If you’ve ever stared at the multitude of clothes in your closet and said to yourself, “I don’t have anything to wear,” or discovered a pair of jeans that still has the tags on, this article is for you.
Meet the capsule wardrobe. It’s not a new concept, but it is the hottest new way to approach your wardrobe that can eliminate clutter in a small space, relieve decision fatigue, and even break spending habits.
Simply put, a capsule wardrobe is a (very) limited collection of seasonal clothing that you wear for a few months, then switch out to reflect the next season. This approach can save time, space and money, and can even save you from yourself if you’re not really a fashionista.
How do you create a capsule wardrobe?
Start by taking an honest inventory of your clothes and single out the pieces that are your go-to, absolute-most-favorite. (Ask yourself, what would Marie Kondo do?) Separate those from the rest, such as the fancy dress you need for holiday parties, the pair of heels you wear only if you have to, the jeans that you’re keeping for when you can fit into them again.
From the pieces you have left, the general recommendation is to narrow it down to about 37 pieces, from head to toe, that you’ll mix, match and wear for the next three months. They can be a new piece or two, your old favorites, or a mix of the two. And by favorites, we mean the clothes that you LOVE LOVE LOVE. The ones you reach for first. The ones you’d be devastated to stain or tear. NOT the ones you try on every once in a while, but instantly take back off.
How to customize your capsule
There are several ways to decide what constitutes your perfect capsule, and one of the biggest is season. In the winter, for example, you could choose :
- 10 tops
- 6 sweaters or other outerwear
- 8 bottoms
- a few long skirts
- 4 pairs of shoes
Then, as spring rolls around, focus on spring dresses, light layers and put the winter boots away.
Another approach is to identify the top outfit categories that are most relevant to your lifestyle. You might be active and on the go, working in an office part time, or an animal shelter volunteer. Your style may be to dress up, even around the house, or spend as much time as possible in pajamas or sweatpants. But even with this approach, seasonality is still essential — focus only on the next three months or so.
From there, you can narrow your choices even further by asking yourself three questions:
- Is this item relevant to one of your top categories? If you’re a runner and the item is a pair of heels, the answer is likely no.
- How well does it fit me today? Too tight … out of sight.
- How versatile is it with the other pieces in the capsule? The key to a capsule is to mix and match, so if you have one piece that really doesn’t go with anything, it shouldn’t make the cut.
Once you have your capsule for the season, put everything else away and don’t go shopping — either at a store or in your closet — until a few weeks before you’re ready to switch out for the next. (Unless you live somewhere like Florida that only has a season and a half or so.)
What about other essentials?
The items in your capsule should only be your day and evening wear selections that are seasonally based. It doesn’t mean you have to ditch the athletic wear, pajamas, coats or accessories. If they are useful year-round, use them.
But after the season is over, consider either consigning or donating the capsule items that you don’t want to keep, and put the rest back into storage for the same time, next year.
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