So you want to learn how to create a capsule wardrobe. Whether you want to build a capsule wardrobe for work or looking for a minimalist wardrobe guide, this post is for you! It includes a capsule wardrobe checklist to help you get started so you can build a capsule wardrobe from scratch.
Just a few years ago, I used to be a shopaholic and would search high and low for investments pieces to add to my closet. Fashion was important to me. It was a form of self-expression.
I even applied to a fashion communications program at college, because my dream was to work for a Fashion Magazine.
Looking back, I am SO glad I didn’t go to school for fashion and pursued a major in Psychology instead. My love of fashion ruined my finances. I wasted time filling my closet with expensive shoes and handbags. And to be honest, this never made me happy.
I used to tell myself, “I’ll be content when I finally buy that [insert fashion piece I wanted]”.
But once I bought it, I was only temporarily happy. Soon my initial happiness would fade, and I would be lusting after the next shoe or the next dress or the next handbag I wanted. It was all about the chase and the thrill of finding the next piece to add to my closet.
My shopping addiction was getting out of control. There were items in my closet with the tags still attached and unworn. There were items bought on impulse because the sale was “too good to pass up”. There were items I bought just because I thought they were necessary staples, such as a beige trench coat.
The funny things is, I hated the way trench coats looked on me. Every time I wore it, I felt like I was looking at Inspector Gadget in the mirror. (Click here to see what I’m talking about).
Everything changed though when I quit my job to attend Business School. I had two choices:
- I could either continue my shopping addiction and wind up in loads of debt. Not good.
- Or I could work on overcoming my addiction, and finally improve my finances. Good choice!
Needless to say, I chose the latter. And yes, it was worth all the hard work and effort!
The first step in my journey to overcoming my shopping addiction was to admit I had an addiction and wanted to change. The second step was to do the No New Clothing Challenge. (Click the link to read about my experience doing the challenge).
I couldn’t believe how much simpler my life became when doing the no new clothing challenge. I had so much extra time available because I wasn’t shopping. I no longer felt overwhelmed when I opened my closet. And I no longer placed my happiness in material things. This was a HUGE win for me!
After completing the challenge, the third step to overcoming my shopping addiction was to build a capsule wardrobe. Creating a capsule wardrobe was one of the best decisions I’ve made. Getting dressed has become so easy now! Here are a few of the life-changing benefits of building a capsule wardrobe:
I no longer waste time trying on several outfits in the morning figuring out what to wear. I no longer waste time browsing the mall or shopping online because I’m bored and think I need something new. Now I spend my time on things that actually matter to me and make me happy.
It makes me sick to think about how much money I invested into my wardrobe. How much money I wasted on items I rarely wore. Now I have more money to save and spend on my life priorities, such as travel, growing my business, and saving for early retirement.
Less decision fatigue.
It’s estimated the average adult makes about 35,000 decisions each day. Being able to simplify and streamline decisions like “what to wear” can reduce decision fatigue.
Every morning when I opened my closet, I was reminded of my poor purchase decisions. Clothes with the price tag still attached. Clothes that didn’t fit. Clothes I didn’t love. Now, I have a wardrobe which makes me feel good and those guilty feelings disappeared.
- How to wear everything in your wardrobe
- I bought no new clothing for a year. This is what I learned.
- How to declutter your closet: Step-by-step guide
What is a capsule wardrobe?
A capsule wardrobe is a collection of essential items which are timeless and can easily be supplemented with seasonal pieces.
A capsule wardrobe is free from clutter, it represents your lifestyle, saves you money, and can help simplify your life. There are really no rules when it comes to building a capsule wardrobe.
To get started, you can download my Capsule Wardrobe Checklist here. It’s available for purchase in my Wardrobe Bundle or you can create your own worksheet.
NOTE: You don’t want to include sleepwear, underwear, or workout clothes in your capsule wardrobe. The only time I recommend including workout clothes in your capsule wardrobe is if you have an active lifestyle and wear athletic clothes often (such as yoga pants to run errands and so on).
Step 1: Declutter
The first step is to declutter your wardrobe. Eliminating the clutter from your closet first will make building your capsule wardrobe easier. You don’t want to skip this step!
You can use my Wardrobe Declutter Challenge worksheet to help you do this or create your own worksheet.
If you need some motivation, you can follow my step-by-step guide here on how to declutter your wardrobe.
PRO TIP: If you’re not sure about an item, don’t worry. For now, just put it to the side in a “maybe” pile. You can revisit these items later. Building a capsule wardrobe is easier when you’ve already decluttered your closet.
Step 2: Establish your go-to outfit categories
Now, you’ll want to select 3 outfit categories which most accurately represent your lifestyle. Here are the six main outfit categories you can choose from:
- Work (Office, Meetings)
- Dressy (Formal, Events)
- Active (Sports, Fitness)
- Social (Dates, Restaurants)
- Casual (Errands, School)
- Lounge (Pajamas, Comfy)
For example, I work from home, so I like to wear casual and comfy clothes. I also enjoying hiking and working out. This means I would check off “Casual”, “Active”, and “Lounge” on my checklist.
NOTE: This doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy dressing up and going out to restaurants or events. I still enjoying doing all those activities. However, because I don’t engage in them often, these are NOT included in my capsule wardrobe.
Think of your capsule wardrobe as a place where you can easily find items to wear on a daily basis. A place where getting dressed every morning is simple because you LOVE everything you own. Everything fits you well and you feel good about your clothing. This is what building your capsule wardrobe is all about.
Step 3: Build your capsule wardrobe
After you’ve selected the 3 outfit categories which best represent your lifestyle, it’s time to build your capsule wardrobe! Here you’ll get to choose 35 different items which you can easily mix and match.
Your capsule wardrobe should consist of items you love wearing and items that are useful in each of the outfit categories you’ve selected. How many clothes should be in a capsule wardrobe is up to you, but I recommend 35 items for beginners.
You may find some items will overlap and fit into multiple categories. This is normal. I recommend writing down the category next to each item to keep everything organized.
For example, in the summer I like wearing my sneakers to the gym and to run errands during the day. Under the Shoes Category column, I would write “A, C” next to my sneakers. (“A” for Active and “C” for Casual).
PRO TIP: If you’re not sure about an item, don’t worry. For now, just put it to the side. You don’t want these “maybe” items to hold you back from creating your capsule wardrobe.
Step 4: Organize your capsule wardrobe
Your capsule wardrobe should be within easy reach. Display your capsule wardrobe by hanging up items in your closet or folding everything nicely in your dresser. I like to use matching hangers to keep everything nicely organized.
If an item (from one of the 3 clothing categories you chose) didn’t make the cut for your capsule wardrobe, this doesn’t necessarily mean you should get rid of it right away.
Instead, I recommend storing it in a box (away from your capsule wardrobe) and hiding it for a little while. Give it about 3 months or so and see if you can live without these clothing items or accessories.
If you don’t wear any items from this box after 3 months, then you may want to consider getting rid of these pieces. Why keep items in your closet if they’re not being used? If they aren’t improving your life, get rid of them. Otherwise they take up space and create mental clutter too.
For example, one of my capsule wardrobe categories is “Casual”. I have a pair of jeans which falls under “Casual” items, however I rarely wear them. I would NOT include this item in my capsule wardrobe because they are not one of my go-to items. Instead, I would put these jeans to the side and if I don’t wear them in the next few months, I’ll consider getting rid of them.
Create a section on your worksheet for notes where you can write down items which didn’t make the cut for your capsule wardrobe. For example, I would write down the pair of jeans I rarely wear. This would remind me to either wear the jeans or consider getting rid of them.
NOTE: Depending on where you live, you may need to create 2 capsule wardrobes. One for summer and one for winter. For example, I love wearing sweaters, leggings, and boots in the winter months. However, these items are not appropriate for the hot and humid summer weather.
And there you have it!
By following these four steps, you can build your own capsule wardrobe. It’s time to relax and enjoy it!
If this is your first time building a capsule wardrobe, try to avoid buying new things. Your goal should be to create a capsule wardrobe using items you already have. This isn’t an excuse to go shopping. Give yourself time and be flexible.
Remember to have fun when building your capsule wardrobe. There are no rules. If you feel that 35 items are too restrictive for your lifestyle, make it 40 items! If you feel that you can live with less than 35 items, then make it 30 or 25 items. This is YOUR capsule wardrobe. You get to set the rules.
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I know what it’s like to…
- Feel like you’re always buying new clothes but have nothing to wear.
- Have 50+ tabs open on your browser in search of that next item to buy.
- Get excited about a new purchase, but it ends up sitting in your closet unworn with the price tags still attached.
And I also know what it’s like to…
- Stop the mindless cycle of buy-buy-buy.
- Build a wardrobe that reflects your lifestyle and makes you happy.
- Wake up in the morning feeling excited to get dressed.
- Resist the temptation to make another impulse purchase.
- Live a life free from credit card debt.
It’s all possible with Freedom From Shopping!
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