What is a capsule wardrobe?
A capsule wardrobe is a limited wardrobe made up of tops, bottoms, dresses, outerwear and shoes that is worn for a three-month season- spring, summer, fall and winter. During the season, the idea is to wear only those clothes and not shop for new clothing.
Capsule wardrobes do not include: activewear for working out, sleep clothing, underwear, jewelry, accessories, swimwear, lounge clothing, or special event clothing like a dress you would wear to a black-tie wedding.
The number of items in your capsule generally ranges from 17-37. I know, a big range. I strongly believe that this number should be flexible to some extent so that you can choose what is best for you. For example, if you have a formal work environment and like to wear jeans on the weekend, you might have a higher number so you have enough options for both settings.
Why I decided to do a capsule wardrobe:
I first learned about capsule wardrobes a few years ago and was really intrigued by the idea. It seemed like a great way to simplify my closet, buy less and get more creative. But I never got around to it until now. Now that I am really committed to sustainable fashion and just owning less stuff, this was the perfect time for me to finally try out a capsule wardrobe. Especially since many of my clothes are not yet sustainable or ethical but I don’t just want to throw them all away, a capsule wardrobe ensures that I can get great wear from what I already own. There were three main reasons why I decided to finally try a capsule wardrobe a year after learning about it.
01. Shop Less & More Intentionally: As I have transitioned to a more sustainable and intentional lifestyle, this translates directly to my purchasing habits and wardrobe. I want to support brands that use sustainable fabrics and production methods, and provide safe and ethical working conditions. But to be honest, this can be hard even for the most well-intentioned. Many of the brands I have come across have higher prices in order to support their sustainable and ethical supply chains. So my solution is to buy more and make sure the my purchases are meaningful and
02. Simplify: I have enough clothes that most days I stare into my closet and end up pulling out the same thing I wear time and time again. In fact, there were weeks that I wore the same outfit a few days in a row. Yup- not afraid to admit it. It was like the abundance actually paralyzed me and I went for the simplest and easiest choice instead.
03. Get Creative: Simplifying my wardrobe also means that I can get more creative with my outfits and how I wear my clothes in order to switch things up during the three months.
How do you create a capsule wardrobe?
My planning process: I used Caroline from Unfancy’s Free Capsule Planner to guide me during this process and it was hugely helpful. Her blog is filled with great tips and inspiration from her capsules in the past as well.
Step 1: Brainstorm the items from your closet that you love (and why) and the items that you rarely wear (and why), write down words that describe your style, list the main activities you’ll be doing during this season (i.e. work, casual, working out, special events) and any special events that are planned (i.e. weddings, reunions, birthdays)
Step 2: Determine the average temperatures and weather during this season. This was the hardest part for me since there is such a huge difference in NYC weather between early April and the end of June.
Step 3: Look at your closet and start pulling out items that you think you would like to wear OR pull everything out and start adding things back in.
Step 4: Edit! If you have too many or not enough items, you’ll need to edit by pulling more out or adding to make sure you have a full profile. I made sure to have layering items for when the weather is colder in April as well as some warmer weather items for June like dresses, shorts and t shirts.
Step 5: Remove and store the items that won’t be included in your capsule.
I pulled items one by one from my closet and drawers that I thought I might want to wear during these three months and laid them all out on my bed (see above). I didn’t edit at the beginning at all. Instead, I started trying on some clothes that I wasn’t sure about and there were a few items I decided to donate since they showed signs of wear. Then I started removing items that felt too summery or too fall-y (?) since I’d rather save those items for my summer and fall capsules.
What’s in my capsule wardrobe?
I am lucky that my job does not require formal dress so I can wear the same clothes to work that I would wear on the weekend. This made things a lot easier and way more fun 🙂 I ended up choosing 26 items that are broken down by category below.
- Boyfriend Jeans, Skinny White Jeans, Skinny Dark Jeans, Green Chinos, Cropped Cigarette Pant, Corduroy Shorts, Black Track Pants
- Peplum Tank, Gingham Button Up, Chambray Button Up, Pleated Back Blouse, White Boxy Tank, Short Sleeve Button Up, White Tee, Black Tee, Graphic Tee x 2, Striped Long Sleeve Tee
- Bomber Jacket, Leather Jacket, Denim Jacket, Brown Trench Coat
- Knitted Sweater, Black Pullover Sweatshirt, Grandfather Cardigan, Knitted Pullover
NOTE: I ultimately decided not to include shoes or outerwear this time since it was too hard to choose just a few items that would be comfortable and appropriate for the entire three months. This might change for my summer capsule and I may end up having fewer items because the weather is more static.
Below are some items that are similar to some of the things I included in my capsule!
What did I do with the rest of my clothes?
I have two plastic containers under my bed where I store off-season clothes. I folded big sweaters, thick socks, heavy scarves, dark pants and any super warm-weather clothing using the Konmari method (using this folding method makes it easier to see what you have and you can fit more) and stored them in plastic containers like these. I pushed some other clothes that didn’t fit in these containers to the side in my closet, although I would ideally have them “out of sight, out of mind”.
What do I think so far?
So far I am loving my capsule wardrobe! I’m only a few days in but so far so good. I don’t have to think too much about what to wear and I’m wearing pieces in ways that I wouldn’t have before. I used to spend a few minutes staring at my clothes only to choose the same pair of my favorite jeans and a t shirt styled in the exact same way. Now I don’t feel guilty for choosing these staples because they are already included in my capsule wardrobe! And I can get a little more creative with them.
I’m also really glad that I chose not to include outerwear and shoes in this first capsule. The weather is just too unpredictable in NYC right now for me to justify including an item in the capsule that I’ll only wear a handful of times in the next three months. Last weekend I wore my puffy winter coat one day and the next day I was walking around in a t-shirt! And today it’s pouring out. If you live in a more temperate climate like San Francisco or L.A., you might be able to include these items and wear them a lot. Go with what feels right to you!
I’m going to wait until the end of the season to give you a full recap but if I love the capsule wardrobe idea then I will definitely do it again for the summer.
I hope to share other posts showing you the actual clothes I chose from my closet and more outfit posts. Let me know if you have any questions in the comments!
Have you tried a capsule wardrobe before? What did you think? Do want to try one?