I’ve been using capsule wardrobes for a couple years now, and I’ve written a lot about them. I get asked questions about capsule wardrobes regularly, and I love sharing tips and advice on the subject. But can I let you in on a little secret? My first capsule wardrobe was a big mess. It was fun, and I enjoyed it. But I did NOT know what I was doing and made tons of mistakes.
The cool thing about mistakes, though, is that they can double as lessons. Believe me, I’ve learned a few lessons about capsule wardrobes. And the cool thing about learning lessons is that you can share what you’ve learned with others and help them avoid making the same mistakes that you made. So here are 8 tips, from me to you, that will hopefully help you love your first capsule wardrobe!
8 Tips for Your First Capsule Wardrobe
1. Give yourself some guidelines
I purposely use the word guidelines here, rather than rules. Don’t be too strict, but definitely set some guidelines for your capsule wardrobe. Specifically, determine how many pieces you’ll include. Between 30 and 37 seems to be pretty common. I typically include around 33 items. But for my first capsule, I let myself include 50. I quickly learned that was way more than necessary!
Also, decide if you want to include accessories and outerwear in your capsule. These things are typically included and count toward your total number of wardrobe pieces. But excluding accessories – scarves, jewelry, belts, sunglasses, purses – can be a way to ease into using capsule wardrobes.
2. Get inspired and get creative
To me, the fun part of capsule wardrobes is getting creative with mixing and matching and figuring out how to make as many cute outfits as possible using a limited number of clothing items and accessories. But it doesn’t come naturally to me at all. So I use Pinterest and blogs to get ideas.
You can look for posts and images sharing entire capsules, but I find searching by a specific clothing item to be much more helpful. For example, I might search “Chambray” or “How to wear a chambray” for ideas on how I can incorporate this staple piece into different outfits. I would never have thought to wear my chambray over a sundress to create a cute fall or spring outfit!
Fashion trends are fun but often fade quickly. So don’t stress if you don’t have any pieces that fall into a certain trend. It probably won’t even be around next season anyway. My advice is that you don’t waste your money on short-lived trends. If you are going to spend money on your wardrobe, invest in quality pieces that you’ll be able to wear for multiple seasons.
4. Be realistic about your tolerance for discomfort
I’d say my biggest mistake with my first capsule was including uncomfortable clothing. My tolerance for discomfort has diminished greatly
since having kids, but I used to wear pencil skirts, button-down blouses, and high heels all the time. So when I created my first capsule, I thought I could handle a little discomfort for the sake of cute wardrobe pieces. But in reality, I only wore about half the items I put in my first wardrobe because, given the choice between something cute and comfy and something cute and NOT comfy, the choice was clear every time.
5. Be realistic about the weather where you live
I talk about this in my post, Tips for a Spring Capsule Wardrobe You’ll Actually Love. The worst mistake you can make is creating a wardrobe for your ideal version of a season rather than the realistic version of a season. And that mistake is easier to make than you’d think.
For example, it’s easy to let your head fill with images of sunshine and flowers when you’re thinking about spring. But really, spring brings lots of rain (at least around here). Picking shoes alone could be disastrous if done based on the ideal version of spring!
6. Get brave with bottoms
I think one of the most limiting things you can do to your capsule wardrobe is include only neutral bottoms. Jeans and black pants are great staples. But if your entire wardrobe consists of jeans, black pants, and cute tops, you’ll feel like you’re wearing the same things over and over. That’s because each top can only be used in one outfit: top + jeans.
Once you add some variety, your outfit opportunities expand. Suddenly you can wear the same top with jeans, a cute skirt, or a pair of colored slacks. Your one top went from one outfit to three!
7. Pay special attention to completer pieces
Completer pieces are those items that pull an outfit together. These items can take a basic outfit and make it pop. They are particularly useful in a capsule wardrobe because they help you create different outfits using a smaller number of tops, bottoms, and dresses. For example, you can completely change an outfit consisting of a cute top and jeans just by adding a scarf or a blazer.
8. Try everything on
And I mean everything. Try things on together, experiment with mixing and matching and creating outfits. Move around, sit in a chair, sit on the floor, reach, stretch, bend over, crouch down. Do this in every single piece of clothing you are thinking about putting in your wardrobe. This will help you figure out what pieces are comfortable enough, fit you, and are most versatile for mixing and matching into multiple outfits.
Most importantly, you should experiment, have fun, and remember that this is only your wardrobe for 3 months! Capsule wardrobes are supposed to make life easier, not stressful or difficult. If you end up not liking something, take note and change it up next season.