What's A Capsule Wardrobe & How to Plan One

winter capsule wardrobe casual outfit | tintedgreen

The capsule wardrobe is an excellent way to pare down your clothing. I’ve said this before (really, most people who write about minimal wardrobes have said this too), but we all tend to play favorites with the things in our closet without realizing it. I know I do.

This summer, I chose not to make a structured capsule wardrobe. I didn’t make one because I felt like I was in the middle of a style transition. I didn’t have a clear enough idea of what pieces would work and which wouldn’t and I couldn’t figure out how to combine the style I was drifting toward with something that would also be office appropriate.

Instead, I put together a color palette to serve as my guide. Even without an itemized wardrobe list, I still ended up wearing certain pieces way more than others, like my vintage jean shorts I can’t quit wearing!


Maybe it’s because I’m writing this during NYFW, but it might make sense to think of the capsule wardrobe as your seasonal collection.

And if years of binge watching Project Runway taught me anything, it’s that a good collection is an intentional one. The looks are curated. The color scheme is tight. There’s thought behind the mixing of textures and pattern and proportion.

It's the same for the capsule wardrobe. I put in the thought ahead of time instead of the morning of. Intentionally curating my options a few weeks before the start of the new season takes so much of the guess work out of getting dressed, regardless of whether my closet is filled with 33 or 100 items.


There are lots of iterations of the capsule wardrobe, but two main ways to decide how many items to include once you've chosen your color scheme.


One path is to pick a number almost arbitrarily. For example, I picked the number 37 for this fall because I’m really curious to find out whether I can survive with only three jeans for a season (or four…or five…...I might not be able to do this). Other numbers I’ve seen around the web are 33, 40, 42, and 50.


The second way is to do a more in-depth lifestyle assessment. This takes more mental energy but will also give you a wardrobe that's best tailored to your life vs. someone else’s.

I’d be selfish not to recommend the blog Into Mind the best resource for this approach. Anushka is a freaking rock star at minimalist fashion and has devoted way more time to perfecting that process than maybe anyone else on the internet. You can find her series on building a capsule here.

My cliffnotes version of her planning process is:

  1. Note what silhouettes/proportions you plan to wear and how often you’ll wear each silhouette. Find these on Pinterest, in magazines, or just paying attention to what people are wearing on the TV shows you watch.
  2. Figure out how often you want to wear your pieces. For example, I hate wearing the same jeans two days in a row. I prefer to let at least two days go by before wearing that same pair of jeans. This means I would include at least three pairs of jeans into my seasonal wardrobe. Do this for all aspects of your wardrobe: dresses, pants, tops, jackets, shoes if you’re including them (quite a few people don’t), skirts, shorts, etc.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that the capsule wardrobe is a tool. I use it to find my style, to shop less, and to love the clothes I do own more. I don’t think anyone’s minimalist wardrobe should look the same because no one lives the exact same life. Part of the fun of minimalism and creating capsule wardrobes is meeting myself where I am!

I hope this helps you on your path to a capsule wardrobe! As always, feel free to ask a question in the comments if you have one!