9 Steps for Simplifying Life with a Capsule Wardrobe

“I have nothing to wear!” Sound familiar? This is probably the most famous line of any female getting ready. My husband often refers to me as Taz, the Tasmanian Devil from the cartoon Looney Tunes as I get dressed.

As much as I want to be offended by that, because who wants to be referred to as a wild and destructive whirlwind of a monster, I look around at the aftermath and I would have to agree. It does look as if he has been loose in our house. In my defense, it’s all because I HAVE NOTHING TO WEAR!

Like most girls, I love fashion, but I wouldn’t consider myself FASHIONABLE per say. I rummage through sale racks or buy pieces I like with no idea of what to put it with, I just know I like it. I thought this was how shopping was done. Especially on a budget. Little did I know that is how I always ended up with NOTHING TO WEAR.

After living in a small space, I realized how precious each piece of clothing needs to be to complete a wardrobe. I was the girl who hung on to every clothing item. The excuses of “one day I might wear that”, “it might fit again someday”, “I paid a lot for that”, or the all too embarrassing “that might come back in style” rang through my head more often than I want to admit.

My addiction peaked a few years ago. After years of this behavior and my need to keep purchasing items (because I HAVE NOTHING TO WEAR), I created an entire room in my house dedicated as my closet. This room became my Bermuda Triangle. Some clothes were next to impossible to find. Others were not quite so lucky as they sank into the abyss.  This was not the way I wanted to live.

The decision to live in a small space, in our case an RV, became a turning point for me. We downsized from a 4 bedroom 2 bath 1700 square foot home to roughly 300 square feet and that definitely did not leave an extra room to use as my closet. It was time to purge.

I came across the concept of a capsule wardrobe and this idea rocked my world. The idea is to have a set number of neutral staple pieces such as a little black dress, cardigan, leather jacket, or whatever your style may be.

All items in your closet mix and match thus creating multiple outfits with the same limited number of pieces. Genius, right? For instance, if you have 30 clothing items (or whatever number you choose) they can all be coordinated to make multiple outfit combinations. This concept can be done by anyone, small space or not, and is a great way to save time and money of your wardrobe. All it takes is a little bit of planning.

Here are some tips to help downsize your closet and get your capsule wardrobe started!

1. Pick your style –  The direction you want your wardrobe to go is the place to start. Pinterest has tons of great ideas to get you going. As well as a style it helps if you pick colors that coordinate. This way all your pieces flow together.

2. Break clothes down into seasons and look for versatile pieces- I chose to have a summer/winter/fall capsule that can be rotated during the seasons. For me, I omitted spring to have it’s own wardrobe because I chose versatile pieces for the other seasons that I use in this time of year. Obviously this is demographic based and is up to you how you choose to break down your capsule.

For example, while shopping I look for items that can be worn in the summer and paired with layers for the winter because of my limited space and for simplicity. Certain summer dresses can be paired with a cardigan in the spring and fall and can be placed with leggings, boots, and leather jacket in the colder months.

Get creative! I even throw a sweater over my dresses to transform it to a skirt. I wear a lot of my dresses year round that way.

3. Organize and purge – Take everything out of the closets and drawers and begin sorting into

1. Keep it
2. Donate/Sell it
3. Store it

If you LOVE IT, then keep it and hang it back up in the closet.

If you haven’t worn something in over a year, donate or sell it. The End. Don’t try to use any of the excuses I listed above.

If you aren’t sure if you love something, but still can’t bear to part with it, put it in the store pile. This pile needs to be as small as possible, but it gives you a temporary out if you are stressing during the sorting.

This first time of sorting through your clothes should be the only time storage is an option. That storage needs to be sorted through in 3-6 months to see whether or not you miss them as much as you thought you would. If you are like me, I’m betting you won’t even recall what is in those boxes.

IMG_4098It sounds counter productive to take everything out of your closet, but this helps you visually see what and how much you own. We are more willing to get rid of something that isn’t hanging in the closet.

While you are organizing and purging, don’t hesitate to try it on. If you were in a store right now would you buy this item? “Do you LOVE it?” is the question. Not like it, but LOVE it! If the answer is no then from the words of Elsa from Frozen…. let it go! This concept has changed my views forever.

4. Gather staple pieces – Write down what you want your staple pieces to be. I like to plan out the pieces I need to complete my capsule wardrobe because you will find you already own some of these items hidden in your closet. Allow yourself a certain number of pieces of clothing, shoes, accessories, ext… and stick to it! If you don’t set this limit, you end up buying new pieces all the time and the chaos continues. It gets ugly believe me.

5. Set a budget – Like anything in life, most of us have to set a budget or things can get out of hand. If you plan on doing a summer and winter capsule make sure each wardrobe has it own budget and that spreads out the cost. I actually save money by doing a capsule wardrobe because I don’t buy random pieces while shopping anymore. I know what I’m looking for and if it doesn’t mix with my capsule then I don’t buy it.

Shopping goes faster because I know what items I am in search of. Once your items are purchased there is no need to keep shopping! I’m not gonna lie, I love some retail therapy just like most girls out there, so I make a pact that if I buy something then in return an item must go. If I find that piece I just LOVE I swap it with an item in the wardrobe. This takes discipline so make sure you stick to this.

6. Make some extra cash – If budget is an issue, don’t be afraid to sell the better quality clothing items you own online or on social media. This is great way to make quick cash to fund your new wardrobe. Create a photo album on Facebook of items for sale or start an Instagram store. Online social media also has yard sale pages for your local shoppers.

simple living capsule wardrobe7. Fight the urge to shop only sale racks – Don’t be afraid to purchase more pricey items than usual. Fight the urge to stick ONLY to the sale rack. Since I am not shopping year round now, I am able to put more of my budget into my pieces allowing me to purchase higher quality items. A lot of times you get what you pay for and I want my items to last. Again I want to LOVE every piece.

8. Find out what makes you happy – I realized I enjoyed giving my clothes to friends and family. It helps me want to give something up if I find it a good home. I love seeing my niece giving new life to dresses that otherwise would just be hanging in my closet or my IMG_4099sister sporting her (new to her) kicks that I never wore. If you don’t have family/friends who can benefit from your clothing there are many organizations you can donate to and this can be very rewarding as well.

Maybe just having less clutter and being more organized makes you happy.

I find enjoyment in finding new outfits combinations I can come up with in my capsule. When I am not feeling creative, my trick is to search on Pinterest for the staple pieces I have and try and match the outfit with the items I already have. For example, one of my staple pieces is a black and white stripped shirt. So I search that item on Pinterest and Bam tons of new outfit ideas for that item at my finger tips. It sometimes feels like buying a new outfit when I can match a new combination together.

9. Accessorize –Accessories are key to changing the look of a outfit. By adding a scarf, jewelry, purses, or different shoes can give you a new look. Accessories are an easy way to take your look from day to night.

Now take a breath and try to not get discouraged. This process can be very overwhelming but it is rewarding in the end. The light at the end of the tunnel brings joy in simplifying and less Tasmanian Devil outbursts. This process can take time but once you have your pieces the combinations are endless and no more I DON’T HAVE ANYTHING TO WEAR excuses. Capsule wardrobes save time, money, space, stress and can be fun to put together. They are even great for kids wardrobes as well. Start one today and you will thank me later.

My biggest hurdle when starting my capsule wardrobe was deciding what to keep and what to part with. What’s your biggest hurdle?

Deciding what to keep?
Resisting the sales rack?
Knowing what would look good together?

Share in the comments below!

Author: Marissa

Hi, I’m Marissa! I’m a a nurse, wife, mother, and sister of 6 brothers and sisters. I love being outdoors and traveling to new places. As a family we enjoy hiking, running, biking, or just hanging at the lake with friends.


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