How to Build a Capsule Wardrobe

How to Build a Capsule Wardrobe

The consensus on Capsule Wardrobes is that they make more sense in a highly dynamic world of fashion. I agree no less! The fundamentals of this wardrobe is based on minimalism – keeping your shopping list crisp and letting your wardrobe be home to selective seasonal clothes only.



I propose revamping your wardrobe with four seasonal capsule-collections every year {or fewer if the weather in your part of the world permits}. A number of your pieces, most likely more than half, will appear in a couple if not all four collections. But, before we get to the how, let’s start with why you should embrace this refreshing wardrobe philosophy.

It all started in the 70s when London boutique owner Susie Faux introduced the world to the term “capsule wardrobe”. She described it as a minimal wardrobe for a given measure of time that houses 30 to 40 carefully picked versatile pieces that are in tune with the current season’s style trends, match your lifestyle, and work for your climate. Instead of picking many items that mirror common trends, the idea is to choose high quality pieces which enhance your persona. Wearing just a fraction of your wardrobe should also fortify the initiative that you can be content with less.

So instead of filling up every nook and cranny of your closet with clothes that hardly see the light of the day, you can curate compact collections {or capsules} which:
* add substance to your seasonal clothing
* reflect the trends of the season and
* concur with your Modus Vivendi
It certainly takes away the trepidations of walking into your closet to find nothing appropriate to wear!

For all my curious kittens who are brimming with questions like – Will 40 items see you through the entire season? Will the changed wardrobe coerce you to dress better? Does ‘dress for success’ ever work? – I decided to look through the microscope to set the facts straight.

My alacrity to begin with this new project saw almost 75% of my clothing for a month taken down from my wardrobe. There are no inexpungible rules to it; all you need is a determined heart, set to eliminate pieces that you don’t see yourself wearing. And, being finicky is alright; a capsule wardrobe is a mindset, not a contract. A question that I constantly asked myself during the process was this, “What is the minimum number of clothes I need to see me through an entire season without feeling limited for options?”

Simplifying my closet has been one of the most rewarding decisions of my life.
I began by emptying my closet and laying out all my clothes. Clothes that didn’t create a connection with my current style made a beeline to the storage pile and so did those pieces which had inconspicuously remained in my wardrobe without being worn even once in six months. My next criterion was to build my capsule closet with selective pieces to create a pragmatic and versatile collection. Since we have stepped into hotter days, I began to pick items that would be suitable for summer in Bangalore.

The key was in picking seasonally appropriate pieces from a huge pile, and storing away the rest for a better landscape for my wardrobe {my inherent slant towards neutral colours is chiefly because of the ease with which we can mix and match them}. After some careful contemplation I established a structure that supports my way of life: I astutely chose 40 pieces of clothing that I would dress in for the next 3 months, and was mindful not to give in to the temptation of shopping for clothes in those three months {yikes!}.

Rule 1: Scale down your closet to a happy little 40 piece capsule wardrobe. These 40 pieces should include your tops, bottoms, dresses, outerwear and shoes. Remember these pieces do not comprise your workout clothes, accessories, jewellery, handbags, swimwear, nightwear & loungewear, underwear, and the pair of jeans you wear when you visit the local market.

Why did I settle on this number? It took some careful calculations and introspection before I decided to choose 40 as the number of pieces for my capsule wardrobe. To help you decide a number that works for you, here’s how I broke it down for myself: I wanted 8 pairs of shoes, 10 bottoms, and 15 tops. This left me with 7 more pieces which gave me enough room for 4 dresses and 3 jackets/coats. To me this felt generous yet minimal.

It is not obligatory for you to choose the same number, as the philosophy behind this endeavour and its success lies in being able to practice minimalism without getting obsessed with a number.

Rule 2: Enjoy your 40-piece capsule wardrobe for the next three months which should ideally represent a season of the year. And remember, while your clothes are limited; your accessories aren’t – so find creative ways to accessorize your clothes to give yourself a new look each time.

*A word of advice: Things may not always fall into place the way you imagined. You may end up with a few hiccups once you begin wearing your capsule. I talk from experience because I had to make a few tweaks to my capsule for my wardrobe to feel fully complete.

Rule 3: I would advise you to plan, as well as shop for next season’s capsule wardrobe once you are closer to the last week or two of the current season. And practice restraint to ensure that you include quality pieces. About 6-8 new pieces have been sufficient for me every season. Having said that, style should be fun and selecting a few new pieces for my next season is definitely my favourite part.


Note: Careful planning is the most fundamental element in creating a capsule wardrobe. When you prudently choose pieces that work well together, it will be easier for you to last the season without feeling restricted. My mantra is to pair an item in the closet with at least two other items to create different looks from the same set of clothes. I have always preferred to have a modular, mix and match wardrobe.

Think of your capsule as a living breathing element. Don’t shy away from fine-tuning to make it more suitable to your needs. Remember, this is YOUR wardrobe and you have complete control over what it includes and what it doesn’t. Taking control of your wardrobe can be a powerful reminder that it’s never too late to bring about even a small change to your life.


When was the last time you went through your clothes and took the time to de-clutter your wardrobe?

If it has been over a year, then this is your first order of business. Don’t even think of going through the entire process of creating a capsule just yet. Begin by pulling out all your clothes and stashing away all those pieces that you know you will never wear and then celebrate your tidiness with a cookie!


End note: The very essence of a capsule wardrobe cheers me up. I am celebrating a smaller closet, prudent purchases, careful shopping, and certainly more joy.

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* I love bringing together a bunch of conflicting items and weaving my own sense of one-ness to them. *


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