How To Create A Capsule Wardrobe And Redefine Your Style

by Jenny Lelwica Buttaccio

Spring is in the air, and with a new season comes the creation of a new capsule wardrobe.  “What’s a capsule wardrobe?” you ask. The capsule wardrobe concept is the belief that if you invest in fewer, higher quality pieces, you’ll simplify your morning routine and spend less money in the long run. The result? You'll have a classic, personalized wardrobe that reflects your unique style.

I began my capsule wardrobe endeavor at a point when I was feeling overwhelmed in my life. My friend and a few fashion and lifestyle bloggers motivated me to purge my space of unused items to create some order and balance in my life. Knowing that I had clothes hanging in my closet that still had tags on them, my closet was the first place I chose to start. I kept thinking I’d wear certain items eventually, but years went by and “eventually” never came. Why on earth was I holding onto
so much stuff?

With a new way of thinking, I saw an opportunity to merge my love of fashion with practicality, and redefine my personal style–all while adhering to a realistic budget I set forth for myself and giving my closet a much-needed makeover in the process.
So, what’s in a great capsule wardrobe? Here are some hallmarks:

  • A small collection of clothes comprised of pieces you’ll wear over and over again for an entire season – that’s three full months.

  • The number of pieces you have in your capsule wardrobe for each season is dependent on the clothes you already own, the clothes you need, and your lifestyle. A sample seasonal capsule wardrobe ranges somewhere between 33-45 pieces (yes, including shoes).

For those of you who think a capsule wardrobe is boring, I promise you that it doesn’t have to be. Play with fabrics, structure, proportion, or unexpected (but totally wearable) items. In fact, my Nike, Air Force 1 high top sneaker wedges have proven to be one of the coolest and most versatile items in my closet. I practically live in them! Capsule wardrobes teach you that it's not about the number of clothes you have, it's about how you style them differently each time.

Everyone creates their capsule wardrobe a bit differently, but here’s how I designed mine:

1. Brainstorm words or phrases that define your style or mood

Every woman's style is unique. The words I chose for myself were “effortless,” “fancy jeans and T-shirts,” “sporty with an edge,” and “a touch of femininity.” This description embodies my personality and where I’m at in my life. What about you?

2. Take everything out of the closet.

I confess it took me two full days to accomplish this. On the first day, I removed my clothing (phew!), and the next day I took out my shoes.

3. Sort items into six piles:

  • It’s mendable. These are wearable items in need of some minor TLC like sewing on a button. My small mending projects took me approximately one day to complete. 

  • It’s sellable. These are items that are in good condition, but for whatever reason I never wore them. I sold those items on eBay, to consignment shops, or resale stores. I used the money to round out my spring capsule.

  • Donate it. This pile applies to clothing that doesn’t fit in any of the above categories. If I don’t have the time to mend or sell my items, donating is always a great solution for downsizing.

  • It’s a season-specific item. These are distinct items like my winter coat, boots, and swimwear–things that I want to keep, but don’t fit into my current capsule wardrobe. To keep myself organized, I place those items in a closet or drawer that’s separate from my current wardrobe.

  • It’s a maybe. These are items that I’m on the fence about. I kind of like them, they were expensive, or I’m just not ready to part with them yet. No problem! I left a small space in my closet for these uncertain pieces. If I don’t wear them within six months, I’ll consider putting them into one of the other piles.

4. Assess the clothing that’s leftover.

These are the pieces that I love the most. I am happy to see that these items fit perfectly into the style I had defined for myself. My wardrobe is not yet complete, but I have given myself an excellent start to creating an approach to fashion that leaves me feeling good about myself, my pocketbook and organizing my closet.

Are you spring cleaning your wardrobe? Tell us about your experience.

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