Capsule wardrobe rules
The capsule wardrobe is a popular personal-organization strategy that helps you build a wardrobe with only the clothes you love and wear.
It’s not a strict system of rules or anything like that; it’s more like a loose framework to guide your shopping decisions. The idea is that by only buying pieces that fit into one single category (e.g., shirts), you’ll end up with a closet full of versatile outfits that can be mixed and matched in infinite combinations.
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Start with a blank canvas.
To begin, you’ll need a blank canvas—a closet that’s completely empty. This isn’t as scary as it sounds; you just have to get rid of everything that you haven’t worn in the last six months. Once this is done, we’re ready to move on to the next step: creating a checklist of the basics.
- Black dress shirt
- White button down shirt
- Dark jeans (or black skinny jeans)
Once we’ve got our list of essentials for each category, it’s time to start filling our closet with them!
The easiest way to do this is by shopping for basics at a store like JCPenney, where they have an entire section dedicated to basics. You can also check out stores like Kohl’s, Target and H&M if you’re looking for more affordable options. Once you’ve got your closet filled with the essentials, you’ll be ready to start building on your wardrobe!
Ask yourself what you wear most often, and then focus on those pieces.
Ask yourself what you wear most often, and then focus on those pieces. For example: for me, it’s a mix of work clothes and workout gear. For others, it may be all about their PJs or the few items they wear to travel. Whatever your answer is, take a close look at what makes up your wardrobe in these categories so that you can use this information to start building your capsule wardrobe around them.
Go through every piece of clothing in your closet, try everything on, and keep only what still fits and makes you feel fabulous.
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Go through every piece of clothing in your closet, try everything on and keep only what still fits and makes you feel fabulous.
Remember: this is not an excuse to spend money on new clothes. If a garment doesn’t fit or no longer suits your style, donate it or give it away!
If there are any items that are too worn out to be donated, consider selling them at a consignment store or online (eBay has a great buyback program).
Get rid of anything that is stained or torn.
You’ll want to get rid of any clothing that is stained or torn. If it’s not in good condition, get rid of it. You can always give it away if you want to make sure someone else has the opportunity to wear it. If you’re not sure if something is ruined forever, ask a friend for advice on whether they think they could fix whatever happened (e.g., was it just food dye?) or if they would be willing to pay for repairs themselves (e.g., did you rip a seam?).
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If your favorite item of clothing is stained or torn beyond repair, take it to the tailor so that he or she can help make sure that piece stays with your wardrobe—even if its shape is different than when new!
Always keep shoes simple and neutral.
Shoes should always be simple, neutral and comfortable. They should also be easy to walk in, easy to match with outfits and easy to clean. Shoes are the last thing you think about when you’re getting dressed but can make or break an outfit so they deserve some thought and consideration before purchasing them.
Embrace the idea of solids and neutrals; you can add pops of color or personality with accessories or outerwear if you want to go that way
It’s more than just a solid color. It’s an article of clothing that can be worn with other pieces in your wardrobe, so it’s not a ‘stand-alone’ item.
When you’re thinking of staples, think about what pieces you can layer on top of and under them. For example, I have a pair of white jeans that are always my go-to pants when I want to look put together but don’t feel like putting too much thought into an outfit (or if I’m just running errands). But they look better with heels than they do sneakers; and they look great with my crop tops or sweaters but even better with my short sleeve button downs or blouses. So these white jeans are actually quite versatile!
Take stock of your undergarments, too; bras and panties are an easy way to add color (or not) to your wardrobe
There are so many options when it comes to undergarments. Bracelets, necklaces, earrings and rings are all super easy ways to add color or personality to your wardrobe—and they don’t take up too much space.
The great thing about wearing your undergarments is, they’re a subtle way to personalize your look. If you want to add some color, wear bright socks or colorful tights. If you want to show off some personality, put on some fun earrings or rings.
A basic rule is to have no more than 30 pieces in your wardrobe at any given time. This includes accessories like scarves, purses, shoes, etc.
A basic rule is to have no more than 30 pieces in your wardrobe at any given time. This includes accessories like scarves, purses, shoes, etc. It may seem like a lot but once you get used to it and learn how to mix and match pieces from your capsule wardrobe it will feel easier than ever!
If you’re not ready for 30 pieces yet then start with less! I recommend starting off with just 3-5 items per category (tops, bottoms, dresses/skirts). That way if something doesn’t work out or doesn’t fit right when trying it on after washing then hopefully you don’t have too much invested into the piece so there’s no loss of money or guilt from having wasted our time buying something we didn’t love.
Choose pieces that are versatile; i.e. something that can fit into multiple categories like skirts being able to be work-appropriate as well as casual outfits
As you build your wardrobe, you will want to make sure the pieces are versatile; i.e., they can fit into multiple categories like skirts being able to be work-appropriate as well as casual outfits.
A versatile piece is one that can be worn in multiple ways. For example, a skirt can be worn with a t-shirt and sneakers for a casual look, or with a blouse and heels for a more dressy look. A versatile piece can also be worn during different seasons if it has practical features such as pockets or buttons—for instance, you might wear a skirt by itself during warmer months but pair it with leggings when temperatures drop later in the year.
Build a capsule wardrobe by starting with a blank canvas!
- Start with a blank canvas.
- Ask yourself what you wear most often.
- Go through every piece of clothing in your closet and get rid of anything that doesn’t fit or makes you feel fabulous as soon as it comes off the hanger. Don’t be sentimental—if it is stained, torn or too worn out, don’t keep it! Keep shoes simple and neutral if possible (I have three pairs).
* Use a neutral color palette for maximum versatility. It’s hard to go wrong with a classic black-and-white outfit—even when you throw in some prints, patterns or bold colors!
What are the rules of a capsule wardrobe?
If you’re new to the idea of a capsule wardrobe, here are some guidelines to help you get started.
- Choose clothes that are versatile. A good rule is to have three items for every occasion: one basic top/shirt, one pair of pants/jeans, and one dress/skirt/knee-length skirt. This allows for diversity in each category without going overboard on pieces that may not be worn often enough.
- Make sure everything can mix and match with other pieces from your collection easily! If you have too many similar items or prints closeted away at the back of your closet because they don’t match with anything else—that’s a problem! Do yourself (and all those outfits we’ll never get to see) a favor by only buying what works with everything else in your life right now.
- Be mindful of seasonal variations when choosing colors and materials; this means cotton blends work well through spring while lightweight wool looks best during fall months when it gets chilly outside again (you know what I mean).
How many clothes should be in a capsule wardrobe?
As a general rule, the number of clothes you should have in your capsule wardrobe is no more than 30. This includes shoes and accessories, undergarments, and casuals (2-3), dressy (2-3) and business casuals (4-5). It also includes 2-3 outfits that can be worn with both casual items like jeans or slacks with a t shirt as well as dressier pieces like suits or blouses with skirts/dresses. As for business casual this may mean wearing button down shirts but having them tucked into a skirt versus untucked and paired with slacks.
If you have more than 30 items in your closet then consider getting rid of anything that no longer fits well or has stains/tears beyond repair before adding any new pieces to your collection! Keep only those things that make you feel fabulous when you wear them!
How do I switch to a capsule wardrobe?
- Have a plan.
- Start with a blank canvas and ask yourself: What do I wear most often?
- Go through every piece of clothing in your closet, which should now be pared down to the basics, and ask yourself if it still fits and makes you feel fabulous (the same rule applies to shoes). If not, get rid of it!
- Keep everything else that still fits and makes you feel fabulous—and doesn’t require dry cleaning or special care—even if it’s not your favorite color or style at the moment. You may be surprised by how much better you look when dressed according to these guidelines (and no one will know about that neon pink shirt hidden at the back of your dresser).
How many pants should be in a capsule wardrobe?
- 1 pair of jeans. You need a pair of skinny jeans, a pant that sits high on the waist and hugs around your thighs.
- 1 pair of black pants. A classic black dress pant is always good to have on hand, whether it’s for work or a night out with friends.
- 1 pair of khaki pants (Optional). If you want something more casual than jeans but still want something darker than white or cream, khaki might be the way to go! They’re great for wearing at work when you don’t want to feel too dressed up, but they can also look equally good with an oversized sweater for errands around town on the weekend (and maybe some sneakers if you like).
- 2 pairs in capris/shorts/skirts that are knee-length or shorter (Optional). These are great for summertime—you can wear them with sandals or flip flops and still feel put together enough to go grocery shopping without feeling overdressed! I would suggest sticking with neutral colors like tan/brown/khaki here because they’ll pair well with anything else in your wardrobe later down the line when it comes time again next year when those same items may be worn out from wear & tear.”
Capsule wardrobes are a way of life. They’re a practical way to spend less time thinking about what you should wear and more time doing the things that matter most to you. And they can make your life easier—no more shopping for hours, no more overspending on clothes that don’t work with each other. Plus, they look good! I recommend starting with a blank canvas as your first step into this new wardrobe adventure; knowing what works best for you will help guide your choices later on when choosing pieces to add or subtract from your existing collection of clothing pieces