July 18, 2022

Career AdviceCulture

Unlocking Capsule Wardrobes

By: Leah Nalepa

Capsule wardrobes are a great way to be intentional with your closet, save time, energy, and money, and simply stay more organized. Yet, there are mixed feelings about capsule wardrobes. For some, they can be too minimal or don’t cater to their ever-changing lifestyle needs. Whatever your perspective is of capsule wardrobes, hopefully you find some helpful tips and tricks for creating your own (even if it’s mini) here!

What Is a Capsule Wardrobe? 

A capsule wardrobe is a limited collection of clothes (anywhere between about 25-40 or 50 pieces) that mix and match and cater to your specific lifestyle. They usually include basics such as a great pair of jeans, button down oxford, or quality flats or loafers. Ideally, capsule wardrobes should capture a variety of lifestyle needs ranging from casual to professional. 

What a Capsule Wardrobe Is Not

It’s easy to assume everything in a closet is included in a capsule wardrobe, but that’s not true. Items such as undergarments, socks, bathing suits, and accessories aren’t necessarily part of a capsule. Because capsules are meant to keep a closet clean, organized, and intentional, pieces that won’t be seen or aren’t worn frequently don’t need to be included. 

Pros to a Capsule Wardrobe: 

There are numerous pros to cultivating a capsule wardrobe. 

It allows you to be intentional and organized with your clothes. 

A capsule wardrobe is a great way to stay organized since there are minimal pieces to maintain. They don’t allow for clutter that otherwise would take up more space in your wardrobe. Additionally, the clothes complement each other, and usually come from the same or similar color palettes, making it that much easier to color code your closet. 

It saves time and energy. 

Who doesn’t want to save time and energy getting dressed in the morning? Capsule wardrobes make it easy to get dressed in the morning because you’re not fumbling around with piles of clothes. Clothes in a capsule wardrobe complement each other, therefore, eliminating time in the morning so you can grab a top, bottoms, and shoes, knowing they’ll match each other. 

It saves money. 

Arguably one of the best things about a capsule wardrobe is that it saves money. Defer to spending money on quality pieces that will last. Building a capsule wardrobe isn’t necessarily the time to follow fast fashion and every seasonal trend; rather, it’s meant to enhance your own sense of style with pieces that will last longer than a season. When you stop shopping frequently for items that won’t last, or that don’t cater to your body or lifestyle, you save money in the long-run.  

It can be what you want.

A misconception around capsule wardrobes is that it must only be basics or only contain neutrals. Many people enjoy those types of pieces, but those aren’t the only parameters to capsules. While having lifestyle basics in your capsule wardrobe is a must, the wardrobe can also include a variety of colors, patterns, and even statement pieces. Your wardrobe should reflect you and your lifestyle, not someone else’s. 

Cons to a Capsule Wardrobe: 

Not everyone loves a capsule wardrobe, and that’s okay. Here are some cons to having one.

Your clothes are limited. 

Eventually, you will circulate through all the clothes in your capsule. For many, it’s easy to get over the mental block of re-wearing several pieces throughout the week in lieu of ease and organization. Others prefer to have more options in their wardrobe depending on what life events are happening or simply because they don’t feel like wearing the same thing twice in a week. Neither way is the right way, it just depends on what suits your lifestyle best. 

Capsules don’t cater easily to seasonal changes. 

Ideally, capsules will cover your basic lifestyle needs including the changing seasons. If you live in a state that has all four seasons, it may be difficult to keep a smaller wardrobe simply because of the layers that are required for colder months. It’s definitely possible, but it’s something to consider if you want a minimal wardrobe but also live somewhere with temperatures ranging from 0 to 100. 

Capsules don’t cater easily to lifestyle changes. 

People change over time. They graduate, change jobs, become parents, start businesses, meet a new community. Our clothes usually reflect our lifestyle changes. Because of the nature of capsule wardrobes, they don’t allow for much room for changes to lifestyle needs. 

Pieces feel old after a while. 

With a capsule wardrobe, your clothes may start to feel old or used after a while. This is not because they are necessarily outdated or worn out, but simply because you’ve worn them over and over. Depending what you like, the feeling of wanting fresh, new clothes may set in after some time. While you can add clothes to your capsule over time, capsules are still meant to be minimal and frequently adding new pieces to your wardrobe may indicate you no longer want or need a capsule. 

Capsule Wardrobe Sets

An alternative to a capsule wardrobe is a capsule wardrobe set. A capsule wardrobe set takes the concept of a capsule wardrobe and applies it to every area of your closet. For example, someone may have set for going out, professional attire, casual attire, church, or date nights. At the most basic level, a set includes 3 tops, 2 bottoms, and 1 layering piece (blazer, jacket, etc.). This is a personal favorite approach to building an intentional closet because it combines the utility of a capsule wardrobe with the flexibility and options of adding new pieces and catering to changing lifestyles. 

Tips for Building a Capsule Wardrobe

If you want to build your own capsule, here are a few tips to consider before doing so: 

1. Remove unwanted and unnecessary items from your closet. They will only cause more clutter if they stick around. They also won’t serve your capsule wardrobe.

2. Choose a color palette based on what you like and what looks good on you and build your wardrobe around it. 

3. Determine the basics you need for your particular lifestyle, both casual and professional. Keep in mind how much body type comes into play for this. Purchasing quality clothes for your capsule means ensuring those clothes suit your body type well!

4. If you want to incorporate patterns into your capsule, decide if they will be focused in your tops or bottoms. This allows for easier mixing and matching in the long-run. 

5. If you mix patterns, make sure the patterns are a similar color palette. 

Like everything, there are pros and cons to building a capsule wardrobe. They can be incredibly functional, organizational, and can help you save time and money. They also aren’t the perfect solution for everyone’s closet, and don’t offer as much flexibility or optionality. Regardless of how you feel about capsule wardrobes, it’s helpful to know what they are and how certain concepts can help you ultimately build out your ideal closet!