“I don’t have anything to wear.” I thought as I stared at my clothes.
Soon after that frustrating moment, I stumbled upon a simple outfit formula that helped me build a capsule wardrobe I actually love and wear.
Today I want to share the process of building a capsule wardrobe with you so you, too ,can create a clothing capsule you feel good wearing and that truly reflects your style.
Let’s get started!
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How to Build a Capsule Wardrobe
Chances are you’ve heard of a capsule wardrobe, but aren’t quite sure what it is. Maybe you wonder how on earth you can create a full wardrobe with just a few clothing items. Or, you’re concerned a capsule wardrobe would be boring.
I’ve been building my own capsule wardrobe and creating personal outfit formulas for several years now and I can assure you, you’ll have plenty of clothes and your wardrobe will be anything but boring. In fact, I’ve never felt more stylish.
What is a Capsule Wardrobe?
A capsule wardrobe is simply a curation of clothing items you can mix and match to maximize each piece. It is usually filled with classic pieces or wardrobe basics with a few trend items added in each season. Considering you’ll be wearing your clothes more often, especially those basic pieces, you’ll want to invest in as high of quality as you can afford. With that said, that doesn’t mean you have to shop at the most expensive stores. You can find high quality clothing at affordable prices from many different retailers.
How Many Pieces Do You Need for a Capsule Wardrobe?
While you may have ready many different suggestions as to how many pieces you should have in a capsule wardrobe, I’m of the opinion that there are no rules. Instead, create a wardrobe that feels complete to you. That might be thirty pieces, forty, more or less.
What Is Get Your Pretty On?
My journey with capsule wardrobes started with Get Your Pretty On. In short, GYPO is an Outfit Formulas program that offers seasonal style challenges. Each challenge comes with a list of clothing items and around thirty different outfit combinations using those items.
I’d heard of Get Your Pretty On from the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle my book was in earlier that year. After trying the free outfit challenge in that bundle, I typed “Get Your Pretty On” in the search bar and signed up for the Summer Outfit Formula.
I shopped my closet as much as possible, then filled in the gaps with new pieces from Target and T.J. Maxx to create my first Summer capsule wardrobe.
This was also the Summer Matt and I drove our daughter from Texas to California. And, I swear to you, part of the fun of that trip was planning, and wearing, outfits from the capsule wardrobe formula.
By the end of the Summer, I felt so much better about my simplified wardrobe, and myself, that I signed up for the Fall Outfit Formulas. I’ve signed up for every capsule wardrobe formula since.
In the process, I’ve learned a few things about curating a capsule wardrobe, no matter the season, that I want to pass on to you.
Capsule Wardrobe for Beginners
The idea of designing a capsule wardrobe from scratch can feel overwhelming. Fortunately, there are plenty of capsule wardrobe checklists to get you started.
- If you’re just beginning to create a capsule wardrobe, I recommend starting with this closet staples casual capsule wardrobe builder. Compare the recommended pieces to what you currently have in your closet and create a checklist of what you need to fill in the gaps.
- If you work in an office or somewhere out of the home, these work wear closet staples are a great place to start.
- Or if your days are spent at home with kids, this stay at home mom wardrobe basics builder was created for your stage of life.
A Quick Capsule Wardrobe Guide
If it’s not a heck yes, it’s a no. This tip is straight from Get Your Pretty On, and after some trial and error, I’ve proved her right.
Your time, money and self-esteem are too valuable to spend on a quick fix. This tip also applies to clothes you already own that you don’t wear or that don’t fit. Do yourself a favor and donate them. You deserve to feel pretty in your clothes.
Take your time. There is a movement in fashion called slow fashion. This simply means being more intentional about buying quality items less often. It also means waiting to find the heck yes piece instead of just buying something to a piece off your capsule wardrobe checklist.
It’s worth taking your time to find pieces that will last a long time as well as meet all your requirements.
Know what you like and don’t like – You’ll discover your preferences over time. Over the past few years, I’ve realized I am very picky about how fabric feels on my skin and have figured out which fabrics to avoid.
I know v-necks and halter necklines are the most flattering for me, so other necklines are out. I’ve also discovered I prefer a 5” inseam for shorts, and that I’m most comfortable wearing a high rise waist.
Knowing what you like and don’t like will save you time, money and stress as you curate your capsule wardrobe.
Curate a color palette – I like to wear black and I cannot lie. I used to feel embarrassed by that, now I embrace it. But, I’ve also learned which colors I both enjoy wearing and that best compliment my skin tone and coloring. There are a lot of resources online to help you determine your color palette. You might try this color analysis master class.
What should be in a capsule wardrobe. I think the concept of a capsule wardrobe conjures up ideas of minimalism, but you don’t have to subscribe to the minimalist wardrobe concept to enjoy a capsule wardrobe. You get to decide how many tops and bottoms are in your capsule wardrobe. And, you don’t need to count shoes, scarves, belts or jewelry if you’re trying to stick to a certain number of pieces. .
Regardless of how many pieces you include, every capsule wardrobe formula begins with basic staples and builds from there.
Get to know your favorite brands – Over time, you’ll find what brands fit and flatter you best. You’ll also learn what is quality and what isn’t, which, by the way, is not dependent on brand names nor price.
My favorite t-shirt brand is one from T.J. Maxx with the A New Day line from Target being a close second.
Another note about brands. You might find that creating a capsule wardrobe leads to supporting brands that align with your personal values, whether that’s ethically sourced, vegan, eco-friendly, all sizes inclusive, or something else.
Be resourceful – First and foremost, shop your own closet. If you’re following an Outfit Formula, step out of the box and substitute with what you have, or skip it altogether.
Also, feel free to create your own outfit formulas. For example, I decided to wear dressier blouses with denim shorts and more fitted tops with flowy bottoms. So those formulas would be:
- dressy blouse + denim shorts
- fitted top + flowy/loose bottoms
- loose top + fitted bottoms
I use that last formula for everyday wear since that’s what I feel most comfortable wearing. It’s also best for my body shape.
Where to Get Items for Your Capsule Wardrobe
If you do need to shop, try resale stores. I always check Thredup. Others love Poshmark. I’ve also found affordable clothing at discount sites and stores like Jane.com, and of course Target, Marshall’s and TJ Maxx. I typically get seasonal trend pieces at these stores. If I’m buying a basic staple piece at any of these stores, I look for quality fabrics and workmanship as well as a good fit. I want my staples to last a long time.
I also recommend using a tailor to alter pieces you love but are maybe too long in the legs or sleeves. As a petite person, I have to do this a lot.
Capsule Wardrobe Ideas
I get tips a lot of tricks and inspiration for styling my wardrobe from:
- Audrey Coyne – You’ll enjoy watching Audrey if you like basic wardrobe staples, and classic style with a little bit of prep. She also shares great tips for caring for your clothes, finding expensive brand names secondhand and exploring your color palette.
- Alyssa Beltempo – Alyssa also has a very classic style, but with a bit of an edge. She shares sustainable, slow fashion philosophy and resources. I love her one piece multiple ways videos.
- Frederique Bros – Frederique is originally from France and currently lives in Australia. She shares fashion tips with a French twist.
- Lindsay Albanese – Lindsay shares all the styling secrets from her former job as a celebrity stylist. She’s fun, energetic and has a more youthful personal style.
- and of course, Get Your Pretty On – As the creator of Outfit Formulas, Alison is the queen of mix and match style created from a core of basic pieces with a few seasonal trends thrown in, no matter your size, age or budget. Really.
Benefits of a Capsule Wardrobe
After gathering inspiration and finding my way through these tips over the past few years, I no longer have clothes that don’t fit, or that I don’t love which really simplifies my mornings.
I have so much fun using capsule wardrobe formulas as inspiration to mix, match and style my clothes in ways that fully express who I am on the inside.
The most surprising benefit of creating a capsule wardrobe is how this simple form of self-expression has boosted my self-confidence. I would love for you to join me on that journey.
For more help organizing your closet read:
and for general household organization, check out my book, Home on Purpose: Mindful Living in a Hectic World