How To Create A Versatile Capsule Wardrobe

You may have heard the term “capsule wardrobe” floating around recently. While the title sounds new and intriguing, “capsule wardrobes” have been around since the beginning of civilization. It’s actually a modern phenomenon to  buy wardrobe items in excess. Even back in medieval times and dating back to our caveman days (loin clothes, anyone?) having a small, thoughtful wardrobe was the norm for most people. It has only been in the last 40 years that our wardrobes have expanded beyond necessity.

Minimalists and fashion mavens aren’t the only ones embracing the “capsule wardrobe.” Leaders like Mark Zuckerburg and Steve Jobs have been known for their “uniforms” long before it was trendy. They are associated with wearing virtually the same outfit everyday. While that is the extreme version of the “capsule wardrobe,”  a site called Project 333 has made the minimalist concept a little more comprehensible for those of us who don’t want to wear the same ensemble daily. The idea of Project 333 is that you have a wardrobe limited to 33 items for each season (including accessories and shoes) that you wear for 3 months. Project 333 recommends you make a list of essential items you will need before starting your capsule wardrobe.

For example:

1 Sunglasses
1 Purse
1 Laptop/Camera Bag
2 Dresses
2 Skirts
1 Jeans
2 Shorts/Capri
1 Dress pants
2 Light Sweaters
2 Blazers
2 Tanks
1 Button Down Shirt
5 Shirts
1 Sweatshirt
4 Shoes
1 Trench Coat
2 Bracelets
1 Necklace
1 Scarf

Getting Started

There are several techniques and tricks you can use to create your ideal capsule wardrobe. This topic is being covered quite frequently, but this is our version of creating a capsule wardrobe.

Deep Clean

Creating a capsule wardrobe starts like any other deep closet cleaning -getting rid of stuff you never wear. Typically if you haven’t worn a non-seasonal item in over a year, you probably don’t need it anymore. However, this doesn’t include one-of-a-kind, sentimental or heirloom items! Obviously hold on to those pieces that are special to you, but that Forever 21 skirt that you haven’t worn in years? It’s probably time to get rid of it.

Divide & Conquer

Now that you’ve cleaned out, stored or given away the items you don’t need, it’s time to divide your wardrobe into seasons. You will undoubtedly have items that overlap seasons, but do your best to divide up your seasonal items so you can have a good look at what you’re working with. If you’re like us, you will probably buy a few new pieces each season, so leave room for those new additions. Otherwise, the rule is: one item in, one item out. Of course, no one is going to tell on you if you include 35 items instead of 33! However, stick to the concept of one item in, one item out.

Once you have your wardrobe divided, if you’re low on space store away each seasonal capsule in a box or organize each season in garment bags in the back of your closet. The point of doing this is to remove clutter and confusion. When you keep only each 33 piece collection readily available, you’ll stick to the capsule concept, reduce your clutter, and reduce the time it takes to get ready. The idea is: less options=less time it takes to get ready+ more organization. And for those of you fellow frequent travelers, capsule wardrobes make packing and traveling much easier!

What To Include

This is the tough part. The more basic items you include, the more versatility you’ll have. However, for the fashionistas out there, we know this can be tough. While you should definitely hold on to that vintage sequin bolero jacket you love dearly, when building your capsule wardrobe, keep it complementary in color, comfort, and versatility.

  • Versatility: Aim for items that serve multiple purposes, that you can dress up and down, layer and change up with a few accessories. Your shoe selection will also be a vital part of your capsule wardrobe. Aim for shoes that are not only versatile in color, but comfortable. After all, you’ll be wearing these frequently for 3 months.
  • Color palette: Choose colors that complement each other, so you can mix and match your pieces as much as possible. Neutral colors like nudes, roses, greys, white, navy, and black are always easy to interchange. Adding prints and color is fun, just make sure you pick prints and colors that work well together. (Check out our guide on mixing and matching prints.) It’s best to lay out all your items together and see how everything looks.
  • Comfort: Choose items that are both chic and comfortable. Again, you’ll be wearing these pieces for 3 months, so itchy fabrics, blister-inducing shoes, or one-size-too-small denim is not your best bet.


Take Inventory, Dress, and Go

Now that you’ve created your capsule wardrobe, mix and match your outfits together and take pictures of each ensemble. There are some wardrobe apps, such as Closet+, that will help you with this, but you can also just make a photo album on your photo that includes your capsule collection. This will not only help you keep track of your items, but it will save you tons of time when it comes to getting ready. Simply pull up your photos, pick an outfit and go!



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Molly Chan

Molly Chan is StyleFox's resident, no-nonsense dating and love columnist. Once single, now settled, she spent a decade in New York City's dating jungle and knows the singles scene inside and out. Doesn't miss it.

1 Comment
  1. Karin Rambo says:

    Great post! I do find that the capsule concept makes traveling so much easier! In fact, I spent a month in Europe last year and that is what made me realize that I could actually do a capsule wardrobe succesfully. Thanks for sharing!

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