Updated: Sep 18, 2021
Building a capsule wardrobe doesn’t have to be overwhelming, nor should it limit your personal style. Here’s how you can join the minimalist fashion movement and create the perfect capsule wardrobe for yourself.
What is Minimalist Fashion?
Minimalist fashion is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a movement towards curating your own personal style with a few essential clothing items that will last a lifetime. It provides relief from a society that’s centred around hyper-consumerism, and helps you avoid the numerous fast fashion trends that crop up at an increasingly fast rate.
Fast fashion comes at an extremely high environmental and social cost. It accounts for up to 10% of worldwide pollution, and fosters dangerous working conditions with disastrous consequences, such as the Rana Plaza collapse in 2013 that killed over 1,000 workers at the Dhaka garment factory. As consumers, we have the power to make more ethical decisions through minimalism, but this can be difficult when fashion companies and social media influencers are constantly coming up with new trends to follow. It’s easy to get caught up in this fashion frenzy, but minimalism is here to help declutter your life, and create positive social change, all at once.
Saying no to fashion trends and ignoring the abundance of media that we are exposed to on a daily basis can be intimidating, especially if you are new to the minimalist lifestyle. However, it can also be exciting- you have the opportunity to curate your own exclusive fashion sense that is timeless and practical. By honing in on what you truly enjoy wearing, you will gain a distinct je nais se quoi that can’t be purchased from any department store.
So, how can you develop your minimalist fashion style? By building your own capsule wardrobe!
What is a Capsule Wardrobe?
A capsule wardrobe is a small collection of versatile clothing items that you can mix and match to create seemingly endless outfits, for any occasion. Never again will you have to stare at a closet full of clothes, and yet still have nothing to wear.
The benefits of starting a capsule wardrobe include:
1. Easy organization. By decluttering your closet, you’ll know exactly what you have, where it is, and how you can style it.
2. Time management. The beauty of a capsule wardrobe is that, when done correctly, everything matches. If you wake up late for work, you won’t even have to look in your closet, you can simply grab and go. Just make sure you don’t forget a pair of pants- that nightmare doesn’t need to become reality!
3. Personalized style. Curate an entirely unique style for yourself, that you will love for years to come. Say sayonara to over-done fashion trends that are obsolete in the blink of an eye, and say hello to becoming your own fashion icon.
4. Financial wellness. Capsule wardrobes will save you money in multiple ways. Firstly, you can easily utilize the clothing that you already own, instead of constantly feeling the need to buy more. By decluttering and organizing your belongings, you can put them to better use.
Secondly, if and when you do purchase clothing for a capsule wardrobe, you can invest in classic pieces that will last forever. This will get you the most bang for your buck, and will significantly reduce your cost-per-wear. Therefore, creating a functional capsule closet will undoubtedly save you money in the long run. No more impulse buying over here!
Now that we’re all on the same page, let’s get down to business.
How to Build Your Capsule Wardrobe:
Decide on your capsule size: How many clothing items do you want?
Capsule size can range widely depending on your needs, but anywhere from 25 to 50 items is generally a safe, attainable bet. Based on your lifestyle and preferences, create different categories that are relevant to you, and list out how many different items you need in each. If you aren’t sure where to begin, check out the following example for inspiration.
Pick 1 to 3 of the following items in each category.
Sample capsule wardrobe categories:
a. Lounge: T-shirt, jeans, sweatpants
b. Work: Button-down shirt, tailored pants and/or skirt, blazer
c. Exercise: Moisture-wicking shirt, shorts, running shoes
d. Evening: Dress and/or suit, dress shoes
e. Seasonal: Jacket, sweater, swimsuit, tank top
f. Accessories: Bag, wallet, belt, jewellery and/or watch
It’s important to note that, while creating these categories is a helpful organizational tool, your outfits aren’t bound by them. You can mix and match to your heart’s content, such as combining a button-down shirt with jeans for a slightly more relaxed look.
2. Analyse your current closet: This is both the scariest and most satisfying part of the process. It’s time to purge your closet of anything that doesn’t make the capsule closet cut.
Implement a Marie Kondo-style cleaning method to ensure you get rid of all unnecessary items, but add a logical twist. For example, you may not be head over heels for your plain black t-shirt, but you have worn it on an extremely regular basis, and will continue to do so. Therefore, into the capsule it goes.
While sorting through your closet, with a critical eye, identify your personal style. Do you prefer a quirky, down-to-earth style, or do you opt for a more clean and polished look? Taking the time to pinpoint your style is key to ensuring that you will truly love your capsule wardrobe for years to come, and won’t fall prey to the new trends that will undoubtedly arise.
3. Pick a colour palette: To ensure that you’re able to create numerous outfits, it’s highly recommended that every capsule wardrobe contain a selection of neutral colours with minimal patterns-think white, beige, and black.
However, to spice things up and add a more personal touch, feel free to pick an additional 1-3 complementary colours to add to your capsule wardrobe. You can select these colours based on what’s most flattering on you, what you already own, and what you simply prefer. If you already have a “signature colour,” keep it!
If you’re looking for colour palette inspiration, try sky blue and navy, or forest green and burnt orange.
Sample colour palettes:
4. Identify your basics: These are the items that can truly make or break a capsule wardrobe, and will be on extra-heavy rotation. Think of the aforementioned black t-shirt, or the perfect pair of classic blue jeans. Unlike most other clothing items, it is virtually impossible for these pieces to ever go out of style.
There are 3 steps to ensuring that your basics are up to the challenge:
a. Utilize the tried and true items that you already own and wear often. This way, you know with 100% certainty that these items are your jacks-of-all-trades.
b. If you’re missing an important basic, invest in a good quality item that will last a long time, so you rarely have to re-purchase, and can wear it for years to come. For example, a good quality basic such as a black leather belt will last for years, if not decades when treated properly.
c. If you already own a basic item, say, a classic button-down for work, but it’s from a lower-quality brand like H&M, you can elect to keep it anyways. Wear it until you truly feel you need to re-purchase another, and then invest in a high-quality replacement that will last as long as possible. A capsule wardrobe is meant to reduce unnecessary purchases, not encourage them.
5. Identify statement pieces: It’s time to add even more personal flair. Select 1 to 3 statement pieces that will take your unique capsule wardrobe to the next level, such as a patterned scarf, or a bright red watch that you love. Ideally, select statement pieces that align with your chosen colour palette to get the most wear out of them.
Because this step is all about curating your own specialized fashion sense, you can skip it if it feels unnecessary or bothersome. If you’re a fan of minimalist fashion in the purest sense, don’t feel forced to add anything that doesn’t need to be there. Your capsule wardrobe should be something that you truly enjoy and feel satisfied with.
6. Donate the rejects: After going through the past 5 steps, you now likely have a hefty pile of discarded clothes that didn’t make the capsule closet cut. Revel in the amount of storage space you’ve just cleared out!
To maximize the positive impact of your minimalist wardrobe, contribute to the circular economy by donating your extra clothing items. You can donate your clothes directly to a local charity organization, or, if you want to make a little bit of cash as a reward for your hard work, consign these items at a local thrift store. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also embrace the digital era and head to Depop or Poshmark to re-sell these items yourself.
If you’ve made it through this article…
Congratulations! You now have all the tools you need to organize your closet and your life all at once.