My process for creating a Capsule Wardrobe

Spring edition

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I started doing seasonal capsule wardrobes a few years ago, in 2015. I came to it when I discovered Anuschka Rees’ blog. It provides a very detailed description of how to find your own style and then create a functional capsule wardrobe for each season. After doing it for a while I adjusted and streamlined the process to fit my needs. In this blog post I’ll explain how.

Clarify your Style Concept

The first step is to specify what you’d like your style to be. In contrast to a lot of advice out there, I would not recommend starting the magazine/Pinterest flip-through. In my experience this is a lot of external influence that can steer you in a lot of directions. Sometimes, we might look at something and think: Yeah, I like that. But that doesn’t mean that it’s right for us. Instead, I personally had better success with sticking to my own imagination.

I always start with this question: How do I want to feel? For example: light, free, focused on what’s important, confident, simply put-together etc. And then proceed to: What style and outfits would fit this feeling? It’s important to stick to your own definitions here. For some, a trench coat means confidence, for others a leather jacket.

Then visualize what you would ideally like to wear over the next season (how you define a season is totally up to you). For example, for this spring/summer capsule wardrobe, I saw myself wearing mostly skinny jeans in mid blue tones with flowy but fitted white shirts and blouses. As pops of colours I wanted to add sandals and crossbody bags in pink and red.

Write down a couple of core outfits that come to mind. Add key statement pieces that you’re going to wear on the regular, like: red crossbody bag, light pink leather jacket etc. This can also help specify the colours you want your wardrobe to be centered around. Now your list should include:

  • adjectives or phrases that describe your desired feelings and the style that goes with that

  • a couple of core outfits

  • key statement pieces

  • central colours

Work With what You got & DEcide what you need

As the next step, go through the clothes and accessories you already have and pick what fits your style concept from step one. Put these items aside. With this in mind, make a list of all the clothes you want to include in your seasonal capsule wardrobe (I include outerwear like jackets and also shoes, but not accessories like bags or scarves). I find it easier if I decide on a rough number first, somewhere between 30 and 40 items. But this is totally up to you as well. You might go for 25 or 55 for example.

This list is where you flesh out the structure of your wardrobe. Start by writing down the categories you need, e. g.: jeans, skirts, jackets, dresses, shoes etc. Then add however many items you want in each category. This will depend on how often you will wear something, how often you will have to wash it and whether or not you need a lot of variety there. For example, I go for fewer skinny jeans and more tops. I start with the bird’s eye view and estimate how many items I want in each category. Then I specify what the items should look like. I add all the pieces I already own that still fit my needs. Your list might start like this:

jackets (3)

  1. light pink biker jacket

  2. nude light-weight coat

  3. denim jacket

tops (7)

  1. white sleeveless blouse

  2. white t-shirt

  3. white t-shirt with small pattern

  4. light pink t-shirt

  5. etc.

You don’t have to stick to the original number of 30 or whatever you picked if you don’t want to. It’s just a tool. But it also helps to have this guideline. Since your goal was to create a capsule wardrobe it makes sense to add a constraint.

refinement

With your list in hand, check whether or not this works for creating enough outfits. Then highlight the items that you still need to purchase. You might want to add a budget per item or overall if you like. At this stage, I also add accessories to the list — the ones I already own and want to include into the seasonal capsule wardrobe and the ones I still want to buy. With this shopping list, I start the process of mindfully adding things into my wardrobe. Of course it’s best to buy quality pieces that will last you a long time and that you would want to add to your coming capsule wardrobes as well.

Sometimes I find over the next weeks and months that I’m still missing something that I didn’t think of before. That’s fine, I just reflect on whether or not I really need it and if I’m sure about it I’ll get it. A capsule wardrobe isn’t supposed to be an unpleasant constraint, but a helpful tool that makes your day-to-day life easier.

As the last step in the planning process, put what you already own on display and enjoy the beautiful view!