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Understanding a Capsule Wardrobe & How to Wear One

Building a Wardrobe
March 26, 2020
Moving Toward Slow Fashion

Hello there! And welcome to Dressed for My Day. This year we’re slowly working through our 2020 style series, Moving Toward Slow Fashion, as we learn how to build a wardrobe that is more sustainable, but also fashionable and fun to wear. To that end, today I’m going to explain what a capsule wardrobe is and how to wear one.

Understanding a Capsule Wardrobe and How to Wear One

You absolutely do not have to use a capsule wardrobe in order to have a streamlined, sustainable wardrobe. However, when you carefully curate a closet filled with a limited number of pieces that mix and match beautifully, you just may end up with a capsule wardrobe anyhow. And I’ve found that working toward a capsule wardrobe has helped me to accomplish several things this spring:

  • stay within a budget
  • cover all the bases
  • use the pieces I already have in my closet
  • add only the things that mix and match easily
  • resist impulse buys
  • have more fun with my wardrobe
  • create a beautiful wardrobe I enjoy and that reflects my personal style

What a Capsule Wardrobe Is and Is Not

  • A capsule wardrobe is a collection of easy to mix and match pieces.
  • A capsule wardrobe is not any particular number of pieces.
  • A capsule wardrobe is limited to a certain number only by the wearer.
  • A capsule wardrobe is not a particular style of clothing.
  • A capsule wardrobe is a closet of clothing that reflects your personal style.
  • A capsule wardrobe is not meant to frustrate or constrain you needlessly.
  • A capsule wardrobe is a tool to help you have multiple beautiful outfits to wear for your typical days.

The idea of a capsule wardrobe was birthed out of necessity. In large cities and in other countries, women sometimes have very limited space for a wardrobe. So, out of necessity, they have learned to build functional, beautiful wardrobes with fewer pieces.

Today it is considered fashionable to work with a more minimalist wardrobe because it helps conserve space, but it also promotes a more sustainable lifestyle. Obviously, wearing and owning fewer pieces of clothing is more budget friendly, more environmentally conscientious and less focused on possessions.

And let’s reinforce the concept that a capsule wardrobe does not consist of any magic number of pieces. You could have a capsule wardrobe of 12 pieces – if you’re just really creative and/or content with that – or you could have 24, 30, 40 or more! The number is up to you.

Also, a capsule wardrobe does not usually include accessories, shoes, sleepwear or under garments. Instead, a capsule wardrobe usually consists of tops, bottoms, dresses and other one-piece items, jackets and other toppers and maybe outerwear (but not necessarily).

Really, a capsule wardrobe is what you make it. You get to define the parameters so that they work for you.

Would a Capsule Wardrobe Work for You?

Don’t automatically assume that you can or should work with a capsule wardrobe. But if you want to try using a capsule wardrobe in order to plan a beautifully functional wardrobe, stay within a budget and enjoy what you have, then this may be a tool you’ll like.

You may want to use a capsule wardrobe if…

  • you dress consistently in one, two or maybe three different ways throughout your week. But if you need a wide variety of outfits from extremely casual to extremely dressy and all in between, a capsule may not be for you.
  • you want to create a smaller, more sustainable wardrobe.
  • you want to invest in more pieces that you can wear for several years and fewer trendy items.
  • you want it to be very easy to pack a few things from your closet and travel light.
  • you enjoying mixing and matching pieces from your closet.

My Spring Capsule Wardrobe and How I Built It

Let me introduce you to my spring capsule wardrobe. I’ve built my wardrobe for what I call an elevated casual style.

Now, because I’m a style blogger and try to have current clothing that I can recommend to my readers, my wardrobe is heavy on new items. But I also have items in my capsule wardrobe that I’ve owned for half a dozen years or more. Plus, this is my first year of moving toward a more sustainable wardrobe or slow fashion. I’m hoping many more of these items will continue to show up in future capsules.

Here are the parameters I used for building my spring capsule wardrobe:

  • I wanted to create a wardrobe of 30 items. But that’s 30 tops, bottoms, dresses, jackets and cardigans. I didn’t include shoes or other accessories in that number. I also didn’t include workout clothing or sleepwear.
  • I selected items that will mix and match with at least 5 other items within my capsule wardrobe.
  • My wardrobe suits my elevated casual style. Remember, I work from home, so I don’t need much professional clothing.
  • My wardrobe consists of my chosen neutrals – black, white & golden brown – and my selected signature colors – red, pink, green and blue.
Spring Capsule Wardrobe
Links to Everything in Shopping Widget Below – Many items are marked down 40% or more!

I’ve included shoes and handbags, even scarves, in the graphic above. But they’re not included in the 30 items. I just wanted you to see how I’ll be using these accessories, plus others, to pull the outfits together.

Here are a few outfits I’ve put together just so you can see how the capsule wardrobe functions. But of course, I plan to create many, many more in real life.

Dress for Church or Weddings

Spring Capsule Wardrobe - Floral Dress
Blue blazer (40% off!!!) // Floral Dress (40% off!!!)// nude pump // taupe shoulder bag (40% off!!!) // pave mini pendant necklace // pave mini huggie hoops

Elevated Casual with Jeans

Capsule Wardrobe Blazer and Jeans
slim ankle jeans (40% off!!!)// white v-neck tee (50% off!!!) // Blue blazer (40% off!!!) // caramel mules (size up) // handbag no longer available (similar) // scarf (40% off!!!) // silver earrings

Everyday Work from Home

slim ankle jeans (40% off!!!)// blue popover shirt // silver earrings // handbag no longer available (similar) // blue sneakers // link collar necklace // compass pendant necklace

Day Outing with Friends

Capsule Wardrobe shirt and chinos
blue popover shirt // silver earrings // handbag no longer available (similar) // green chinos (40% off!!!) // caramel mules (size up) // link collar necklace // compass pendant necklace

Running Errands

Capsule Wardrobe black tee and chinos
black v-neck tee (50% off!!!) // silver earrings // handbag no longer available (similar) // green chinos (40% off!!!) // sneakers // link collar necklace // compass pendant necklace

Fun Event or Gathering at Church

Capsule Wardrobe white jeans and red blazer
black v-neck tee (50% off!!!) // white ankle jeans (40% off!!!) // red blazer // sneakers // black hobo bag // earrings // scarf (40% off!!!)

Casual Date Night

Capsule Wardrobe white jeans and red blazer and graphic tee
good vibes graphic tee // white ankle jeans (40% off!!!) // red blazer // black hobo bag // earrings sold out – similar option // necklace set // leopard sneakers (similar option)

Shopping and Lunch

Capsule Wardrobe black pants and red blazer
black & white polka dot tee (40% off!!!) // black crop pants (more economical option) // red blazer // black hobo bag // black loafers (40% off!) // link collar necklace // compass pendant necklace // silver earrings

Lunch with Friends

Capsule Wardrobe black pants and pink cardigan
black & white polka dot tee (40% off!!!) // black crop pants (more economical option) // similar pink cardigan (40% off!!!) // link collar necklace // compass pendant necklace // silver earrings // sneakers // hobo bag

Matinee Performance and Lunch

Capsule Wardrobe golden brown chinos
black & white polka dot tee (40% off!!!) // crop patch pocket chinos // black trench jacket // caramel mules // hobo bag // earrings // necklace set

Well there you have it! Obviously I could go on and on and on creating outfits from this capsule wardrobe. The beauty of creating a capsule really is that it forces you to create multiple outfits from a limited number of pieces. But the quantity limit is purely up to you.

I’m providing a shopping widget below with all of the items in my capsule wardrobe plus a few of the accessories. Of course these are affiliate links (as are the ones in the captions above). So if you purchase anything through them I potentially earn a commission, but at no additional cost to you. Thank you so much for supporting my work here by shopping my links.

Please let me know if you have any questions about a capsule wardrobe, the items I’ve shown here or the outfits I’ve put together. Do you use a capsule wardrobe? Do you think you’d like to? I’d love to hear from you today!

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Blessed for My Day

I imagine that you, like me, have people in your life who you are missing right now. You’d long to see them face to face, but instead you’re limited to phone calls, texts or maybe video calling. But maybe it’s true that absence makes the heart grow fonder!

Why not spend this time apart praying for those who you long to see? While our hearts are tender to them, this is a good time to bring them to the Lord and ask Him to work in their lives.

I hope to see you soon, and we will talk face to face. ~ 3 John 1:14

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xoxo, Kay
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20 thoughts on “Understanding a Capsule Wardrobe & How to Wear One

  1. I really enjoyed today’s post. I’ve been thinking about capsule wardrobes for some time, and realize that if I take all the items in my closet that are on “repeat”, I already have one started. So today, that’s what I’m going to do. It’s not like I have much else on the go, other than decide what to cook for supper. Thank you for all the great posts, and for showing up in my Inbox every day.

    1. Great! I’m so glad you liked the post. Yes, when you start pulling your wardrobe together as is you’ll probably discover that you have the makings of a capsule wardrobe. I just find that when I actually view it that way, I’m more prone to make it work for me. Make sense? I’m cooking spaghetti for supper, by the way. 😉

  2. This is full of great information! The best post on creating a capsule wardrobe. I do have a question that I don’t think you’ve talked about here (correct me if I’m wrong) but I would love for you to tell us how you organize your closet for each season. Do you hang or fold your jeans, hang pants separately from blouses/tops. Can you see all of your clothes in one place…making it easier to mix and match your pieces. Things like that. I have a very small closet which to work with and a lot of mine sweaters, tops, etc have to be folded and laid on shelves or in drawers. Outta sight, outta mind for me. Thanks Kay. I learn MORE from you than anyone else!

    1. Hi Sondra. Maybe I’ll get around to taking photos of my closet some day, maybe not. Hahaha! So I’ll go ahead and tell you how I have. It’s a pretty long closet, but doesn’t contain much organization tools like I like. No shelves, etc. And since we’re renting, I’m not willing to invest in it. All that to say, I don’t have anything folded on shelves. Instead, I’ve hung in this order: t-shirts, button-up shirts, a few cotton sweaters (I know that’s not preferable, but I like to be able to see them, as you say), athleisure pants, chinos, jeans. On and I do actually have shorts hung in there, too. Then on the end rack I have jackets and cardigans. And on another rack I have skirts and dresses. I also hang things by color within those types. So my t-shirts are hung all black, then grey, then graphic, then pink and then white. I only have a couple of drawers of clothes besides lingerie and those are workout clothes and bummy t-shirts. So nothing special really, but I do try to keep it organized by type of clothing and it’s all going the same direction with room to breathe…as much as possible.

  3. A capsule wardrobe is perfect for my casual lifestyle. My husband and I live on our motor coach in the winter and our houseboat in the summer, so a few chosen and essential pieces are perfect for me. I found your examples of outfits really helpful. Thank you, Kay!

  4. Love this post! I’ll be referring to it in the future. We travel and hope to again. For conveience, I take pictures of whatever works well together. Makes packing easier.
    Thank you for your faith filled inspiration. Blessings to you!

    1. Great! Thanks for letting me know. Yes, when you travel frequently it really makes it nice to work from a capsule and then create smaller capsules for a trip.

  5. Love your style , I also work from home, actually I’m retired from 30 years working in the school system. When I go and have lunch I like to dress on the casual side but with a little flair, makes me feel good because I’m home all day so usually in sweats or jeans . It does the soul good to get out and feel good about yourself, lol. Thanks for all your fashion tips just love them. Kathy

  6. I start out with a plan but somewhere along the line in Summer, I spot these really cool little tops in pretty colors and flowers and get off track. I don’t have that problem in Winter.
    I usually buy loose silk shirts with texture ot detail that work as jackets for me because it’s just to hot here even now, for a jacket. My favorite is a red nubby shirt with toggle buttons that looks cute over my sleeveless dresses.
    I love your capsule and with just a few tweaks it works for me.

  7. Such a wealth of information: comprehensive. All of the post is my favorite! Thanks for doing this for us!

  8. I am very impressed with how you put this post together and the explanation you included. You answered questions that I’ve had pertaining to a capsule wardrobe. And I really like the outfits you put together. Today the governor announced that all schools in GA will be closed at least until April 26. Thus far the state government has not mandated that everyone shelter in place. Enjoy the unexpected time with your daughter.

  9. Dear Kay,

    Your post today is the most beautiful, concise, inspiring, and thoughtful piece on the capsule wardrobe concept that I’ve ever read. Thank you! There is so much food for thought here. I will be referring to your insights and ideas again and again, and look forward to having more fun with the things in my closet.