If you’re thinking about starting to dress with a capsule wardrobe, you might be wondering if you have to follow someone else’s strict rules. The answer is Nope! There’s no wrong way to a capsule. The idea of consciously choosing a small, coordinating wardrobe of clothes has been around since at least the 1970s, and it’s been done in many ways since then. There are lots of variations possible, and you can choose or create the style that works best for you. Here are a few ideas:
(Related: What Is a Capsule Wardrobe?).
1. A Small, Long-Term Capsule + Seasonal Add-Ons
This capsule could be made up of timeless, quality pieces that you’ll use year-round, year after year. The pieces should be basic, so they coordinate with all your seasonal additions. These are the pieces that might be investments, and they should be perfect for you. Nothing that’s “almost right” makes the cut.
While you use these same capsule pieces all year long, you get to add whatever extra/fun/seasonal pieces you like each season. Those might be cheap and trendy, or they might be other timeless investment pieces that happen to be season-specific (like sweaters, a coat, sandals, or sundresses).
Your wardrobe could be any size that works for you, but you always have your reliable capsule pieces as the starting point for getting dressed. This is great if you know that certain silhouettes work best for you. Buy perfect versions of the pieces that you love, and then build on those. You know you will look great when your outfit starts with a perfect-fitting signature A-line skirt/shift dress/whatever suits you. Of course, you can still experiment with any shapes you want, but when you just need a reliable outfit that looks and feels fantastic, with no surprise riding up or falling down, you know you can rely on the uniforms you have in your capsule wardrobe.
2. A Very Minimalist Capsule
This collection might be 33 pieces (like Courtney Carver’s Project 333), including coats, purses, and jewelry. Following Courtney’s model, you use a new capsule every three months. If minimalism is your main goal, you’ll probably reuse a lot of pieces from spring into summer and from fall into winter. You’ll likely store everything you’re not using and unpack it as its season comes around again. You probably won’t buy many new items as each new season arrives; you’ll mostly reuse what you had in storage.
With a smaller capsule, it can be helpful to choose one neutral color and build your whole wardrobe on that base (like black or brown). Even if you like to mix black and brown, I think choosing a more monochromatic palette makes it a lot easier to make more outfits out of a few pieces.
3. A Tiny Fashion Capsule
I’ve read about a woman who only owns 10 items of clothing! She wears the same thing several times a week, takes really good care of her clothes, and doesn’t get bored with it. Some of the pieces are expensive, designer clothes and shoes, but she has bought only a few, and she wears them all the time, so her cost per wear isn’t very expensive.
If you think about buying 10 different shirts for $8 each, and you only wear each one a couple times before you’re tired of them, you’ve paid $4 for each wear. If you invest $200 in a pair of boots, and you wear them twice a week for a year (104 times!), you paid about $2 per wear. If they last more than a year, your cost per wear obviously keeps decreasing.
So with this type of capsule, you might invest all your budget into buying a few really nice pieces that you really love and want to wear a ton. The cost could balance out compared to buying a ton of cheap clothes that you don’t really love or even wear – or low-quality clothes that don’t look good after a few washings, anyway.
With this type of capsule, you would be wearing your best clothes all the time. Do you have anything that you are saving for the right, special occasion – but it’s not formal wear? With this capsule, you would have to wear your best clothes all the time, because that’s all you’d have. Great! Why invest in something special and then never enjoy it? No matter what type of wardrobe you choose, why not start wearing your favorite, beloved clothes right away?