How to Build a Capsule Wardrobe

Ever find yourself looking at a closet full of clothes and still thinking you have nothing to wear? We’ve all been there. Trying to scour through your clothes every morning for an outfit can be very frustrating, not to mention time-consuming.The problem isn’t that we have nothing to wear, the problem is that we either buy something on a whim and then end up hating it just as fast as we fell in love with it, or we spend all our money on summer-y bikinis and shorts leaving us empty-handed come fall. We might have closets bursting with trendy pieces, but because most of them were spontaneous purchases, they’re probably not cohesive and not practical for the long haul. The real issue here? You have a lot of clothes and you still aren’t happy. Why is that?

We get it. Fashion changes so rapidly, and every season there’s a whole new collection of trends to love. Naturally, we stock up on things that are trendy to match whatever “moment” fashion is having, without thinking about the future. It’s hard to remember that those knee-high gladiator sandals that you just bought will be useless by the Fall and probably out of style next summer. What we end up with are closets full of fun individual pieces that are cute on their own but don’t go with anything else and aren’t built to last for seasons to come. If this sounds like your dilemma, why not try building a capsule wardrobe? What’s a capsule wardrobe, you ask? It’s a wardrobe built from outfits and style staples that you are in love with–an arsenal of clothes that are essential, work well with each other, fit well, and can be used all year long. A capsule wardrobe is especially useful if you’re moving, traveling, or simply just trying to declutter your closets. And in the end, you end up saving both money and space. It’s a win-win!


How to start building a wardrobe capsule:

1. First, you will need to empty your entire closet and put your clothes, shoes, and accessories in separate piles:

Love It Pile – These are your absolute favorite items that you wouldn’t dream of getting rid of. These items deserve to be in your closet.

Maybe Pile – You might not wear these items because there’s something off about them. It could be that you’ve grown out of the style, but still think you might wear them in the future, or there’s just something about these pieces that you can’t let go of. Think really hard about these pieces, and put the ones you want to hold onto in a bin (or bins) and store them in your closet if you have space or the garage. Get rid of the ones you haven’t worn in ages (because you’ll probably never wear them again, let’s be real). You don’t want to regret giving that one top away when you have the desire to wear it 3 months from now, but on the other hand, you don’t want to hold onto a bunch of useless pieces that are just going to take up space. 

Seasonal Pile – Definitely hold on to these clothes. They might not work right now but they will come in handy later, so put these in labelled bins according to seasons and put them back in your closet as well.

Never Again Pile – The name says it all – you know you will not wear it, and you will never think about wearing it in the near future. Give these items to Goodwill, or to friends that would like them, because they’re not going to be missed. If you don’t know whether to get rid of an item ask yourself whether you’ve worn it in the past 2 years. If your answer is no, it’s time to give it away.

2. Next, organize your closet with all the items you plan to keep:

Separate items according to season and color-coordinate to make it easier and more visually appealing to you. Having an organized closet will help you decide what to wear, and maybe even help you fall back in love with your wardrobe It also looks pretty and will definitely make your friends jealous.

Basics - Denim Jacket

3. Guidelines for a Capsule Wardrobe:

This is just a framework. You’ll obviously want to hold on to the clothes you just sorted and organized in your closet in steps 1 and 2, but now we need to think about the essentials–what we already have, and what we might still need to have a fully functional wardrobe.

Basics - Formal Dress

Let’s Start With the Basics

These are the items that every woman should keep in her closet at a minimum. These items are the foundation for any outfit and are classic, therefore they will never go out of style. Check to see which of these you have already, and which of these you might still need. 

  1. Two camisoles/tank tops – one black, one white
  2. Two long sleeved tops
  3. One “dressy” top
  4. Three dresses – one for work, one casual, one for night time
  5. Three skirts – one pencil skirt, one a-line, one casual
  6. Two cardigans – one long, one short
  7. One denim jacket
  8. Two pairs of jeans – one blue and one black
  9. Two pairs of shorts – one denim, one dressy
  10. Two scarves
  11. One pair of black pumps
  12. One pair of riding boots
  13. One pair of flat sandals
  14. One pair of sneakers
  15. Two handbags – one tote and one crossbody
  16. Leggings
  17. Two scarves

After you have built your foundation, you can adjust your wardrobe to the seasons accordingly. Here are a few extra pieces that you can add to your closet to spice up your wardrobe for each season.

Add to Spring


  1. One floral dress
  2. One pair of white/pastel jeans
  3. One pair of short stacked heels or wedges
  4. One sleeveless top

Add to Summer


  1. One romper
  2. Two pairs of bright/colored shorts
  3. Two bathing suits
  4. One floppy hat
  5. One pair of flip flops

Add to Fall


  1. One sweater dress
  2. One pair of booties
  3. Two pairs of stockings/knee high socks
  4. One fall coat

Add to Winter


  1. One winter coat
  2. One pair of rain boots
  3. One beanie
  4. One wool scarf
  5. One leather jacket

Building a capsule wardrobe should be fun and flexible, and you should edit and play around with your wardrobe according to your lifestyle. For example, if you have a certain dress code at work, then incorporate more work-appropriate essentials into your capsule wardrobe. If you live in a colder climate, incorporate more jackets and coats into your capsule wardrobe. . Tailor your wardrobe to your specific needs, but keep it classic, invest wisely, and eventually you’ll have curated a closet that will fit your needs for years to come!