What is a Capsule Wardrobe and How to Start One

what is a capsule wardrobe and how to start one, easy! simple on purpose

Fashion has always been something that is difficult for me. Maybe because my style foundations were built with thrift store bag sales and leaning on my awkward personality rather than Silverstone looks to get me through life. In my mid-twenties I started to give myself permission to get crazy, wear nail polish, accessorize, dress how I wanted to express myself.

I took things a wee bit too far. (Let’s all pretend we are surprised and I will continue)…. Yes, a little too far. I just bought it all! Nothing amazing though, just cheap, quick and one in every colour. I was scrambling to find my look and couldn’t turn down a sale rack.

As I have left the ‘working force of Canada’ and joined the stay at home motherhood I felt I was finally able to pay attention to dressing true to myself rather than what my job required. I’m learning what items I love, what items are worth the investment and what items aren’t. I’m also learning, as with most things in my home and life, that less is definitely more.

So after a couple challenges of the 30for30 (wearing 30 items for 30 days) I feel ready to jump into a CAPSULE WARDROBE.

What is a capsule wardrobe? In a nutshell it is having fewer clothes that are well-made, versatile and fit you well.

Here are some other characteristics:

It goes by other names: minimalist wardrobe. timeless wardrobe. simple wardrobe. project333

It is usually seasonal.  There are no wool sweaters canoodling with capris. Seasonal clothes are packed up, taking up less space and less of your mental energies omitting them from your option pile. Project333 for instance is wearing 33 items for 3 months.

It has lots of neutral pieces. Sticking with a neutral colour palette allows you to wear them longer rather than putting it aside because the cobalt blue didn’t make the Pantone’s spring colour list.

It is versatile. Having a neutral palette with another bright colour or two allows you to mix and match most tops and bottoms. Here is a really cute post on mix and matching.

It is quality over quantity. This doesn’t mean it has to be expensive, anyone with any budget can have a capsule wardrobe. The quality part is more about avoiding the trendy lure to buy something quick and easy just to fill your closet.

It is planned out. Shopping for new items is done by sticking to a plan of buying just what you feel you are ‘missing’. Some go as far as making a plan for a year and buying that one preplanned special item each month.

It doesn’t include sports clothes, lounging clothes, clothes you wear for three months straight when you have a newborn spitting up on you every two hours.

It isn’t boring. If you’ve done a 30for30 challenge then you know how many looks you can get with 30 items. However, it is also a very western culture-ism to frown upon wearing repeat outfits. But I think repeats are good! They take the brain work (and the floordrobe) out of the morning grind to getting dressed.

It is unique to each person. There are tons of PINS on formulas, items, and lookbooks. If you see something you like, go with it, otherwise, make it what you want and not what you think you ‘ought’ to do. The whole idea is that it is freeing to you to have less of what you don’t love and wear.

It is usually 30-40 items. Some people talk about a ten item wardrobe and some are able to dwindle from 300 to 100 items with their wardrobe doors struggling to stay closed. Where ever you start, whatever works for your life, that is a capsule wardrobe.

It is a layerable wardrobe. I love jeans and a white tee straight up, but I can’t have a whole closet of them Smurfette style. The capsule wardrobe has different types of items; blouses, tanks, cardigans, vests, kimonos, blazers, etc. to give each outfit a more rounded look with layers and be more versatile in putting looks together


1. Pour wine, put on some music

2. Wear a tank and leggings, have some different shoes on hand

3. Take everything out of your closet

4. Try on everything and really evaluate the fit on your body (best bet is having an honest girlfriend over to do this with you, second best is sending her selfies)

5. Only keep what you love, what fits you, what is practical for your life and what you feel comfortable in. Don’t think about the price tag, the sentimental value, or trends you may not really be in to (here’s some more tips on choosing clothes that are right for you).

When it comes to getting rid of the clothes that don’t make the cut, some people need to box them up in the basement and slowly forget they ever took up valuable real estate in their closet before they let them leave their possession. Some people (me) need to pass them on right away or I will linger downstairs and start taking things out of the box….just to say hey….and oh, you can come back to the closet….I bet it’s lonely in the basement….

A capsule wardrobe is a work in progress, like everything else. There is no wrong way to do it, no timeline, no rules. Just what you love wearing.

closet purging simple on purpose

capsule wardrobe, minimalist wardrobe, simple on purpose

The picture on the left was my closet in October 2014. The right is my closet in March 2015 (31 items).

This doesn’t include my sports clothes (it’s okay to laugh that I’m using the plural form there), my PJs, or my collection of ‘loungewear’ [code: the clothes I wear around the house and to yell at my kids on the street. Neighbours be like ‘get that mama on a makeover show!’ But I’ve got my lipstick on which really screams ‘classy yet comfy and a little let-herself-go-ey’]

Buuuut I do leave my house sometimes and I rely on my newly forming ‘capsule wardrobe’. I’ve just started and already feel like getting dressed is way easier and more enjoyable. I’m not hampered with the physical and emotional presences of clothes I don’t enjoy wearing.

Would you ever have a capsule wardrobe? If not, what makes you hesitant?

Don’t forget to check out my girl Sarah from Sarah on Purpose, she is also rocking a simpler closet too.




10 thoughts on “What is a Capsule Wardrobe and How to Start One”

  1. I would like to try some version of this I think, but at the same time, I’m terrified that I’ll get rid of that one thing that I’ll miss or I’ll get rid of my fat clothes and then put on the weight again.
    I both love and hate getting rid of things….


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