How many times have you looked at your overstuffed closet and thought, “I have nothing to wear”? A wardrobe with too many options can be overwhelming. And, let’s be honest, how many of those pieces do you actually wear on a regular basis?

Creating a capsule wardrobe is an easy way to reduce closet confusion, simplify your morning routine and cut down on waste. By paring down your wardrobe to a few beautiful and simple pieces, you’ll know exactly what to wear each day and truly love every outfit.

What Is a Capsule Wardrobe?

A capsule wardrobe is a small collection of classic pieces that you can easily pair together and wear again and again. Instead of a closet crammed with options, the goal is to whittle down your selection to about 40 items or less (including bags and purses!). Some rotate their capsule wardrobe seasonally, while others choose ensembles that will last through the year.

This is your capsule wardrobe, so don’t get too hung up on the rules. If you need an evening gown or a cocktail dress that you only wear once or twice a year, that’s fine. A winter coat is a necessity in most of the country, even if it goes unused May through September. Having a few one-off items is okay — you just want to have as few pieces as possible.

Also, undergarments don’t count! There’s no need to pare down to just two pairs of underwear. Keep the lingerie you need, but again, try not to overstuff your delicates drawer.

How Do You Build a Capsule Wardrobe?

Susie Faux, inventor of the term capsule wardrobe, recommends having at least two pairs of pants, a dress or a skirt, a jacket, a coat, a sweater (or piece of knitwear), two pairs of shoes, and two bags. This is the minimum, so don’t worry if that feels a little sparse. You can add a T-shirt, blouse, jeans, or a pair of sneakers and still have a small but mighty capsule wardrobe.

However many basics you choose, you want to make sure they can all easily go together. If you have a purple peplum skirt you love, it goes in the wardrobe only if it matches at least four other pieces.

Picking a simple color scheme will make this much easier. That doesn’t mean you have to wear all black, just be sure that most of your pieces are neutrals and that any pops of color pair with the rest of your closet.

It’s also best to stick with classic silhouettes. Though a drop-crotch pant might look cute, it’s not likely to stay relevant more than a season or two. You want timeless styles you can wear over and over again for years to come. 

Lastly, be sure to choose well-made, quality items. You’ll be wearing these clothes repeatedly, and fast fashion won’t hold up to the wear and tear. Since you’re investing in just a few pieces of clothing, it’s best to spend a little more now and save a lot in the long run.

How to Create a Capsule Wardrobe

Everyone’s capsule wardrobe will be different, but here are a few true essentials to get you started.

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White Button-Down Shirt

White Button-Down
A white button-down shirt might be the most versatile clothing item you can own. Untucked, it’s a great casual Sunday afternoon look. Paired with trousers for the office or leather pants for a night out, it’s chic and sexy. Honestly, a white button-down can do it all. 

Black T-Shirt

Black Tee
For slightly more casual looks, a black T-shirt is perfect. It goes with everything, is super comfortable and manages to look put together, no ironing required. Choose a basic crew-neck or a slight V. Just be sure the neckline is comfortable for you and works for a variety of occasions. 

Women's Jeans

Good Jeans
Don’t bother with the jeans that look good but are horribly uncomfortable — or the one pair of acid-wash beauties you got during a wave of nostalgia. Instead, pick a comfortable, classic pair of jeans. For maximum versatility, try a darker wash with a fairly conservative cut. A mid-rise with a straight leg tends to stay in style, though if you’d rather a high waist and wide leg, that’s fine! Get whatever style you’ll feel good about wearing season after season.

Black Pants

Black Pants
Though you could opt for navy or khaki, a quality pair of black pants won’t do you wrong. They immediately add a touch of formality to any outfit, while still being comfy and versatile. Try a cropped trouser (especially if you live in a warmer locale) or a wide-leg style if you’re going for a bolder look.

Leopard Midi Skirt

Midi Skirt
Maxi skirts can look too formal — or like you’re about to hit the beach — while mini skirts aren’t necessarily appropriate for every occasion. The midi skirt, however, feels relaxed yet smart. It’s also a good opportunity to add a pop of color or pattern to your capsule wardrobe. Leopard midi skirts are very of the moment, but since the print is so classic, they won’t be going out of style anytime soon. Or you could choose one in a striking but versatile color like hunter green or bright blue. 

Women's Blazer

A light jacket is pretty much a capsule wardrobe requirement, and a blazer is one of your best bets, since it can be worn as outerwear or as part of your outfit. Once only office attire, a blazer can be styled with a graphic tee and jeans for a more casual look — or with a crop top and high-waisted denim for a night out. This is another opportunity to add some neutral patterns, like houndstooth or tweed, to your closet.

Black Tote Bag

Your Favorite Bag
A capsule wardrobe means keeping your bags to a minimum, so be sure to pick something you really love. We suggest opting for a slightly larger handbag — that way you’ll be able to carry around everything you need, without worrying about moving all your stuff from one bag to another. Many totes also come with detachable pouches that can double as wallets or clutches. Leather will last practically forever, or for a vegan option, try a handwoven bag made from all-natural fibers.

Little Black Dress

No wardrobe is complete without a little black dress. A turtleneck dress is a classic style that can go from meetings to martinis without missing a beat. If you want something that’s a little sassier but still sophisticated, try a body-con number. And, of course, you can never go wrong with a universally flattering wrap dress, especially in basic black.

Photo by Amanda Vick on Unsplash

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