which is ideal for tiny apartments and dorms.

Who inspires us?

Two minimalist fashionistas have done a great job of embracing capsule wardrobes and modifying them to fit their style.

Caroline Rector of Unfancy experimented with a capsule wardrobe for a year. She chose 37 items to wear for 3 months at a time, and only shopped for the next season’s clothes during the last two weeks of the current season. Though she doesn’t keep a structured capsule anymore, her style is still reflective of a minimalist wardrobe, and she said the experiment made her feel more confident and joyful.

Courtney Carver of Be More With Less turned her mission to live with less into a minimalist fashion challenge — Project 333. This challenge encourages people to choose 33 items to wear in a 3 month rotation. These Project 333 participants are sure to inspire you as you curate your capsule wardrobe!

Our capsule wardrobecapsule-wardrobe

Our capsule wardrobe consists of 33 pieces: 9 shirts, 4 sweaters, 5 jackets, 4 dresses, 1 skirt, 4 pants, and 6 pairs of shoes. We stuck to basic pants, and got more creative when it came to tops and shoes. We also included a ton of great layering pieces like the olive cardigan and chambray shirt to make sure we could mix and match items to create a variety of unique looks.

How to start a capsule wardrobe

Step 1 – Clean out your closet.

You don’t have to buy all new clothes to start a capsule wardrobe! Cleaning out your closet reminds you of everything that you have (and things you probably forgot you had). To begin, take all of your clothes out of your closet and start sorting them into five piles.

  • Yes – Clothes you love and wear all the time.
  • Maybe – Clothes you wear sometimes, but aren’t that attached to.
  • Sell – Clothes in good condition that you don’t like, but you think can be sold at a consignment store or online.
  • Donate – Clothes in good condition that you don’t like and don’t want to spend time trying to sell.
  • Toss – Clothes that are damaged or in poor condition.

Now sort through your Maybe pile again. Try on these clothes and decide if they belong in the Yes, Sell, or Donate pile. If you’re having trouble deciding, ask yourself these questions.

Once you have narrowed your Maybe pile into Yes, Sell, Donate, or Toss, take action. Instead of just leaving piles of unwanted clothes around your house for months, give yourself one week to donate, dispose of, consign, or create online listings for your items.

Step 2 – Determine which clothes are in season.

A capsule wardrobe is all about creating a set clothing that works for an entire season. Determine which of your clothes fit the oncoming season and which you should save for a different season.

Step 3 – Create a color palette.

Now that you know which of your clothes have capsule wardrobe potential, look more closely at them. See if you can find any color trends or if any items will be difficult to match with. From here, you can create a color palette for your wardrobe and remove any items that do not fit in the palette.

Step 4 – Box up and store clothing that doesn’t fit your capsule collection.

Items that are not in season or don’t fit your color palette should be boxed up and saved for another capsule wardrobe.

Step 5 – Take inventory.

The items from your closet may be enough for a complete capsule wardrobe, or you may need to purchase a few items to fill out your collection. Write down everything that you’ve chosen by category. This will help you see how many items you have and what you’re missing. Remember, the number of items in a capsule collection is up to you.

Step 6 – Set a budget and fill in the gaps.

Now that you’ve taken inventory and know what you need to shop for, set a realistic budget and get creative. Make sure to buy some quality basics that you can wear year-round in other capsule collections.

Step 7 – Admire your closet.

Congratulations, you did it! Take a moment to admire how color coordinated and organized your closet is, and get excited about creating fun combinations with these clothes for the next 3 months.

Capsule wardrobe worksheet

To help you get organized, we created this handy capsule wardrobe worksheet. Just click the button below to download the sheet, print it out, and start planning! You can color the in circles in with your palette and list the items you have and the items you need for easy reference when shopping. Good luck!


AEO Gifts for Her: The Trendsetter

Want to stay in the know? The Trendsetter is your ultimate source of wisdom. She’s always ahead of the game (you know, she was wearing velvet like, five months ago) and never fails to be the first to download (and master) the latest and greatest apps. Think outside the box & check out the gift guide we curated for the girl who invents her own rules.

Show us what you’re giving & getting this season with #AEOSTYLE on Instagram & Twitter, and shop this gift guide below!




AEO Gift Guide for Her: Fireside Snuggler

The Fireside Snuggler is the girl who likes to keep it cozy. Warmth and comfort are her endgame, so make sure you fill her stocking with knit scarves, wool jackets & pom-topped beanies. She’ll be cozy and looking cool in winter whites like printed mock neck sweaters and the softest nighties. Check out our curated gift guide and get ready to snuggle.

Show us what you’re giving & getting this season with #AEOSTYLE on Instagram & Twitter, and shop this gift guide below!



AEO Gift Guide for Him: The Dapper Dude

Clean cut & buttoned up. If you have The Dapper Dude on your holiday shopping list, you’re looking for a gift with the perfect mix of modern detail and classic #AEOSTYLE. Plaid scarves, wool jackets & mock neck sweaters are at the top of this guy’s wishlist. We curated a gift guide for the guy who likes to keep it classy 24/7.

Show us what you’re giving & getting this season with #AEOSTYLE on Instagram & Twitter, and shop this gift guide below!

For The Guy With Classic #AEOSTYLE. Shop Holiday Gifts for the Dapper Dude.


How To Style The Velvet Tie Dress with Simplyteee

Velvet has been making a strong comeback over the last few months – just in time for the holiday season! In rich colors & cool cuts, our velvet assortment is versatile & and easy-to-style. We love velvet because it’s such a statement fabric – you don’t need to try hard when you’re wearing velvet because it speaks for itself. One of our favorite velvet pieces from the latest collection is the AEO Velvet Tie Dress. A wrap silhouette and butterfly sleeves make it the perfect holiday dress. Tina from Simplyteee styled the Velvet Tie Dress in a super casual, cool-girl way (and we can see this look working anywhere from your office party to family dinner!). See what inspired Tina’s look & shop her look below.

How To Style The Velvet Tie Dress with Simplyteee

“My name is Tina and I’m the creator of simplyteee, a Toronto based blog featuring my love for fashion, beauty and travel. I started this journey about a year ago as a creative outlet. The idea seemed intriguing and challenging, and I was excited at the opportunities it could lead me to! I take comfort over everything, and my personal style is usually a reflection of my mood. Offline, you can find me binging on Netflix or indulging myself with good eats.”

How To Style The Velvet Tie Dress with Simplyteee How To Style The Velvet Tie Dress with Simplyteee

“I have been obsessed with velvet lately and am so happy the 90s are still making a comeback! This dress is perfect for the holidays and is also a great layering piece that can be dressed up or down. I decided to keep it simple and keep the focal point on the dress. As with most of my outfits, I truly believe less is always more.”

How To Style The Velvet Tie Dress with Simplyteee

Shop the Look: Velvet Tie Dress | Tall Turn Up Beanie (Similar) | Zip Back Heeled Bootie (Similar)

Show us how you’d style the Velvet Tie Dress using #AEOSTYLE on Instagram & Twitter for a chance to be featured in our Style Gallery.

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How To Style The Active Flex Bomber Jacket With The Modern Otter

By now, we’re assuming that you’ve noticed our outerwear obsession: the bomber jacket is everywhere & we can’t stop, won’t stop. This season, we’ve taken the bomber jacket for an active spin by constructing the jacket from our signature Flex fabric for increased comfort & flexibility. With traditional ribbing around the collar and cuffs, the AEO Active Flex Bomber Jacket has the look of your favorite bomber and and a feel that’s totally new. Aaron, the menswear blogger behind The Modern Otter, styled our Active Bomber Jacket with casual layers to tone down the loungewear feel and amp up the wear-anywhere, ready-for-whatever vibe. Keep reading to see Aaron’s full look & shop his #AEOSTYLE. Plus, check out Aaron’s past post with us here.

How To Style The Active Flex Bomber Jacket With Blogger The Modern Otter

MEET AARON: “Hi, I’m Aaron. The Modern Otter started from a passion to tell the stories behind fashion. It’s easy to throw up a few photos, but I care about who made it, where the fabric came from, what inspired the design or what trend it embodies. Every piece of clothing tells a story and I think it’s important to know that story. That sounds lofty, I know. But The Modern Otter is really just a place of discovery. A site for us to find cool places and things and talk about them.

A little about me: I currently live in New York City but have lived in California, Arizona and UpState(ish) New York. My background is in theatre and costume design, but I spent 10 years as a merchandising manager for a major retailer. Now I’m blogging and advising full time!”

How To Style The Active Flex Bomber Jacket With Blogger The Modern Otter

WHAT INSPIRED AARON’S LOOK: “What makes a bomber a bomber? Most notably, the ribbed wrists and waist band. That’s why a baseball jacket and a leather jacket can both be ‘bombers’. Those embroidered “signature” jackets you saw all over the place this Summer? Yup. Those are bombers too. For today’s look, I paired AEO’s Active Flex Bomber Jacket with a twill shirt and ribbed turtleneck for some casual Fall layering. I’m obsessed with turtlenecks (in case you couldn’t tell from my Insta), and I took the styling up a notch by wearing it under my twill shirt. This only works if the turtleneck is thin.”

SHOP AARON’S LOOK: Active Flex Bomber Jacket | 360 Extreme Flex Skinny Jean
Turtleneck Sweater | Heathered Twill Shirt

Show us how you style our Active Flex Bomber Jacket with #AEOSTYLE on Twitter and Instagram for a chance to be featured in our Style Gallery. Plus, check out @aeomenswear for more men’s style inspiration.

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