Perhaps you’ve heard of a capsule wardrobe before. There are a lot of versions of this idea. Basically you make a wardrobe of items that can be worn in many different ways. It can be based on the seasons or whatever activity you are dressing for. Minimalists may only keep a set number of classic pieces in neutral colors. Some people use a capsule wardrobe because they don’t have much room to store clothes and need to only keep what they wear. Others have a capsule wardrobe because they don’t want to spend a lot of time getting dressed every day.

I fall into the last category. My life consists of homeschooling kids, managing our household, and taking care of teenagers. I cook every day, clean, take kids to appointments, shop for groceries, spend time outdoors, and stay generally active. My everyday clothes need to be nice-looking, comfortable, practical, well-fitting, and not so special that I have to worry about stains or wear and tear. I don’t want to spend extra time trying things on and figuring out an outfit.

My life with 6 kids has taught me to be ready to jump in the car and take someone in for stitches or run a last-minute errand. I get dressed first thing in the morning so I’m ready for anything. Once a week we have our homeschool group, Sundays we go to church, and there’s the occasional dinner out. My capsule needs to factor in all these activities.

What’s Your Day Like?

The first step is what I just talked about. What is your day like? Do you go to work every day? Is your job messy or rough on clothes? Do you love spending time getting dressed every morning? Is it your favorite thing to have specific matching outfits? Would you like to try a “uniform” where you wear a certain outfit every day like jeans and a plain t-shirt? Do you want to wear dresses all summer?

These are a few questions to consider when you start going through your clothes and putting together a capsule wardrobe. I know that for the most part I need everyday casual clothes that look nice plus a few things for church and dates. This is what I keep in mind when I’m decluttering my closet and shopping for something to fill in gaps.

What do You Like?

The next thing to think about is what you like to wear. What do you feel good in? What is comfortable while still checking your other boxes? I like to wear classic styles, solid colors, structured button-downs, jeans, skirts and dresses in the summer, scoop or round neck shirts, natural fabrics, jewel tones, black, white, and grey. Things I don’t feel comfortable in are animal prints, lace, ruffled tops, acrylic or synthetic fabrics, v-necks, formal or “business” attire, fitted items, and trendy styles.

It’s really helpful to know what you actually like to wear and it can take a while to learn what that is. I learned by paying attention to how I felt in a particular outfit. If I felt uncomfortable, self-conscious, or awkward in something I noticed that. Then I would take the time to think about what I didn’t like about the item. On the flip side I noticed when I felt comfortable, happy, or confident in something. Noticing if you don’t think about your clothes after you get dressed and started on your day is another good way to figure out your style. That outfit is likely to be a good one!

Capsule Wardrobe Declutter!

After you’ve done some thinking and noticing, it’s time to get started! When I reset my closet in the beginning I would take everything out and put it on the bed. I’ve been using a capsule wardrobe for 7 or 8 years so I don’t pull every item out like I did at first. If there are things I’m wearing that I know fit and I love them, I’ll leave them in place. If this is new for you, go ahead and pull everything out. This may take a while and be a bit overwhelming. Asking a friend to help is always a good idea. You also want to do this when you have a few hours to work on it.

Clothes to sort.
Clothes to go through.
Shirts to sort.
Shirts to sort.
Sweaters to sort.
Sweaters to sort.

Next I divide things into categories so I can work on one at a time. There’s a pile of shirts, one of dresses, one of pants, and so on. Right away you can probably pull out a few things you don’t want to keep. Start a pile of items to give away or donate. You may start a pile for things you’re not sure about or that need repair. I try on each piece and decide if I want to keep it or donate it.

Does it Fit Your Style and Size?

You want to think about the style and practicality of it. Does it suit your life right now? The other consideration is if it fits well. This can be hard and like many people I’d rather not think about this one. My size has changed in the last few years and I was holding on to things just in case my size changed again. This kept me from enjoying my wardrobe since I kept coming across things I really liked in my closet that didn’t fit properly anymore. I donated all those things.

Pants to sort.
Pants and skirts.
Dresses to sort.
Dresses to try on.
More sweaters.

Dealing With the Piles

Once you’ve worked through all the items in question you should have a pile to keep and one to donate. If you made a maybe or repair pile go through that now. You might try on the maybe items and see if you can decide to keep or donate now. Look through the pieces to repair and see if it’s something you’re up to dealing with. Sewing on a button is a quick fix but having a piece professionally altered may be a deal breaker for you. You may decide to donate that item after all.

Pants to donate.
Pants to donate.
Shirts to donate.
Shirts to donate.
Sweaters to donate.
Sweaters to donate.

Reset Your New Capsule Wardrobe!

Set out all your things to keep and organize them. Hang up anything you store on hangers and fold the rest. For me I hang everything but sweaters. I also store out of season clothes in a dresser so I don’t have to go through all my clothes to find my favorite button down shirt.

Pants and sweaters to keep.
Sweater and pants to keep.
Shirts to keep.
Shirts to keep.
Jackets, pants, skirts, and sweaters.
Closet reset.

One thing I like to do is hang my clothes by type of garment and by color. All my dresses are in one section organized by color. Next are my shirts arranged from white to black. After that are my jackets, then pants, and finally skirts. Organizing by color makes it easy to find a particular item and helps meet my goal of getting dressed quickly.

Another Advantage

One huge advantage to using a capsule wardrobe is that it will save you so much time and money when you are shopping. Once you declutter and reset your closet you will know exactly what you need to buy to fill in the gaps. For example, I need a black linen or cotton button down shirt. I’ve been looking for a while since we buy most of our clothes from thrift stores. That’s really all I’m looking for. No more buying a bunch of random items and hoping I can make an outfit with them. I know that I can make so many new outfits with that one piece.

This is just a quick overview of how to make a capsule wardrobe. If you want to go more in-depth there are lots of books and YouTube tutorials on how to make and use a capsule wardrobe. It can bring a surprising amount of peace and extra time to your day when you’re getting dressed and when you’re shopping.