The Capsule Wardrobe Guide
Updated: Apr 16
I feel like you can find so many beautifully curated images of perfect looking capsule wardrobes on Pinterest and you can follow awesome people on Instagram who show themselves restyling their capsule items over and over - and it’s intimidating. There’s no such thing as a perfect capsule wardrobe guide that will work for everyone without fail. We all have such different lives, situations, weather conditions and personal styles that I think it’s crazy to pin point “5 capsule wardrobe items you need”. I’ve been trying to figure out a way to talk about starting a capsule wardrobe that is less intimidating and has more tangible steps that would span across any style, any person, any age.
Here’s the rundown and I’ve expanded more upon everything in the text below:
Step 1: Think about it
Before starting my own capsule, I thought about it for probably 2 or 3 years. That may sound silly but I really wasn’t sure I wanted to commit myself to it: I didn’t want to give myself rules that I could possibly break and then be disappointed by. In the end, I started my capsule gradually and little by little I set mini goals. After a little bit of time I kind of settled into a capsule that I didn’t intentionally think about - it just happened as I minimized my life and as I set wardrobe goals.
So take your time and think about it! Think about if you want to start a capsule and if you do, do you want to give yourself “rules” or more of a chill approach? Maybe you want to give yourself vague guidelines like: I want to discover my colour palette or I want to only own shoes that are comfy and I wear. By giving yourself achievable and practical goals, you’ll ease yourself into that capsule wardrobe mindset without going full-fledged into owning less than X amount of pieces by X time.
Step 2: Be intentional with what you bring in and what you let go off
One of the guidelines I gave myself when I first started thinking about my wardrobe was that I wanted high quality pieces. At this point in my life, I wasn’t thinking sustainably or ethically (I was mainly thrifting my items anyways) but I had realized that the pieces that I fell out of love with or that would only last a couple of seasons tended to be lower quality fast fashion items.
As I decluttered, I thought about why those items were leaving my wardrobe and the commonalities between the garments. What I figured out was that I don’t really like patterns all that often, I tend not to wear bright colours and lower quality pieces disappointed me because they would lose their shape and fall apart quickly.
After being mindful of what I was donating, I started to be mindful with what I brought into my wardrobe. While I was shopping at the thrift store, I wouldn’t even put Forever 21 or inexpensive poor quality retailers garments into my cart. That way, I couldn’t try those items on and I would avoid falling involve with a temporary trendy piece. At this point, I hadn’t figured out my guide to finding quality at the thrift store (link) so I based my choices on brand names. While thrifting, I would try on things from Aritzia, handmade items, Gap, Uniqlo, Levis (to name a few of the brands that I considered to be good quality most of the time). Those were labels that I trusted to have a decent amount of quality that I could wear for a longer amount of time.
Once I started to bring in higher quality items, I noticed I didn’t need to replace things as often and I started to realize the stylistic features of garments that I preferred (leading to personal style)…
Step 3: Know Thyself (and what you love)
At this point, you’ve probably got a strong base. You know your goals and intentions, you’re figuring out what works and what doesn’t. Things are lasting longer in your closet and now you can hone in on your personal style.
Personal style is so complex and it’s so different for everyone. I wrote a post about what personal style is and isn’t (something my tween self would’ve needed to hear). But for this guide and for creating your capsule you just need to know what you love. The colours you love wearing, the fit and shape of garments you prefer, the proportions you like playing with (high waisted, low waisted, longline, etc.). All of the things you love end up forming your personal style and this will be what makes your capsule absolutely perfect for you.
Step 4: Nobody’s Perfect
Remember that no first attempt at something is ever the best, most perfect product. For a lot of my first capsules, I ended up switching a ton of items in and out and just letting my wardrobe be a mess while I figured things out. It’ll get easier and better as you go - practice makes perfect! And if you’re following step 1 and you’re making vague guidelines for yourself - there’s no way to go wrong.
Keep in mind that you’re doing this for a really good reason (maybe to help minimize your life and reduce morning decision making) and that you should be proud of yourself for making that step and deciding to change something. A capsule shouldn’t be a “punishment” and you should never feel like you’re “failing” or doing it badly - it’s totally for you and no one is judging your capsule. You are your own harshest critic - so I’ll remind you that no one is perfect and no capsule is perfect (that’s why people who capsule still make purchases and still have wish lists and still change up the items in their wardrobe!).
You don’t need those “5 perfect winter basics” or “must have holiday dresses” to make a current, curated and practical closet. I might love wearing dresses and those are staples for my closet, but you might prefer wearing denim shorts and that’s what you live in during the summer. Capsules are so different for everyone and when you make your decision to minimize your wardrobe and maybe start capsuling, don’t fall into the trap that you need the X number of pieces that X fashion influencer has. You are making your perfect wardrobe (not somebody else's).
I hope this helped you a little bit in finding your way and deciding the direction you want to take your wardrobe. I can’t stress enough that it’s a process that is completely unique and personal to you. Definitely read up on other blogs and get ideas from social media, but stay true to yourself and you’re guaranteed a capsule that works for you, perfectly.