Have you ever stood in front of your closet and thought “I have nothing to wear,” even though your wardrobe is actually full? A capsule wardrobe could definitely be the answer.

In this article, you will find out everything you need to know about how to create a capsule wardrobe (or wardrobes depending on your lifestyle!)

Why is there so much hype about capsule wardrobes?

In these times of fast fashion, it could be easy to jam-pack your closets with dozens, if not hundreds, of items you don’t actually wear very much.

But what if you could do a lot more with fewer clothes?

That’s possible with a well-thought of capsule wardrobe. You have fewer pieces but a lot more options for outfits.

If you want to make sure that you stick to your clothing budget as well as spending less time putting together outfits which then don’t quite work, a capsule wardrobe could definitely be for you.

Read our article about outfit ideas: how to get inspiration for your next outfit.

So, exactly what is a capsule wardrobe?

Quite simply, a capsule closet is a a limited number of clothes, shoes and accessories, which all go together, making getting dressed a breeze. Above is an example of a capsule wardrobe for the natural style personality.

The term “capsule wardrobe” has been around since the 70s when London boutique owner Susie Faux is said to have coined the phrase as part of her bid to help women invest in key pieces that all worked with each other.

Designer Donna Karen then released a collection of 7 items of work wear, all designed to go together and make the working week easy, before the idea regained popularity again among women keen to do more with less.

How many items should you have in your perfect capsule?

This varies from woman to woman, so I can’t answer this one for you. There has been plenty of advice offered about how you should only have 30 or 37 items in your closet, for example.

However, I would define a capsule differently. I think it’s about making sure that you wear everything within your closet, and it’s definitely hard to do that if nothing goes together or you have 500 items in there.

So, whether you have 30 or 60 or 120 items is up to you. Just make sure you love everything you own and you wear it.

Do you only need one capsule wardrobe?

Again, this comes down to you and your lifestyle. You may find that you are happy with one overall capsule wardrobe.

Or, it could be that what works for you is to have one casual capsule, for example, and then one capsule wardrobe for work or more formal wear.

Depending on where you live and what the weather is like, you may want to think about creating your capsule wardrobe for the seasons.

I also find that when I’m travelling, it is useful to create a mini travel capsule wardrobe for my trip so I know what I can create plenty of outfits.

You can also have a capsule wardrobe around a certain color like navy (see below).

A navy capsule wardrobe | 40plusstyle.com

The benefits of a capsule wardrobe

“Capsule wardrobe” isn’t just some trendy term to be bandied about. It can have so many benefits, and not just for your style. Here are the main advantages to creating a capsule, or capsules:

  • You will save money as you won’t impulse buy
  • You will wear everything you own
  • You will be able to get dressed quickly
  • Your closet will be neat
  • You will have fewer items, but more outfits

Tips on how to build a capsule wardrobe

Capsule wardrobe essentials: Start with your basic wardrobe

That doesn’t mean that your basics have to be basic. However, just like a house, a good capsule wardrobe starts with good foundations.

So, think about the essentials you need in your closet for your lifestyle.

You can then build your capsule wardrobe around these.

Bell sleeve white blouse with pleated skirt | 40plusstyle.com

For example, if you make sure you have a great pair of jeans which fits perfectly, a classic pair of black pants and a pair of white pants, these will go with so many of your tops.

But that doesn’t mean that your capsule wardrobe has to consist of “boring” items just to make sure that it all works together. For instance, if you choose a white shirt, you can make sure it is a special white shirt in a silk fabric, or one which features interesting asymmetry.

Kylie (above) wears a top and skirt which would go with so many other items.

Steal her look with this similar blouse, skirt, tights and booties.

Take a look at this article on the ultimate checklist of 28 essentials.

Your capsule collection: Look at what you have already

It can be tempting to think that you have to clear out your entire closet, and then replace it all with a capsule wardrobe of 60 items.

However, that isn’t the case at all. Start with what you already have. Have a closet clear out and make sure that everything you have is something that you love, that you wear and that fits properly.

From there, you can work out any gaps you have in your closet. Make sure that every piece in your closet can be worn with at least 3 other pieces so you don’t create wardrobe orphans (pieces that cannot be worn with any other item in your closet).

Take a look at how to edit your closet.

Use at least 4 colors but preferably more

Combining neutrals and colors in an outfit | 40plusstyle.com

While the idea of a capsule wardrobe is that everything goes with everything else, that does not mean you have to stick to neutrals.

In fact, if you only use a neutral color palette, you may soon tire of your capsule wardrobe.

Instead, choose a color scheme in the same way that you would for your home. Opt for a base of two or three neutrals, but then you can add in plenty of accent colors.

Remember, your clothes have to match with only 3 other pieces in your closet. Unless you opt for an ultra small capsule wardrobe, they don’t need to match with everything. So don’t limit yourself too much on the colors.

If you do want to keep your capsule as minimal as possible the beauty of having your base colors is that when you do become bored with your accent colors, you can always swap your colors around at a later date.

Or, you can do the opposite and keep your colors, but change the neutrals you are using.

Kim (above) uses a pop of red with her neutrals.

Recreate her look with this similar sweater, khaki pants, handbag, sandals and earrings.

Pattern and print

Wearing patterns/prints that can be used in multiple outfits | 40plusstyle.com

Quite often women who limit their wardrobe and create capsules avoid print.

But that can lead to a boring wardrobe and make your outfits a little bit one dimensional.

Instead I encourage you to choose at least a few prints. Again remember, they don’t have to match with all your clothes, just 3 other items.

By sticking to patterns and prints in your color selection, your clothing will still be interchangeable, yet you will add interest.

Cheryl (above) shows that stripes are always a classic option.

Get her look with this similar stripe shirt, cardigan, jeans, sneakers, bag and sunglasses.

Start with your bottoms

The easiest way to start your capsule wardrobe is from the bottom up.

You can begin with jeans or pants and then add interesting tops, dresses and jackets.

Don’t forget your style personality

There can be a perception that a capsule wardrobe means a classic style. And, of course, that can be the case.

But, that is not what a capsule closet is about. A capsule should work for you, no matter what your own individual style personality.

Make sure to take the style personality quiz and you will get your personal capsule wardrobe recommendation with one capsule handpicked for you!

Tanasha (above) wears clothing which could be worn in many ways, but which still showcases her glamorous style.

Get her look with this Gucci belt and this similar camisole, blazer, skirt, heels and earrings.

Capsule wardrobe planner: A capsule wardrobe example

I think the easiest way to describe putting together a capsule wardrobe, is to create an example capsule for you.

In this example, I’m imagining you dress in a smart casual way most of the time. But, of course, this can be adapted according to your lifestyle.

Patricia (above) wears a leopard print skirt which can be worn as a neutral with many other items.

Steal her look with this similar top, skirt, heels, earrings, sunglasses and handbag.

Capsule wardrobe pants

When showing you a capsule, you will usually find that I show you the tops first, simply because, well, they go on the top.

But, here I’m going to start with the bottoms because this is where I would usually start with my own capsule closet.

If you have good, well fitting jeans as well as a pair of black pants and a pair of white pants, these will go with all of the tops in your closet, making it easy to create a capsule.

Of course, you don’t have to keep everything in plain, block colors. You can add a pair of print pants. You will still find that print pants can go with other prints in your closet as well as block color tops.

For this capsule, I’ve opted for dark jeans, white jeans, a pair of wide legged black pants and a slimmer pair of black leggings which you can wear with longer tops and also dresses.

capsule wardrobe pants and jeans | 40plusstyle.com

NYDJ  bootcut jeansEliza J wide leg crop pantsLyssé skinny denim leggingsAG crop jeans

Capsule wardrobe tops

Now to move onto tops. And this is where I’ve started to add some color into this capsule. I’ve stuck to a palette of neutrals along with red and blue.

I’ve also started to add some pattern here, with a stripe and a more graphical print. There is also a wrap top and a white shirt which can be worn casually or for more formal days or dinners.

capsule wardrobe tops | 40plusstyle.com

Treasure & Bond tie dye shirtChelsea28 cross front blouseTommy Hilfiger tie front topSALONI jacquard shirt

Capsule wardrobe jackets and coats

You will also need to think about the outerwear for your capsule. Here, I’ve added four of the most versatile styles for your closet, including a trench coat, blazer and a long-length cardigan.

I also love a moto jacket as these can instantly alter the mood of an outfit to give a more casual feel. You don’t have to stick to black, you could choose a more vibrant color.

capsule wardrobe outerwear | 40plusstyle.com

J. Crew trench coatLucky Brand moto jacketCinq à Sept ruched sleeve blazerLeith longline cardigan

Capsule wardrobe dresses and skirts

The skirts and dresses you choose can also provide versatile options to ensure that you can put together many, many outfits.

For example, you could wear your wrap dress over your pants. Or you can wear a pleated skirt formally with a blazer and shirt, or casually with a moto jacket and t-shirt.

capsule wardrobe dresses and skirts | 40plusstyle.com

Chaus faux wrap midi dressHalogen wrap midi dressRebecca Taylor leather skirt Ted Baker London pleated skirt

Capsule wardrobe shoes and boots

When it comes to choosing the shoes and boots which will work for you, think about your lifestyle as well as what you are most happy to wear.

For example, there is no point in filling your closet with heels that look fantastic on the shelf if you find them too uncomfortable to wear.

As a general guideline, I would say that a pair of sneakers, some sandals, booties and a pair of longer boots will see you through most days.

capsule wardrobe shoes | 40plusstyle.com

Adidas leather sneakerBernardo sandalKurt Geiger ankle bootieVery Volatile knee high boot

Capsule wardrobe accessories

Your accessories can really make or break your outfits, and your capsule wardrobe concept.

They can also enable you to change up your capsule when you feel that you are tiring of your outfits.

If you have a palette of neutrals in your closet, then simply adding new colors with your accessories can give your outfits a completely different look.

capsule wardrobe accessories | 40plusstyle.com

Steve Madden stud clutchRebecca Minkoff leather crossbody bagTory Burch leather toteRag & Bone fedoraNordstrom silk scarfVince Camuto statement necklaceKendra Scott drop earrings

Reminders on your capsule wardrobe checklist

I hope this article has inspired you to create a capsule of your own. Here are some points to remember before you add any new item to your closet:

  • Does it go with at least 3 other items that I already own?
  • How many outfits can I create if I add this to my closet?
  • Does this tie in with my own personal style?
  • Very importantly, does it fit properly?
  • Does it suit my lifestyle?

Now, to put together all of the clothes, shoes and accessories from the capsule wardrobe above.

You can wear these in countless different ways, but here are 9 outfits to get you started.

The ultimate guide to creating a capsule wardrobe | 40plusstyle.com

Do you already have a capsule wardrobe? Or is a capsule closet something you are hoping to create? I’d love to hear your own thoughts and tips

Continue reading:

  1. Outfit Ideas: How To Get Inspiration For Your Next Outfit When You’re Bored With Everything In Your Closet
  2. How To Do More With Less – Or Why It’s Ok To Wear The Same Outfit Multiple Times
  3. A Capsule Wardrobe For The Classic Style Personality

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The ultimate guide to creating a capsule wardrobe | 40plusstyle.com

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