The art of how to build a capsule wardrobe is something every well-dressed woman should know.
Why is that? Well, how’d you like to look stylish and chic every single day — without hours getting ready or breaking the bank on a ton of new clothes?
If you struggle with putting outfits together or looking put together without frustration, I’ve got a solution for you — transform your closet and create an interchangeable capsule wardrobe.
What is a Capsule Wardrobe?
The capsule wardrobe is a term coined by Susie Faux, the owner of a London boutique called “Wardrobe” in the 1970s. According to Faux, a capsule wardrobe is a collection of a few essential items of clothing that don’t go out of fashion, such as skirts, trousers, and coats, which can then be augmented with seasonal pieces.
A capsule wardrobe is a small well thought out collection of clothes, carefully curated to fit one’s style, lifestyle, and seamlessly interchange with each other for versatility.
The perfect capsule wardrobe is interchangeable, stylish, and all your own. It displays your personal style, defined and refined, to establish one’s signature aesthetic. It doesn’t rely on fashion or trends, but instead on classic and timeless elements that will grow and evolve with a woman throughout her lifetime. It will take time, effort, patience, and commitment, and you’ll wonder why you hadn’t created one sooner.
I can’t recall exactly where I stumbled across the idea of creating a capsule wardrobe (perhaps randomly on YouTube). But where I really discovered step by step exactly how to build a capsule wardrobe was in the book The Curated Closet by Anuschka Rees.
In The Curated Closet, Anuschka Rees presents a fascinatingly strategic approach to identifying, refining, and expressing personal style and building the ideal wardrobe to match it, with style and shopping strategies that women can use every day.
Why you need a Capsule Wardrobe?
A closet full of clothes, and yet, absolutely nothing to wear is a problem that every girl struggles with. If you were to randomly grab an item from your closet right now, how likely is it that it would be something you love and wear regularly?
When you take the time, however, to learn how to build a capsule wardrobe that suits your lifestyle, being a well-dressed woman will become easier than ever.
The trick, of course, is picking the right pieces in the first place. This guide will help you lay the foundation for building your classic wardrobe.
How To Create A Capsule Wardrobe From Scratch
Want to learn how to build a capsule wardrobe of your own? In this guide, I’m going to walk you through a step by step formula to help you build the perfect capsule wardrobe from scratch — so that you look incredible every single day, effortlessly.
1. Start With Why
When was the last time you gave some serious thought about your wardrobe? Have you ever?
Creating a capsule wardrobe will require some reflection. Why is it that you want to improve your wardrobe, to begin with? Why do you want to create a capsule wardrobe?
Maybe you’re entering a new phase of life or career and want to reflect the sophisticated woman that you are. Perhaps you’re dating, and wish to dress in a way that makes you feel more fabulous, flirty, and feminine. Or maybe you’d just like an easier time getting ready each day and wouldn’t mind to look more polished and put together.
Whatever the reason, it’s important to reflect and get a good understanding of exactly what you’d ultimately like to accomplish with your capsule wardrobe.
2. Get Inspired
Think of yourself as Picasso. The goal of creating a capsule wardrobe is to create an absolute masterpiece. And just as every great artist, before we embark upon our masterpiece creation, we need to begin with a bit of inspiration.
Perhaps you fancy a classic style icon like Audrey Hepburn or the modern stylings of Victoria Beckham. Inspiration may come from anywhere and everywhere. Gather images from far and wide. Dedicate a few hours to sit down, search, and collect (or use Pinterest to pin) images that inspire you.
It’s a good idea to have various categorized boards. For example, have a “real-life style board” and a “fantasy-style inspiration board”. In your fantasy board, pin things that absolutely give you life, but would not serve practically whatsoever for your lifestyle. In the real-life board, pin inspiration and ideas that you could, and would love to wear in real life.
Here are some ideas of where to get great style inspiration for your capsule wardrobe:
- Fashion Magazines: Elle, Glamour, Vogue, Instyle, Essence (Italian, French, and Japanese styles tend to be ahead of American style in terms of innovation. Consider expanding the boarders on where you get your style inspiration.)
- Fashion Bloggers: Style Pantry, Memorandum
- Celebrities: Meghan Markle, Gabrielle Union, Kerry Washington, Amal Clooney.
- Movies and TV Shows: Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Clueless
- People watching: I especially recommend this if you live in, or travel to a city known for fashion like London, New York, or Paris.
Take special note of patterns you pin frequently, colors, materials, cuts, fits, and silhouettes that you really love. Make mental notes of the overall aesthetic, feeling, and mood of your choosings.
3. Get Functional
Getting functional is imperative to building fixing that ever-pervasive “I have nothing to wear” conundrum. Because what’s the point of having a closet full of beautifully tailored suits because you love how they look if you’re not the Duchess of Sussex? You’re never going to wear them!
In this step, we get real and tailor a wardrobe that fits your actual life, and not your fantasy one.
Start getting functional by listing all of your monthly, weekly, and daily activities. Group together activities where you may wear the same kinds of outfits. Then acknowledge groups based on their under or over-representation in your current wardrobe. These are the categories you’ll pay extra attention to.
4. Creating a Color Palette
Understanding color and formulating a solid personal color palette for each season is integral to a cohesive capsule wardrobe. Firstly having colors that go together will make it simple to match and put together outfits.
Additionally color is a great way to enhance your beauty by complementing your hair, eyes, and skin tone.
5. Putting it All Together
This is where you turn vague ideas into concrete pieces and outfits.
Consider the following. What are the biggest gaps in your wardrobe? From creating your ultimate formulas, what are the care absolute must-have that you simply do not have? Are there some underrepresented in your wardrobe? For example, some missing key pieces, basics, and statement items needed to complete your looks.
But before you head out shopping you need to create a solid list of the items you need to purchase.
For example, I want to wear flowy skirts and cami in the sprint, but I only own one decent cami.
Instead of just listing cami, I should be more specific based on what I want to look like, exactly what these pieces should look like. For example, I would like a White Silk Cami, with lace Detail. Super functional, comfy, feminine, and goes very well with this and other outfit formulas i’ve come up with.
Capsule Wardrobe Outfit Formulas
Author Anuschka Rees defines an outfit formula as a recipe for a specific combination of pieces that you can wear in lots of different variations. Certain outfit formulas that you love to wear, you can even make your personal uniform.. Further simplifying looking fabulous, everyday, effortlessly.
Some of the biggest style icons of our time wear a version of their uniform all the time. Take Vogue editor Anna Wintour. Her uniform for well over a decade has been mostly unchanged… a beautiful well structured, tailored dress nipped at the waist, with lots of color and bold pattern. Her signature statement pieces: her Sleek bob haircut and oversized shades.
- What outfit formula combinations do you find yourself most drawn to?
- What do you currently really like to wear?
- What would you like to wear more of?
- What are you seeing over and over, in your style inspirations?
How many clothes should be in a capsule wardrobe?
How many clothes that should be in your capsule wardrobe really depends on both the type of capsule you are building and your lifestyle. A good baseline for the number of items that should be in capsule wardrobe in 10 items.
A ten-item wardrobe is a suitable number to be able to create several outfits with minimal pieces of clothing.
The items hat should be in a capsule wardrobe depends on what kind of capsule wardrobe you are building and your individual lifestyle. Building the perfect capsule wardrobe is about funtionality more than anything. What may suit one woman’s lifestyle who is very socially active, for example, will not at all suit the lifestyle of a stay at home mom.
Creating Seasonal Capsule Wardrobes
Creating seasonal capsule wardrobes, for example, a summer capsule wardrobe or Fall capsule wardrobe is an easy and functional way of creating a wardrobe that suits your lifestyle.
Creating a Spring/Summer Capsule Wardrobe
A Spring Capsule Wardrobe or a Summer Capsule Wardrobe is a great way to add some fun color, flirty fabrics, and pretty prints to your everyday wear. Here are a few examples of some classic outfit formulas you can use to create a Spring/Summer Capsule Wardrobe.
- Skirt + Cami + Strappy Sandals
- Pant + Top + Loafers
- Flowy Dress + Strappy Sandals
Creating a Winter/Fall Capsule Wardrobe
Creating a Winter Capsule Wardrobe or a Fall Capsule Wardrobe is a perfect excuse to pull out those knew high boots and rich fabrics like leathers and suedes. Here are a few examples of some classic outfit formulas you can use to create the perfect Winter/Fall Capsule Wardrobe.
- Jeans + shirt + sweater + boots
- High waisted black jeans, black turtleneck sweater + Black Leather Chelsea boots
Enjoyed this article on how to build a capsule wardrobe? If so, I think you’ll really enjoy the online course I’ve created named The Capsule Wardrobe Formula.
Capsule Wardrobe Formula is an interactive online training program that guides you through learning the art of curating your appearance, uncovering your true style, and finally nailing your second skin (your wardrobe).
The absolute worst thing is when you’re getting ready to go out, you have to scavenge through your closet, trying your best to piece things together but nothing quite goes.
This should no longer be a problem, with a perfectly curated capsule wardrobe. With your new capsule wardrobe realized or conceptualized, I promise getting ready now will be so much fun!
Time to turn up some fun music and put together outfits in front of your full-sized mirror. You could even take photos to add them to a folder on your phone to use as a reference when trying to figure out what to wear.
Et, voila! You’ve got your wardrobe set, your outfits put together.. Girlfriend your good to go, and looking better than ever!