capsule wardrobe

How To Use A Capsule Wardrobe to Save Time & Money

Minimizing and simplifying our lives is more than a trend that started with Marie Kondo. It is a lifestyle change that shows us that less is more. One of the benefits of minimal living is that it decreases clutter and eliminates decision fatigue. An area of life where you can do this and save a lot of time and money is in your closet. The best way to do this is to create a capsule wardrobe.

While for some, picking out an outfit is a creative process of self-expression, for others, it is just something clean to put on that accommodates your tasks for the day. For still others, you might work from home and not worry as much about what you wear daily.

Regardless of your lifestyle and work requirements, a capsule wardrobe (and the varying types of capsule wardrobes) can benefit anyone.

What Is A Capsule Wardrobe?

The main authority on the capsule wardrobe movement is Caroline Rector, who is also the creator of, where you can find many resources on creating capsule collections (including her wonderful wardrobe planner). According to her:

..a capsule wardrobe is a mini wardrobe of versatile pieces that you love to wear.

How Does It Work?

Caroline recommends 37 items as the golden number of clothing to own, with variations by season. You should take what you have in your closet now and size it down to 37 wearable items that all match with each other. This is key because even with fewer interchangeable items, you can create unlimited outfits.

Once you pare down your wardrobe, test wear only those items for 3 months. Avoid shopping for any new items until the next season.

Since no two wardrobes or lifestyles are the same, you can adjust the number of garments to suit your needs. These items include tops, bottoms, and dresses. You may count shoes and accessories separately.

You Can Have Multiple Capsules

Also, consider the categories of where you would wear these items. For instance, there is workout clothing, lounge clothing, work clothing, formal wear, and so on. You can create capsule collections for each category. While the original idea is to adjust your collection each season, you may not need to do this, depending on where you live.


You can start by creating your capsule wardrobe from what you already have or using a service to do it for you. Alternatively, you can do a combination; use what you already have and then shop for new items each season (or as needed).

The Benefits Of A Capsule Collection

There are many benefits to downsizing your closet and creating a capsule collection, including:

  • Cost savings
  • Time savings
  • Space savings
  • Avoid decision fatigue
  • Making the most of what you have

Decluttering our closets and downsizing to only keep items that we will use, allows us more time, money, and energy for other things in our lives that matter.

Regarding decision fatigue, everything in your capsule collection should match each other. In other words, any top you get your hands on should work with any bottom, and vice versa. By knowing that everything already works together, you save time figuring out that exact question.

In addition, it’s amazing how much time you can save when you know exactly what you own.

How To Create Your Capsule Wardrobe

The first thing you want to do before putting together your capsule collection is to open that closet. Finding motivation might be hard at first, but all you are required to do is start.

Start going through each item in your closet, one by one. Label each as a keep, donate, or sell. Then look at the keep pile. That is where we are going to pull from for this capsule wardrobe.

What A Capsule Wardrobe Looks Like

There is no “right” way to create a capsule wardrobe. You are good to go as long as you have downsized your closet to a manageable number of clothes you love and plan on wearing in a rotation. The entire purpose behind creating something like this is to make your life a little easier. As long as your capsule(s) accomplishes that, you did it “right”.

Use the breakdown below as a guideline to get to the coveted number of 37 for your capsule wardrobe (please tweak it for your needs):

  • 11 tops
  • 11 bottoms
  • 6 outerwear items
  • 3 dresses
  • 6 shoes

Seasonal vs. All-Year Round

If you live somewhere where the weather changes drastically each season, you don’t need to have four separate capsule wardrobes. Consider creating two. One for warm weather and one for cold weather. You can get away with one capsule wardrobe if you live somewhere tropical. You might need to add extra items like rain boots, raincoats, etc, to be prepared for the weather in your area.

You can also include accessories in your capsule wardrobe lineup like scarves, jewelry, hats, etc, but those can be considered “extra” items. Remember to include as much in your wardrobe as your lifestyle and the climate of that lifestyle call for.

Sub-Categories and “Work Uniforms”

At helpful strategy in creating capsule wardrobe(s) is categorizing the items based on where they will be worn. There are four categories to consider:

Some of the items in your capsule will straddle the categories of where you will wear them and the more they do that, the better. The more multi-functional a clothing item is, the better.

Try Out Your Capsule

After you think you have a good starter capsule wardrobe together, test it out in the real world. Get into the habit of the rotation and laundry. See how you feel in them and if there is anything you want to add, tweak or change in any way about the items.

Is a Capsule Wardrobe Right for You?

Capsule wardrobes aren’t for everyone. Certain people have a real passion for fashion and collect certain items from designer collections. Some express themselves through their fashion and mix it up daily with different items. Doing this is not about giving up collections or passions.

Rather, capsule wardrobes are meant to help streamline your closets, reduce decision fatigue, and increase the use of the items you do have. If you’re unsure, start with a sub-capsule wardrobe, as mentioned earlier.

Create one for everyday loungewear, for instance, or maybe just as a “work uniform” capsule. See how it feels. If you hate it, you can always go back. If you loved it, look for more ways to incorporate the same logic to other areas of your life that might need simplification.

Travel Capsules

One area where a capsule wardrobe can come in handy is when you travel. If you’re a frequent traveler, you may prefer this approach.

Travel capsules are clothes that you pack for a trip that are all interchangeable and match with each other – just as a capsule wardrobe should do.

The benefit here is that you can pack minimally (for instance, in a couple of packing cubes) and still have enough different outfits to fulfill your travel needs.

So, if creating a capsule wardrobe seems overwhelming, then consider starting with one for your trips. See how it suits you and if you enjoy the benefits.

Final Thoughts

So much time is spent dealing with stuff and deciding how that stuff fits into our lives. A capsule wardrobe is just one idea to remove waste, reduce excess and simplify your day.

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