How To Create A Capsule Wardrobe
BUILDING A "CAPSULE WARDROBE" SOUNDS DAUNTING. YOU LOOK AT THE FASHION MAGS FOR TIPS AND IT CAN BE OVERWHELMING DECIDING WHICH "MUST HAVE" PIECES YOU CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT AND WHAT BASICS YOU JUST NEED. WHAT IF THEY ARE ALL WRONG? WHAT IF IT'S ALL ABOUT WHAT YOU LIKE?
A Capsule Wardrobe is all about making getting dressed each day easier and more authentic for you by paring your closet down to a few essential items that you love that can be easily put together to give you the look you want. It sounds impossible to create the perfect wardrobe but it can be very easy.
There are a few steps involved, but once you're done, your wardrobe will be your 'chill zone' and you won't have to worry about what looks good on you or makes you feel your best. Your closet will be full of just that.
1. Take Inventory
You'll only need two things for this first step, a pen and a notebook. Get in your closet and take a good look around. Don't look for items that 'spark joy' or for that sweater you've been saving since fourth grade. Just look and make note of what you see. We're going to take stock of what you have and what you're working with. Be completely unbiased in this step. Remember, this is a No Judgement Zone. No making faces at the pants you haven't fit into for four years just accept it and move to the next thing. Group like things together if it makes it easier. If taking inventory means you have to drag everything out of your closet, then set aside time just to do that. Include shoes, hats, whatever you have in there thats actual clothing.
Tip: this is also a really good time to organize and clean your closet if it's not done already. Get everything where you can see it. This step might take a while and that's fine. It might take two weekends or two months to really go through and see what you have. It sounds complicated, but this is the most important step and the one that lays the foundation for the rest of what you're doing. Don't rush it or skip it. Get shit done so you don't have to do it later! You don't want to get into the next few steps and be surprised by things you thought you need that you already have a few of. Believe me. Been there and done that. It's kind of annoying.
2. Get Inspired
Now that you know what you have, what do you need? What do you want? Imagine the outfits that you would need to fulfill the vision that you have for yourself. Create a Pinterest board and load it up with images of clothing that inspires you, but will fit into what you need.. If your heart is begging you to dress up in lace and cotton candy colors but you only have navy or black everything, then you aren't representing who you are.
Now that you know what's on hand, have a seat and decide if your clothes are a) representing the 'you' that you envision for yourself, b) they fit your body and c) they fit your lifestyle. There's no reason to look into your closet in the morning and be stuck with nothing to wear because what you do have just doesn't fit who you are, what you're doing or where you are going. If those pants look great but pinch, so you never wear them, then you don't need them. Don't be uncomfortable in your clothes.
Tip: Take this time to really think about who you are and what you need in your wardrobe. If you stand in your closet every other day thinking you have nothing to wear because you just can't look at any of it and put together an outfit that makes sense for you, then it's time to get it together.
You've decided who you are and what your life needs, let's purge the rest! What you want to get rid of is anything that doesn't fit, is stained or torn, and just doesn't work with your lifestyle or vision for yourself. If you can't bear to part with something for sentimental reasons (and you have the space to keep it), there's no reason why you can't keep it but everything else has to go! Do not keep what you do not wear, don't like or what doesn't fit. Grab a bag, toss it in and either hit up Goodwill or eBay and say goodbye to it all. You're aiming for a Capsule Wardrobe that gets you through your days with the less amount of stress and fuss, so cut out the fuss.
Tip: If you're on the fence about anything because you like it but you're unsure, hang it in the back of your closet. That old "if I don't look for it then I don't love it" rule totally works here. If you go a few months and never even think to look for that item, purge it. I promise you won't even miss it.
Grab your notepad and write down anything you are missing that will fill in the gaps between what you have, what you need. This is the first step where I will encourage you to be ruthless with your wardrobe. We're laying the foundation here for a wardrobe that really helps you get dressed quickly and easily. Imagine you're stumbling into your closet with an hour to get out your door and you need to get ready pronto. Where are you going? When you get there, what are you wearing? Who do you want to be? What do you have now that works for that? What's one more thing you need for the outfit? Save the rhinestone covered bolero that would make that outfit sing for another day. Remember we are being mean to ourselves and just this once, it's okay to go for basic over fun. Figure out what you really need immediately, write it down and move to the next outfit. The catch is that you can only build outfits at this point, so aim for basics that will give you multiple looks. Be a little (lot) mean with yourself. Don't go for 'wants'. This isn't the step for that.
This is your first shopping step and it's easy to go wild, but take it slowly! Focus on the very few things that you absolutely, positively must have and start there.You need to get the items that work for you and your lifestyle. There are no hard rules for the list of things you have to have or else. You know your life and style better than anyone. My only rule is that you are just as ruthless in this step as in step five. Buy only what you need to flesh out your closet so that you can create enough outfits for one or two weeks (according to your budget and patience) and then STOP! Do not buy anything else on your list. You're going to live in this wardrobe until you've cycled through every outfit before you hit the next step. Take your time. I can wait (you thought this was just a weekend project? Think again!).
Tip: Do not buy what you won't wear or what doesn't fit you. We're not replacing one big glaring 'no', with another big glaring 'no'.
So, it's been a week or so. Now you should know what's working for you and what could get a little kick in the butt. Grab your list from step one. You're going to slowly add in the things from that list that you need to either create new outfits or make the ones you have better. Re-evaluate your outfits and if the pieces don't fit in, donate them and purchase the next item on your list.
You're probably noticed that what you thought you needed has changed over the last few weeks. Step 7 is all about editing what you really need vs what you really want and growing from there to really make your Capsule Wardrobe fit you.
Yes, this word is overused. Yes, I'm using it anyway. Why? Because it perfectly fits what your going to do next. It's been about a month or so and you've had the chance to test run all of your outfits. Everything you're wearing now fits your life and makes you happy. But there's just something you need that will fill the gap. Well you know what? This is when you get to have it!
You have a basic wardrobe that's working for you and now is the time to fine tune and make it fun. Don't give up your ruthless angle or the idea that you're creating outfits with each purchase, but add in the details that will take those outfits from just outfits to moments. That's accessories, hats, jackets, killer shoes and kickass just for fun pieces that make you smile. Get the fun things on your list but space them out. Don't go out and buy every single thing right this second cause you feel like you're dying without it. Stay picky about what you're wearing.
Tip: Curating is all about making small changes, developing and refining your style, to make things better. This can take an entire year, and that's fine. It's a delicate process and shouldn't be rushed.
Now, you should have a closet full of things that make you look and feel like the boss bitch you are. There are times that you'll have to revisit these steps (my favorite revisits are Purge and Edit) and that's normal. Style progresses and changes and your Capsule Wardrobe should change with it. If you're sticking to what you love and works for you, there will be minimal tweaks through the seasons that keeps your wardrobe on point for you.
Karra Wade is a lifestyle blogger, boutique owner and content creator living in Texas with her husband and two dogs.
In 2015, she started Feather + Arrow to promote her work and share bits of personal life. It has slowly grown into a place where she can not only share musings about her day but also discuss fashion tips, lifestyle inspiration and peeks into her shop.