Building a Capsule Wardrobe with The Main Street Exchange
What comes to your mind when you hear the words “capsule wardrobe?”
Maybe it’s a peaceful, single rack of neutral-colored clothing, aesthetically arranged and accented by a few pairs of high-quality footwear. Or maybe you feel some angst as you picture your joyful, brightly colored wardrobe fading to beige and black.
Here’s the thing. There is much more to a capsule wardrobe than the stereotypical rack of 10 earth-toned pieces you’ll find on Pinterest.
Whether you’re fully on board with a capsule wardrobe approach, undecided, or a bit skeptical about the whole project, we invite you to come along with us as we explore what a capsule wardrobe is and how to build one you truly love
What is a Capsule Wardrobe?
A capsule wardrobe can be defined in several ways. However, in its most basic sense, it’s a working wardrobe filled with timeless pieces that can be easily mixed and matched. It’s a well-ordered wardrobe with quality clothing you love and want to wear often.
So why might you choose to shift to a capsule wardrobe?
There are at least four benefits when you choose a capsule closet.
- Say goodbye to decision fatigue. Decision fatigue happens when our brains become overwhelmed by needing to make too many decisions in a day. A capsule wardrobe cuts down on the number of decisions you need to make since most (or all) of the pieces in your closet already work together. This frees up your brain's energy for other decisions.
- Save money on clothes. Establishing a capsule wardrobe means finding pieces you like and want to wear often. It's built on a foundation of quality, timeless pieces that won’t go out of fashion next year or wear out after a few washes. This means you won’t need to constantly buy new pieces, saving you money in the long run.
- Be kind to the planet. A capsule wardrobe is a sustainable choice for the same reasons it saves you money. You’ll be less tempted by fast fashion when you have quality, timeless pieces you really love and won’t wear out in a season.
- Save time. A capsule closet saves you time when you’re choosing what to wear and when you’re shopping. It helps you be intentional about the pieces you purchase and won’t leave you feeling like you have nothing to wear despite having a full closet.
We want to take the time to acknowledge that a capsule wardrobe may not be for everyone. However, there are a lot of myths about the approach that may turn people away who would otherwise enjoy it or find it helpful. Let’s address a few common ones now.
4 Common Capsule Wardrobe Myths
Myth 1: Capsule wardrobes are just for extreme minimalists.
This is the number one sticking point for people who don’t consider themselves minimalists. However, it simply isn’t true.
Sure, you can take the hard-core approach and pare down your closet with ten neutral-colored pieces, but it's not required. There isn’t a golden number of necessary pieces for a capsule wardrobe. Rather than a set number of pieces, the goal is to choose intentional pieces that mix well and clothing you’ll wear often. For some people, that might be ten pieces. For others, it may be 45 or more. It all depends on your lifestyle, personality, and goals.
Myth 2: Capsule closets are boring.
The essential quality of mixing and matching items is why capsule wardrobes often contain a lot of neutral-colored clothing. However, this doesn’t need to be boring. Choose patterns and colors that work well together and express your personality and style. If you’re a maximalist who loves mixing patterns and colors, go for it!
Myth 3: You need to start your closet over from scratch.
The opposite of this is true. Start building a new closet with the clothes you already have. In fact, we strongly recommend not getting rid of your clothes right away when you start exploring capsule options. Instead, create several trial capsules and store the rest of your clothing. This gives you time and flexibility to mix, match, and fill in pieces as needed sustainably and without spending too much.
Myth 4: You need to buy expensive clothing.
With all the talk of choosing quality pieces, this myth makes sense. However, you can definitely build a casual wardrobe on any budget. There’s no need to purchase $200 handmade linen dresses if that’s out of your budget. Instead, look for natural fibers and other high-quality pieces when you’re out shopping, and don’t forget to check clearance sections and thrift stores.
Now that we’ve defined capsule wardrobes and addressed some of the myths let’s move on to building one of your own!
Build Your Capsule Wardrobe by First Defining Your Goals
Building a capsule wardrobe requires intentionality and creativity. So, the best place to start is to define your goals. Let’s break it down.
The only way to create a hard-working closet is by selecting pieces that fit your lifestyle. Here are some questions to help you define your lifestyle.
- What is your occupation? Are you a full-time mom? Do you work in a professional environment? Do you work outdoors? Does your job require a uniform?
- What does your commute look like? (e.g., Do you walk? Bike? Drive?)
- What recreational activities do you regularly participate in?
- Do you work out regularly?
- What do you need your clothing to do for you? (e.g., comfort, movement, professionalism)
- Personal Style
Next, you’ll want to define your personal style. It’s essential to understand the difference between style and fashion as you do this. Style is personal and unique to your lifestyle and taste. Fashion, on the other hand, is passing trends. The goal is to develop a style that genuinely reflects what you like, who you are and fits your lifestyle. This doesn’t mean you can never purchase trendy pieces again. Instead, it means you’ll focus on pieces that are your style and incorporate trends with intentionality.
For more information on developing your style, download our free guide, 7 Steps to Building a Modest Wardrobe.
Choose Your Approach
After you’ve defined your goals, you’ll want to choose your approach. We’ve identified three common approaches to creating a capsule.
The Universal Capsule
This is probably the approach most people think of when they think of capsule wardrobes. The Universal Capsule involves curating your closet to fit all the seasons, occasions, and activities you’re likely to encounter and participate in. It's the most challenging approach, requiring you to mix and match across seasons and occasions. This requires a lot of forethought, so be prepared for a creative challenge!
Pro tip: Choose natural fibers for pieces that translate well from one season to another!
What keeps you busy? What events do you regularly attend? The occasion capsule approach focuses on the various occasions, events, or life roles you fill and curates a wardrobe to fit each. For example, a Sunday capsule for attending worship services, a working-from-home capsule, or a professional capsule. This approach best suits those whose various roles or responsibilities require distinctly different wardrobes. It can also be used as an organizing framework within a universal capsule.
Creating seasonal capsules is probably the most popular approach to a capsule wardrobe, especially for those experimenting with the concept. It gives you the most flexibility, allowing you to adjust your style and color palette to match the seasons. You can also store your out-of-season items, ensuring you’ll have an uncluttered, beautifully functional closet.
Building Your Wardrobe: A Template
As we’ve established, there are many ways to create a capsule wardrobe. We've created the following guide to give you an idea of what the process could look like.
Choose your colors
Start by choosing the colors of your capsule. This includes a base color (or colors) and accent colors. Choosing a neutral color for your base will increase the flexibility of your wardrobe. Examples include black, navy, beige, gray, and white.
After you’ve chosen your base colors, choose 1-3 accent colors. If you want to increase your ability to mix and match pieces, choose colors that accent or complement each other.
A pro tip for choosing colors is to get color analyzed. A professional chooses the most flattering colors for an individual based on their skin tone, hair color, and eye color. This process can be done in person or online. For best results, we recommend doing an in-person consultation.
Start with the basics
Start by choosing a few essentials to create the foundation of your wardrobe. These should be in your base color(s) and be pieces you’ll want to wear often. Denim is an excellent option for this category as it wears well and doesn’t go out of style.
Essential items include:
Add in color and texture
After you’ve chosen your foundation pieces, add items that add color and texture to your wardrobe. These can fit into any clothing category, including the wardrobe stables we’ve just discussed.
Outerwear includes sweaters and coats. Choose some of these pieces in your base colors for maximum versatility. This is also an excellent category for adding color and texture to your closet. For example, add a chunky knit sweater, a colored vest, or a houndstooth blazer.
Next, add some shoes! Some people say a girl can never have too many shoes, but that isn’t really true. Most people gravitate toward the same 3-5 pairs of shoes regularly. Choose shoes you love, fit your lifestyle, and are comfortable. Wardrobe shoe staples include sneakers, lightweight boots, and comfortable sandals.
Pro tip: If you love to express your style through shoes, build your wardrobe around them. Choose fewer, more neutral-colored items in the other categories, and then add color and flare with your shoe selections.
Finally, add your accessories. This category includes bags, watches, hats, and scarves.
Bonus: A Trip Capsule
We’ll wrap up this blog with a bonus template – the trip capsule! If you’re on the fence about wanting to try a capsule wardrobe, consider implementing the concept when you pack for your next trip. We’ve chosen black and beige as the foundation colors and olive as the accent color.
- Five tops/dresses
- Four bottoms
- Three layers
- Two shoes
- One special item
Switching to a capsule wardrobe streamlines your daily choices and cultivates a mindful and sustainable approach to fashion. We hope you found this blog helpful as you explore this option and if it is right for you!
If you’re interested in building a sustainable wardrobe, you may also enjoy the following blogs:
- 16 Essentials for Every Modest Wardrobe
- 5 Clothing Care Tips You Need To Know
- 11 Easy Ways To Style A Denim Skirt
At the Main Street Exchange, we exist to empower women and affirm their value. We offer beautiful, modest clothing curated to bring out each woman’s unique style and inner confidence.