Simplify Your Life With a Capsule Wardrobe

Fewer decisions to make and a more streamlined look – what's not to love?

 minimalist wardrobe

 Chiociolla / Getty Images

How often have you stood in front of your closet, wondering what to wear? Perhaps the closet is overflowing with clothes, but you still feel like nothing's the right choice. If you can relate to this, then it might be time to build yourself a capsule wardrobe. This is a small collection of basic, essential clothing items that don’t go out of fashion. Think of it as a distilled version of your closet that not only makes it easier to choose an outfit, but helps you to dress better because you've weeded out those less-than-perfect pieces.

Is your interest piqued? Here's how to get started on transforming your own wardrobe from chaotic to curated.

Think About Your Look

Take some time to assess whether you dress a certain way because you feel you have to, or because you genuinely like it. Think about the clothes you love to wear and that you reach for automatically. Analyze the frequency with which you wear certain styles of clothes, i.e. professional outfits, loungewear, gym clothes. Let these be the foundation on which you build your new capsule wardrobe.

All of the pieces in your capsule wardrobe should work with at least three others. None should be a standalone statement piece that cannot be paired with multiple others in the closet. Choose a neutral color palette with subtle or no patterns, and avoid overly trendy cuts and colors. Keep pieces that can be layered to create warmth and visual interest, so as not to occupy valuable closet space with rarely-used, season-specific items. Use versatile accessories to switch up looks.

 Capsule wardrobe concept

 CarmenMurillo / Getty Images

 

Choose Quality Over Quantity

Well-constructed clothes tend to fit better, feel more comfortable, and last longer than cheaply made clothes. If you've paid more for something, you may be more inclined to care for clothes properly. (Rule #1: Follow those laundry directions precisely!) You may seek out repairs if damage occurs, rather than throwing them away.

Turn It Into a Game

If you're having trouble figuring out how to pare down your wardrobe, sign up for Courtney Carver's Project 333 challenge, which has followers shrink their wardrobes to 33 items for three months at a time. (This is to accommodate seasonal changes that require new items.) The 10x10 Fashion Challenge is another good one. You wear different combinations of the same ten items for ten days. (Some people do 20x20 to make it easier.)

Be a Proud Outfit Repeater

There's nothing wrong with wearing the same clothes repeatedly. In fact, most people will probably not notice that your wardrobe is less varied than it used to be, especially if you're always wearing items that make you feel great and exude comfortable confidence. 

The surprising thing about a capsule wardrobe is that, once you have removed many of the surplus items from your closet, you may actually feel like you have more. That's because you'll finally be able to see what's there and visualize the combinations. A capsule wardrobe is just one more example of how minimalism is actually abundance in disguise.

Katherine Martinko, November 2020
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