How many times have you walked into your closet (which is probably jam-packed with clothes) and stood there feeling frustrated because you don’t have anything to wear?
Think of a boutique… They have a few items that all go together and make a whole collection out of those few items. It feels “homey”, classy and doesn’t overwhelm you.
How do you get the same effect?
This is probably one of my absolute favorite things in the whole wide world.
Simply put, a capsule wardrobe is a limited number of highly versatile items that you can make a ton of outfits out of and can be flexible across various types of events.
I’ve been doing this for almost two years now and I’m still loving it. I only have about 45 items hanging in my closet at a time and I feel like I have more to wear now than when I had so many clothes in my closet that my rod broke.
The concept is to keep less clothes that are highly versatile so that you can make more outfits out of less “stuff”.
For example, each of the below pictures make 150 outfits… That’s 5 months of outfits out of 15 items.
I bet you couldn’t pull out 150 outfits in your closet without stressing out!
I’m not saying you have to go to extremes here, I just want to show you how incredibly easy this can be. I don’t know about you, but that sounds amazing to me. Simplify, simplify, simplify!
Maybe you don’t have to go down to 15 items, but the point is that you can do way more with a whole lot less. Think about the most successful people in the world…. Let’s use Mark Zuckerberg or Steve Jobs. They wear the same outfit every day.The most successful people in the world wear the same things every day. Click To Tweet
Because it’s one less thing to have to worry about and it eliminates decision fatigue.
Decision fatigue is the concept that our willpower is finite, and the more decisions we have to make, the quicker our willpower runs out.The more decisions we have to make, the quicker our willpower runs out... Decision fatigue is real. Click To Tweet
That’s why its easier to go to the gym in the morning rather than at night or to “eat the ugly frog” first. If you go in the evening, your willpower has pretty much depleted for the day and it’s easier to say “tomorrow”.
Once you’re done with it, you can move on to your easier decisions or just switch on autopilot.
Decision fatigue affects everyone.
One showed that judges are more likely to grant parole in the morning than they are in the afternoon because it’s easier to just say no than to use your brain and actually listen to and consider the cases.
Give yourself the opportunity to make fewer decisions so that you can use your brain power for other things that are better suited for the goals that you’re working towards.
Building your capsule wardrobe will definitely take some careful planning, but doing this will make your move a lot less stressful… And you may just find that you love this concept and continue to do it forever.
Our culture is addicted to “stuff” and then we’re taught to “appreciate” our stuff because we’re more fortunate than other people that can’t have that “stuff”.
If you’re not doing anything with the “stuff” you’re holding onto even though you know you will never use it is not appreciating it. It just makes you feel good to have a lot of things, yet we forget how overwhelmed it makes us.
What if I told you you’re doing less with more, rather than more than less? No one is asking you to give away your stuff, but to use a little bit of planning to make better use of it.
How I started
I used to be a closet hoarder (not really, but looking back I feel like I was).
One day, I was just sick and tired of it and I donated 6 JAM PACKED kitchen size trash bags to Goodwill, and it was the best thing I ever did. All of those clothes are now being used by someone who will actually appreciate it… and I haven’t missed any of it. I wear all of my clothes now and I just feel so much more FREE.
Now, you’re probably like “ ok Alexa, this is cool, but where do I start?”.
I’m so glad you asked 😉
Before we dive right in and you get overwhelmed, I created a cheat sheet that will summarize all of this for you that you can download here.
Step 1. Get In The Right Mindset
Every time I talk about capsule wardrobes, people get overwhelmed almost instantly.
They think about having to give away all of their clothes, doing a ton of planning and all the work it will take to complete.
Yes, there is definitely up front work to do but it’s nothing that you can’t manage.
Firstly, your capsule will be done in baby steps. You don’t need to give away everything today.
Think about all of the mornings that you wake up, stare at your closet and feel like you have nothing to wear… Even though you have a closet jam-packed full of stuff.
Focus on that feeling and let’s start thinking about how it will feel when you wake up in the morning, go to your closet and it takes you 15 seconds flat to decide what you’re going to wear.
To top it off, you start getting compliments because you always look so “polished” even though you spent way less time on your outfit than pretty much everyone else.Looking perfectly polished in just a few minutes doesn't have to be hard. Click To Tweet
Good, keep that feeling because you’ll need it to get through this whole process.
Step 2. Plan Your New Capsule
My first suggestion is to identify your “uniform”.
I know that doesn’t sound sexy… except most of us have a uniform already anyways.
Maybe your go to in the morning is trousers, a blouse (or dress shirt) and some boat shoes (or heels).
Maybe it’s more casual or more formal but decide on what your typical outfit looks like.
Knowing what your uniform is will help you with knowing where to start on your capsule wardrobe.
Decide On Your ‘Character’
Whether you like it or not, we judge people based on how they present themselves…Whether you like it or not, we judge people based on how they present themselves. Click To Tweet
To hack other people’s brains and decide how they perceive you, decide on the story that you want to tell with your image. In essence, you’re creating a character for yourself that you want to portray.
Obviously, it should align with who you are, I just find that making a character makes it easier to put it together.
Start by making a list of all of the things you want people to say about you and then work backwards — ask yourself what someone like that would wear.
As you start to narrow down on your style, ideal wardrobe and how you want to feel, everything else becomes easier.
You’ll want to decide if you’re going to do this for a season, forever or for six months.
I like to do my capsule for six months at a time because I just don’t have the time to sit down every 3 months and switch capsules. My capsules are spring/summer and fall/winter.
Choose Your Color Palette
Next, decide on your color palette.
This sounds super scary and formal but it’s not, promise.
Pick two colors that go well together, you feel good in, you already wear a lot of and that match the season.
I went through a phase where I wore pretty much all black and white unintentionally because it was so easy to get dressed and everything matched (this was my pre-capsule days).
My spring/summer capsule is aqua/teal and blush/coral. During the fall/winter, my colors are wine and navy.
Once you’ve picked your two main colors, the basics will naturally filter their way in – you know, the blacks, browns, whites and beiges.
I highly recommend you check out Pinterest and Instagram. A quick search of “spring outfits”, “fall outfits with boots” or “men’s work outfits” will give you more ideas than you’ll know what to do with.
Stick to your uniform and colors when you start saving stuff to keep you from getting overwhelmed.
One of the things I love about this so much is that it will help you rediscover things in your closet that you would’ve never thought to wear the way the models wear it.
Decide how many items you need
I know there are a lot of sites that say a million different things about what number you should shoot for.
After a ton of experimenting, I’ve found that having 20 tops and 10-15 bottoms plus 5 or 6 blazers, sweaters or coats works perfectly for me.
It gives me enough variety that I don’t feel like I’m wearing the same things over and over and over again and I can switch it up while maintaining my personality.
That’s a completely personal choice for you to make.
You’ll probably start with a higher number of items and find that there will still be pieces that you constantly skip over and will eventually end up taking them out of your capsule.
Step 3. Purge + Inventory Your Closet
This is the part where most people shut down because it requires you to do something with ALL of those clothes already in your closet!
This is about simplifying.
Start by taking everything out of your closet…
Try everything on.
My Three Rules
When you’re trying on everything in your closet (did I mention you’re trying on EVERYTHING, not just some stuff?)
I want you to ask yourself these three questions with each item that you try on…
Does the item match your message from above?: If you’re trying to tell a story about yourself, the story has to stay consistent. Is it consistent with your color scheme? Would your character from above wear it? If it doesn’t fit the story, buh-bye!
Do you feel good in it?: If it doesn’t fit right now, it doesn’t get to stay. You can put it in a box somewhere, but it doesn’t get to stay in your closet. That means if it will fit you when you lose ten pounds, you can put it away until you actually lose the weight.
Does it need any repairs or alterations?: If so, commit to doing the repairs within a week or two. If you don’t make it a priority to get it fixed, it’s not worth keeping anyways.
Does it match at least three opposites?: Here’s the biggest one that you might struggle with the most. Once you’ve narrowed down to the stuff that you’re keeping, every item that remains should match at least three opposites. So if it’s a shirt, it should match three bottoms and vice versa.
If you don’t purge your wardrobe, this whole capsule wardrobe concept isn’t going to work because you’re still going to have stuff in your closet that doesn’t fit your capsule.
This part is SO important, that I actually wrote an entire article about how to deal with purging and decluttering which works perfectly well for your wardrobe. This will help you decide what to do with the stuff that you’re NOT keeping…
If you just can’t let it go…
I know, I know. It’s hard to get rid of your stuff.
If you just. can’t. let. go, here are a few things you can do…
Firstly, put it away for one of your capsule rotations… Let’s say there’s a pair of pants that you just can’t get rid of even though you know that you should. Put them in a box and hide it away for your spring/summer capsule. When fall/winter comes back around, if you miss it, you can keep it. If not, you’ll get rid of it. Treat it like an experiment!
If it’s something sentimental but you know that you won’t wear it, that’s an even better reason to put it away safely so that it doesn’t get ruined.
With the stuff that’s remaining, it’s time to do a quick inventory.
As you start going through everything that’s left, you’ll start to notice yourself thinking things like, “this would be perfect if I had a pair of brown pants” or “I need a white top”.
Mark those down so you can get to step four…
Step 4. Shop + Organize Your New Capsule
Before you get too excited and think that you’re going to get to buy a whole new wardrobe, let’s take a second.
Remember when you made the list of stuff that you would need in your capsule wardrobe? In step three, you purged your wardrobe and now, you should only put the stuff that was on that list back into your closet.
The rest of it should go in bins, bags or boxes to be put away.
On the first go ’round of a capsule wardrobe, you’ll probably find that you’ll need a few things.
The first time I did it, I realized that I really needed a pair of beige pants to round out my capsule because I had so many tops that would match them. I also realized that I needed some sexier pumps to dress up my outfits for nights out.
If you start by shopping your closet, you’ll find that you already have pretty much all of the stuff that you need with the exception of a few things.
It’s a lifestyle…
This is an ongoing process.
You’ll find that you fall out of love with certain items, your style changes or you just get sick of your capsule.
When that happens, it’s probably because you need to start sprucing it up…
Go buy a few new tops that still fit into your capsule and keep note of the items that you feel like you’re missing.
Fill the holes as quickly as you can and it’ll be way easier to stay committed.
All and all, I absolutely LOVE my capsule and it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done for my mindset.
If you want a quick rundown of how to set up your capsule wardrobe, I’ve put together a cheat sheet that walks you through the simple steps of getting in the right mindset, purging your closet, planning your new capsule and shopping which you can download below.
If you’re looking for something more in depth that will help you choose the colors, decide what to shop for, determine how to make your capsule list and all the rest of the nitty gritty details, I’ve put together a whole e-course in the Empire Builder Academy called Wardrobe Boss that will walk you through the entire process.
Think you could put this together or would you be overwhelmed? Let me know in the comments below.