Capsule Wardrobe - What is a Capsule Wardrobe and how do I build one?

What is a Capsule Wardrobe and How do I Build One?

Advice Capsule Wardrobe Fashion

Capsule Wardrobe is the hot phrase in fashion right now.  I just completed a 3,000 mile move (and corresponding closet purge), so the Capsule Wardrobe is on my mind.  I need to understand what is a Capsule Wardrobe?  Will this work for me? How do I build one?

Capsule wardrobe is a term coined by Susie Faux, the owner of a London boutique called “Wardrobe” in the 1970s. According to Faux, a capsule wardrobe is a collection of a few essential items of clothing that don’t go out of fashion, such as skirts, trousers, and coats, which can then be augmented with seasonal pieces.

Capsule wardrobes apparently have been around for awhile.  It is claimed to be a practical way to manage what is in your closet, deciding what to purge, and what to add.

Without realizing, I pack for travel using the capsule wardrobe method on a very small scale.  One week’s travel will consist of 2-3 dresses (casual or work attire), jeans, black dress slacks or skirt, one swim suit, black yoga pants, and matching colorful/print shirts.  Shoes to wear during travel, pack another pair of shoes that match everything, and flip flops (to wear around the hotel room, spa services, hotel pool, etc).  For colder weather, add a coat and/or 1-2 cardigan sweaters for layering.

Now how do I apply this to my entire wardrobe?

My Style Sister, Lesley from Working Look, hosts some great videos and practical advice.  Her three principles of defining a Capsule Wardrobe are:

  1. Utility and coordination
  2. Less is more / quality over quantity
  3. Personal style over trends

What is my Signature Style?

  • Color Scheme – similar tones and base colors to mix and match
  • Flattering styles (fit and size)
  • Quality fabrics and well made classic garments

How Do I Build a Capsule Wardrobe?

Instead of buying new pieces to build a capsule wardrobe, I am reversing the logic to use the Capsule fundamentals to help me further purge my closet.  At this point I really do not need to buy anything new.  I am focused on making my existing clothes function, and eliminate unnecessary items.   I have already started reducing my shoe collection, which is still overwhelming not to mention, expensive to ship!

67 articles of clothing BEFORE reduction or organization

Will this work for me?

YES!  My current color scheme is all over the rainbow, including shades of colors that are not particularly flattering for my skin tone.  I still have many items in my closet that fit  but are not the most flattering silhouette, anything that looks chunky, awkward, or frumpy have got to go!  The majority of my wardrobe is very high quality fabrics, any cheaply made stragglers will be on the chopping block first.

At least once a month I am going to find at least 5 items (shoes, shirts, skirts, shorts, or dresses) that I do not wear, and no longer fit my Signature Style to donate to charity.

Why 5?  It seems like a manageable number, and it is a good starting point.


Where will I stop?  What is the “right” number of clothes?  I have no idea!  I have seen extreme wardrobe capsules of just 37 pieces.  Too extreme for me!  I counted out 67 hangers in my closet (tip of the iceburg) and even this is too extreme for me.  So, I am going to start with 5 items to eliminate per month, and evaluate my progress in 6 months.  This should make a dent in the clothes still boxed up from the move.

What is in your Capsule Wardrobe?

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