If opening your closet gives you extreme anxiety, it might be time to consider a capsule wardrobe. A capsule wardrobe is a small wardrobe composed of essential items that can be mixed and matched to create a variety of outfits. Although numbers vary from person to person, most capsules include around 30 items or less, including shoes, clothing, and accessories.

Now, before you start freaking out about how you own more than 30 pairs of shoes, take a deep breath. You don’t necessarily have to adopt an arbitrary number and throw out half of our closet, and there are no hard rules about what it needs to look like. It’s about versatility and quality in place of quantity. A typical capsule wardrobe is meant to be worn for one season, so you can always consider putting certain items in storage containers during “off” seasons.

Why consider a capsule wardrobe?

  1.  A smaller wardrobe reduces decision fatigue
    This is the familiar feeling of having a closet full of clothes but “nothing to wear”. Having limited options takes away the stress of figuring out what you’re going to wear every day, allowing more time and energy to focus on other things. When you know exactly what’s in your closet, the answer is right in front of you.
  2.  It will improve your personal style
    Starting with the bare bones of what we love in your closet allows us to see your personal style more clearly. What things do you keep but never wear? What makes your favorite pieces your favorite? Cutting your wardrobe down to the basics will help you build a capsule that is appropriate for you, and will encourage you to part with items that you’ve since outgrown and out-loved. Since you have to be extremely selective, you’ll wind up with a carefully tailored wardrobe composed of your favorite things.
  3. You’ll get more creative with your clothes
    One of the biggest concerns about a small wardrobe is the lack of options it seems to offer. Many assume that they would get bored wearing the same items every day, but if your wardrobe is filled with versatile items, you can create an impressive number of outfits. Learning about layering, pairing, and accessorizing will prevent your wardrobe from getting stale, and will force you to get creative.

How do you build a capsule?

It might seem intimidating at first to reduce the contents of your wardrobe to something significantly smaller, but don’t fret – it’s easier than you think.  The answer is not to go on a massive shopping spree. What you need to do is re-evaluate your current items, discard items you never wear/ have no true intention of wearing, and work on filling in any “gaps” that you notice. Here are some tips to get you started:

  •  First, keep anything that you’re madly in love with. You should be able to spot your favorites right off the bat, because those are things you wear on a regular basis.
  •  Focus on neutral colors for the majority of your clothes. What neutrals do you wear the most often? What can be easily paired together? These will be your basics, and will provide the  foundation for your outfits.
  •  Now figure out which items can make up your statement pieces. Statement pieces are exactly what they sound like – something that will make a statement. These pieces will add the  necessary spice to your outfit. Think brightly colored shoes, eccentric earrings, or a skirt with a fun pattern.

Here is a sample capsule for reference to help you consider your options. This wardrobe can be easily dressed up or dressed down, and only consists of 25 items!

  •  6 tops
    •  2 sleeveless
    •  2 short sleeve
    •  2 long sleeve
  •  5 Bottoms
    • 1 pair black jeans
    •  2 pairs work trousers (1 light, 1 dark)
    • 2 skirts (1 solid, 1 patterned)
  •  2 Blazers (1 light, 1 dark)
  •  2 sweaters (1 crewneck, 1 cardigan)
  •  2 Dresses (1 solid, 1 patterned)
  • 6 Pairs of Shoes
    •  1 pair boots
    •  2 pairs heels (1 neutral and 1 accent heel)
    • 1 pair wedge
    •  1 pair loafers
    • 1 pair flats
  •  2 Bags (1 laptop bag, 1 smaller bag)

This sample capsule is not necessarily a recipe for yours; it is merely an illustration of how many outfits you can create out of versatile items. Your capsule should reflect you – don’t worry about what staple items you’re “supposed” to have. Select items that you like to wear. If for you’re struggling with letting go of your clothes, whether it’s out of guilt, or the off-chance that it will fit again or come back in style, don’t let it overwhelm you. Curating a wardrobe is intended to make your life easier in the long run. Take your time, and remind yourself why you wanted to simplify in the first place. Good luck!