Fashion · Shopping

How to Build a Capsule Wardrobe

Editor’s Note: This post was originally written for a spring/summer capsule.  However the process for building this capsule can be used for any season.

When I first started losing weight it did not take me long to realize that I was going to have to replace everything I owned.  I literally mean EVERYTHING.  From my dresses down to my pajamas nothing I had was going to fit.

I love clothes and dressing nice so I immediately went into panic mode!  Also, I knew I still had a considerable amount of weight to lose so I had to decide what was going to stay that I would make work and what I needed to replace with things that I would likely have to replace again once I finished losing weight.  Target has always been my best friend so I knew where a lot of the clothes for that intermediate time was going to come from.  However, I knew that since I was going to be replacing pretty much everything in my closet that I wanted to upgrade a few items.

I know my body pretty well so I assumed I was going to settle out in a size medium and a size 8/10 pant.  There were a lot of great sales at places like Nordstrom and Ann Taylor at the time so I started buying staples in hopes of building a capsule like wardrobe. Because of the magnitude of things I was going to need to replace I thought that this would be the most cost effective way to rebuild my wardrobe…but I should have known myself better than that! The truth is I am not a minimal person in any aspect of my life so the thought of me doing a minimal wardrobe was a pipe dream.

I have managed to keep it more minimal than I have in previous years and my closet isn’t nearly as crowded as it was previously.  But I do attend a lot of events so I should have known I was going to want more than one special occasion dress!  I guess that is why they say we live and we learn.  I can say this process did teach me a lot about buying items that can be used for multiple outfits rather than just looking at a shirt to go with only one outfit.

What I am going to show you today is what I would consider my everyday capsule wardrobe.  My items I wear for daily life and weekend events like church and brunch.  I did throw in some dresses that I would consider my fancier type items for weddings and special events (I couldn’t resist).  This is not EVERYTHING that I have in my closet but it is a good sample of what I own.  This will give you a real life example of how to build your own capsule wardrobe.

So What is a Capsule Wardrobe…

Before we go any further I want to make sure that you all understand what a capsule wardrobe is. Essentially a capsule wardrobe consists of pieces that you can wear in multiple outfits.  Things like a white shirt that can be worn with jeans, shorts or skirts are the type of items I am talking about.  It’s important that each piece have multiple uses. This generally means that you are going to have more solids than patterns.

The thought process is you should attempt to be minimal in your selections and get the most use out of your clothing. Also, having less in your closet allows you to spend more money on quality pieces rather than worrying about having the quantity.

In the end you have less but it goes much further because you are able to mix and match your pieces more effectively.  This is also why buying quality items becomes more important.  If you are going to be wearing the items more frequently than before you want to make sure that they aren’t going to pill and fray after a few washes.

Building your Capsule…

When you start to build your capsule you would like to think about a few things.  What color is the base of your wardrobe?  Do you wear more blacks or browns?  Not saying that you can’t have both but you would want to pick one that would be more of your dominate base color.

Another thing you want to think about it weather.  In the south there is a good chance that a lot of our spring/summer wardrobe may follow us into the early fall or even into the winter.  When investing in more expensive pieces you may want to make sure that they are in a shade that would transition to the next season.

One additional thing that you want to consider is if will you be attending a few fancy events that particular season such as weddings, showers or nice work events.  This will all make a difference in what you need to purchase.

The final thing would be to examine your life situation.  Do you work or stay at home?  If you work is it in a more casual environment or will you need to dress more professionally?  Do you go out with your friends a lot?  Attend social or after work events?  All of these things will factor into what your capsule will need.

Building my Capsule…

When I started my capsule the first thing I thought about and looked for were my neutrals.  I knew that I was going to use black as my base so I wanted to look for black and white tops in a variety of styles that would cover a lot of different needs from casual to dressy.  I also added some gray and navy into my capsule to round out my neutrals.



I like pattern so I knew I wasn’t going to have a wardrobe without any pattern in it!  Even though patterns are not as versatile as solids I knew I needed to have a few. Plus I also wanted to add some bright colors into the group.


Bottoms were the next collection that I worked on.  I broke it down into shorts, jeans, pants and skirts.  I focused on mostly solids while also getting a few pairs of patterned pants because they are more my style.

With my shorts I stuck with mostly casual and then added in two more dressy shorts.  They are dressier than the others but still could be worn to the ballpark or a play date.  In my current life I don’t have a lot of use for dress pants so I left them out completely.  Jeans were a must have and I purchased pairs that I will be able to use next season too.  Truth be told we don’t have too many opportunities to wear jeans in the summer in Louisiana.

One thing that I probably would have added to this would have been a maxi skirt.  They are easy to wear and can double as a bathing suit cover-up so it would be a great piece to add.


The final category that I worked on was dresses and rompers.   Everyone knows that I am a romper girl so I will wear them to dressier events as well as casual.  I separated them out in the pictures but several of them I would have included into my fancier dress category.

This would be what I would consider my everyday dresses.  No matter if it is a lunch with friends or a trip to the zoo most of these items would fit the bill.  Also, t-shirt dresses are your friend.  They are simple pieces that are easy to wear and another piece that would transition well to the fall.  Knits made of bamboo hold up really well in the wash and are also easy to remove stains.

These are my dressy dresses or wedding attire.  I like adding pattern into my dress category because they usually stand alone.  You aren’t trying to pair them with multiple things so it’s easy to throw patterns in.  Especially textiles that will look really high end.  The pink dress on the far left is a perfect example.  It is made of lace but the lace has a pineapple pattern in it.  It makes the dress even more fun to see the tropical pattern that is woven into the fabric.

As you can see it can be easy to lay out your own capsule wardrobe.  You know best what you need in your life so there is no right or wrong way to do it.  Just think about your life and what your needs are and it’s easy to start to pull pieces.

Remember before you start purchasing anything though go through your existing closet and see what things you want to keep.  This will also help to keep your purchasing to a minimum.

Have fun with it.  Don’t over complicate it.  Let your personal style shine through.  Remember if you feel good you will look good.



If you are looking for more posts on dressing consider these:

How to Wear Hat and Gloves

Foundation Garments

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