capsule wardrobe part #1: why I capsule

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Listening to: Get Born – Jet

I’ve been a capsule wardrobe convert for a couple years now. I shop less, dress better and never feel like I “have nothing to wear”. The capsule has inspired me to declutter and get minimal in other aspects of my life, too, and I feel lighter and more organized. I also feel like I have more defined sense of style, which makes me feel more put together.

This post is the first of several. Putting together a capsule takes time, so I’m breaking it out into bite-sized pieces:

Part #1: why I capsule
Part #2: planning
Part #3: purgeing
Part #4: shopping

Let’s start at the beginning.

WTF is a capsule wardrobe?
A capsule is a carefully curated wardrobe comprised of about 40 items in total. All items in the capsule (for the most part) coordinate with all other items, which gives you ~endless~ outfit options and takes the guess work out of getting ready every morning. You can have a year-round capsule if you want, but because weather in Calgary varies so much I have one capsule for each season. Many items transfer from one season to the next, like jeans. Other items, like shorts or winter coats, are obviously season specific.

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1 of 5 layer pieces

How the F do you survive with only 40 items?
I’m so glad you asked. It’s actually pretty easy. Before I started capsuling (new verb) I only wore a fraction of what I had in my closet. I had shelves and drawers full of clothes that no longer fit, that had lost their lustre, or that I had bought on a whim and had no idea how to style. All of this left me feeling like I had nothing to wear, so I wore the same five things on rotation. With a capsule, I am way more intentional about what I bring into my closet, and I now have 40ish items that fit well, look good, and are easy to style.

But surely your capsule can’t accommodate ALL of your wardrobe needs.
C’est vrai. My capsule covers work, weekends, dates, family dinners, farmers markets, and dog walks, but it does not cover weddings, ski trips or costume parties. The beauty of the capsule wardrobe is that you can make it whatever you need it to be. I learned about three months into my first capsule that I would need a Capsule Plus: several items stored in a different closet that are not part of my regular rotation. I do not want my adorable pineapple halloween costume taking up one of the precious 40 spaces in my capsule, but I recognize that I should keep it around for that one time I need it each year. Similarly, my ski jacket and snow pants do not count as part of my primary capsule. We’ll talk about Capsule Plus/exceptions later on.

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1 of 9 shirts

Honestly, this sounds like more effort than it’s worth.
I won’t lie. Putting together a capsule wardrobe is a lot of work. It takes a fair amount of planning, and all the sorting and purging is time consuming. Once you’ve got your wardrobe down to a manageable 40ish items, though, updating the capsule every season is pretty straightforward.

Capsule wardrobes definitely aren’t for everyone. I’m lucky in that my job is pretty casual, so items I wear on the weekend can translate to the work week. If your job requires more formal attire, or maybe a uniform, you might want to have two capsules: one for work and one for everything else. We’ll talk about this later, too.

What if I start a capsule and it doesn’t work for me?
This is quite possible. Building a capsule can be a lot of trial and error. My first capsule (a fall/winter wardrobe) included two skirts and two dresses. I never wear skirts and dresses so those four items sat untouched in my wardrobe for three months before I decided to call a spade a spade and swapped them out for more logical pieces. Again, the capsule can and should be what you need it to be. 40ish items is a rule of thumb but you’re not doing it “wrong” if you have 50 items or if you change tack part way through.

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2 of 9 shirts

So how do I start building my capsule?
To start: ~*Get inspired*~ and discover your personal style. Head over to Pinterest and start pinning some outfits and styles you like. Don’t think about it too much, just pin. Step back once you’ve pinned, say, 30 outfits and see where you’ve pinned common elements. Is every outfit a skirt/dress? All black? Lots of patterns and colour? For the next week, make a mental note when you see an outfit or a style that you like.

Then, join me next week for Capsule Wardrobe Part #2: Planning. I’ve put together a worksheet to help you plan your own capsule, and I’ll be sharing my own capsule worksheet.

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3 of 9 shirts

In the meantime, follow my stories on Instagram to see a week in the life of my capsule wardrobe, and check out my fashion // capsule wardrobe board on Pinterest to see how I’ve pulled together inspiration for my own capsule.

What questions or concerns do you have about building a capsule wardrobe? Drop me a comment here or on Insta!




    1. Oh wow, I’m so glad you liked it! Mama style is something I don’t know much about – can’t wait to read!

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