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How To Start A Capsule Wardrobe: The Beginner’s Guide

Have you ever been curious about capsule wardrobes and wondered how to start one?  This beginner’s guide will show you how to start a capsule wardrobe in 7 simple steps, reclaim your closet, and actually enjoy getting dressed in the morning.  If you are style-challenged like myself, perhaps wear the same things day in and day out cause you just don’t like anything in your closet, or are just curious about capsules and how they work, then you’re in the right place. 
I’ll walk you through how to begin building a capsule wardrobe that reflects the season of life you’re in right now, whether you’re a boss babe, stay-at-home mom, or somewhere in between, we’ll build a wardrobe that suits your individual style, tastes, and comforts.  Are you ready to get started? 

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capsule wardrobe download checklist

What Is A Capsule Wardrobe?

First, things first, you may be wondering what even is a capsule wardrobe and whether or not this is something that you’d find helpful in your life.  Basically, a capsule wardrobe is a curated, intentional closet filled with items that coordinate together so that getting dressed for the day is much simpler & filled with items that you love wearing.  A capsule wardrobe is meant to make you feel empowered, comfortable, and confident in your clothes and how you present yourself to the world. 
And, as we all know, our clothing choices can certainly change during different seasons of life or even from day to day.  Building your very own capsule wardrobe will help you narrow down what clothes you enjoy wearing the most, and what items make you feel the most confident and beautiful in your own body. 
I first learned of capsule wardrobes when I began learning more about the Danish tradition, hygge, and how the Danes curate a closet filled with timeless, elegant, well-made clothing that makes them happy.  I could appreciate the concept of living more minimally and actually spending money of clothes I loved verses filling my closet and drawers with a million sale items just simply because they were inexpensive.  The Danes put a lot of thought into what they bring into their home and that includes their closets, and they tend to invest in pieces when they truly love them. 
As, I began building my own capsule wardrobe over the past year, I began by following these simple steps from one of my favorite finds on Instagram, Erin at Cotten Stem, and then added some steps of my own to help me stay on track and organized.  The 7 easy steps I share with you today will help you clean out your closet, get organized, and start building the wardrobe of your dreams.  I will walk you through the process, share with you some of my favorite style gurus on Instagram where you can find inspiration, and answer some frequently asked questions. 
And, yes friend, you can even do this on a budget and on a time crunch!  You are in control of your capsule, I’m just here to guide you.  This may seem overwhelming and daunting if you’ve never tried it before, but I promise, once you cultivate a closet you love, getting ready for the day will be a breeze.
rose gold hangers

7 Simple Steps To Help You Start A Capsule Wardrobe

Not to steal Dave Ramsey’s thunder, but here are 7 simple “baby steps” to building a capsule wardrobe that you love.  You may get hung up on a step, or one step may take more time than another (just like in the budgeting world…if you follow Dave Ramsey’s Money Makeover you know what I’m talking about!).  Take your time.  This is honestly meant to be fun.  If you start to feel overwhelmed, just stop and revisit your capsule another day.  You’ve got this! 
outfit flatlay

1. Purge & Sort Through The Clothes You Have

This is one of the steps that may or may not be fun depending on how much you love to organize and purge.  I happened to like purging my house of things we don’t need anymore, and when I started this step I can’t even tell you how many bags of clothes I donated to a local shelter. 
My car was literally filled to the brim.  This was alarming for two reasons.  #1 I had no idea I even had this many clothes because I definitely didn’t wear all of them.  Most were so old they wouldn’t fit anymore anyways or were just plain worn out.  And #2 I realized how much space clothing and shoes were taking up in our bedroom closets and dressers that could be used for other things. 
It felt so good to finally sort through all the things and clear some space both in our home and in my brain to allow for more organization and meaningful pieces. 
Here’s some practical ways to purge your closet…
  • Take everything out and sort into piles. 
  • Make 1 pile for donate/trash, another pile for definitely keeping, and another pile for “I’m just not sure”. 
  • Bag up the donate or trash pile and get rid of it to clear some space. 
  • Put your “I’m not sure pile in a spare laundry basket to revisit later.  In fact, I now keep a laundry basket in our closet where questionable pieces go and if we’ve not grabbed for an item during that season it’s then donated.  Some of the pieces I find in there are sentimental like that t-shirt we got on a trip or something like that that we just don’t want to part with even though we don’t wear it or even like it. 
  • Keep a laundry basket in your closet to throw pieces into when they are to be donated. 

2. Have A Fashion Show

Next, have a fashion show.  Try on all the pieces in your keep pile and make sure they’re still items you love, feel comfortable in, etc.  Take pictures of each item for a purpose we’ll discuss in step 6, and maybe even start a note on your phone listing clothing items you wish you had to go with that article of clothing like maybe a pair of shoes, a bag, a belt or even a cardigan etc. 
Those items you find that you don’t like anymore or don’t fit, put them in the “I’m not sure” pile if you can’t part with it yet, or simply donate it. 
Next, try on the items in your “I’m not sure” pile to see if they’re pieces you still like and can wear.  If not, I’d strongly consider donating them just to clear space and give to someone who could use that piece of clothing. 
girl fixing hair

3. Make A List of Items You're Missing, Wish You Had, Or Need For The Season Ahead

Now you should be feeling a bit lighter and perhaps even more organized as you’ve literally cleaned out your closet and made space for things you truly love.  Perhaps you’re noticing a lot of gaps in your wardrobe and that’s ok.  That’s where this next step comes in.  Now is when things get even more exciting and fun!  Woohoo! 
Download and print my capsule wardrobe checklist to help you begin building the capsule wardrobe of your dreams.  In the guide, you’ll find pages to help you brainstorm items you’re missing or wish you had.  There are even pages to help you narrow down the color scheme you love to wear, and fill in the gaps of the season coming up based on events, trips, fun nights out, etc that you already have planned for the weeks ahead. 
I suggest you print out the seasonal planner pages every few months and reevaluate your closet which we’ll talk about later.  But, for now just keep that in the back of your mind. 
Building your capsule wardrobe can be fluid and ever changing.  You don’t have to only have a certain amount of pieces and never shop again.  Maybe one season has more adventures, weddings, travels, etc. where you’ll need to fill in some gaps, whereas other seasons are more low-key.  That’s ok.  Fill in where you need and when you want to to keep your capsule wardrobe fresh.  After all, you’re the one who needs to love it in order to motivate you to wear it, ri

4. Start A Pinterest Board For Inspiration

Pinterest is a great tool to use when building your capsule wardrobe.  Go into Pinterest and start several boards for outfit ideas.  I have boards for each season and save outfits that I love so I can reference back to them and try to recreate them with items in my closet. 
This is especially helpful for those of us that are more visual and maybe have a harder time piecing together outfits.  This will also help you figure out where your capsule wardrobe may be lacking.  Perhaps you notice a lot of the outfits you’re pinning include faux leather leggings and an over-sized brown leather bag, for instance.  Now you know the perfect items to invest in for your capsule this season if you don’t already have them. 
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5. Take Your List & Your Pin-spiration And Hit The Stores

Now that you’ve done your homework and brainstormed what’s coming up for you and your family in the season ahead, looked at your wardrobe to find the holes, and gone to Pinterest for some outfit inspiration, next it’s time to take your list of items you need/want and hit the stores. 
Putting a little bit of thought into your capsule and going into your favorite stores with a plan, will also hopefully prevent you from aimlessly spending and buying another item similar to one you already have in your closet.  I’m definitely guilty of that.  If you’re more of an online shopper or follow some gals on Instagram who share style you love, your list will also come handy when they share items that are on sale or items you just simply love. 
Reference your list of favorite brands/stores, join their email list, and watch your inbox for sales. 
And, if you’re on a budget, set aside a certain amount of money, whatever you can afford, every month/season to purchase items for your capsule to fill in the gaps.  Perhaps, you may even need to prioritize which items you need to spend money on first and work your way down your list. 
If you don’t have the funds to complete your capsule this season, save that list for next year.  Building your perfect capsule wardrobe may take several seasons and that’s perfectly ok, unless you have a couple thousand lying around to spend on clothes.  Boy, wouldn’t that be nice. 

6. Keep It All Organized In The Cladwell App

I love using the Cladwell App! Have you heard of it? Remember those pictures I had you take earlier of your favorite items?
Well, let me introduce you to the coolest way to digitalize and organize your closet. Download the Cladwell App and begin filling your digital closet with all your favorite items. You can find similar pieces of clothing on their app or use the photos you took.
Cladwell will not only help you get dressed in the morning, it will also suggest items to fill in your closet with more staples. In the morning, you’ll get a reminder from Cladwell to get dressed for the day, and when you open the app it will suggest several outfits for you based on the weather in your area and what you already have in your closet. Yes, you read that right. It’s like having your own meteorologist and stylist and personal assistant.  How cool is that?
It will also track items you’ve barely worn and remind you pull those pieces out again or donate them. And, it will also suggest outfit ideas so you can use your capsule wardrobe to the max. I’ve been using the app for over a year now, and absolutely love it.

7. Reevaluate Your Capsule Seasonally

And, lastly, I’d highly recommend revisiting your capsule wardrobe seasonally, make a list of what you wish you had for the previous season so you can shop for those items early next year. And, then evaluate what you have coming up in the season ahead and where the holes in your wardrobe might be. Make a list of needed items and continue building your capsule. Rinse and repeat and have fun!
rosy mauve purse

FAQ's About Capsule Wardrobes

1. How many items can be in my capsule wardrobe?

This is a common question because traditionally capsule wardrobes were meant to encourage us to be more minimal. What I love about the capsule wardrobe concept is that there’s intention and purpose behind spending, and once I’ve built up my capsule I know I will feel stylish and well put together on any given day because I’ve given so much thought into my wardrobe.
So, no there really are no rules here. You can keep things super simple and limit your closet to only a select amount of items if you want too. And, if you love shopping for new clothes, you can add to your capsule every season too. The idea to just be thoughtful and truly love the clothes you wear.

2. Can items from one season's capsule be used in another season's capsule?

Absolutely, yes! Once you find a great pair of jeans and comfortable pair of leggings, those items could be used for all my season’s capsules since I go for a more cozy vibe all throughout the year. Your capsule can definitely translate from season to season and if you’re mindful on what colors and patterns you like to wear as well, it’s likely your capsule will coordinate from season to season as well. Which makes life in the morning so much simpler! Woohoo!

3. Is building a capsule wardrobe expensive?

It certainly doesn’t have to be. Like I said before, you can take this as slow or as fast as you want. Fill your capsule with budget pieces at the beginning when you’re just trying to build up your basics, and then as seasons come and go and clothing begins to wear out, replace your items perhaps with higher quality pieces. If that’s not doable for you right now, no worries. If you’re surrounded by sticky fingers and runny noses all day long, and would rather live in joggers and sweatshirts that ok too! It’s all about making your capsule work for you and help you feel beautiful in whatever season of life you’re in.

Capsule Wardrobe Seasonal Inspiration: Including Ideas for Plus-Sized Women

I love to share seasonal capsule ideas, especially when I can share size-inclusive shops that have helped me build my capsule wardrobe. It can be especially difficult to find clothing that fits and makes me feel beautiful, so rest assured when I find pieces that work for women of all sizes, I share it.

I hope you’re feeling super inspired and motivated to begin your own capsule wardrobe.  Need a little help?  Don’t forget to download my FREE capsule wardrobe checklist!  Click the photo below to download and ENJOY!  

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