Updated: Sep 18, 2021
Pre-planning Your Capsule Wardrobe
One of the first things you need to consider when building your capsule wardrobe is how your collection might change with the season. A wardrobe of short sleeves and tank tops might be ideal in the summer, but once the winter months roll around, you’re going to need clothes that keep you warm.
The entire concept of a capsule wardrobe is based around minimizing quantity and maximizing quality. Or in other words, approaching your wardrobe with a more intentional mindset by only keeping a small selection of clothes that you absolutely love to create a number of interchangeable outfits, rather than having to dig through a plethora of pieces to put an outfit together.
Shifts in Season—The 30/15 Rule
So, the first rule of thumb in creating and maintaining a successful capsule wardrobe all year long is the seasonal 30/15 rule. Here’s how the 30/15 rule works: each season allows for a total number of 30 pieces in your wardrobe, with 15 of those pieces transitioning into the next season as the weather begins to shift. The other 15 of your least worn items, you can feel free to donate & replace, or not. As long as that other half doesn’t exceed 15 pieces, you’re still within the margins. If we do the hypothetical math correctly, that’s 15 re-used pieces per season and 15 new pieces per season. By keeping up with the 30/15 rule, you’ll only have to replace a small percentage of your wardrobe four times a year or less.
The next thing you’re going to want to think about when curating your capsule wardrobe is creating interchangeable combinations that accommodate your lifestyle. Perhaps you’re an athlete, or just live a relatively on-the-go lifestyle, so your wardrobe is probably going to consist mostly of activewear—training leggings, yoga pants, breathable tank tops, etc. Or maybe your day-to-day is the complete opposite and your career requires business professional attire—a matching blazer and skirt set, flattering cardigans, and some classy slingback pumps.
But what if your style is more hybrid? It might seem like a little more of a challenge to keep a minimal collection of clothes that appeals to two different aspects of your lifestyle as opposed to someone who only dresses in activewear all day every day.
Planning a capsule wardrobe around your hybrid lifestyle is simpler than you think. Say, for example you need to dress professionally while on the clock, but outside of work, a trusty pair of jeans and a loose-fitting tee shirt is your go-to look.
Here are some questions to ask yourself to get you in the right mindset for your capsule wardrobe:
How many times a week must you dress in professional attire?
How many times a week do you stick with a more casual outfit?
Are you comfortable with repeating your outfits in a social setting each week? If so, how many times are you willing to repeat that same outfit?
Do you tend to shop for things you genuinely love, or do you just follow trends?
Answering some of those questions should bring you sense of clarity and direction while assembling your hybrid capsule wardrobe. Even if you dress in professional attire 5 days a week and casually primarily on the weekends, that’s only a total of 7 outfits right there! You still have plenty of room in your allowance of 30 total pieces to implement alternative options for mixing and matching.
Even if you’re not comfortable repeating the same outfit twice in a week, the versatility of a capsule wardrobe is design to give you a versatile range of outfit combinations by strategically creating a closet of fewer items that all coordinate without being too monotonous.
If you’re someone who tends to shop solely based on current trends, it might be time to start approaching your style with more intention. Trends are transient—they come, and then they go. Once they die out, you’re left with a closet full of things you might not have even loved in the first place, and definitely don’t now that they’re out of style. Focusing on only purchasing things for your capsule wardrobe that truly bring you joy! And then start considering how you can make those new pieces work with what you already own.
Our bodies will continue to change and grow throughout our lifetimes, but it’s good to have a sense of what styles and pieces generally tend to flatter your figure. Everybody’s body is beautifully different, so not all might fit in these categories. And that’s perfectly normal! But from a style guide perspective, some of the most common body type generalizations include, but aren’t limited to:
Do you love animal prints and patterns, or would you rather keep it simple by dressing in black from head-to-toe? Whatever, your style is, there of course aren’t any rules—you do you! Keep in mind, however, that you’ll get the most out of your capsule wardrobe if all of your pieces are interchangeable with one another. This is easiest to achieve if about 90% of your wardrobe consists of a base palette of colors that agree with one another—neutrals, black, white—and 10% being pieces that bring some flair and personality into your outfits.
Building Your Perfect Capsule
Let’s get to work! We’ll start with building a blueprint plan for your capsule that is organized by category and season.
The three main categories of your capsule plan are going to be tops, over-tops, and bottoms. Here’s the breakdown:
“Tops” will include t-shirts, blouses, shirts, knitted tops, tanks, etc.
“Over-tops,” will include cardigans, sweaters, blazers, jackets, and any other outerwear.
“Bottoms” will include pants, shorts, skirts, jeans, dresses, etc.
As for what to leave out of your capsule plan, for now you can keep the following items out of consideration. Paring down those items can wait until you have a bit more experience in maintain a capsule wardrobe.
Here’s what you won’t need to include:
Athletic clothing (unless your day-to-day requires activewear)
Intermediate Tracking— “The Wear Log”
We’ve created a simple table system for you to use once you’ve created your capsule wardrobe to help you keep record of what items you wear most and how many times you wear them per year, which in turn reveals the items that hardly got worn at all. It’s something we like to call The Wear Log. It’ll help you hold yourself accountable to your minimalism goals through a process of elimination technique.
Overtime, as you pick and choose what 15 items you’ll be taking with you between seasons and which you’ll be donating, The Wear Log will make your progressive closet purge a lot less stressful and time-consuming. You’ll have cold, hard evidence as proof as to why you should keep certain items as well, which should help negate that “maybe I’ll wear it in the future” mindset. If you haven’t worn it yet, the reality is you probably won’t.
Here’s an example of a filled-out Wear Log so you can get a sense of how the system works…
How To Use It:
The process is pretty self-explanatory, but here’s how The Wear Log works anyhow
Purchase Date: Of course, it’s going to be difficult to remember when you’ve purchased items you already have. But as you add new items to your closet each season, mark down in your log the date you purchased them or at least close to it. As time goes on and items cycle through your wardrobe, you’ll eventually have a rather complete timeline of how long you’ve had an item.
Item: Your item descriptions are just to help differentiate between items on your list. Easy enough.
Cost: The cost column of the log is going to give you a sense of how much you’re typically spending on items. For those who are big budgeters, this column will be especially helpful. Also, if an item was particularly expensive when you bought it, you can also decide whether you want to donate or try and resell it if it’s something you eventually decide you don’t want to keep.
Times Worn: This is perhaps the most vital column in the log. It’s your own personal time that keep track of how often you tend to reach for certain items. If you get to the end of the year and an item with only one or two tallies is still holding a place in your closet, it’s time to say farewell to that piece. Out with the old and in with something that you’re actually excited to wear, and thus more likely to put into use.
Ready to create your own capsule wardrobe Wear Log?
Download the #FREE Editable PDF below to get started. Happy logging!