So if you have decided to gradually build your own capsule wardrobe, the first thing you need to decide is where to start – what are going to be the most useful pieces and the best bang for your buck, so to speak? And of course, this is different for everyone and their circumstances, whether they work or not, whether they have a lot of social events, etc.

This post is designed to help you take that first step. A good place to start is with one of your neutral colors and things that are your unofficial “uniform.” By that, I mean something that you wear on a regular basis.

If you work in a formal environment it might be a suit, and if your work is more casual it could be trousers and a knit, if like me you work from home most of the time, I’d go for comfortable trousers/jeans and a knit and have a scarf or necklace on hand for when I go out to run errands. (By the way, if you don’t know which are your best neutral and accent colors, find out here)

Here are some ideas for first choices that you can build on and add to. I’ve used the example of a smart business capsule wardrobe and a casual wardrobe.

How to create a capsule wardrobe from scratch

Start with your “uniform” pieces in a neutral color. I’ve used navy for both (because we can all wear navy and it works better for some of us than black), a trouser suit for the business wear capsule wardrobe and a pair of smart jeans, and a waterfall cardigan for the smart casual capsule wardrobe.

Then to make it interesting, you want to add an accent color with pieces that will create a complete outfit for you. Obviously, you can only choose accent colors that you can find in the shops.

Here I have used two accents for each wardrobe, and in both cases, I’ve picked them out from a scarf and found a top in the accents.

Finally, you want something to wear on your feet – for the first piece of footwear, stick with your neutral color.

minimalist capsule wardrobe

Next, I’ve found a second top in another accent in the pattern of the scarf. So you now have two complete outfits for each wardrobe.

capsule wardrobe checklist

Finally, I have added a dress for the business wear capsule wardrobe and a second cardigan for the casual one. Giving me 3 outfits for the business wear wardrobe and four for the casual one (both tops with both cardigans).

how many items in a capsule wardrobe

To continue building, you might add a jacket and shoes in Claret to the business wardrobe and a pair of green jeans and pink trainers to the casual wardrobe. The core pieces of the wardrobes – jacket, trousers, shoes and cardigan, jeans, boots – will always work with any new accents you add.

It takes a little thought to work out what your most useful items will be and then a little hunting to find them in one of your neutrals and the accents to go with them, but it’s worth the effort as this is the key to having items in your wardrobe that get worn.

Having a plan and adding new pieces from your plan as you find and can afford them means you get maximum cost per wear from your wardrobe.

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