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Building a Capsule Wardrobe.

jessica's journey Feb 11, 2019

When I became a minimalist, I learned about a little thing called a “capsule wardrobe”.

To be honest, I’m not really sure that I did it right at first, but after a few de-cluttering sessions, I feel like I’m finally starting to get the hang of it.

In case you’ve never heard of a capsule wardrobe, here are a few definitions from the web:

  • a collection of a few essential items of clothing that don’t go out of fashion, such as skirts, trousers, and coats, which can then be augmented with seasonal pieces.
  • It’s a mini wardrobe made up of really versatile pieces that you completely LOVE to wear.
  • A capsule wardrobe is as condensed as its name suggests and contains just ten to forty seasonal items of clothing, shoes, and accessories, depending on your individual life and style preferences.

Ultimately, the purpose of a capsule wardrobe is to eliminate the waste of time and money as it relates to your wardrobe.

When I started this process, the very last definition was closest to what I envisioned. The problem was that I was so focused on how many items I had that I didn’t even consider the types of things that remained or the quality of clothing. As I meet more minimalists and chat with them about their journey, I realize this is normal. The focus on quantity left me unhappy, with very few items (most of which wouldn’t carry me from season to season) and a monochrome wardrobe that got old fast. The fix was getting in tune with my style and stocking up on things I loved until I felt content. I have no idea how many items are in my closet, but I know that I am at peace. I don’t feel the need to shop, I don’t feel like I need new, trendy or expensive things to validate me, and I don’t feel triggered by my closet any longer.

You can anticipate the following once you’ve created your new wardrobe:

  1. You will feel empowered

  2. You will stop feeling like you ‘never have anything to wear’

  3. You will get to wear what you LOVE everyday

  4. You will put more time back in your day

  5. You will shop less

Here are some guidelines to help you get started:

Take an inventory of your existing wardrobe.

What are the trends?

Which items do you wear the most? Why? Is it the color, the cut or something about the style? Which do you wear the least? What are the similarities between those items? Are you holding on to a bunch of things in hopes that one day they will fit again? Are most of your clothes mis-matched, just waiting for that perfect piece to tie them altogether? Take a mental note of all of these things so that you can start curating a closet that perfectly fits your style.

Note: this includes your shoes and accessories (belts, scarves, hats, etc.) as well.

Get rid of the junk.

Those things you haven’t worn and know you’ll never wear, they need to go.

Those things that make you feel insecure about your body, they need to go.

Those things that you only bought because it was cool, but you don’t really like, they need to go.

Get rid of anything that doesn’t fit you – in size or style.

Get rid of anything you wouldn’t wear all the time given the opportunity.

Get clear on what you love.

Do you love t-shirts and converse? Are you conservative? Do you prefer to be preppy or grungy? Are you more concerned about comfort or being cute?

What defines your style?

I have found that I like a little bit of everything. There isn’t one trend that perfectly describes my style. I love jackets and cardigans. I love colorful pieces, but on some days I love wearing all black. Sometimes I wear super tight skinny jeans and sometimes I wear oversized boyfriend jeans. I also really enjoy crop tops, summer dresses and maxi skirts. I have decided that my style is based on comfort, which means that I wear flats most days, but occasionally, I will throw on heels. I own very few pairs of heels, but whatever I have it’s ultra-comfy.

Make note of what you’ll need.

Once you’ve dumped the stuff you can’t or never wear, ask yourself what you need to feel that your wardrobe is whole.

Do you finally have more room for dresses or jeans? Have you been telling yourself that you need more solid color shirts for all those cardigans you purchased? Do you need a certain type of shoe to match the outfits that remain? Write down what you need and keep it with you so that as you shop you can fill in the gaps as you go.

Set Guidelines.

As I said before, this exercise works best when you focus more on quality over quantity. Even so, when you decide you will only purchase what you love, you will inevitably purchase less.

Focusing on your style is one way to eliminate unnecessary clothing purchases, but consider adding additional parameters:

  • Find pieces that are versatile – you don’t need a closet full of black and white, but you do need a few staples that you can wear with anything.
  • Try to focus on purchasing items you can wear year round or for at least 2 seasons – buy things that can be layered and transition from summer to fall or fall to winter.
  • Splurge a little (sometimes) – this is probably the least “minimalist” thing I could advise, but I believe that getting “the right” piece to last a lifetime is better than the cheap piece that only makes it through the next wash. If Forever 21 isn’t making the cut, make your way to Banana Republic.

Take your time.

Before this, I used to be a shopaholic. I had no guidelines. There was always something I thought I needed to add to my wardrobe and I would run to the mall anytime I was going to an event or out with friends. I would also buy all new clothes every year or season. Now, I shop 2-3 times a year at most and many of those trips are only to replace items that are worn down or no longer fit. The pants I’m wearing today are about 3 years old and paired with a cardigan I bought a few weeks ago during a trip to update my winter apparel. Both fit my style. Both have been worn almost weekly in the last 30 days and both are loved.

As you shop, remind yourself that anything you don’t fall in love with, deserves to stay on the rack.


Soon, the perfect piece will come and you won’t be able to stop wearing it.

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