How many clothes should be in a capsule wardrobe

This article was co-authored by Natalie Kay Smith. Natalie Kay Smith is a sustainable fashion writer and the owner of Sustainably Chic, a sustainability-focused blog. Natalie has over 5 years of sustainable fashion and green living writing and has worked with over 400 conscious brands all over the world to show readers fashion can exist responsibly and sustainably.

There are 12 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.

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Are you tired of digging through your closet and stressing about choosing an outfit every day? If you’re feeling overwhelmed trying to find something to wear, starting a capsule wardrobe is the perfect option for you! Rather than keeping all of your clothes in one place, you can instead keep 20–40 pieces of clothing in your closet every season and put everything else into storage. [1] X Expert Source

Natalie Kay Smith
Sustainable Fashion Writer Expert Interview. 15 November 2019. Even with limited options, you’ll be able to mix and match your clothes to make a lot of stylish and sophisticated outfits. We know you’re probably wondering just what you should include in your wardrobe, so keep reading to find the answers to all your most common questions!

How many clothes should be in a capsule wardrobe

How do you know how many capsule clothing items to include?

I love rules. I love to follow rules. I love to invent rules. And then when I know the rules and exactly how to follow them and why, my very most favorite thing to do is BREAK THE RULES. Because no one else is the boss of me.

Whenever I try a recipe for the first time, I follow it exactly to see how the author intended it to turn out. After that I start experimenting. I add a little of this, I completely eliminate that, and when it’s all over, I make that recipe my own.

When I first started exploring capsule wardrobes, I wanted ALL THE RULES. I followed them to the letter. I chose EXACTLY 33 capsule clothing items for my summer capsule, and put it at the front of my closet. I mixed, I matched, I utilized; I liked it. And after a season or two of that I started to wonder why 33 pieces was the magic number? According to whom?

This article and the video below are taken from the Stunning Style Weekly Style Snack! Join us Wednesdays at 1pm ET on the Stunning Style Facebook page or the FREE Capsule Wardrobes for Classic Style Facebook Group.

So what is a capsule wardrobe?

Originally coined by London boutique owner, Susie Faux, in the 1970s, a capsule wardrobe is a curated collection of classic clothing items that don’t go out of fashion, and is augmented with seasonal pieces. The desire was to have a closet complete with items that are stylish, fit perfectly, and are easily assembled into outfits. She didn’t define a number of items for a capsule wardrobe. She gave parameters, not rules.

Nothing about 33 pieces. Or 10. Or 76. So I started to spread my wings and experiment with what felt like the perfect number of items for me. What is a capsule wardrobe – and what it isn’t – and is it right for you? Let’s find out.

How many clothes should be in a capsule wardrobe

What’s the perfect number of capsule clothing items?

Everyone says that less is more… but just how much less are we talking? *clutches her shoe collection tightly*

A capsule wardrobe is a limited, curated collection of clothing. It’s meant to be smaller than you’re used to, and it’s bound to feel a little strict at first. But it’s also so liberating because you can always find all your favorite items! Why would you keep something that’s not your favorite? And why did through the stuff you don’t love to get to what you do?

It doesn’t mean you’re going to have to wear the same outfit every single day. While there are so many opinions out there about how to do a capsule wardrobe perfectly (and some people tend to get a little extreme and very passionate!) I do believe it’s possible to find your own capsule wardrobe sweet spot — that magic number of items.

I think a perfectly sized capsule wardrobe is small enough to add simplicity to your life and capture your own personal style, yet large enough to still give you enough creative freedom and wiggle room to express yourself from day to day. That means the size of your capsule wardrobe will be different from somebody else’s. And that’s okay. Here’s how you can figure out how many pieces you need for your ideal capsule wardrobe.

First off — What counts & what doesn’t?

If you start counting underwear, jewelry, and socks as clothing items toward your capsule clothing, your number of pieces is going to go up pretty quickly! So don’t worry — most agree that basic items don’t have to count as capsule wardrobe items. Those usually include underwear, socks, bags, jewelry, accessories, special occasion wear, pajamas, coats, and exercise clothes (as in, clothes you actually exercise in — if you usually wear your leggings outside the gym, you’ll have to count those!).

Everything else counts, including jackets (like blazers), pants, shirts, dresses, skirts, shorts, and shoes.

Of course, you can be as strict or as lenient as you’d like when deciding what counts. Maybe you don’t want to count shoes in your total. Or if you tend to buy way more jewelry than you really need and you want to narrow your selection down to your favorites, feel free to include jewelry in with your overall total as well, or create a jewelry capsule. If your handbag collection doesn’t get enough rotation, choose just one or two you want to wear this season and love on them for a few months, then switch the next season.

How many clothes should be in a capsule wardrobe

Is there a formula?

Some people recommend getting a strict number for each category — five shirts, four pairs of pants, three pairs of shoes, and so on. A formula can be really helpful when you are starting out, and I use a formula for my own travel capsule wardrobe, but you don’t have to stick to someone else’s formula. If you tend to be pretty basic in your bottoms, and variety in your tops, then have more tops.

My advice is not to get too hung up on those exact category numbers and focus more on the overall number and your own unique needs. If you wear jeans nearly every day and don’t dress up very often, don’t include many skirts or dresses, or leave those in the special occasion wear category. If you know you’re going to have to wear a coat every single day, consider including more than one coat in your wardrobe. Basically, you do you.

How many clothes should be in a capsule wardrobe

So what’s the magic number?

From my own experience, the magic number is fluid. I try to aim for 30-40 for the Stunning Style Wardrobe Guides. Last summer’s Guide had 46 pieces, and the Winter guide had 32. From those items I create 100 outfits, but I stop when the wardrobe feels complete, not when I hit a number. The Guides aren’t meant to limit you. They are meant to be a template. You can use it to better utilize your existing wardrobe, give you direction in how you shop, help you curate your wardrobe, and hone your style.

Narrow your wardrobe down to less than 25, and it gets pretty strict & hard to maintain for some, but it’s liberating to others. I have a friend who is an extreme minimalist, and she narrowed her wardrobe down to 3 tops, 3 bottoms, and 2 pairs of shoes. That simplified her life and made her very happy. It would have the opposite effect for me.

If you’re thinking about starting a more dedicated, seasonal capsule wardrobe, narrowing your wardrobe down to only 10-20 pieces and wearing only those for a week or so can be a really great exercise and less overwhelming. It’ll get you used to putting outfits together creatively and looking at your clothes differently. Packing for a trip is the perfect time to do this. I always pack in a carry on, and that’s the range of pieces I take.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever stood in front of your closet tearing through your clothes trying to find something to wear only to come up empty handed. We like to call it dresser’s block (like writer’s block, but for dressing yourself), and trust us, we’ve all been there. But what if we told you that there’s a solution that can end wardrobe frustration once and for all? Allow us to introduce you to the art of the capsule wardrobe, the minimalist fashion approach that will make your life so much easier.

Now, taking a minimalist approach to fashion is nothing new. But having spent countless months indoors has made more and more people evaluate what they actually need versus what they don’t, and nothing is more applicable to this than your closet. For most of us, the pre-pandemic relationship we had with fashion has ended. No longer curating looks to go out or head to work in has put a spotlight on our consumption of fast fashion, forcing us to reevaluate the need for sustainability. This is where capsule wardrobes come in.

Curious? Scroll down to see some of our tips on how to get started, plus what a capsule wardrobe looks like IRL, so you can start simplifying your closet and never have to say “I have nothing to wear” ever again.

What Is a Capsule Wardrobe?

Think of the process of creating a capsule wardrobe like a detox for your closet, with the end goal being to save you time getting ready in the morning and to save you money. A capsule wardrobe consists of a set number of versatile pieces that can be easily mixed and matched with one another—basically you can reach into your closet blindfolded, pick different items out and they’ll match perfectly regardless of what you’ve selected. But beyond that, it allows you to have a new approach when it comes to shopping because of the structure it provides. Knowing that you have a set style amongst the pieces in your capsule helps deter you from impulse buys that end up collecting dust in the back of your closet.

How Many Pieces are in a Capsule Wardrobe?

A capsule wardrobe typically consists of 37 different clothing items (although it can be more or less): a certain number of dresses, shoes, tops, bottoms and outerwear. As the seasons change, so should your capsule wardrobe. For example, during frigid winter months, you’re most likely going to have more sweaters and coats in the mix, whereas with summer it’ll consist of flowy sundresses, shorts and tank tops. However, if you’re not sure how many you should have for each category, aim for about five pairs of shoes, three pieces of outerwear, two dresses, nine bottoms and 18 tops.

How Do I Create a Capsule Wardrobe?

Step one is pretty obvious: Clean out your closet. And by clean it out we mean literally take every single piece of clothing and lay ‘em out so you can see it all better. Slowly but surely, make your way through each piece, keeping what you want and donating (or discarding, depending on condition) what you don’t. (Hint: If you can’t remember the last time you wore something, toss it.) Take note of the pieces you’re OK to get rid of and which you truly love—or as Marie Kondo would say, which pieces spark the most joy. Is there a consistent aesthetic with them? Similar colors or textures? Find the common denominator between what you’ve decided to keep and ta-da, you’ve found your personal style. From here, start to curate different pieces that fit within your newfound aesthetic, making sure everything you select has the same vibe and overall style.

After playing around with capsule wardrobes for a few years now, I think I’ve got a handle on what exactly I want out of my closet. No easy feat, I assure you.

I started out trying those seasonal capsule wardrobes. Then, I tried the 5 piece capsule wardrobe (can you say “Crazy!”). I tried the whole “I only own 40 pieces of clothing for the rest of my life” schtick too.

I finally settled on the idea of a year round capsule wardrobe, on my terms.

I don’t know about you, but the idea of only 30-40 items for an entire year makes me start sweating. It’s not a lot, once you start thinking about it. I loveeee my white t-shirt but I can’t say I’m going to love it after I’ve worn it three times this week and it’s got weeks old pit stains that won’t come out.

I like to have a little fun with trends or vintage pieces or just new styles I want to try out. I simply cannot commit to an entirely basic wardrobe. And there is no shame in that!

Your closet needs to work for you, not someone else.

So, I came up with a year round capsule that would allow me the best of both worlds.

The idea

I love my basics, but I didn’t want to restrict myself to just basics. So, I made room for trendy pieces.

Then, I figured out the minimum amount of each type of clothing I would need in a year, taking into account seasons. Finally, I took each item of clothing and added the option for a set number of trendy or extra clothing of that type.

For example, I allow myself 4 pairs of jeans in my closet for a year. But, I am allowed to buy or own one extra pair of jeans in a cut that may not be as versatile or will go out of style in a couple of years. My basic pairs could be skinny jeans and straight leg jeans, and my fun pair could be a pair of kick flare jeans.

Confusing? I hope not.

Don’t worry, though. I made an example that is pretty darn close to what I actually own in my year round capsule. Oh, and a handy dandy checklist for your new year round capsule wardrobe you’re sure to want.

How many clothes should be in a capsule wardrobe

52 pieces for a wholeeee year sounds a heck of a lot better to me. And, if you happen to get tired of any of your fun pieces, you can switch them out for a new one.

My recommendation: Invest in the basics, go cheap-ish on the fun pieces.

You don’t want the cheapest of the cheap for any of your clothing, because that’s not going to be a piece that looks good, holds up well, or is very good for the environment. So, you can shop at Target, but really check the quality on those clothes before you let them in.

Color Palette

You can see that most of my basic pieces in my capsule are neutral colors. This is purely personal preference, but I do find it makes it easier to mix and match. I let my trendy pieces have more color and act as statement pieces to complement my basics.

I still stuck to somewhat of a color palette, though. My colorful pieces range in the cream, pink, green, and other muted colors area. I like to try out prints or embroidery or a textured piece, because those are typically the kinds of things that go out of style or I tend to get tired of quickly.

I love graphic tees, but after a season or two I’m over it. That’s why I never include them in my basics, I just get a couple and mix them in when I’m feeling it and replace them when I need a new ironic statement.

Types of Clothing

I made a checklist of the types of clothing you should have in your capsule wardrobe, but I didn’t get super specific with it. I did that for a reason.

I reallyyyy don’t like lists that tell me I need to own 2 pairs of dark skinny jeans, one dress pant, two midi skirts, and one maxi dress to have the ultimate wardrobe. What if that doesn’t work for my life? In fact, it probably won’t!

That’s why I made this list purely with the types of clothing you should own. You should probably own 4 pairs of jeans, but the cut and color should be up to you. You probably need a few dresses too, but make them what you want! I prefer midi dresses, so that’s what I get.

I specifically put the tops by sleeve length, because that’s all you should focus on. If you want to get all short sleeve t-shirts, go for it! If you prefer blouses, only get short sleeve blouses.

And, if you just aren’t a jean person, maybe you substitute jeans for pants. Or switch out dresses for skirts. The checklist should get you to a pretty well-rounded wardrobe, but it’s important to make tweaks for your own life.

You can download a copy of the checklist below. I loveeee keeping a copy in my closet, because I periodically go through it and make sure I’m not missing anything or that I haven’t acquired too much of one item.

Your capsule wardrobe should have between 25 and 50 pieces, which includes clothing, shoes and accessories.

(Some people swear by 33, and some will say 50 is too many.

It all depends on the size of your current closet and how much you want to challenge yourself.)

How much does a capsule wardrobe cost?

Building a curated classically stylish capsule wardrobe that communicates your unique stunning style can cost as little as $50.

How do you plan a capsule wardrobe?

How to plan your perfect capsule wardrobe | CAPSULE GUIDE

Is capsule wardrobe boring?

Are capsule wardrobes boring? The answer is they can be. If you are a Fashionista and someone who has to have the latest styles, or if you enjoy playing around with many different silhouettes and styles on a regular basis, you may feel there’s not enough variety in a capsule wardrobe.

How do you make a capsule wardrobe 2020?


Do capsule wardrobes work?

Capsule Wardrobes Don’t Work and Here’s Why. Even if you don’t believe in New Years Resolutions, the start of 2019 feels like a time to make little and big changes. Eating healthy, journaling more, or creating a vision board may be on the agenda, but there’s one last thing I’d like to add to the list.

Where can I buy capsule wardrobe pieces?

Best Places To Shop For A Capsule Wardrobe + New Jewelry (TW #121)

  • Madewell: This store has lots of basic essentials, like tees and jeans that I have purchased for my capsule wardrobe.
  • J.
  • J.
  • Loft: This is the sister-store to Ann Taylor.
  • H&M: I like some clothes from here and some I don’t.

How many clothes should a woman own?

Then 7 t-shirts should be more than plenty. If they wear 7 pairs of socks and underwear a week and you wash twice a week, 10 pairs of everything is more than plenty. Why put 15-20 pairs back in the drawer, especially if you don’t have a lot of room?

How many shoes should be in a capsule wardrobe?

Do you spend most of any given week in professional attire? If so, you’ll typically want professional shoes to comprise half of your shoe capsule, or 5 pairs.

What is a capsule wardrobe 2019?

A “capsule wardrobe” is one of those buzzwords we’ve all been hearing about for a while now. The idea is that you limit the clothes in your closet to include around 25 high-quality, mix-and-match staples that make it easy to get dressed in the morning.

How many clothes should be in a capsule wardrobe

If you’re interested in creating a capsule wardrobe (read 10 reasons why you should create a capsule wardrobe), one of your biggest questions will be what to include in your capsule wardrobe. When I created my first capsule I wanted a list of everything I would need, basically someone to tell me what I should include in my wardrobe. The problem with this is you are the only person who knows your lifestyle and what you want to wear. There is no point in following a list if it includes things you will never wear. The whole point of a capsule wardrobe is it is individual to you and built around your lifestyle

Try not to focus too much on the exact numbers as it needs to be individual to you, I would set a maximum (for example 45) which you will stay under, but as long as you have less than this don’t fixate on having the perfect number. For you first capsule wardrobe you will probably want slightly more pieces as the change can feel very drastic so having a little more clothes can provide some comfort. I have chosen a lot less for my current wardrobe than I did for my first. I think this is because I have become more comfortable with living with less stuff.

However having said that, having a basic list of how many tops and bottoms etc is very useful when building your first capsule wardrobe.

So what should you include in your capsule wardrobe?

Include all of the clothes and shoes you wear outside the house. This includes what you wear to work, to go shopping, out to dinner etc. Make sure the pieces you decide to include are suitable for the weather (where you live), fit you well, work with your lifestyle and are items you love and enjoy wearing. (Have a look at my winter capsule wardrobe to help get you started)

Capsule Wardrobe: Having a cohesive style can be tricky. A lot of us have too many clothes and no authentic “style” among them. You probably have things in your closet that you haven’t worn in years (if you’ve worn them at all). There’s a better and more efficient way to make your fashion work for you. It might be time to compress everything into a capsule wardrobe.

You can capsule wardrobes for specific seasons, long trips, or anything else that requires a bit of minimalism.

If you’re ready to Reduce Your Closet, you’re in the right place. Please keep reading for our guide on capsule wardrobes so that you can up your fashion game.

What Is a Capsule Wardrobe?

A capsule wardrobe is a way to minimize your wardrobe to maximize your style. You have a small collection of clothing that you mix and match for all of your outfits. You scale your whole closet back. Sometimes you’ll match colors, sometimes prints.

Everything should be able to be paired.

Minimalism has been in for a few years now when people discovered the magic of decluttering and the unsustainability of the average fast fashion shopper.

Having too many items of clothing that you don’t wear is terrible for your wallet, the environment, and the workers. It’s also not doing you any favors for personal style. If you have too many options, there’s no way you’re curating a style that’s you.

While there’s no problem mixing styles or having an assortment of different fashion ideas if you’re looking for cohesion, a capsule wardrobe is a way to go.

Do I Have to Use One Wardrobe for Everything?

You don’t have to use the same wardrobe year-round. If you live in a four-season climate, this would be inconvenient. You can have a fall capsule wardrobe full of sweaters, leggings, and boots. You can have a summer capsule wardrobe with a bathing suit, sandals, and light and flowy outfits. So You can even have a work capsule wardrobe or a travel capsule wardrobe.

These wardrobes serve their purposes. This might seem like it misses the point, but it will still help you scale back those extra clothes you don’t use. Having several mini wardrobes will still serve you better than one giant one.

You’ll also be more organized.

How Do I Downsize?

Downsizing might seem overwhelming at first. You’ve been collecting clothes for your entire adult life (and sometimes before. Who else has old summer camp tee shirts from their childhood?).

This doesn’t have to be done all at once, and you don’t have to throw things away immediately. You can take your time and ponder some items while you figure out what’s right for you.

You can also keep some favorites even if they don’t fit in. This is your wardrobe; after all, no one else is holding your hand while you try to make it work.

While you’re decluttering, consider the Konmari method . Does this piece of clothing spark joy? Does it still provide value to you?

Divide your clothing into sections to make this easier. You can go with bottoms, tops, and accessories or do whatever makes sense. Then you’re going to put your clothing items into categories.

This one is self-explanatory. The items that “spark joy” is going to be kept. As you go through your clothing, you’ll find that these items will often be in the same colors or styles.

You’ll realize what things that you wear and want to continue wearing. Make sure that you have clothing for all weather and occasions included in this section.

Throw Away

Some things won’t be helpful to anyone anymore.

You have clothing that has rips and tears (and not for aesthetic reasons). There will be some fast fashion items falling apart at the seams, or they’re so dated that no one will use them.

The “throw-away” category can also be used for things that you’ll turn into rags or fabric swatches for other projects. Reuse and recycle!

Donate or Sell

When you find things in good shape but aren’t your style anymore, throw them into the donate pile. This can be hard, but it’s an important step. Someone else can wear these clothes even if you can’t.

If you need extra funds (to supplement your wardrobe, perhaps), try using online selling sites to sell some of your items. Fashionable clothes that are in good condition sell well!

If you’re attached to an item that should be in the “throw-away” category, consider trying to fix it instead. Some minor problems can be patched or sewn until the thing is new. This is useful for vintage items or pieces that were expensive.

How Do I Make a Small Wardrobe Work for Me?

A capsule wardrobe is all about mixing and matching. For example, if you have an all-black wardrobe, it’s easy to mix tops and bottoms without running into any issues with mismatched clothes.

Find things that make sense as multiple outfits. Dresses can be made into skirts or tops with ease. Shirts can be worn alone or with blazers. A pair of shoes or a wonderful piece of statement jewelry can change an entire look.

Part of the challenge of a capsule wardrobe is being creative! How can you style yourself when you’re limited?

You’ll find that your outfits will get more refined and cohesive once you get the hang of the capsule wardrobe.

Are You Curating Your Capsule Wardrobe?

If you’re ready to customize your style, a capsule wardrobe is a significant challenge for you to apply to your 2022 fashion goals.

Enter the new year with a cohesive style that screams you.

For more posts on creating your perfect style, visit our site. We’ve got all of the tips you need.

How many of us have said this phrase (okay, whined it) while we look into our overflowing closets? It doesn’t seem to matter if we have 50 or 500 pieces hanging in our dressing rooms, we’ve all come to this point.

I was sick of it. I work from home and wear roughly the same thing every day. My weekly uniform consists of 2 dresses when I feel like being ‘fancy’ and then a ton of pajama bottoms and sports bras. And yet, my closet is still overflowing and I have decision fatigue every time I choose an outfit.

How many clothes should be in a capsule wardrobe

Fixing It

I wanted to try a capsule wardrobe this week for many reasons – the main one being that I don’t appreciate the clothes I do have, and I wanted to take stock of what was hanging in my closet and if the different pieces were worth keeping.

Another reason is because they’re helpful. It takes me about 20 minutes to get ready to go out, and while that’s not a lot of time at all, I can get it down to 5.

The last reason was that I recently moved and I went through my closet twice. And yet, every day I find something new I will never wear, so I think it’s time to throw things out once and for all.

The Benefits of a Capsule Wardrobe

Less Decision Fatigue

The “I have nothing to wear” statement is a problem for everyone I’ve met. The more decisions you have to make, the more time you’ll take, and the more easily you’ll get overwhelmed. Our brains are programmed to only make a few decisions a day, so when we eliminate one decision (what to wear), our brains can focus on more important issues. My favorite part of Jay Shetty’s nighttime routine is when he takes the clothes out of his closet for the next day and sets them aside. He says he’s setting himself up for success by eliminating a decision for the next day.


When you have fewer items, you can invest in them. Fast fashion is taking over the industry right now because it’s easy and trendy. Why would you pay $100 for one good piece of clothing when you can pay the same price for 10? When we actively seek more sustainable fashion choices, our closets immediately become better for it. If you want to build a capsule wardrobe, make a checklist and start by investing in quality and versatile pieces that will fit into every outfit and last a long time.

Celebrating Your Style

The flaw in making a capsule wardrobe is when you make one that looks like everyone else’s. I’m an enneagram four and I try to dress at least a bit different from everyone else. Yes, I have my basic pieces, but they don’t have to be the same as others’. I made a checklist of the capsule wardrobe essentials I felt most comfortable in, but dressed the pieces up or down with funky shoes and accessories.

Making Your Wardrobe

There is no magic number of clothes in a capsule wardrobe. Some people choose 33 pieces for every 3 months , or 37 pieces overall , or 10 days with 10 items. One thing that you don’t want to do is over-limit yourself, throw everything away, and then spend hundreds of dollars on fast fashion when you’re tired of your 10-piece wardrobe. Do what makes you comfortable and don’t come at this challenge from a scarcity mindset.

Creating A Capsule Wardrobe

Clean Out Your Closet

First things first: time to clear out your closet . I took all the clothes I had in my house and put them on my bed. And then I realized I was going to need a bigger bed. Once you put everything that you usually see carefully tucked away into plain sight, you realize just how much you have. Another way to clean out your closet without messing up your bed is to put all your hangers backward. If you wear the item that’s on the hanger, you can then switch it forward. At the end of the month, look to see which items are still on backward hangers and debate getting rid of them.

Make Piles

Dump everything on your bed with a purpose. I chose four piles:

Capsule Wardrobe : These are the clothes that I wear the most often, I’m most comfortable in, and they’re versatile.

Staying : Since my capsule wardrobe will be limited to this week, I don’t want to rule out all of my other clothes. These will be the clothes that are staples, just not necessarily my uniform.

Icons : It’s okay to have sentimental items that you don’t want to get rid of. Maybe keep them to a certain number, for example, I have two items that I will never part with, even if I never wear them again.

Money Makers : These are the ones going straight to Buffalo Exchange or Plato’s Closet.

If it helps, you can make a checklist for your clothes — this way, you can keep track of each piece and its destination, like in your capsule wardrobe pile or money makers pile.

Have Fun!

Making your capsule wardrobe checklist and choosing pieces will probably take you a while. It was a workout and a half for me, so I put on The Bold Type and went for it.

My Capsule Wardrobe Checklist

I saw a lot of numbers for capsule wardrobes and none of them made sense for just a week. While I’d love to wear 33 – 50 items in a week, I know that’s not the point. I thought about setting apart seven items — one for every day — but I eventually landed on ten items. For my capsule wardrobe essentials, I chose a black fitted yoga set , a long tan dress , a long black dress , a gray graphic tee , a loose taupe jacket , a white sweater , black baggy jeans , heels , and fun tennis shoes .

What I Didn’t Include In My Wardrobe

Because I’m only doing this for a week, I chose not to include a limit on three sections: underwear, workout clothes, and sleep clothes. I chose to not include these items mostly due to sanitary reasons. I basically stuck to what’s in my closet, not in my drawers.

If you’ve got any lady at all in your life there’s a chance you’ve heard the term “capsule wardrobe” come up alongside all those other things you hear like “Joanna Gaines is my secret lover” and “I’m going to shiplap our entire house”.

And yeah, a capsule wardrobe is an amazing thing, but its not just for the ladies. In fact, I would argue a mens capsule wardrobe works even better. But before I go on about why the heck you need one, I should probably tell you what it is first.

What is a capsule wardrobe?

A capsule wardrobe is like a tiny dose of a closet, like the capsules you get at the doctor to treat the unspeakables. It’s you taking a small amount of clothes (anywhere between 12-36ish pieces not including underwear/socks) that will work together in a variety of ways and only wearing those clothes. No more overshopping, no overstuffed drawers of free 5k t-shirts, and no 12 year old socks.

Honestly, a lot of guys already have a capsule wardrobe, even if you don’t realize it. Think about the things you wear all the time. You’ve got a few pieces you love to put on over and over again, but you’ve got a lot of crap in there too that never sees the light of day. The stuff you love? That’s your capsule.

Sounds cool and all but…

Why do I need one?

You over shop or panic shop. You’ve got a date that’s already seen your three nice shirts, so now you need a fourth!

Your closet is erupting yet you still have “nothing to wear”. More likely you just don’t know how to use what you have and have given yourself too much choice. Think of it like this, if I told you to choose between winning 1 million dollars or your one true love, you could make that choice pretty easy (no right answer here). But, if I said choose between 1 million dollars, your one true love, having the skills of Batman and Superman combined, being automatically qualified for any job you want, and 10 other amazing choices, you’d probably be paralyzed. You can’t make a quick decision. Now think about how you do that every.single.morning. which leaves you reverting to the easiest and closest clothing you can find. You made a choice, but was it the right one?

You just plain want to dress better. A capsule wardrobe can be a good introduction to figuring out your personal style without overhauling your entire closet with a ton of pieces.

You already kinda have a capsule but want to refine it or add to it.

How do I make a capsule wardrobe?

Step 1

Purge that closet. A capsule is a lot about knowing your style and what works for you, so you have to get rid of all the shiz clogging up your closet that isn’t your style, no longer fits, has stains/rips or is otherwise unwearable, or leftover from Comic-Con. Not to say you can’t keep that sweet dragon outfit, but it probably doesn’t belong in your capsule wardrobe.

If you’re really feeling it or struggling to figure out what to get rid of, try reading The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. It is essentially going on a closet-cleaning acid trip without the side effects.

Just keep all of the things you love most and feel great in and chuck the rest.

Step 2

Now curate like you’re a social media manager for the newest indie brand that will revolutionize socks. It’s great to have pieces in your closet that you LOVE, but you have to figure out how they work together.

From the pieces you decided to keep you now need to decide what will be in your capsule wardrobe. Not every piece will have a place, but that doesn’t mean you can’t keep it for a special occasion or a bad day.

Every piece in your new capsule needs to be versatile. If you can figure out how to wear a tuxedo in everyday wear, more power to you, but more likely you’ll be looking for pants that go with multiple shirts

Step 3

Find holes. Gotta be an innuendo in there somewhere…

No, really. After you pick out what pieces you want in your capsule, figure out what you need to make it complete.

Maybe you don’t have any great shoes, or you’ve got a ton of great fitting pants but only one good shirt. Maybe you live in tees but want to step up your game or add a blazer for the Zuckerburg look.

Step 4

Add personality. Come on, you won’t get anywhere with a white tee and dad jeans.

Your closet does not have to be the next big thing, you aren’t Givenchy or Kanye.

But, it has to be you. We can smell insincerity ten miles away. Most minimalists will tell you to only wear solid colors because everything goes with everything! Maybe that works if you aren’t depressed like half of the population.

Add in colors that you like, patterned shirts, bow ties, a damn good watch, or even just a suave haircut. Choose one area of your closet to add personality and keep the rest fairly simple.

Step 5

Before you go gung ho buying out J.Crew for your new wardrobe, make sure it’s appropriate for your lifestyle.

Don’t make an all t-shirt and jeans wardrobe if you work in a corporate office, and don’t make a wardrobe with Seville Row suits when you work for a start-up. Most of us will fall somewhere in the middle with business casual and leisure, so keep that in mind.

Want to get fancy with it? Read this.

Gimme an Example.

Here’s what I would do with a capsule wardrobe. It should be small but not so small that you have to do laundry every other day. Neutral but add some color or pattern for fun and interest. But most of all, make sure everything fits!

The List

Prefer to write it down? Here’s the list of each piece and the number you should have as a bare minimum. I’ve linked out to some of the time tested products for each of these items to save you that time and some bucks.

3 Basic Tees – keep these plain, no graphics.

3 Dress Shirts – Solid or Patterned

1 Casual Jacket – Like a field jacket, a bomber, etc.

2 Casual Button Downs – Make sure these can be worn untucked if you’d like

Long Wool Coat – Good way to class up the place

2 Pairs of Jeans – You could get by with one, but should you?

3 Pairs of Chinos – This number can vary depending on your work environment, you may need more or may want to sub in some jeans

1 Pair of Joggers – The more flattering sweats

Optional Pair of Shorts – some men never wear shorts, some live in them for the summer. Up to you, honestly

Blazer – Always a good choice to dress up an outfit in a comfortable way, but by no means required

Belt – I would start with a brown one or black one of a flat leather, no weaves unless you want to look like an 80s mom.

1 Pair of Boots – a Chukka boot is a versatile semi casual shoe

Outfit Examples

Don’t worry, I won’t leave you flapping in the wind to put those pieces together. Check out these 8 outfits you could make for any occasion. By my count and some basic statistics, these 23 pieces should make approximately 72-90 different outfits.

That’s all there is to it. Take a Saturday and you’ll be able to put together a capsule wardrobe in no time. Use this capsule as a guide for the amount of items you should have and the amount of each type, but the colors, patterns, etc are all up to you!

If you need five pair of pants and want them all to be jeans, go for it! If you wear more dress shoes than sneakers, nix the converse. But you should keep the same rough number of each type, so 3 jackets or 3 pairs of shoes, etc.

Congrats, you’re on your way to looking ten times better than that other guy. Statistically proven, I assure you.

How to build a Capsule Wardrobe to fit you & your lifestyle

A capsule wardrobe is a bright and airy closet that’s full of all of your favourite clothes, with plenty of space so everything is easy to see and reach.

Each piece is in complimentary colour palettes and patterns, so you can easily mix and match outfits to look effortlessly put together.

You feel content and confident, with a strong sense of your personal style, with makes getting dressed so fun.

You wear everything you own, and love everything you wear!

…buuut if you’re anything like me, your reality is probably very different

Warning Signs that you need a capsule wardrobe

Too many clothes, but nothing to wear . right?

Your closet is busting at the seems and your drawers are overflowing

You have no idea what your core style is, or what colours suit you

You don’t feel confident or stylish

Getting dressed is stressful, and usually involves 2-3 outfit changes before you reluctantly settle for the one that you hate the least

Nothing matches and you regret buying a lot of your outfits

Maybe you have clothes that no longer fit you, or aspirational clothes that you hope to fit in to someday

You’re drowning in laundry and have to cherry pick your favourite outfits as they are what you wear all the time

You pack loads when you travel but end up wearing the same two outfits the whole time

Most of your clothes are everywhere but inside your wardrobe

You buy a new outfit for every big event because you have “nothing to wear”

Why I created a capsule wardrobe

When I decided that I needed to minimize my mess, I took a look around and realized that clothes were the biggest cause of my chaos. They were everywhere. Clean clothes, dirty clothes, drawers overflowing with clothes, a sea of discarded outfit choices on the floor, a closet so full that could barely take anything out or put anything in.

I’m so passionate about capsule wardrobes because clothing probably makes up a lot of the clutter in your home too. Whether it barely fits into your closet, turns your laundry basket into a mountain, or makes folding and putting away laundry overwhelming – the more clothing you have, the more stressed you’ll probably be.

But donating 90% of my wardrobe wasn’t the answer. It’s stressful to constantly feel like you don’t have anything to wear.

Basing a wardrobe purge on whether something sparks joy is great in theory but it didn’t work for me either. It would have left me with either way too many or too few clothes to fit my lifestyle.

So I went looking for answers.

Google told me that I needed a capsule wardrobe.

How many clothes should be in a capsule wardrobe

What is a capsule wardrobe?

The best capsule wardrobe is whichever one makes your life easier, and makes you feel absolutely, flippin’ gorgeous. If you want to get an idea of the different styles of capsule wardrobes out there, take a pause and head over to 25 Best Capsule Wardrobe Definitions

I read every capsule wardrobe guide & checklist out there. I read all about the benefits and I was hooked! Sign me up! Show me the way! …and I kept searching, and reading, but I couldn’t find a system that made sense for me.

I wanted concrete steps that were logical and customizable, and I didn’t want to have to replace everything in my wardrobe.

I didn’t want to have a trench coat

I didn’t want to have a crisp, white shirt

I didn’t want to have a camel overcoat

I didn’t want 2 a-line skirts

I didn’t want 3 long sleeve turtlenecks

So I came up with my own capsule wardrobe system, and it rocks!

It took me an hour to plan my capsule wardrobe list, and another hour to sort through my clothes.

Then poof! All of a sudden my mess, laundry and stress reduced by a gazillion.

For me, the balance was to be intentional about how many of each clothing item I needed. So instead of going through my t-shirts and only two of them sparking joy, I first thought about how many t-shirts I needed in the first place.

Based on my lifestyle and how often I do laundry, I need four t-shirts. So now I had that number, I could shop my closet and pick out my favourite four t-shirts.

It doesn’t change the fact that only two of the t-shirts really spark joy, but it means I have all of the t-shirts I need until I’m able to responsibly source two new t-shirts.

It’s incredibly satisfying to have all of the clothes you need,

and none of the clothes you don’t.

Next up: hubby. He was not into it at all but we were downsizing so he agreed to a trial capsule wardrobe. We didn’t let go of any of his clothes to start with. Instead, we just packed them away for a while. It worked great for him too and he was soon able to let go of the clothes in storage.

Next were some other family members. And friends. And then via my IG, strangers on the internet too. So I know it will work for you as well!

Jen, a busy, new mama says:

“I’ve minimized my wardrobe before and wound up keeping masses of ‘just in case’ clothing that was always a mistake, and it would take me literally weeks to do. With Ema’s process, everything was so streamlined.

Over just a few hours I had the capsule wardrobe I’d always pictured, with only clothes that I love wearing. And found some gems hidden away under all the piles of stuff I didn’t need!”