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When you look in your closet, do you see hundreds of items but nothing that strikes you? Are you sometimes stuck jamming pieces together that you don’t really like, just to have something to wear? Do you spend what feels like hours rooting through your closet in search of the one thing you want?

Capsule wardrobes can be the perfect way to solve these closet problems. A capsule wardrobe is a seasonal selection of favorite clothes that can be worn together in many different combinations. For a no-hassle outfit, all you need to do is mix and match the contents of your capsule. From basic tops to killer dresses, a capsule wardrobe allows you to have it all by having just enough. 

A capsule wardrobe can revolutionize your closet through the virtues of simplicity and thriftiness. Here’s a simple 8-step plan to begin your capsule wardrobe project. 

Photo by Sarah Brown on Unsplash

1. Clear out your closet. 

First, take everything out of your closet. You’re not getting rid of it all, you’re just cutting down what actually lives in your closet to a more manageable selection. Some of it may go back in if it becomes part of your capsule. As for the rest, store it if you can’t bear to part with it or sell/donate it if you can

2. Choose a base color. 

Generally, your base color will be either black or navy. You can use both, but you should generally avoid wearing them together. A good capsule wardrobe is all about maximizing your number of outfit combinations. 

3. Grab some neutral color basics. 

Next, you’re going to need some flexible, neutral basics that can tie a lot of different outfits together. Many of these will be black or navy, depending on which you picked in the last step. The rest will be other neutral colors like white, beige or gray. 

These are going to be your go-to workhorse pieces. You’ll wear at least one of them in many of your outfits. Some common items you’ll find in this category include:

  • Jeans
  • Cardigans
  • Chinos
  • Skirts
  • Button-ups
  • Short sleeve t-shirts
  • Dresses

Try to use what’s already in your closet whenever possible. Chances are that you already own a lot of these pieces. 

4. Choose your accent colors. 

Now you get to start flexing a little bit of creativity and personal style. Name one to three colors that you like and then incorporate some seasonally appropriate tops or bottoms in those colors into your capsule. Colors like pink, green, red and sky blue are popular accent color choices. 

You’ll want to ensure that your accent colors are compatible with your base color. It will also give you more potential outfit combinations if your accent colors are compatible with each other, although this isn’t strictly required. 

5. Add patterned pieces. 

The next step to spicing up your capsule is adding patterned pieces. These can be as wild or as subdued as you want, from leopard print to polka dots to simple stripes. Again, choose something that matches several of the pieces you’ve already selected. 

Photo by Heather Ford on Unsplash

6. Add outerwear, shoes and accessories. 

If you’re creating a fall or winter capsule, be sure to grab some jackets and coats. Vary the style and material of your outerwear so that you’ll have something that can go over anything. Get a few different types of outerwear (such as a parka and a light jacket) as seasonally appropriate. 

When it comes to shoes, make sure you’ve got one pair of each type of footwear (heels, flats, boots, etc.). Double up if you wear a certain type often. Most people prefer shoes in neutral colors, but there’s nothing wrong with louder colors if you can make them match your capsule. 

Finally, accessories are here to make your capsule outfits come alive. Scarves, hats, belts, gloves, printed tote bags — the sky is the limit when it comes to accessories. As always, though, try to pair up your accessories with what will match your capsule outfits, as well as with your lifestyle and activity level (such as wearing a silicone ring for active outdoor folks).

7. Rotate capsules in and out

Another trick that makes a capsule wardrobe is the fact that it’s meant to act as a unit that can be rotated in or out of use. Let’s say that you start your capsule closet project in the spring. When summer arrives, you’ll rotate your spring capsule out and bring in a new summer capsule (potentially including some spring pieces, if you want). 

When spring comes back around, take another look at last year’s spring capsule. Grab a few new pieces to freshen things up and remove anything that looks dated or no longer fits. Keep what you still like. Remember that you don’t necessarily have to sell or donate what doesn’t make it into your capsule. Just keep it somewhere other than your closet. 

8. Think in capsule terms when you’re shopping

Once you’ve assembled your capsule, try to obey the capsule rules when you’re out shopping for something new. A big part of the capsule wardrobe’s value lies in how it enables you to create tons of outfit combinations from a few versatile pieces, and your new acquisitions should fit with this strategy. 

Here are some general principles to apply when evaluating potential new pieces of your capsule:

  • Match: A new item should match at least three other items in your capsule 
  • Mixability: A new item should be used for creating a number of new outfits 
  • Personal Preference: A new item should be compatible with your style and fit your body comfortably

As you get better at shopping for your capsules, you’ll learn that working with a relatively small selection of clothes also helps you further sharpen your style and figure out what really looks good on you rather than what’s simply OK. Ultimately, that’s the point of the capsule wardrobe: To remove the uncertainties and anxieties from dressing by paring the process down to stuff you love that always looks amazing. 

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