Capsule Wardrobe: A Beginner Guide to Paring Down

“Is it really possible?” That was my first question when I heard about the capsule wardrobe, a term created by the British Susie Faux in the 1970’s. The idea is to have a limited number of clothes in your closet and create different looks with them. Well-made pieces that fit you and feel good, they're able to be worn several ways. Think tailored black pants, a neutral sweater, or a chic blouse.

Although I claimed it was something that would not work out in my life, I also realized that I often buy new clothes and end up wearing the same things over and over. That made me think about why I kept my closet filled with things I hardly use - or worse, don’t use at all.

So in June I decided to experiment with a capsule wardrobe. Here's how I did it.

1. Organizing my closet.

My first challenge was to organize my closet, the task that took me two days. I put all my clothes on my bed and made every possible combination with what I had.

Since I often used the sentence “I have nothing to wear!”, I was surprised to see the amount of clothes I forgot I had - some still with price tags attached.

Everything was separated in three piles: Keep, sell, and donate. If I hadn't worn it in a year, it didn't fit, or it was just weird, out it went! All that remained were the things I actually wore. Jeans that look great and fit well, shirts that flatter and are well made, dresses that go from day to night.

This process didn’t include pajamas, underwear, and my few exercise outfits.

2. Changing my outlook.

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Who never wished for Carrie Bradshaw’s wardrobe? The idea sounds tempting, but not very practical in real life. The capsule wardrobe showed me that I am happier with less.

Since I’ve adopted the capsule wardrobe I have noticed my own style emerge. Because I know what I wear, I am not running out to buy something just because it looks good on some blogger.

It goes without saying that I spend much less time in front of my closet deciding what to wear. Fewer items means I get to be more creative with what I've got. It also means I am not overwhelmed. Everything I have fits, looks good, and makes me feel good.

I am also my conscious about my shopping habits. Before I buy anything I always think twice and consider if I really need it. I don’t buy things just because they are on sale or because it’s a trendy product. My choices are now based on my needs and less influenced by my emotions. As a result, I have money left for other things I enjoy much more than shopping for clothes I'll hate later.

3. Curating my collection.

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The ideal capsule wardrobe would have 4 rotations - one for each season. There are no official rules, but most devotees keep themselves to fewer than 30 pieces. I allowed myself to keep most of the accessories (necklaces and scarfs, mostly), to really switch up my looks. Here's what I whittled my closet down to:

15 tops: 5 button-up shirts, 5 t-shirts and 5 tank-tops

9 Bottoms: 2 pair of jeans, 1 pair of trousers, 3 shorts, 3 skirts

3 dresses

7 Shoes: 3 flats, 2 heels, 2 boots

1 jacket, 1 blazer, and 2 cardigans

There are endless sources of inspiration for capsule wardrobes online. The best part? You don't have to buy a thing! Just take a good look at yourself, your lifestyle, and what you really wear. You may find that you always wear black pants and a funky blouse to work. Great! Why do you have all of those dowdy skirts, then?