The minimalist lifestyle isn’t anything new, but it’s been gaining traction as of late. A “less is more” attitude can be applied to almost any area of your life—from home décor to spending habits to personal style. The latter entered my radar recently when I heard someone refer to their “capsule wardrobe.”
Though I’m not the first person to embrace a pared-down collection of clothes, I realized I’d had a capsule wardrobe well before I had the vocabulary for it. If your closet is overflowing with things you never wear or you have a hard time curating outfits with the pieces you own, you might want to consider it too. Here’s what you should know.
What Is a Capsule Wardrobe?
A capsule wardrobe is essentially a wardrobe consisting of a limited number of high-quality, versatile pieces. It’ll vary by season, but this number might be 40, it could be 50, or if you want to go full-on minimalist, it might be more like 20. To simplify things even further, some people buy clothes only once a season, selecting a few key pieces they know they’ll wear in the coming months.
The idea is that you not only love but regularly wear everything you own. While Marie Kondo had a lot of people purging their closets of anything that didn’t “spark joy,” getting rid of unworthy clothing items is only the half of it. You probably already have at least a few pieces you wear all the time, and those things should stay. But if you’re tossing 95% of your wardrobe, you’ll also need to add some new items.
More Money, More Time
At first glance, overhauling your closet might seem like an expensive endeavor. And though you may need to invest in some quality clothes to complete your capsule wardrobe, it can actually save you money in the long run.
Look, we’re all guilty of fast fashion. But over the years, buying lots of cheap clothing that hardly ever (or never) sees the light of day can cost you more than you’d spend on fewer well-made, wear-anywhere pieces.
A capsule wardrobe can do more than save you money. It can also substantially cut down on the time you spend deciding what to wear. When everything you own can be mixed and matched into flattering outfit combinations for every occasion, your life will be a lot easier.
Knowing the less time he spent on picking out his clothes, the more time he’d have to run a world-changing business, Steve Jobs famously wore jeans and a black turtleneck every day. I’m not suggesting your capsule wardrobe be as simple as the late Apple founder’s, but we can all learn a thing or two from the poster boy of the “work uniform.”
If you’re the type of person who browses clothing sites online—aren’t we all?—you’ll definitely save time if you shop only once a season. Unsubscribe to those promo emails, resist boredom browsing, and relish in your newfound free time and peace of mind.
What Your Capsule Wardrobe Might Look Like
Building a capsule wardrobe is undoubtedly practical. But it’s also about honing in on your taste in fashion. If your closet is filled with things you don’t like (or like in theory but never feel inclined to wear), it doesn’t represent your personal style.
Your capsule wardrobe will look different than the next person’s. However, there are a few essential pieces and universally flattering items everyone should have in their arsenal. This includes a good pair of jeans, a pair of slacks, a white button-down, some simple knit shirts, a dress, a sweater that can be dressed up or down, casual shoes, dressier shoes, and a seasonal jacket.
When shopping for new clothes each season, opt for neutral hues that can be mixed, matched, and paired together without much thought. I’m talking black, white, off-white, tan, navy, and gray. You might think this is the recipe for a lackluster look. And yet, with the right cuts and a few accessories, neutrals are anything but boring.
Stock Up on Your Favs
If you have five white shirts in your closet but only wear one, wouldn’t it make more sense to own five of the one you love? You can apply this logic to your capsule wardrobe. When you find a style you wear multiple times a week, it might be worth getting more of it.
Just be careful about buying the same thing in different colors. While it’s possible you’ll wear a blue version of the shirt just as much as your white one, you can’t always be so sure. To avoid unnecessary waste, you might want to stick to the same color, especially if you already rock it all the time
Why the Capsule Wardrobe Works for Me
The thing is, I wear the same things almost every day. I swear by laying out my clothes at night before bed—sometimes even for a full five days in advance—and repeat basics so much that many of my go-tos never even make it into a drawer or onto a hanger. I wear them, wash them, lay them out, and then wear them again.
The capsule wardrobe is all about selecting versatile pieces in neutral colors. As someone who works from home, I typically wear high-waisted yoga pants and a loose sweater or sweatshirt. On the weekends, it’s usually jeans and a simple mock-neck or t-shirt.
I’ve always liked the black-on-black look (it’s chic and slimming). But now that I’m a mom and constantly dodging stains from my kid’s sticky fingers, black clothing has never been more practical. I have a few pairs of stretchy pants I love, a handful of sweaters and sweatshirts that match, my two favorite pairs of jeans, some basic knit shirts, and that’s about it.
I don’t know about you, but I’m all for saving time and preventing decision fatigue. And maintaining a capsule wardrobe helps me do just that.