How to Create a Minimalist Capsule Wardrobe (A Complete Guide)

A minimalist capsule wardrobe is a simple way to feel better about getting dressed. You spend less time putting together outfits, and you own fewer clothes—but you feel more confident and put together.

What is this sorcery? The power of minimalist dressing, my friends! Keep reading to learn more about why you should create your own minimalist wardrobe and how to get started today.

"How to Create a Minimalist Capsule Wardrobe" in a white box with an image of a woman wearing a striped top and blue jeans looking at a minimalist wardrobe of clothing hanging on wooden hangers.

What is a Minimalist Capsule Wardrobe?

A capsule wardrobe is just a fancy way of describing a small collection of versatile pieces that can be easily mixed and matched to create different outfits. 

Traditionally, a capsule wardrobe involves classic pieces in a neutral colour scheme (think black pants + a white t-shirt). But if that’s not your cup of tea, don’t worry. You can absolutely create a capsule wardrobe full of bright colours and loud prints if you want. 

Depending on where you live, you might have a seasonal capsule wardrobe that you switch out with the change of seasons. Alternatively, you might have a year-round capsule wardrobe of core pieces that you wear all year, just switching out a few seasonal items as required.

What Are The Benefits of a Capsule Wardrobe?

There are three key benefits of dressing with a capsule wardrobe:

It’s easier to put together outfits. If you only own what you love, and everything goes together, getting dressed is a no-brainer. 

This means less decision fatigue. We can only make so many choices each day before our brains get tired and the quality of our decisions declines. Save your mental energy for more important things than getting dressed. 

You stop constantly buying new clothes. When you have a closet full of clothes (but nothing to wear), it’s easy to fall into the habit of buying “one more thing”—and before you know it, one more thing turns into a lot of new things. 

But when you feel good about getting dressed every day, the desire to buy more stuff goes away, saving you time and money. (I also found that I’ve become more thoughtful with my purchases, and I purchase less from fast fashion brands.)

You feel better about yourself. This might feel counterintuitive at first, but I found that I actually feel more stylish when I have fewer options. I’m more creative with my outfits, and I feel confident because everything I own is tried and tested.

Related Post: How to Stop Buying Clothes You Never Wear

How Do You Make a Minimalist Capsule Wardrobe?

Here are five easy steps to creating a minimalist capsule wardrobe—with fewer clothes and more style! 

Step 1: Get clear on your personal style

The first step to creating a minimal wardrobe is to get clear on your own style—and one of the best ways to do this is to create a personal uniform

And no, this doesn’t mean you have to commit to wearing the same thing every day. Instead, I’m an advocate of creating formulas.

To do this, start by paying attention to the outfits that make you feel your best and start looking for patterns. Are there certain shapes, colours or fabrics that you constantly find yourself reaching for? 

For example, I love high waist jeans or shorts + tank tops in different neutral colours. Or short dresses in lightweight fabrics. (Note that both of these formulas have similar silhouettes—a narrow, high waist with a bit more volume at the bottom).   

These formulas allow for a lot of variety (I’m not wearing the exact same thing every day), but at the same time, there’s a clear system that makes getting dressed easier. 

See if you can figure out your core formulas, along with a base colour (usually a neutral, but it doesn’t have to be) and accent colours that go with your base colour. You can even look at fabrics—remember you want things that will mix and match.

Step 2: Consider your lifestyle

Your individual style is important, but so is your lifestyle. What clothes do you need for your daily life? 

For example, if you spend every morning in the gym but you hate going out at night, then you’ll need more workout clothes than party dresses. Just like a lawyer will probably need more formal clothes than someone who works at a daycare centre.

I recommend thinking about the clothes that support your lifestyle and writing down the number of outfits you need each week to be comfortable (3 gym outfits, 5 work outfits, 2 going out outfits, etc.).

Step 3: Build your capsule wardrobe

Now that you know what you need and what you like, it’s time to start putting things together. 

Pick the category of clothing that you wear most often, and then put together a few favourite outfits. Using your style as a guide, curate your choices while paying specific attention to versatility.  

For example, if you have four work blouses that you love, but one colour doesn’t really go with anything else, let it go. I know that it’s not easy, but keep in mind that your clothes need to earn a place in your closet. Only the best, in terms of comfort, style and versatility, deserve to stay.

Step 4: Pack away seasonal items

One of the reasons for creating a minimal capsule wardrobe is to create space in your closet so you can easily see what you have—and this is hard to do if your off-season clothes are taking up space. 

This is why I think it’s a good idea to pack away seasonal items. Pack away your winter coat, bikinis, and anything else you won’t be wearing for a while.

A woman wearing a striped top and blue jeans looking at a minimalist wardrobe of clothing hanging on wooden hangers with a white frame overlay.

Step 5: Declutter what you’re not wearing

This last step is technically optional, and you might want to test out your capsule wardrobe for a while before decluttering—but ultimately, a minimalist wardrobe means letting go of what you’re not wearing.  

There are many methods for decluttering your closet. You’ve probably heard of Marie Kondo and her famous KonMari Method, which involves putting everything in a pile and going through it all item by item.

Alternatively, I teach the Style Standard Method in my program, The One Day Closet Cleanse. (I found dumping everything out too overwhelming, so if you can relate, then definitely check it out!)

Frequently Asked Questions About Capsule Wardrobes

How many clothes should be in a capsule wardrobe?

Most people suggest that a capsule wardrobe should only have 25-35 clothing items per season, but honestly, there is no set number of pieces you must have. 

Instead, the more important question to ask is how much do you need to achieve your goals? Fewer decisions means less stress … but if you’re running out of clothes or worrying about laundry day, then it’s not worth it. 

Ultimately, minimalist living, in general, is about finding that sweet spot between just enough and not too much. Pick a number that feels realistic for you, and you can always adjust up or down if you need to.

Related Post: What To Do When You Have Too Many Clothes

What about special occasions?

This depends a bit on personal preference. I have a simple style, so I generally wear casual dresses and dress them up with statement pieces or accessories on special occasions. (I have a pair of tan wedges and a tan clutch handbag that are my go-to “dress up” pieces!)

But if it’s a more formal occasion, then honestly, one special item should be enough. (Maybe two if you have a very active social life!) A little black dress is always a great option, but you could also go with bright colours—whatever you’re comfortable wearing. 

The important thing to remember is that it’s OK to repeat outfits, and it’s better to wear something that you know makes you feel great than to always be wearing something new and second-guessing yourself. (Or you can borrow something if you want to experiment with fashion trends.)

What if I have a changing body shape?

I’ve been dealing with this for a few years now, and what is currently working best is to keep flexible clothes. I love dresses and skirts because they are more forgiving. 

For things like jeans, where you really need to have the correct size—I weigh up the cost of storing items against the cost to my wellbeing. (Keeping clothes that are too small makes me feel bad about my body shape when I know I shouldn’t.) 

So it’s up to you how much to keep. I usually have one pair of jeans in a size up and down, and that’s it, but there is no one best solution. Just be mindful about how much you hang onto, and make sure it’s only what you truly love.

Minimalist Capsule Wardrobe Checklist

I don’t generally create checklists because I think minimalism is personal, and there is no “one size fits all” capsule wardrobe solution. But if you’re feeling stuck, here are some key pieces that you might want to include:

  • Good quality t-shirts or blouses
  • Black trousers 
  • A pair of jeans (or two)
  • A casual dress
  • A denim jacket or leather jacket
  • A trench coat
  • A cardigan or sweater
  • Leggings/casual pants
  • Shorts or a skirt
  • A pop of colour or patterns to add interest

Again, keep in mind this is just a starting point. I actually recommend you create your own capsule wardrobe checklist based on your lifestyle and what YOU like to wear. Just because every capsule wardrobe blog post says you “need” a little black dress doesn’t mean you do unless it’s genuinely a must-have for you!

Capsule Wardrobe Examples

If you’re interested, I filmed a behind the scenes look at my minimalist wardrobe. This video is a bit outdated (I’ve since had a second baby and simplified my closet even more), but it should give you a good example of a real-life, non-fashionista capsule wardrobe. 

And in full disclosure … I don’t even think of it as a capsule wardrobe. I live in a sub-tropical climate, so I don’t switch things out seasonally. Instead, I take a minimalist approach and keep it simple year-round. 

If you’re looking for more inspiration, here is a round-up of my favourite spring minimalist capsule wardrobes. I’ll be putting together a fall round-up soon, so watch this space! 

Do you dress with a capsule wardrobe? What are your top tips and ideas? Let us know in the comments!

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1 thought on “How to Create a Minimalist Capsule Wardrobe (A Complete Guide)”

  1. Great post Jennifer! This makes capsule wardrobes feel way more attainable than a lot of things I’ve read. I love color so I’ve found that picking 2-3 favorite colors in the same tone (Jewell, or pastel, or earth) and using only one or two pieces of that each color pairs well with a couple neutrals and keeps everything interesting but versatile!
    I also love the tip about formulas! I’ve stopped buying weird trend items that have shapes I hate to wear and when I stick to simple styles that flatter my body I’m the happiest!

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