By Cammie Jones


What is a capsule wardrobe? The term “capsule wardrobe” was first coined in 1979 by Susie Faux, owner of a London boutique. A capsule wardrobe is basically a collection of a few essential items of clothing that don’t go out of style. This wardrobe can be anything from pants, tops, skirts or coats to be paired or layered with seasonal pieces. Creating a capsule wardrobe and cleaning out your closet of non essentials go hand in hand and can be done in just a few easy steps. Perfect for spring cleaning! 

1. Look in your closet.

Creating a capsule wardrobe may be a lot simpler than reinventing the wheel. You may already have basic black pants that are timeless or a good pair of jeans that you tend to lean towards when getting dressed. Shop in your closet and see what pieces you already own that can be part of the basics.

Donna Karan brought this idea to America in 1985 when she started selling an interchangeable collection of seven work-wear pieces. Keep this number in mind when you are cleaning out. Faux suggested buying what are considered to be key or staple items such as two pairs of pants, one dress or skirt, one jacket, one coat, one knit, two pairs of shoes and two handbags.


2. Clean out.

When trying to put together the basics, take the time to get rid of the following:

trendy items that are no longer in style, pilled sweaters, shirts or blouses that have lost their shape or look worn, that pair of pants, dress or top that doesn’t fit you or doesn’t fit you correctly, old shoes (nothing makes an outfit look dated or worn more than an old pair of shoes) and get rid of any purses and jewelry that you no longer use or wear. 

If you haven’t worn the item of clothing in the past year then get rid of it. Deciding whether to consign or donate to a non-profit is up to you but the first step is to be truly honest with yourself about IF you are ever going to wear it again. If not, get it out. 


3. Take inventory.

Once your closet is decluttered, take inventory of what is left. Can you further narrow it down to a few basic pieces? Afterwards, make a list of what pieces you will need to complete your capsule wardrobe.

Make sure you really know what you will and will not wear. Are you a white button down person or more of a white t-shirt person? Your basics may be different than your best friend’s basics so know what your own style is to some degree. The goal of this capsule wardrobe is to make getting dressed in the morning easy. Make it your own.  

4. Choose a color scheme.

After cleaning out your closet and taking inventory of what you already have for building your capsule wardrobe, determine your basic colors. Basic colors include white, black, brown, navy or grey. Any item that you purchase should be in shades of these colors so that they can be put together with anything in your capsule wardrobe. Next, choose a couple of accent colors that you would typically use for tops, accessories or dresses that will go nicely with whatever basic color theme you have chosen. In this way, all of your clothing items will be interchangeable and complement each other.

 5. Go Shopping. 

Some people say to do this first but to me this is putting the apple cart in front of the horse. It is best to clean out your closet, determine what you have in relation to the basics and then go shopping either in the store or online to complete your wardrobe. 

First, complete your capsule wardrobe with your basic items and neutral color theme. Then, add the seasonal pieces which can include a fun top, cool out of the ordinary jacket or scarf to jazz up the outfit. Make sure to know your body type and what styles look best on you. Don’t buy a pencil skirt if you are curvy at the bottom instead stick to a fuller style skirt. If you don’t want to show your shoulders then steer clear of sleeveless tops. Again, make your wardrobe your own because only you know what you will and will not wear. 

Other details to consider include picking items of clothing that are of high quality fabric. These pieces will last longer in the long run even if you have to spend a little more up front.  Also, choose classic styles and shapes and try not to go too trendy. A few trendy pieces are fine to supplement but don’t make those part of the capsule wardrobe.

 6. Have Fun. 

Don’t get bogged down in the details.  There is not a set number of pieces you must have for your wardrobe to be considered a capsule wardrobe. The purpose of a capsule wardrobe is to make getting dressed easier. Benefits of creating a capsule wardrobe is to save you time and money. You can use fewer pieces of clothing so you don’t buy stuff  that you will only wear once or even worse, never. 

This article appears in the March 2017 issue of Augusta Family Magazine.
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