Can a Capsule Wardrobe Save You Money?

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If you are a woman and you spend much time on Pinterest looking at clothing, you’ve probably seen capsule wardrobes. A capsule wardrobe is a new-fangled name for some mix-and-match core pieces that you can wear in a variety of ways. Modern Minimalism makes it sound a little fancier:

A capsule wardrobe is simply a collection of clothing composed of thoughtfully curated, easily interchangeable items designed to maximize the number of outfits that you can create.

Essentially, a capsule wardrobe allows you to create a variety of different looks with a small selection of clothes.

I first became a convert when I took off to Europe to travel full-time a few years ago. (I wrote more about traveling full-time in this article.) I only took a couple of suitcases and a backpack with me and would be experiencing a variety of climates and needs. It worked brilliantly for my purposes.

How I built my capsule wardrobe

I chose two neutrals and two accent colors for my capsule wardrobe.

  • Black
  • Grey
  • Blush Pink
  • Forest Green

All four colors could be mixed and matched to provide me with maximum options.

I chose mostly basic pieces with a couple of special pieces.

  • 3 Leggings
  • Skinny Jeans
  • Flare Jeans
  • 2 Maxi Skirts
  • 1 Dressy Skirt
  • 1 Midi Skirt
  • 6 t-shirts
  • 4 tank tops
  • 2 sweaters
  • 1 cardigan
  • 3 t-shirt dresses
  • 2 dressy dresses

I also included a coat, a jacket, undergarments, sleepwear, short dressy boots, sneakers, sandals, heels, and hiking boots. As far as the typical American wardrobe goes, this really wasn’t a vast wardrobe. I made it go further with accessories: jewelry, scarves, hats, and purses.

With the use of packing cubes, all of this fit in 2 suitcases and a backpack, along with the other items I took with me.

To conserve space, I made a rule that if I added something to my wardrobe, I had to get rid of something. Because I truly loved the things I brought with me, I made very few changes. The exception to this rule was jewelry. It was a small keepsake I could purchase during my travels that wouldn’t require much space. But even then, I stuck with the same basic color scheme.

Now, I’ve talked about saving space, but what about saving money?

Here’s how a capsule wardrobe saves money.

Some of the same rules that conserved space also conserved money. The thing about getting rid of something if I brought something in made me think harder about making new purchases. The new item had to really serve a purpose to make it worthwhile for me to get rid of a serviceable item.

When choosing new items, I was limited and freed by my color scheme. No more did I vacillate over choosing which of 5 different colors the new shirt came in. I was buying one that went with my wardrobe, period. As well, it helped me to limit my shopping – after all, how many black t-shirts does one woman need?

If you shop carefully when building your capsule wardrobe, you end up with classic, good-quality basics that last through multiple seasons.

Pros of a capsule wardrobe

I really enjoyed having a capsule wardrobe and found many benefits.

1.) It’s easier to find something to wear. When your wardrobe is this strictly limited, everything fits, everything looks good on you, and it’s pretty easy to decide on what to wear.

2.) Everything matches. No longer do you have to struggle to find the right shoes to go with just one outfit in your closet. All my shoes were black, so it was just a matter of the right shape for the outfit. Every top goes with every bottom, and getting dressed has never been so easy.

3.) It’s self-limiting. You really don’t end up splurging every year and buying a season of clothes you’ll never wear again. Instead, you have sturdy basics that will last for years.

4.) It is multi-seasonal. I was traveling from sunny Athens through the mountains of Montenegro. I was easily able to layer the clothing I had (and peel off layers) to work in multiple settings. I could wear a maxi skirt with leggings and boots, topped by a tee shirt, sweater, and coat in a cold setting. In a warm setting, I could wear that same maxi and tee shirt with sandals. The colors I chose were not particularly seasonal, so they looked good year-round.

5.) It saves tons of time. As I mentioned, it’s easy to find something to wear, sparing you the hours of digging through your closet and trying things on. Replacing pieces is also quite simple. I had 3 of the exact same pair of leggings because they were comfy, not bulky, and worked as both a layering piece and a standalone piece. When I needed a replacement, I simply ordered the same thing in the same brand in the same size, and I was done. After years of spending fruitless days looking for the right outfit, then tracking down shoes to go with it, the simplicity of this was a wonderful relief.

Cons of a capsule wardrobe

Of course, it’s not all sunshine and roses with a capsule wardrobe. Many of the cons are up to personal preference, so they may not be relevant to you.

1.) Things wear out faster. I have never really run into the issue of my clothing and shoes wearing out since I became an adult. First-world problems, I know. But when you wear the same pants multiple times per week or put 30 miles a week on your sneakers, they’re going to wear out. You can offset some of this with careful laundry procedures and skipping the dryer, but when it comes to shoes, there’s only so long they’re going to hold up, particularly if you walk a lot. Expect to replace things. I ended up spending a little more money on higher quality items to get a longer life out of them, but I believe it balanced out financially, as I replaced them less frequently.

2.) You don’t have up-to-the-minute trends in your closet. If being on-trend is really important to you, a capsule wardrobe may not be for you. The things in my own capsule wardrobe have been with me for five years, and the things that wore out were replaced with similar, if not identical, items. You can dress things up, as I mentioned, with accessories, but if you always want to have the latest cut of pants or the most popular pattern, you’ll be missing out on the longevity of the capsule wardrobe.

3.) Special occasions can be tricky. Getting dressed up for a special occasion is fun, but if you have strictly limited your wardrobe, it could be a little more difficult. I had a couple of things that were date appropriate, like a nice satin skirt and a dressy cardigan that could go over various tops, plus pumps or boots. But if I’d had a more formal event, it would’ve been tough. I did also have one multi-purpose black sheath dress that my daughters refer to as my “funeral dress” because I’ve worn it to several of those unhappy occasions, and that dress also could’ve been okay with the right accessories for a more elegant event. However, if I needed full-on formal wear, nothing in my wardrobe would’ve worked.

4.) Capsule wardrobes may not go from work to play very well. Capsule wardrobes depend on your lifestyle. I work online, so I don’t need a wardrobe that goes from corporate to casual. If you do, you may need two capsules – one for work and one for recreational times. It can still save you time and money, however.

What are your thoughts on a capsule wardrobe?

Have you ever tried using a capsule wardrobe for yourself? Did you like it? Do you have any tips for others who want to give it a shot? Let’s talk about it in the comments.

About Daisy

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, adventure-seeking, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites.  1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty; 2)  The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived; and 3) PreppersDailyNews.com, an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. Her work is widely republished across alternative media and she has appeared in many interviews.

Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books, 12 self-published books, and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses at SelfRelianceand Survival.com You can find her on FacebookPinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.

Can a Capsule Wardrobe Save You Money?
Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther is an author and blogger. She's the single mom of two daughters and credits extreme frugality and a good sense of humor for her debt-free lifestyle. She is the author of numerous books, the editor of TheOrganicPrepper.com, and is the founder of a small digital publishing company in the emergency preparedness niche.

7 thoughts on “Can a Capsule Wardrobe Save You Money?”

  1. Typically a LBD – little black dress – will suffice for dressy. A similar dress in another color would suffice for wedding. Class style dresses – I have a couple I use for said events.

    1. Because I truly hate shopping, I tend to buy in multiples. My tee shirts are all the Target brand v-necks, in both short sleeve and long sleeve. I have found that these don’t get holes and fraying in the seams like some other less expensive shirts. I get RBX leggings because they’re really sturdy and comfortable, and they have some compression. My casual dresses are all the same $40 maxi dress from Amazon in different patterns, and the same with my skirts. When I find something that fits and lasts well, I stick with it. 🙂

  2. Many years ago, when I was working as a secretary in a museum, I had a “capsule” work wardrobe long before the term was coined. Because I’m short (4’10”) I had a difficult time finding clothes that fit, so my mother made my business clothes. I had two classic pant suits that could be mixed and matched, a couple pair of black pants and a black skirt that went with either of the jackets and tops that went with everything. I also had one sheath dress that went with either of the jackets. Some of the staff dressed casual on Fridays, but I seldom did – because I am so short, if I dressed casually, more than once I was mistaken for a student from a school tour and told to get in line. That same wardrobe was my travel wardrobe. I loved the concept of having a few classic garments that could be put together differently to make many outfits that never really went out of style – I think the mix and match concept was a precursor of the “capsule” wardrobe – and I never worried much about the newest fads or styles because they never fit! Because my mom was such an amazing seamstress that wardrobe lasted for years through several jobs!

  3. I’m tall and it was always hard to find clothes that fit growing up. Now as a retiree, I find that thrift clothes for the most part don’t work for me, sleeves and slacks being too short. So I do try on all clothing when I buy, but that’s not very often. I do as you, Daisy, and spend more money up front to buy quality that will last longer.
    All my tops go with black for dressy and blue jeans for casual. I add color with scarves, jewelry, etc, but keep it to a minimum. Less is more.
    I do not expect to buy much ever again unless my walking shoes wear out or I have a gigantic size change. I do not have many clothes, but what I do have is very nice.
    My advice to retirees: wear your nice clothes! You will feel better and look nicer in good clothes than going around sloppily in sweats, etc.

  4. I’m active in my church so I actually have a wardrobe basically for church, dates, or appointments. Then I have a casual at home wardrobe for, visiting friends, study group, or casual lunches. Then jeans and assorted knit shirts in both light weights and heavy weights, then also long and short sleves. My late daughter in law had a lot of stretchy string strap undershirts. I’ve taken those to incorporate into all my wardrobe. I’m loving the extra warmth on my body. A too low neck is cured by one of those undershirts filling in the v. I live in the jeans and a mixture of knit tops. I’m 15 miles from town. I get dirty. I work hard. I have animals. I garden and can. Things get stained but I’ll still wear them till they wear out. The nastiest old tops come off when I’m back in for the day. I clean up then cook. Eventually worn out knits become cleaning rags or stuffed into an old pillow case or flece blanket sewn shut for a pet bed. I have an old but still ok leather jacket, a thick puffy jacket, a long denim coat, a long black wool coat with pretty leather trim, 3 colors of denim jackets that all work with most of the wardrobe. I have a fleece lined pull over Hoodie with a front pocket. I have 3 sweaters that go with everything. So yes a few thing mix with all three small wardrobes. The clothing in the church or casual wardrobes last me for years. The work clothes last a couple of years and are replaced as needed. Most of m y heavy weight jeans I buy used from Savers. They only sell new or nearly new good quality clothing. For $6 I get jeans that look brand new and are better weight and quality then I can afford. Sometimes I pick up items for the other wardrobes. I don’t pay more than $6 and the styles are current. My best clothing are items in good basic styles that are ageless and not dated styles. I’m 75 so I aim to dress nice but in basic styles. Since I live in the west long skirts never go out of style. A long sleved blouse can be worn as a simple jacket layered over knit tops or a satin sleeveless top. A few colorful pieces in colors I like and black, gray, or cream, as neutrals to accent. I have red, white, purple, as contrast pieces.

    I have very outstanding black western boots with silver tips, black and tan low top dressy boots, a pair of leather work boots, a pair of tall black rubber muck boots. Then I have 10 pairs of soft comfortable tennis shoes. 10 colors, some bright sparkled, some plain. They were my late daughter in laws. I love them they fit my funky moods. I may be a great grandma but I’m a forever kid at heart. I keep them in a basket in the closet. Yes I’ve worn them all – on trips to the city or Bible study group.

    I have lots of old silver and turquoise, copper, and red coral jewelry. The my gold and garnet birthstone things. I can dress up or down as I choose or don’t choose to wear jewelery. Thanks to family there is a sprinkling of diamonds. So I have lots of options.

  5. I keep thinking about paring my wardrobe down considerably. If everyone really took a hard look at their closet, they would realize they really only wear a few things.

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