Building a minimalist capsule wardrobe is a great way to simplify your clothing choices and create a versatile collection of pieces that work well together. This article will help you think through your wardrobe choices to select pieces that suit your specific lifestyle.
If you’re new to or revisiting the capsule wardrobe concept, read to the end, where we have included tips for overcoming some of the common challenges when transitioning to a minimalist wardrobe. Before you leave, grab a copy of our checklist that takes you through the entire process. Our simple capsule wardrobe guide covers everything from evaluation to planning and designing your ideal collection.
Table of Contents
Minimalist Capsule Wardrobe Checklist
Five steps to transform your closet into the minimal haven you’ve been dreaming of.
Evaluate What You Already Own
Grab your 5-10 can’t live without favorite wardrobe pieces, including shoes and accessories.
Is there a common theme between these pieces? Fit, comfort, color, sentimentality, designer/brand
Choose Your Neutral Color Palette
Are you more drawn to cool, warm, or neutral tones? These tones will serve as the baseline for your wardrobe and should be reserved for your most versatile and frequently worn pieces. Though they can be mixed, sticking to one neutral tone will help ensure your items coordinate more seamlessly.
Cool: Black, Emerald Green, Burgundy
Neutral: White, Navy, Taupe, Gray
Warm: Chocolate, Olive Green, Maroon,
Coordinate your Shoes & Outerwear
Creating a cohesive capsule wardrobe hinges on your ability to layer different pieces of clothing to create different looks. I like starting by coordinating the base colors of my shoes and outerwear using neutral colors like those listed above.
If you travel or enjoy outdoor activities, your outer layers will likely appear in many photos. So, having a cohesive look as you peel off layers throughout the day is the best way to show off your style.
Have Fun With Accessories
Scarves, hats, jewelry, headbands, and belts are great ways to add a pop of color, pattern, or texture to your wardrobe, especially if you’re reluctant to add too many statement pieces to your simplified wardrobe.
Revisit & Edit Your Wardrobe Often
No one says you must get your capsule wardrobe right first. Once you’ve pared things back, give yourself three to six months of experimenting to see which pieces you gravitate to most frequently and those you don’t.
You can try tricks like turning your hangers so the opening faces out. Over the next few months, as you wear pieces, turn the hanger correctly when you return the item. After a couple of months or maybe weeks, it will be obvious which pieces haven’t been touched.
Misconceptions About How to Build a Minimalist Capsule Wardrobe
Quality over Quantity. This may sound counterintuitive, but hear me out. Raise your hand if you’ve spent well above your usual on an item from a ‘reputable brand’ only to have it fall apart, lose shape, or be ruined in some other way sooner than a cheap fast fashion piece.
Unfortunately, the fashion industry relies on our constant need for new clothes to stay in business, so it’s not always in their best interest to create heirloom quality pieces.
The point is price is not always an indicator of quality, and neither is brand. The best way to tell an item’s quality is to look closely at the fabric label and seams before purchasing. This can be really exhausting, especially if you rely on the convenience of online shopping.
A Minimalist Capsule Wardrobe is Boring. Yes, a quick Pinterest search will yield thousands of nearly identical capsule wardrobe ideas, but this just isn’t the case. There are thousands of equally unique ways to design a capsule wardrobe that is perfect for your unique style.
What’s the Difference Between a Capsule & Minimal Wardrobe?
Minimalism generally implies having fewer clothes and is sometimes an indicator of style. Capsule refers to a type of collection where the colors and styles of each piece coordinate to create many interchangeable looks.
When the two are combined, you’re left with only the best things to complete your collection of clothes.
Selecting Your Minimalist Capsule Wardrobe
Plus, tips for adding to it.
Cut & Fit for Body Shape
We all have aspects of our bodies we like better than others. Select clothes that fit without binding or causing discomfort to feel your best. You can also choose garment silhouettes known to flatter your body type and camouflage those areas you don’t want to draw attention to.
Fabrics & Fabric Care
Picking clothing based on the fabric they are made with will play a huge role in the ease and longevity of your wardrobe in many ways. It’s a good idea to choose your fabrics by activity. Different fabrics are better suited for different purposes based on their durability, breathability, and colorfastness.
From picking out outfits daily to how regularly you do laundry. Some fabrics just don’t last as long as others with frequent wear. This is especially true for things like workout clothes that need more frequent laundering.
Not only do you want to follow the care label when washing, but you also want to ensure you’re not washing your garments too frequently.
For example, items like denim jeans can go 3-10 wears before washing and should be washed inside out to help retain shape and color. On the other hand, polyester workout clothes should be washed as soon as possible after each wear because, though they’re durable, polyester fabrics can retain odors over time.
Use the 24-Hour Rule
When you see an item you’re really interested in, wait 24 hours and see if it’s still on your mind. If you’re still thinking about it, it’s likely a good buy.
Be True to Your Personal Style
Does it feel like you or a look you’re trying to emulate? Sometimes, this can be tough to determine at the moment. Asking a trusted friend or family member is a great way to get feedback.
Versatile Pieces are Key
How many outfits are you excited to make with this piece?
Does this item fill a gap in your closet or add something fresh and new?
Buy outfits rather than pieces. Though it’s more of an investment, buying an outfit at a time is a sure way to know the piece you’re adding has a place in your wardrobe.
How Many Pieces Should A Minimal Wardrobe Have?
The ideal number of pieces for a capsule wardrobe is typically between 30-50 pieces. However, this number will fluctuate based on many factors like seasonality, climate, activities, and functions.
For example, If you live in a climate that experiences all four seasons with drastically different temperatures, it would be difficult to create a year-round wardrobe with just 30 pieces that didn’t feel too restricting. But it can be done! Keep reading below for tips on keeping your minimalist capsule wardrobe from feeling stagnant.
Different Ways to Build Your Capsule Wardrobe
Season: Changes in climate and activities often call for different clothing pieces. You may find building four capsule wardrobes works best to suit your needs. Additionally, our complexion can change with each season, shifting the colors that complement us best.
Colors: If you have a favorite signature color that always looks great with your complexion, you can build your minimal closet around it.
Fabrics: All natural fibers like cotton, silk, wool, lyocell, and linen. High-performance synthetic fibers like acrylic, polyester, nylon, and spandex.
Look/Style: Edgy, Sporty, Preppy, Boho, Chic, Professional. The different styles and substyles are endless. If there is a unique style you most gravitate towards, you’ll no doubt choose pieces that fall within that genre of clothing, whereas others may choose to blend several styles.
Texture/Patterns: Texture and pattern are great ways to add interest to your wardrobe. Whether you’re working with a conservative or bold color palette, there are ways to work both elements into your wardrobe if you like. When picking pieces with distinct patterns or textures, consider how you might wear them together.
Choose Classic Pieces Creatively:
When you think of the common minimalist capsule wardrobe essentials listed below, what do you imagine? Is the piece you picture something you would include in your wardrobe or pass on? Though they’re by no means a requirement to include in your collection of clothes, there are ways to find versions of these items for every unique style.
– Little Black Dress
– Trench Coat
– White T-shirt
– Pair of Jeans
– Leather Jacket
– Black Pants
– Denim Jacket
Are There Different Types of Capsule Wardrobes?
Absolutely! Capsule wardrobes get a bad rap for being dull and oversimplified. Of course, the best foundation for an easily versatile wardrobe is to include many timeless pieces. However, some classic pieces, like a trench coat, may not be suitable for your lifestyle or personal preference.
Creating your own capsule wardrobe depends on the level of complexity and thoughtfulness you want to bring to it. The more knowledgeable you are of color coordination, fabric care, fit, patterns, and textures, the easier it will be for you to express your unique style.
A minimalist capsule wardrobe can also be themed by season or purpose, like your work clothes vs weekend attire.
To help get your creativity flowing, we’ve included a list of items commonly recommended for a capsule wardrobe. As you read the list, imagine your ideal representation of each piece down to the fabric and feel.
After you’ve taken a moment to visualize each item, look at the comparisons we’ve compiled as a reference.
Hopefully, this will be an easy way to get inspired by all the possibilities so you can find your sweet spot of statement pieces and essential pieces with our minimalist capsule wardrobe guide.
How to Create a Minimalist Capsule Wardrobe You Won’t Get Tired Of
Renting! There are so many companies out there, from Rent the Runway to Nova Octo, that there is no need to spend hundreds or thousands on pieces you may only wear once or twice. These services are especially helpful for things like special occasions and formal events.
Going on vacation to a cold climate that requires a heavy jacket, rent one! If you need to upgrade your office attire, rent a few different suits to test styles and find the look you like best. Wondering if cashmere sweaters really live up to the hype? Why not rent one for a while and see for yourself? The best part is they take care of the laundry for you!
In fact, the rental market has evolved so much that some companies allow you to keep pieces as long as you like before returning, while others limit the number of items you can rent per month. So, no matter your needs, there is likely a rental brand out there that will suit your needs just right.
Additional Benefits of Creating a Minimalist Capsule Wardrobe
In case you weren’t already convinced.
Less time spent doing laundry
Though you may have to stick to a more regular laundry schedule, there is no doubt you will have fewer items to wash and fold. Having fewer items to fold is definitely a win and time saver.
Free up storage space
Eliminating any clutter can be a freeing feeling. Having less clutter in the closet, thanks to your minimal closet, will certainly have the same effect.
Less time spent planning outfits
With fewer items in your closet to manage, it will be much easier to know what your options are for every occasion and kind of weather.
Closing Notes on Minimalist Wardrobe Essentials
Embracing a minimalist capsule wardrobe is a great first step toward more intentional living. After reading the tips above, you are now well-equipped to curate your ideal wardrobe that simplifies your daily routine and reflects your style. By educating yourself about various fabrics and clothing construction methods, you are able to more easily identify the quality and versatility. This will help keep future clutter at bay and enhance the quality of your everyday life.
Marly is a lifestyle writer and creator of simplylivinghappy.com, a site dedicated to helping readers improve their health, wealth, mindset, and overall happiness. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her listening to audiobooks while gardening, visiting with family, or traveling.