I’ve talked a lot about decluttering clothes and making a capsule wardrobe over the years. This week I’m sharing how to make your capsule wardrobe work best for you. With 10 ways to make your own capsule wardrobe rules.
If you’ve missed any of the previous capsule wardrobe and clothes decluttering posts, check out some of the most popular posts here:
- The Best Trick to Purge Your Closet + 6 Questions to Help You Purge
- 12 Reasons We Keep Clothes We Don’t Wear & How to Move Past Them
- How to Make a Capsule Wardrobe: A Simple Guide to Dressing Better with Less
- 9 Things I’ve Learned Dressing with a 36 Item Capsule Wardrobe
- 9 Reasons Why a Capsule Wardrobe is Awesome
- Decluttering Clothes: 11 tips to make clearing out your closet easier
- Capsule Wardrobe Update: How it’s Changed, What’s the Same & Why I Still Love it!
- How to be Ruthless When Decluttering Your Wardrobe
- Capsule Wardrobe FAQs: 15 things you need to know about planning a capsule wardrobe
Just as I believe minimalism should be personal and unique to your life, so should your simplified or capsule wardrobe.
It can be easy to get hung up on following someone else’s capsule wardrobe rules when creating your own capsule or simplified wardrobe.
Instead, I encourage you to use other people’s capsule wardrobe rules as guidelines and inspiration when building a capsule wardrobe. But ultimately make your own capsule wardrobe rules in order to make your capsule work best for you and your lifestyle.
Nervous about creating my first capsule wardrobe
I’ve shared how amazing a capsule wardrobe and dressing with less have been for my life.
Deciding what to wear is so easy, there’s no stress or indecision about choosing clothes. My closet is organized and peaceful, and my clothes have room to breathe. I feel so much lighter and happier in general with a small wardrobe made up of only clothes I love and feel great in.
But before I made my own capsule wardrobe, I felt nervous about it.
I had been thinking about making a capsule wardrobe for months but was hesitant to take the plunge. It felt very out of my comfort zone, which was strange considering I’d already purged a significant portion of our stuff, and loved the freedom of owning less.
I realized there were 2 fears holding me back:
- I was worried about the “what if’s” – What if I hated it? What if I got bored with the options? What if I ran out of clothes?
- I thought it would be a difficult and complicated process. I’d read a lot about capsule wardrobes and think it was information overload. I’d gathered so much information that I felt overwhelmed by the number of options and ways to create a capsule. I felt self-imposed pressure to create a perfect capsule wardrobe. I was overcomplicating the process and worrying about following someone else’s “rules”.
Make Your Capsule Wardrobe Work for You
The most important part of making a capsule wardrobe is making it your own.
Let go of your fears and preconceived ideas of what a capsule wardrobe should or shouldn’t be. If you’re decluttering your clothes and want to try making a capsule wardrobe, I encourage you to make your own capsule wardrobe rules and make your capsule work for you!
Learn about how other people make their capsule wardrobes but don’t get hung up on their capsule wardrobe rules. Make it your own.
Here are some ways to make your own capsule wardrobe rules:
1. Make it an experiment – you don’t have to get rid of everything!
Clearly, I felt nervous about stepping outside of my comfort zone. A closet full of clothes felt safe and familiar to me.
I reminded myself I wasn’t getting rid of everything I owned. This was simply an experiment living with fewer clothes to see the impact it would have on my life. I have significantly decluttered and purged my clothing, but I still have more than what I want to include in my capsule wardrobe.
When choosing my clothes for my capsule, I decided anything I didn’t want in my current capsule, but I still wanted to keep for future capsules or seasons, would be stored in our spare bedroom closet and my dresser. Out of sight, but not gone permanently if I changed my mind about having a capsule wardrobe.
However, as I have revisited my clothing in storage, it has become clearer and easier for me to let go of more items. Sometimes a little time and space between you and your clothes give more clarity about what you really want to keep or let go of.
Take the pressure off yourself by making your capsule wardrobe an experiment, not a permanent decision.
2. Keep it simple
I reminded myself to keep it simple. Just because I had read how other people make their capsule wardrobes, didn’t mean that’s how I have to make mine.
I gave myself permission to create my own set of capsule wardrobe rules to work for me and my life.
It’s great to read about other people’s processes and capsule wardrobe rules. There are so many helpful tips and ideas to inspire and encourage you. But remember, you don’t have to replicate anyone else’s capsule wardrobe rules or process. Take what works for you and leave what doesn’t. Don’t overcomplicate the process.
3. Perfection isn’t real
I had to let go of the idea of making a “perfect capsule”. Aiming for perfection made the process stressful and intimidating.
And I really don’t believe there is such a thing as a “perfect capsule wardrobe”.
I’m sure the longer I do this, the better I will get at making my capsules. But tweaking and refining the clothes in my capsules will probably always be a part of the process.
I continued to think of my capsule wardrobe as an experiment. Just like minimalism in general, my focus should be on the journey, not the end result.
The point of a capsule wardrobe isn’t to create a “perfect” wardrobe (whatever that means!). The point of a capsule wardrobe is to be intentional about my clothes. This means choosing a small selection of clothes that look and feel great, in order to make getting dressed easier and stress-free.
4. By the Numbers…Or Not!
Some people like to limit themselves to a certain number of items in their capsule wardrobe. It pushes them to think about how many clothes they actually need and encourages them to experiment with living with less.
But other people feel too constrained or restricted by a number limit.
I’m somewhere in between.
Before making my first capsule, the idea of a hard limit stressed me out. And that’s the exact opposite of what I was trying to accomplish by creating a capsule wardrobe. I wanted a smaller wardrobe to mean less stress about clothes.
However, I also wanted to challenge myself to reduce my clothing. The idea of a limit gave me a gentle push to try living with fewer clothes.
A limit would also keep me from buying new clothes without thought or intention throughout the season. If I knew I was aiming for 40 pieces in my wardrobe and I currently had 40 pieces, I would have to decide if I was willing to remove something from my capsule to make room for what I was considering buying. It made me more accountable and made it easier to keep my wardrobe small and carefully curated.
5. Be Flexible
Because I both liked and disliked the idea of a limit of items in my capsule wardrobe, I decided to aim for a flexible limit of 40 items. I call it a flexible limit because I wasn’t going to obsess about staying under 40 items. If I ended up with more than 40 items but was happy with my capsule wardrobe, that would be fine.
The point of a capsule wardrobe is not about the number of items. It’s about being intentional and choosing to live with less clothing to make getting dressed simpler and stress-free.
6. Set Your Own Time Frame
Many instructions for capsule wardrobes suggest living with your capsule for three months at a time, correlating with the seasons.
When I made my first capsule the idea of committing to living with 40 items or less for three months scared me.
Because I had no prior experience with a capsule wardrobe, I worried three months would be too long and I would get bored with the clothes in my capsule. I wanted to make the process fun and stress-free, so I told myself I would try a capsule wardrobe for a month and see how it went.
Of course, now I know how great dressing from a capsule wardrobe is, and I’m happy to continue with a capsule wardrobe indefinitely. But lately, I’ve found that having a fall/winter capsule and spring/summer capsule (with a little overlap in between) works best for me.
Be open and flexible and figure out a time frame that will work for you.
Don’t let someone else’s time frame turn you off of creating a capsule wardrobe. Just because the most common approach is to dress from your capsule for three months at a time, doesn’t mean that’s the only way to do it! You could create a new capsule every month, or create a year-round capsule wardrobe that includes all of your clothes. There are even people who choose 10 items to wear for 10 days.
Choose a time frame you feel comfortable with and give it a try. You can always try your next capsule wardrobe for longer or shorter.
Just as the point of a capsule wardrobe isn’t about the number of items, it’s not about how long your dress from your capsule either.
7. You Decide What to Include
Different people include different things in their capsules. Some people like to include everything, including shoes, outerwear, formal wear and accessories. Some people only include tops and bottoms.
Decide what works for you and make your own rules. There is no single right way to make a capsule wardrobe. What you include in your capsule wardrobe should be unique to you and your lifestyle.
For example, in my first capsule wardrobe, I decided to only include my everyday tops and bottoms.
In my second capsule wardrobe, I decided to include tops, bottoms, shoes and outerwear. After creating and living with my first capsule wardrobe, I realized I included more than I really needed and knew I could easily have fewer items. I also felt more comfortable with the process and was ready to challenge myself a little bit more.
I may do something different in my next capsule wardrobe.
The key is to be flexible and experiment with different ways to create a capsule wardrobe. Keep your focus on the journey and what you’re learning as you go, not on the final product.
8. Multiple Capsules Within Your Closet
Another example of making your own capsule wardrobe rules is creating multiple capsules within your closet to address the different clothing needs for your lifestyle.
If you have a specific wardrobe for work and wear more casual clothes at home, it’s ok to make two capsules, a work capsule and a casual capsule.
Again, make your own capsule wardrobe rules so your wardrobe works for you and your lifestyle.
9. Refine Your Capsule as You Go
Don’t be afraid to refine and adjust your capsule as you go. If you’re not wearing an item, or notice something is missing from your capsule, make adjustments.
Maybe you’ll end up taking a couple of things you’re not wearing out or adding a few items in if you notice a gap.
Your capsule isn’t set in stone once you make it. Give yourself permission to tweak and adjust your capsule here and there to make it work better for you.
At first, I thought making changes to my capsule wardrobe would be “cheating”. But then I realized there is no “capsule wardrobe police” 😉 . My capsule only affects me, so I need to make it work for me.
If you are constantly exchanging clothes between your capsule and clothes in storage, you might be missing the point of living with fewer clothes. But in my opinion, making intentional refinements and adjustments is part of the process.
A capsule wardrobe isn’t about depriving yourself of clothes or trying to live with as few items as possible. It is simply dressing with fewer items to make life easier and make getting dressed a pleasant, stress-free experience.
10. Learn as you go
Use any adjustments you’re making as lessons to improve this and future capsule wardrobes. And as an opportunity to learn more about your personal style and what really works for your wardrobe and lifestyle.
For example, even with fewer options, if you notice an item you aren’t wearing often, try to pinpoint why you’re not wearing it. Is it the color? The style? The fit? The fabric? How it coordinates with the rest of your wardrobe?
Also, notice which items you wear a lot. Pay attention to what it is about those items you like.
Noticing these details will help you learn more about your style and clothing preferences. Not only will your future capsule wardrobes continue to improve. But knowing more about your style and preferences will make you a better shopper when you are looking for new pieces to add to your wardrobe.
Make your capsule wardrobe personal and unique to you
I hope this post will encourage and empower you to create your own capsule wardrobe rules to declutter your clothes and create a capsule wardrobe that works for you and your life.
Don’t think you have to follow someone else’s formula for a capsule wardrobe or make your capsule look exactly like someone else’s. Just as minimalism, in general, should be personal and unique to the person practicing it, so should your capsule wardrobe.
Have you ever felt intimidated or overwhelmed by someone else’s capsule wardrobe rules? Do you feel like making your own capsule wardrobe rules would make the whole process less stressful? Let me know in the comments below what has held you back from decluttering your clothes. What are (or are going to be) your capsule wardrobe rules?
Sunday 18th of November 2018
I'm tired of waking into my closet and being overwhelmed by trying to make an outfit. My husband suggested the "Steve Jobs" thing, but the thought of limiting myself to 2 colors was terrifying. I found capsule wardrobes but no one embraced the stay at home, active, dressy casual, mom style. Thank you for your post. You have given me hope and a place to start.
Simple Lionheart Life
Sunday 18th of November 2018
That's so great to hear, Karen! I'm so happy this post resonated with you. I think the "Steve Jobs" thing as you put it ;) scares a lot of people off the idea of a capsule wardrobe. But what I love about a capsule wardrobe is that I have fewer clothes to choose from and they are all my favourites! A capsule wardrobe doesn't have to follow anyone else's set of rules - it's just removing the excess and the filler items from your wardrobe so that you only keep your favourites! Thanks for reading and I'm so happy this post gave you a place to start!
Sunday 4th of February 2018
Hi Really enjoying these blogs. One problem I have is saving anything i really like in case it gets ruined or wears out . So i have some really nice things that are well over ten yrs old and like new ! I am a dog groomer so have lots of grooming clothes and my hobby is dog training so again dont want to ruin my nice clothes. Which leads me to looking out of style and casual looking all the time since i take such good care of my things they never wear out. I guess i need seasonal capsules ,work capsules and dog training clothes capsules !
Simple Lionheart Life
Monday 5th of February 2018
I'm glad you're enjoying my site, Jan! I think your idea of creating different capsules is a great solution. Create smaller capsules for each of the main activities in your life. One for work, one for dog training and one for the rest of the time. And don't forget to fill each capsule with clothes you look and feel good in, even for work and dog training. They don't have to be filled with brand new clothes, but I do think it's important that you feel good in what you're wearing. And then also make a point to actually wear your nice clothes when you're not working or training dogs. This could mean keeping only a small selection of your absolute favourite items if you don't spend a lot of time in nicer clothes. Think about what you actually wear and create mini-capsules within your wardrobe to reflect how you spend the majority of your time. I hope this helps and thanks for reading!
Saturday 24th of June 2017
I just started capsule wardrobing. Having a year round all purpose capsule was too overwhelming so I created work and casual capsules for each season. Much easier! I draw up my bottoms, tops, shoes on a sheet of paper and keep it in my closet. I also group my clothes according to capsule. I'm naturally an organized person so this works for me.
Simple Lionheart Life
Sunday 25th of June 2017
That's awesome Olga! I love that you've found a system that works for you. It's so important to figure out what makes the most sense for you and your lifestyle and working with that. Thanks for reading and for sharing what you've learned so far!
Wednesday 24th of May 2017
Some of the capsule wardrobe "rules" are definitely far too rigid for my taste. I'm working on creating a year-round wardrobe (after not seriously shopping for about 5 years) that will be flexible enough to deal with the crazy varying temperatures in Vermont. It isn't unusual to have 40-50 degree swings in one day, so lots of layers and options are a must. You might need a cardigan and jeans in the morning, and need to shed the sweater and change into shorts when you get home, so 30 items isn't going to cut it, unless you want to do laundry constantly. I'm shooting for around 100 items for the year, not including outerwear or shoes (again, lots of options needed). Thanks for reminding everyone that it's about what works for you, not what works for someone on pinterest!
Simple Lionheart Life
Wednesday 24th of May 2017
Wow Sally, good for you! I like the idea of creating a year round capsule. You're absolutely right, the most important thing is that you find what works for you! I'd love to hear how you are liking your year round capsule wardrobe once you've put it together and lived with it for a while. Keep me posted! Thanks for reading and sharing your excellent insights!
9 Things I’ve Learned Dressing with a 36 Item Capsule Wardrobe - Simple Lionheart Life
Sunday 30th of April 2017
[…] on the fence about making your own capsule wardrobe, I highly recommend trying it! Although I was hesitant about trying it at first, I now know that it makes life easier in so many ways. Today I want to share some of the important […]