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!


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