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How to a Build a Capsule Wardrobe and Save on Clothes

Posted by MoneyKey on July 24, 2019
a capsule wardrobe

When you’re scrambling in the morning to get ready for work, the last thing you want to do is spend twenty minutes tearing through your closet in search of something to wear. Even if you have the time to browse at your leisure, when your closet is stuffed with clothes, what should be a simple decision can end up causing you more stress than you need. If this sounds like you, you might benefit from creating a capsule wardrobe.

We’re going to talk about what it is, how it can help you, and how to go about building one.

What is a capsule wardrobe?

A capsule wardrobe is a small collection of clothing made up of versatile pieces that can be mixed and matched to make a significant number of outfits you love. The goal is to simplify your choices, cut back on the sheer volume of items you’re holding onto, and still be able to put together outfits that make you feel great.

There’s a good chance that you’ve already put together a capsule wardrobe in the past without even realizing it. If you’ve ever gone on vacation and had to carefully pick out a limited set of clothes for your suitcase, the items you picked were likely chosen for their versatility and ability to work seamlessly with one another. So, you’ve just put together a capsule wardrobe.

What are the benefits of a capsule wardrobe?

One of the main benefits is that you simplify the process of getting dressed. You’ll only have a limited number of items to choose from, and you’ll know that they’re all comfortable and look great on you. Hopefully, your days of sifting through an overstuffed closet thinking that you don’t have anything to wear will be over!


This can be a huge benefit because you may not have to burn through your time and energy every day to pick out an outfit, and no one wants to start their day already exhausted from spending too much time deciding on what clothes to wear. When you narrow your choices, you can save your energy for the things that really matter, like your work and family time.

A capsule wardrobe may also be able to help you save money. When your wardrobe is made up of a limited number of versatile items, you won’t need to go shopping for trendy clothes that you’ll get bored of by season’s end. It might also help you avoid the impulse to run to the mall for a little retail therapy when you’re not having a great day, or buy clothes as a reward for when you are.

Organize your closet

The first thing you need to do before building a capsule wardrobe is to declutter your closet and clear out your clothing. This might take some time, but it’s a necessary step in the process that actually might feel cleansing in the end. Here are the steps to take.

1. Sort through your clothes based on feeling

According to Marie Kondo, an organizing consultant and author, an item’s worth to you should be based on whether it sparks joy in your life. So, go through each item in your closet one at a time, and ask yourself whether that item brings you joy when you wear it. If it does, keep it, and if it doesn’t set it aside to donate.

2. Pick clothing based on what you like to wear in the present

The purpose of your capsule wardrobe is to create a set of clothing that you love and that works for your present-day needs. You’re not trying to create a wardrobe for some vague notion of a life that you want to have someday.

When you’re going through the process of sorting through your clothes, hold on to things that represent you now. While you should continue to strive for your goals, the truth is, goals change and life doesn’t always go according to plan, and there’s nothing wrong with that. With this in mind, build your wardrobe to uplift who you are today.

3. Don’t keep items based on guilt

You’re going to have to let go of some clothes for this process to work, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy. As you go through each item, you might be reminded of all the money you’ve spent on your clothes, and when you’re looking at a shirt that you know was expensive, you may have a harder time letting go of it. You don’t want to admit that it was a mistake to buy it in the first place and that it maybe ended up being a waste of money.

Don't keep clothes for your capsule wardrobe because of guilt

It’s important to recognize that this money is already gone, and trying to cling to the items you’ve spent it on isn’t going to get it back. If you have some pricey items that you want to recoup some value on, you can try selling them through an online consignment store.

4. Find a good use for your old clothes

When you’re done purging your closet, you’ll likely be left with a bunch of items that, while you no longer have need of, other people might get a lot of use out of. If you want to donate these clothes to organizations that provide clothing for people in need, consider donating them to Goodwill or the Salvation Army.

You could also store these clothes in your garage or a storage space until you decide to have a yard sale. Just try not to clutter up your space and end up with a disorganized home!

5. Go through a trial run

Before you make a full commitment to your capsule wardrobe, it’s okay to try it out over an extended period of time. Before donating or selling the clothes that didn’t make the cut, try to wear just the clothes you’ve picked out as part of your new wardrobe for a couple of weeks. After this trial run, see how you feel. Do you like your new wardrobe? Has it made the process of getting dressed easier? Are you missing an item or two and want to head to a thrift store to fill the gaps? If you find that you’ve benefited from having a capsule wardrobe, this is the time to donate or sell the clothes you no longer need.

How to build a capsule wardrobe

Now that you’ve organized your closet, it’s time to start building your wardrobe around the items that you’re left with. Here are some steps to take to organize your capsule wardrobe.

build your capsule wardrobe

1. Pick an item limit

There’s no set number of items you need to stick to, so it’s up to you to pick the number that works for you. If you want a different wardrobe for each season, your number may be a little higher. If you want to keep things as neutral as possible so you don’t have to deviate every season, you may decide on lower number (around 20 items).

Sticking to a limit may help you keep older pieces of clothing from working their way back into your closet and could also help you get rid of items you’re on the fence about.

2. Stick to neutral colors

Try to stick to colors that you know will work well with each other. Neutral colors like black, white, grey, and blue are generally easy to mix and match. Just remember that the key is to create a variety of outfits from a limited number of items.

3. Pick versatile and quality items

When you’re deciding on pieces, pick things that will last over time. You might pay a little more, but cheap, fast fashion can deteriorate quickly, so in the end it’s better to have something that will hold up.

If you need some inspiration for your capsule wardrobe, you can find plenty of ideas on Pinterest. Here is a capsule wardrobe checklist you might want to consider:

  • A few different styles of jeans
  • Button up shirts
  • A few pairs of shorts or a couple of skirts
  • A denim jacket
  • A peacoat
  • A tailored suit or black dress
  • A set of neutral t-shirts

These are just a few things you might want to consider, but it’s up to you to make your own choices and tailor your wardrobe to your style.

4. Shoes and accessories

Having a few carefully picked out pairs of footwear and accessories can go a long way in helping you to diversify your outfits with a small number of items.

keep some accessories for your capsule wardrobe

Consider these items for women:

  • Flats
  • Heels
  • Winter boots
  • Leather sandals
  • Sneakers
  • A few scarves
  • Two handbags

For men:

  • Your shoe choices will depend on your workplace and style, but consider things like dress shoes, sneakers, loafers, sandals, and boots.
  • Gloves
  • A few ties

Build your capsule wardrobe to simplify your outfit choices 

The process of creating your capsule wardrobe is going to take some time, effort, and planning, but in the end, there’s a good chance that your hard work will pay off. You won’t have to worry about an overflowing closet full of things you never wear, and the process of picking your clothes everyday should become a lot simpler. You also may be able to save money on clothes and hopefully genuinely love everything you wear!


Disclaimer: This article provides general information only and does not constitute financial, legal or other professional advice. For full details, see MoneyKey's Terms of Use.

Posted in: Lifestyle

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