How To Start A Capsule Wardrobe

Lots of clothes, but nothing to wear?

I hear you. How do you start a capsule wardrobe? Most of us start off in our teens defining who we are with clothes. We sail through our twenties into our thirties with relative ease and then something changes. Often at this time, we are concentrating on building careers and raising young families. Suddenly you look at your wardrobe, and you have lots of clothes but nothing to wear. Sound familiar?

A capsule wardrobe will likely be your saving grace.

So how do you get started?

The first thing to do is to rediscover the colours and styles that you love. This is the fun part. Open a Pinterest account, and create two boards; one for style and one for colour. The likelihood is that you will find that the styles you liked in your twenties are still a favourite. If you are still in your teens or twenties then just have fun with this.

Over the next few weeks pin any styles or colours you see that you like. If you are walking down the street and see a colour or style that you like, log it and find a similar version on Pinterest when you get home.

Decide on the Capsule Wardrobe Colour Palettes

One of the key stages on how to start a capsule wardrobe is pinning down the colours. Now you have spent a few weeks looking at colours you like you need to select a few for your capsule. One of the most practical ways of doing this is to look at what you already own. 

Is there a colour that is dominant in your wardrobe?

I would strongly suggest you select no more than 7 or 8 colours in total. That does not mean that you can never wear another colour again, but it will make choosing outfits easier in the long run. The smaller selection of colours, the easier it is to mix and match them. 

The best way to do this is to choose canvas and paint colours.

Your canvas colours and the base of your wardrobe. They tend to be neutral and muted in tone. Colours like grey, charcoal, white, cream, beige and navy are all shades that I would consider canvas colours. All these shades compliment a lot of other colours. Your canvas colours will likely make up the majority of your wardrobe. 

Next, choose your paint colours. Paint shades can be the same as canvas colours or anything else on the colour spectrum. The paint colours highlight and complement your wardrobe. 

I suggest choosing three or four canvas colours and three paint colours at most. Of course, you can select all paint or all canvas, or anything up to 8 colours. The choice is yours. However, when selecting the shades consider the following;

  • Try to select colours that complement your skin and hair. As a very general rule; if you check the inside of your wrist and see blue veins, you are cool based; if you see green veins, you are warm based. If you have dark hair and pale skin you can choose colours with high contrast, like black and white. If you have pale skin and pale to mid-tone hair, choose pastels and mid-tone shades. If you have mid to dark skin with dark hair, choose mid to dark shades. 
  • Consider which colours will go together well. One of the best ways to do this is to print colours off and hold them up against your face then compare them together. 
  • Select colours that complement the environment you live in and your lifestyle. 
A selection of colours for a capsule wardrobe

Capsule Wardrobe Essentials

In this stage in ‘how to start a capsule wardrobe,’ we need to look at your essential pieces. Every single capsule wardrobe will be different. We all have different lifestyles, live in different environments and take part in various activities. The first part of the capsule wardrobe journey is about rediscovering what you love. This section is about the practicalities of how your wardrobe needs to serve you. Consider how your clothes need to compliment your lifestyle. Ask yourself the questions below;

  • Which season if any are you creating this capsule wardrobe for?
  • What is the environment like in this season?
  • Do you need specific clothes for work?
  • What do you do during the week? Do you look after children, work from home or go to a place of work?
  • Does dry cleaning work for you or do you need clothes you can wash easily?
  • Are your clothes likely to get very dirty? Is it better if you wear darker colours?
  • Do you attend a weekly class or hobby? Do you need particular clothes for that?
  • Are you regularly outside? Do you need sun protection, warmth or waterproofs?
  • Finally, what special occasions are you likely attending during the period you will wear your capsule? Any weddings, christenings, bar mitzvah’s or parties coming up? Can you use one outfit that covers a few special occasions?

Your Wardrobe Edit

At this is the stage you should start to edit your wardrobe. Now before we go any further, I want to make something very clear. If this is the first time you are decluttering your closet, I suggest you put the items you remove away somewhere that is not easily accessible, for example, a friends house, lock up, basement or loft. Now I know that this may well mean that you take things from some of those areas to declutter them and then end up putting them back, but the reason I suggest this is because sometimes people can become a little too enthusiastic at this stage and then end up with not enough to wear. By decluttering like this, if you realise you need something, you can, with effort, get it back out. Ultimately, you want to try and live with the capsule wardrobe you have created. However, using this method, you will not have to buy something you have just got rid of if you make a mistake. 

At the end of the season, whether it be summer, winter, or the whole year reassess what you have worn and needed. If you have not pulled anything out of your storage, then consider selling, donating or throwing it out. You can also use any funds you make back to buy intentional items you need. 

To start the edit you can do this in one of two ways depending on the time you have, and the number of clothes you need to declutter. If you have piles and piles of clothes or very little time, choose one type of clothing, for example, jackets, and gather all of them from everywhere into one place. That includes from the car, garage, basement, loft, by the front door or in the outhouse, EVERYWHERE. 

Alternatively, if your wardrobe is more manageable, gather everything into one place and edit in one go. Again, make sure you pull out everything. 

If you have all your clothes together, separate them into piles of jeans, skirts, trousers, coats etc. Start with say jackets, and ask yourself the following questions;

  • Is it damaged and if so am I going to get it fixed asap? If you will get it fixed, put it somewhere it every day sight to remind you to do that. Otherwise, let it go.
  • Does it fit? If you are in-between sizes and working towards another size, only keep your target sizes out if you actively see results. Otherwise, put those items away and if you have not got them out all season, consider removing them completely. 
  • Consider each item and how it serves your practical needs? Do you have two things that serve the same purpose?
  • When was the last time you wore it? If it was over a year ago unless you have a biannual event, consider putting it aside. 
  • Do you have some clothes that are your safe go-to items? These are fine if they make you feel good, but if not consider replacing them with something that does. 
  • Is it comfortable? Life is too short for something that is itchy, digs in or has to be pulled up or down frequently while you are wearing it. 
  • Do you have multiples of one item? For example, ten white shirts or 15 pairs of black leggings. You should only need multiples of something if your job or a very regular activity calls for it. If that is the case, consider how many you need and when your washing cycle is, to cover yourself. Choose the best quality, fit and newest options to keep. 
  • Any sentimental items should be considered carefully. Make sure you are not bullied into getting rid of something you might later regret. Only you will know the answer as to whether something should go or stay. If you are unsure, put it away and consider again at the end of the season. Or look at the possibility of displaying it somehow. 

Once you have gone through everything and put the other options away, make a list of any items you want to replace and precisely what you want to replace them with. At the end of the season, decide if you will permanently remove everything you have stored. 

Intentional Shopping

Now, you have the bare bones of a capsule closet; the last thing you want to do is clutter it back up again. When looking at how to start a capsule wardrobe, one of the most essential points is intentional shopping. If you have made a list of what you still need or want to replace, be very descriptive about what you want to replace them with. Let us say that you want some black trousers for work. Instead of just searching for any black trousers for work, look at what you need from them.

For example; it is winter, so they need to be warm. You hate wool on your skin because it irritates you so if they are wool they need to be lined. You are a pear shape so look better in high-waisted. You want to wear them with your boots, so they need to be wide enough on the calf to wear your boots underneath. And finally, you’d like them to have deep pockets to carry all the things you need at work.

Can you see the difference? When you look at potential clothes in a way that best serves you, your preferences, and needs, you can become very intentional about what you are looking for. Do not settle for ‘second-best’, or ‘almost’ because you will want to replace them again at some point in the future.

So there you have it, how to start a capsule wardrobe. What has worked for you?

Are you looking to start a capsule closet? Why not try my personal styling membership? Also do not miss my one-on-one personal styling packages to help you create your wardrobe. 

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What Next?

If you enjoyed this post and wish to create a capsule wardrobe, I can help you create one quickly and easily. Get started immediately with one of my personal styling services

  • Premium Personal Styling – A personalised colour analysis and body shape style guide, a live wardrobe edit, a personal shopping and a curated Lookbook
  • Personal Styling – 
  • A personalised Colour Analysis, a Body Shape Analysis And Style Guide, a Live Wardrobe Edit
  • A wardrobe Edit – A 20-minute zoom call to discuss your needs and to highlight any particular problems you want to address in the wardrobe edit. A private Pinterest board to pin styles and colours you love. A 60 minutes live video wardrobe edit
  • Colour Analysis And Body Shape Styling –
  • The Capsule Closet Stylist Colour Analysis looks at the natural colouring in your hair, eyes and skin tone and shows how you can complement your natural colouring in your clothes. The Body Shape Style Guide teaches you how to make the most of your best assets, hide what you do not like, find clothes that complement your shape, and choose the perfect fit.

Still Not Sure?

Book a FREE consultation with me where we can discuss colour, style, decluttering, body shapes and much, much more.  I can identify where you most need help and point you in the right direction. 

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Private membership testimonials

'When you join the membership it isn't generic it is tailored to your needs. Michelle considers each individual person and provides advice and guidance based on their needs. I have learnt so much since I joined I feel like I could sit an exam on it now! Honestly, without a doubt if you feel like you are lost with what to wear, you don't know what suits your body shape or your shape has changed, you've lost confidence, you're starting a new job, or you want to minimise your wardrobe, Michelle's membership is without a doubt for you. You can not get better for the price, I have looked!'
Rachel
UK
I joined Michelle's facebook "capsule wardrobe challenge" in June 2020. I loved her approach of starting off with a concept of what colours and styles you were attracted to, followed by what your lifestyle required functionally. It helped me assess my existing wardrobe with a checklist in mind instead of feeling overwhelmed and indecisive. I found the video format and weekly check-ins easy to follow and explained each stage of building a capsule well. She has been quick to answer any queries I have and to offer her professional stylist's opinion with a gentle manner. I am most grateful for Michelle's overarching aim to help her clients "find their happy place". This membership is about being comfortable in your own skin, not about being super fashionable, and that is exactly what I needed. Thank you for helping me find my confidence again. 😊
Helen
Australia
There is no doubt in my mind that having a personal stylist online is worth the investment. In fact, at the end of the day I will spend considerably less while looking and feeling so much better. Why? Because I will never again mindlessly spend and spend and spend on clothes that just aren’t right for me and that don’t make me happy. I think we all dream of that wardrobe that makes us happy and confident, but it is so easy to just give up and just wear something. I know I did. And that is just plain crazy because I love clothes! I have always been attracted to styles that I lacked the confidence to try out. Now, with the help and guidance of Michelle, I can finally explore those styles with confidence knowing that whenever I run an item by Michelle, she will give me her honest feedback on whether or not it will fit with my colors and with how I want to look and feel. In short: Michelle’s advice really is priceless. I feel an A-lister in the garments I have purchased since becoming a member! Pssst: One secret, you don’t have to become a minimalist if you don’t want to. Michelle is not about legalistic minalism, she is all about you finding out what works for you and that – along with her very deep knowledge of style – is why I think her membership works for me when in the past nothing else has.
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Denmark

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