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What is a Capsule Wardrobe? (& How to Build One)


Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, we earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase. This post is also sponsored in part by Shades of Green & Anchal. We only add brands & products we truly believe in.

Are you struggling every morning to come up with an outfit you’ll feel comfortable wearing? Worse, you think you have nothing to wear in your wardrobe? 

You are definitely not alone! 

If it is so difficult to take such a supposedly easy decision, how are we supposed to start the day on a positive note? Choosing an outfit might be challenging for some of us, but there is a simple solution: start a capsule wardrobe! Building a capsule wardrobe will help you present yourself to the world with a selection of well-curated outfits that you bought with intention and that you love.

Here is a complete guide on what a capsule wardrobe is, why you need to start one and how to do it! 

What’s a capsule wardrobe?

A capsule wardrobe is a limited selection of interchangeable clothing pieces that complement each other. These are often classic pieces that do not go out of style and are primarily composed of neutral colors. A capsule wardrobe allows you to create a variety of different outfits with a small selection of clothes. 

History of a capsule wardrobe

The concept of a capsule wardrobe has been very popular and widely discussed on social media in recent years. But the concept isn’t new as it emerged several decades ago!

In the 1970s, Susie Faux opened a boutique “Wardrobe” in London, where she used to sell minimalist-looking clothing that was versatile, high quality and that could be easily mixed and matched. Her goal was to help women gain confidence in how they dressed and looked. 

The concept of a capsule wardrobe then spread to the USA in 1985, when designer Donna Karan created her Seven Easy Pieces line. Her models were all dressed in bodysuits and showcased seven clothing pieces by creating various outfits with them. The fashion show was a success, and the idea of having an interchangeable minimalist wardrobe became popular. It is now trending again, probably because having a capsule wardrobe makes our lives so much easier and better! 

Why you should have a capsule wardrobe 

There are many reasons why you may want to build a capsule wardrobe! 

Less decision fatigue

Have you heard of decision fatigue? Our brain is programmed only to make a certain number of decisions during the day. After that, it gets tired, and we struggle to make more decisions. Having a capsule wardrobe means that you have fewer clothes, they work well together, and you love them. 

So when you are getting ready in the morning, it is easier for you to choose what you’ll wear for the day, so it doesn’t contribute to your decision fatigue! 

More time

Having a curated wardrobe also saves you a lot of time! As you know your style and what works well for you, you know exactly what you need to buy. 

Going to the store or ordering a piece online is a quick process, and you don’t waste time shopping mindlessly. And as I wrote earlier, you don’t waste time digging into piles and piles of clothes thinking you have nothing to wear. 

More sustainable

A capsule wardrobe is a sustainable way to approach your closet. You mostly own timeless pieces that you will wear for years, which won’t go out of style. 

Since you don’t have many clothes, you wear every single piece you own, so no clothing is going to waste. People who choose to have a capsule wardrobe also often invest in quality pieces that last long and avoid fast fashion, which is a very wasteful industry. 

Save money

You can also save a lot of money! When you have a capsule wardrobe, you do not have to go shopping often because your clothing pieces are interchangeable and versatile. This means you wear them multiple times, and you do not buy pieces that you will not end up wearing regularly. 

Less stress

A capsule wardrobe means less stress in your life in general. You do not have to stress over the clothing pieces not fitting you. There is also less maintenance and repairing as you have fewer clothes. You’re more likely to choose clothing that is easy to take care of, and it’s easier to pack when you go traveling and move houses. 

For all these reasons, you should consider building a capsule wardrobe today! It will make your life much simpler! 

How to build a capsule wardrobe that you’ll love

Step-by-step process

Do an audit of your current wardrobe

The first step to creating a great capsule wardrobe is to do an audit of your closet. Go through every piece you own and assess what you wear regularly and what you never touch. 

For each clothing piece, ask yourself: When was the last time I wore this? If you haven’t worn it for a few months, it won’t be a great piece to add to your capsule wardrobe. 

Also, think about what your activities and lifestyle are. This will give you precious information about what type of clothing you wear regularly. 

Are you a stay-at-home mom? Do you have a 9-5 job? Are you working out regularly? Depending on what you are doing with your time, you won’t be needing the same clothes. 

Once you’ve thought about this, pick all your favorite clothing pieces and analyze why you love them. This will help you understand what your style is, what colors you love, what cut suits you, and what materials are your favorites. 

Plan your capsule wardrobe

Now that you understand what you love the most, you can start planning your capsule wardrobe! Decide on a number you’d like to experiment with for each kind of clothing item. These numbers will depend on the climate where you live, your lifestyle, and how often you do laundry. 

You do not have to follow any rules, do what works best for you. Choose a color scheme with different neutral colors such as white, black, grey, navy, or cream. These colors work well together as well as with any other color. 

Having most of your clothes in neutral colors will make them all interchangeable and easy to mix and match! You can then add a few accent colors that you love and that suit your skin tone. You’ll be able to wear them with all the other neutral-colored clothes! Choose the style of clothes you want to incorporate. Do not forget that your clothes should be flattering to your body type. 

So think about what kind of neckline you prefer. Are you more into skinny pants? High-waisted or low-rise jeans? Are you feeling better in cropped or oversized sweaters? Think about every style of clothes possible and pick the most flattering for you.

I also recommend that you choose the fibers of your clothes wisely. For instance, I prefer natural fibers like linen and organic cotton because they are more sustainable and breathable.

It’s time to get to work! 

Now that you’ve planned your capsule wardrobe, let go of all the clothes you have that you don’t want to include in it. Declutter everything that you do not love, that does not fit properly, that isn’t in your color pallet or that isn’t your style. But please do it sustainably by selling and donating them, so the clothing does not end up in a landfill. 

With everything that’s left, make sure they correspond to what you want in your capsule wardrobe, and start building from there! 

I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to start with what you already own and not declutter everything and start from scratch. Doing so wouldn’t be sustainable at all, and it would be expensive. 

Keeping in mind your color scheme and favorite styles, choose basic clothing staples that are versatile and work well together. Avoid trendy items as they will quickly go out of style. 

Some good basic clothing pieces you may consider having in your capsule wardrobe are neutral-colored t-shirts, a pair of black pants, one or two pairs of jeans, a cardigan for layering, and a black dress that can be easily dressed up or dressed down. 

I also recommend that you buy high-quality pieces, preferably second-hand or from sustainable brands because as you’ll be wearing your clothes more often, they need to last longer. 

If you fancy it, you could add one or two patterned clothing items. But make sure these patterns are timeless and that they won’t become out of style in a few months. Stripes are a great example of this! 

Once you have all the clothes you need, do not forget your coats, shoes, and accessories! There you go! Your capsule wardrobe should be complete now! 

If you live in a four-season climate, I recommend you keep in your wardrobe only the clothes that are in season, and store away the others in a box out-of-sight. Doing this, you should have 4 different capsule wardrobes a year, with some clothing items that you will keep and use all year-round. 

Example of a capsule wardrobe 

The process of building a capsule wardrobe isn’t always easy because you need to experiment with different things before you know what works best for you. 

Different apps, like Smart Closet or Stylebook, will help you plan and build your capsule wardrobe. You might want to check them out for extra help! 

As we’re coming into spring, here is an example of a 32-piece spring capsule wardrobe built with sustainable brands only!

3 Basic Tees

Softspun Crew Neck in Charcoal Heather made from Organic Cotton, $30 (use code SustainablyChic20 for 20% off)

Softspun Crew Neck in Charcoal Heather made from Organic Cotton, $30

(use code SustainablyChic20 for 20% off)

The Evolve Top in White made from Modal can be styled 8 different ways, $128

The Boxy Crop in Black/White Stripes made from Recycled Poly/Cotton, $49

2 Tank Tops

Lynda Tank in Palm Crepe made from Reclaimed Rayon-Cotton, $60

The V Neck Tank in Black made from Organic Cotton & Tencel comes with a built-in bra, $88

The V Neck Tank in Black made from Organic Cotton & Tencel comes with a built-in bra, $88

3 Shirts

The Dolman Top in Cream made with Tencel, $98

Kaneko Top in Black made with Linen, $119

Marlow Shirt in Navy Stripes made from organic cotton, $118

2 Sweaters & 1 Cardigan

V-Neck Sweater in White Heather made from Organic Cotton, $78

V-Neck Sweater in White Heather made from Organic Cotton, $78

Ribbed Oversized Cardigan in Incense made from Organic Cotton & Wool, $158

Boxy Knit in Charcoal made with Recycled Merino Wool, $160

2 Dressy Bottoms

The Wide Leg Crop Pant in Cream made from Tencel, $128

High-Waisted Linen Wrap Skirt in Cinnamon, $88

a jumpsuit & a pair of denim shorts

The Two Piece Apron Jumpsuit in Olive made with Tencel can completely separate and become a top and pants on their own, $159

Rome Shorts made with Organic Cotton, $125

Rome Shorts made with Organic Cotton, $130

2 Dresses

Neutral Linen Dress, $75

Sleeveless Rib Dress in Black made with Modal, $80

Sleeveless Rib Dress in Black made with Modal, $80

two jeans & a pair of pants

Straight Jeans in Classic, $98

Straight Jeans in Classic, $98

Manu Trousers in Light Beige made with Organic Cotton, $150

The Whitney Boyfriend Jean, $85

The Whitney Boyfriend Jean, $85

two jackets

Denim Merly Jacket made from Cotton & Lyocell, $150

Denim Merly Jacket made from Cotton & Lyocell, $150

Joan Jacket in Burnt Sienna made from Cotton, $140

three pairs of shoes

Everyday Boot in almond, $200

Tree Loungers, $98

Woven Mule, $180


Farrow Bag in Natural Raffia, $165

Farrow Bag in Natural Raffia, $165

Abera Crossbody Tote, $200


Lich Havana Sunglasses, $151

Lich Havana Sunglasses, $151

Julian Hat, $275

Julian Hat, $320

Roseli Belt, $50

everyday jewelry

Siren Hoops made with 100% Recycled Metals, $275

Siren Hoops made with 100% Recycled Metals, $315

Thelma & Louise Necklace, $65

Thelma & Louise Necklace, $105

Building a capsule wardrobe for yourself will make your life so much easier; I cannot recommend it enough! With time, your capsule wardrobe will evolve and change. You will add and remove items as the seasons pass and your preferences shift, and that’s okay. But the benefits will remain, and that’s the best part of it! So start building your own unique capsule wardrobe today! What are you waiting for?


Meet the Contributor:

Eva Astoul is a French freelance writer, specializing in content related to sustainability, simple living, and a growth-focused healthy lifestyle.

She runs her own blog, Green With Less, to inspire people to live a more minimalist and sustainable life.



Our Brand Directory is home to hundreds of sustainable brands, from makeup to cleaning supplies, from underwear to shoes. We have broken everything down by category for easy shopping, along with discount codes unique to Sustainably Chic viewers.

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Content Creator: Eva Astoul


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