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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.
- 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.
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 Facebook, Pinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.