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What is a Capsule Wardrobe? (and How to Create One You Love!)

Have you ever had one of those mornings when there is 1 minute left to get ready and you are standing in your underwear frantically searching your (full, I might add) closet, but there is NOTHING to wear?

We've probably all been there at some point! The vicious cycle of buying one trendy top, stuffing it into the closet of other miss-matched clothing, feeling discontent while getting dressed, then going out and buying a NEW garment that will "solve" all the problems, is a cycle that is hard to break once you're on a roll. Why is it NEVER enough? Why does over consumption not fulfill us or make getting dressed any easier?

If you are looking for an easy, effortlessly chic, and sustainable solution...look no further. Creating a capsule wardrobe is a GAME CHANGER.

What is a Capsule Wardrobe?

A capsule wardrobe is a thoughtfully curated selection of versatile clothing that can be mixed and matched to create multiple outfit options. They are often classic, high quality pieces that can be worn many different ways. The idea is fewer, but better.

Although capsule wardrobes have become very popular over the past few years, the concept is not new! It emerged in the 1970s when a woman named Susie Faux opened a boutique called " Wardrobe" in London, where she sold versatile, high-quality clothing that could easily be mixed. Her goal was to help women gain confidence and ease in the way they dressed.

In 1985 the concept gained traction in the USA when designer Dona Karan created her "Seven Easy Pieces" line. The show was a hit, and the idea of having an interchangeable, minimalist wardrobe become popular.

Ultimately, a capsule wardrobe can lower your decision fatigue and stress, leaving you with more time to focus on what matters, more money in the bank and a more sustainable lifestyle ~ all while looking chic.

Step 1: Assess What You Have

Some capsule wardrobe sources focus on getting rid of everything in your closet that does not fit into the capsule, or as Marie Kondo has taught, anything that does not bring you joy. I would like to challenge this way of thinking. EVERYTHING we've ever purchased and owned is still on this earth today in some form. When we throw something in the trash, it most likely is still sitting in a landfill.

A capsule wardrobe can help to eliminate the urge to over-consume in the future, but it doesn't erase the past! So let's first work with what we have!! Chances are, you already have many of the components you need to get started, and it is always a good idea to keep other options in our closet as well- even if it's only used for one occasion. As for items that don't fit, or you know you will never wear again, please donate or sell them online. ThredUp is a great resource when you're ready to declutter your closet. Order a free donation kit that you can fill and send back to them. They will then either sell or recycle your clothing properly.

Step 2: Clear & Clean

Once you've looked through what you already have, choose the items from your wardrobe that you feel are classic, versatile and most worn by you. Clear an area of your closet that is specifically for your capsule so that these pieces don't get lost in the abyss. If need be, wash, iron or dry-clean these items to create a sense of newness.

Step 3: Add With Intention

Although it can be expensive to add high-quality pieces to your wardrobe, it is SO worth the cost in the long run. A well-made, timeless garment will have a better fit, keep its shape, and require little to no repair for a much longer time. Add pieces slowly, with intention, and only choose pieces you truly love.

* This post includes affiliate links. If you make a purchase directly from one of the links below, I will receive a commission.


1. Classic Button Downs

This is my go-to staple - I wear a button down almost every day, all year round. They are so versatile and make the perfect addition to a tank or T-shirt instead of a heavy sweater!

Some of my favorites are from Quince, Xirena and Alex Mill

2. Neutral Tank Tops

I especially love ribbed tank tops like these from Amour Vert as well as their tanks with thicker straps.

Pact also has great sets of 3 organic neutral tanks.

3. T-Shirts

A classic nautical or white-T goes a long way! They can be dressed up with a skirt or dressed down with jeans. A good quality T-shirt is a must for a capsule wardrobe.

My favorite are from Amour Vert- they are the SOFTEST!!

4. Easy, Playful Dress

While you may be thinking the yellow dress up top is not as classic as the other pieces in my capsule, I think it's essential to have a couple of statement pieces to have some fun and keep things interesting.

Faithfull the Brand and Reformation both offer a variety of beautiful printed dresses, all sustainably made from deadstock and in small batches. These are great options for wedding season too!

5. Jean & Linen Shorts

I know not everyone is a big fan of shorts. If they're not your thing or don't fit your lifestyle, go ahead and skip this one or stock up on another skirt or dress instead.

Personally, I love a good pair of shorts that I can throw on without having to iron and run around the city comfortably in. I HATE when jeans wrap around my thighs too tightly though, so it definitely took me a while to find the perfect pair. For jeans, I think Madewell can't be beat! For breezy linen shorts, I just discovered Alex Mill, and I'm completely in love! Haven't taken them off all summer.

6. Skirts

Quince offers these classic silk midi skirts in a bunch of different colors. They can be worn in every season- and the best part is, they are machine washable, so no need for dry clean!

7. Jean Jacket

If there is one thing in my wardrobe I simply couldn't do without, it would have to be my jean jacket. They last FOREVER, can be worn with anything, and will never go out of style.

Mine is too old to link, but I love this one from Everlane.

8. Knit Sweater

For cooler nights, cold offices, or transitioning into Fall, a cute chunky knit can be worn with a dress, skirt, you name it!

There are tons of great options for this item, but Velvet and Alex Mill have some really high-quality, beautiful options.

9. Jeans

Black, blue, white (or probably all of the above). Another year-round staple that is so worth investing in to get that perfect-fit.

I wear my Levi's all the time. Amour Vert also has some classic options.

10. Sandals

Easy, comfortable, and ethically made - What more could you want in a summer sandal? These vegan slides from Immaculate Vegan are made from APPLES (!!!), but feel and look just like real leather. I have been wearing them non-stop, they are SO comfortable.

Nisolo also has beautifully crafted and ethically made leather sandals.

11. Sneakers

My Vejas have lasted me 3 years already and still look great! They've got lots of fun colors and designs too if you want to mix it up.

12. Bags

For everyday use, I like to have a tote and a smaller crossbody.

Straw bags are great for the summer, and very durable! This one is from Etsy and made by hand by Artisans in Kenya!

Quince has high-quality Italian leather bags for amazing prices!!

Lo & Sons is another great option for all size purses and bags for weekend getaways or beach days.

Once you've got your essential capsule items, the sky is the limit!! Experiment with how you wear each piece, and what outfit combinations you can make. As you discover your own personal style, your capsule wardrobe may evolve, and that's okay! It's all about getting creative and becoming more intentional and confident with how you dress- with way less stress and hassle!! I hope this guide is a helpful starting point, and would love to hear your thoughts or questions!




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