How To Build A Capsule Wardrobe: 7 Pieces for 7 Days
So what is a capsule wardrobe?
Honestly, it's is one of those terms like "sustainability" that doesn't really seem to have a universal definition (at least, as far as I can tell). Depending on the source, it means anything from a set number of pieces in your closet (maybe 33, or 60, or other numbers) to a base wardrobe of timeless, quality pieces that you build around as seasons and years change. Or maybe even something else if you ask someone else.
I'm a huge fan of capsule wardrobes, however it isn't always something I was interested in or even knew how to create. I used to have overflowing closets filled with things I barely touched (guilty) but in my mid-twenties I got my first taste of minimalism when I spent almost two years living/roaming in a 22" RV intermixed with quite a bit of time working and traveling abroad. This definitely taught me to get selective and creative with less (often, a lot less), but even then, I was trying to work with what I had on hand instead of actively creating a wardrobe which easily worked for me.
A few years ago as I moved my life and career into sustainable fashion I started to become more intentional about the wardrobe I was creating, and it was no longer just because I couldn't fit any more items into my suitcase. I became very careful about what I would buy, wanting to make sure it not only fit with my values but it fit into the larger scope of my closet as a whole. I wasn't actually trying to keep my closet minimal or limit myself to a certain number of pieces, but a capsule wardrobe started to form somewhat organically as I learning more about the fashion industry and about myself.
SO, HOW DO YOU BUILD ONE?
There are a lot of ways to go about building a capsule wardrobe so don't worry if not every method is right for you.
Capsule Wardrobe By Number
Minimize by sticking to a specific number of items (total, or within each category like pants, handbags, etc.). Every time something goes into your wardrobe, something else should leave it. There are different methods like the popular Project 333, or you could choose your own number and rules around this.
Capsule Wardrobe By Color Palette
Building a capsule wardrobe in complimentary colors helps ensure you can easily mix and match to make everything in your closet useful and easy. I did a somewhat extreme version of this when I spent a year wearing only black, though you could definitely choose something broader like focusing on earth tones, jewel tones, or a few colors you really like. A smaller color palette doesn't have to be boring - you can definitely still play with textures, prints, and silhouettes.
Capsule Wardrobe By Function
Another way to build a capsule wardrobe is to keep only what you actually use. Set a time limit (perhaps 6 months, or a year) and anything that hasn't been worn during that time should be removed. This narrows your closet down to pieces you know fit you, you know are useful for your lifestyle, and you know go with other items in your wardrobe.
Capsule Wardrobe By Joy
This approach, inspired by Marie Kondo's KonMari method, is about building a wardrobe of only things you love - things that spark joy inside of you. So it doesn't matter if they coordinate, if you actually wear them, or how many pieces you keep as long as they make you happy (and you'll likely find that there are only so many items that actually make you happy).
Capsule Wardrobe By Situation
You might consider building a capsule wardrobe limited to specific times or areas of your life. Maybe you have a capsule work wardrobe, or a capsule travel wardrobe, or a capsule.... maternity wardrobe, where you set certain rules or boundaries for one area of your closet, but the rest of your closet can remain open to your usual methods.
Lately I've been combined several of these ideas while building my maternity capsule wardrobe. I'm trying to keep it limited to as few pieces as possible (though I don't have a set number), I'm focusing on specific colors (mostly neutrals - blacks, browns, greys, whites, and specific pinks, greens, and blues), and trying to choose things that can be functional across multiple situations (so easily dressed up or down, with options I could hopefully continue to wear post-partum).
I'm sharing 7 looks I wear from 7 pieces (plus a few accessories), which I mix-and-match and style in various ways. The pants (tights and jeans) are maternity, but everything else is regular ready-to-wear.
A note on ethics in writing:
I was generously gifted many of the items in this story, however I only work with brands who I genuinely believe in and all opinions are my own. I may sometimes (but not always) use affiliate links in my blog when talking about products or services that I truly suggest, which means that I may get a small commission if you end up buying or trying something through a link I share. This is one of the ways that I continue to fund the stories and programs that Bead & Reel creates and supports.