The Capsule Wardrobe: Tips For Reducing Closet To Essentials

The Capsule Wardrobe: Tips for Reducing Closet to Essentials

Do you have a hard time picking what outfit to wear for that meeting? Or have you been struggling for months with no real success to trim down your wardrobe?

Or it might be that aliens just invaded the earth and you are quickly whipping up a beautiful combination of clothes and head straight for the spaceship that’ll take all well-dressed humans out of the earth. But you know, deep down, that you will be the last person to join the spaceship. 

And why is that? 

You already know the answer. 

You will take forever to find the right match from your mountain of clothing. 

Well, I come with an answer so simple I am sure you’d never have thought the answer was that easy. 

I will be telling you how you can escape an alien invasion using CAPSULE WARDROBE. 

If you have heard of a CAPSULE WARDROBE before, then this is a quick reminder that you need to be up and doing with those clothes. But if you haven’t heard of CAPSULE WARDROBE, welcome to the sweet journey to the milk-flowing land of CAPSULE WARDROBE. 


A capsule wardrobe, as defined by the person who coined the name, Susie Faux, is a wardrobe that contains a limited number of essential or staple items that you can wear in multiple seasons. The idea behind Capsule Wardrobe is to have a limited number of clothes that one can wear regularly and still be stylish. 

It also helps reduce the burden of spending time thinking of what to wear. With a capsule wardrobe, there is simplicity when picking clothes, as well as helping you define your style. Instead of going for the latest fashion (which will go out of fashion no sooner than it becomes vogue), one should have the basics and from time to time switch it up with a few additions. 

Capsule wardrobe has grown from a simple idea thought about by a London-based Boutique owner in the 1970s to a millennial craze. The minimalist economy and ‘traveling simple’ and ‘living simply’ has reignited the capsule wardrobe culture. 

Now, one wants to think that in a world where fashion is taking leaps and breaking conventional stereotypes, fashion-centric people should be exploring all the trends that exist. But the opposite is the case. Capsule wardrobe builds a sense of control with regards to choice as well as helps people live life on their terms. 

While these ideas might sound philosophical, it is best to walk down history lane a few decades to understand what CAPSULE WARDROBE is and why Susie Faux thought of a minimalist wardrobe even when the word wasn’t a buzzword. 


Imagine that Susie Faux was sitting in her boutique and watching how women and men flocked in and out of her boutique year after year, buying ‘trending’ fashion only to thrash them a year later and return later. She must have had trouble sorting out what to wear to her boutique. 

And then, as she sold dresses and jeans and shirts and pants to women and men (mostly women), the thought struck her. What if there is a way these women can have the basic clothes they ‘really’ need and then mix things up with a few accessories and colors? 

Okay, that was far-reaching, but you get the idea, don’t you? 

Susie Faux said that a capsule wardrobe was a wardrobe that had a collection of the essential items of clothing that would not go out of fashion, and therefore could be worn for multiple occasions. Faux suggested that a woman’s wardrobe should contain at least two pairs of trousers, a dress, a skirt, a coat, a knit, two pairs of shoes and two bags. 

Her idea was made popular by Donna Karan, an American designer. Karan, in 1985, released her “7 easy Piece Collection.” Her aim was to fill the void in the fashion world for working-class stylish women. 

Over the years, the important clothing items have changed, mirroring the state of fashion at different times. Yet, the basics still remain. 

But before we get into all of that – setting up your capsule wardrobe for men, capsule wardrobe for women, capsule wardrobe for traveling and everything in between – I will be telling you five reasons why you need to have a capsule wardrobe. 


  1. IT SAVES YOU TIME: The time you spend racking your head over what to wear will be reduced significantly, or eliminated altogether, with a capsule wardrobe. You only have to choose from a small number of clothes. And these are clothes that look good on you. 
  2. DECLUTTERS YOUR WARDROBE: This is pretty obvious, isn’t it! Those clothes that you rarely use take up wardrobe space, making it difficult to sort through the ones you really need. 
  3. GIVES YOU FREEDOM: This might sound ironic because you are probably thinking to yourself, “hello, I am getting rid of most of my clothes, how does that give me freedom?” For starters, you are free to wear what truly matters to you and not what the fashion blogs and magazines dictate. Second, you have the power to choose what style really works for you. You are no longer pushed around like a puppet by trends, but your style and what feels comfortable on you drive your choice of clothing. 
  4. IT HELPS YOU DEFINE YOUR FASHION: I said this earlier. Your personal fashion statement gains a better voice and begins to stand on its own with a capsule wardrobe. 
  5. SAVE YOU LOADS OF CASH: You spend less with a defined capsule wardrobe. You don’t have to keep up with the Joneses. You only get what you need, and not what the trend dictates. Yes, you should ensure you get quality clothing that will remain in shape and color even after several washings, but you get to save up for the years you won’t be buying those clothes again. 

Now that you know why you should have your own capsule wardrobe, you must be wondering what next. 

How do you know what should be in your capsule wardrobe? Do I need a capsule wardrobe planner? How do I go about selecting these clothes? How do I build my capsule wardrobe? 

How many clothes should I have in my capsule wardrobe? How often should I change these clothes? I can’t wear the same clothes for ten years now, can I? 

I will answer all of these questions and walk you through how you should select the clothes in your wardrobe. But first, how many clothes should you have in your wardrobe?


Some stylists say that thirty-three (33) clothing items, excluding undergarments and accessories, is the ideal number. Others say thirty-seven (37) while there are those who say nineteen (19) items will do.

There are no hard and fast rules for the number of clothes that should be in your capsule wardrobe, it all depends on you and what you prefer. But the clothes must be essential and must be what you love. 

Having decided what number of clothes, what informs your decision about the clothes to have in your wardrobe?


  1. CATEGORIES: Who are you and what do you do? What kind of jobs or activities do you do more of the time? You could select “Active”, “lounge”, or “Daily” as the categories for your choices of cloth. As a corporate worker, for example, you will have to select clothes that are needed for work and play but are fashionable. 
  2. FIT: Does the cloth you want to pick fit you? is it too loose or too tight? Does it make you feel comfortable or uncomfortable? 
  3. EASE: How well does this cloth fit with other clothes in the wardrobe? Or is it a unique choice that can’t pair with other materials and accessories in your wardrobe? 

When you have decided on these things, it is time to Build your own Capsule wardrobe, from scratch. 


There are no rules as to what items should be in your wardrobe, or what process to follow. Moreover, the choice of clothes is highly dependent on the goal of the wardrobe. If for example, you want to create a travel capsule wardrobe, the nature of your journey will determine what clothing materials and accessories you would select. 

Having said that, here is the process (undefined) for building your capsule wardrobe.

  1. REDUCE: I am assuming you have a big box of clothes that you rarely wear. Take out all of those clothes, lay them, and lay them on the bed. Your journey to ‘Capsuling’  has just begun. 
  2. ESTABLISH A BASE WARDROBE: The base of your wardrobe is the main theme that your clothes selection will reflect. These are the number of clothes you’ll need for the categories of use in your life beyond the day-to-day dressing. 
  3. SORT: Now that you’ve decided what theme to work with, sort out those clothes into the following categories:
  • Love it and would wear it right now: If the cloth is something you wouldn’t have second thoughts wearing, then this is a keeper.
  • Maybe: If you have doubts as to whether you will wear it now. You may like cloth but you aren’t sure if you fancy wearing them all the time. It probably doesn’t fit your frame or the color is a bit off, then it is a “maybe”. Clothes like these usually have sentimental attachments to them. 
  • No: These clothes are no-wearers. Take them off. You could choose to donate them instead of burning them. 
  • Seasonal: Is the cloth a piece that is good for certain seasons but not good for others? For example, wool coats. You can’t wear wool coats in the summer, therefore, it is best you kept them somewhere else till the season comes. 
  1. CHOOSE: Now that you’ve sorted out the clothes, choose your thirty-three (33) clothes under different categories. So, you could select cloths for the following:
  • Tops; The choice of tops changes with gender. For a person building a men’s wardrobe capsule, a white button-down shirt is a must-have. While for women, beige sweaters, sleeve tee, and cardigans are must-haves. Also, for men, jackets, suits, and blazers should be included in this list. 
  • Bottoms: These could include blue jeans for men, some pairs of chinos trousers will do. For the ladies, this could include ankle pants of basic colors, say gray or black.
  • Dresses: This is for the ladies. LBD is compulsory in a capsule wardrobe

Note: The color of these clothes should fall within the primary color you had earlier chosen. The primary color is a universal color, usually black or Navy, that forms the bedrock of your wardrobe essential.

Then you select coordinating colors, usually strong colors such as grey, white, or Chambery. These coordinating colors are what you’ll use to pair the clothes with primary colors. The choice of coordinating color should blend well with the primary color you chose. 

  1. ADD A FEW PATTERNED ITEMS: Patterned items help to give your dressing that extra light, that spark that takes your outfit from bland to outstanding. Patterned items could be polka dot shirts to those with stripes or even scarves with patterns. Whichever works for you, go for it. The idea is to give your dressing that extra touch that stands out from the regular colors. 
  2. SHOES AND ACCESSORIES: This is the last part of the puzzle. Select shoes you can use for several purposes and that fit the color pallets you chose. The accessories should also do the same thing: accentuate the colors of your clothes. 

Some people might find this process hard to accomplish. You might be thinking, “that alien invasion will definitely swallow me whole if it happens.” Please, don’t break too much sweat! You won’t be swallowed by the invasion. You can use the help of a professional capsule wardrobe planner to help you organize things better. 


In addition, stylists and designers advise that the content of a CAPSULE WARDROBE be changed every three months. This is because they believe each season lasts for three months. Therefore, some season-specific essentials have to be changed, like the sweater during winter. 

The capsule wardrobe is gaining traction because people are beginning to realize that less is better and not the other way around. Also, the growing culture of recycling materials for environmental protection sakes is causing these changes. Whichever way the pendulum swings – with the conservative, minimalists, or with the consumerism disciples – capsule wardrobe is here to stay. 

It is easy to work around if you’ve got the time, but if you can, there are stylists and capsule wardrobe consultants (yes, they exist! I read about online) who are ready to help you declutter those clothes and help you define your personal style. 

Written by antoine

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Los Angeles Fashion Street Style & Trends

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