What Is a Capsule Wardrobe, and How Can You Make One?

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"Minimalism has been all the rage lately, but have you heard of a capsule wardrobe? Read on for an explanation and steps on how to build your very own capsule wardrobe."

We’ve all been there: growing mountain of clothes on the bed and stress levels soaring as you’re trying to pick out an outfit. I can’t begin to count the number of times I was even late because “I had nothing to wear.” Enter the capsule wardrobe—one of the many sustainable fashion trends buzzing in our community.

The horrors of repeating outfits are well-documented—perhaps most famously in The Lizzie McGuire Movie:

As I grew older, my closet became littered with all sorts of useless and outrageous items that could be made into very few outfits. Personal examples of mine include bright green denim shorts and a sheer bodysuit I bought and never wore. 

This is all to say that I wish someone introduced me to a capsule wardrobe. Read on to see how it can save you energy, time, and money.

What’s a Capsule Wardrobe?

A capsule wardrobe is quite the opposite of the fashionista consumerist dream that many of us grew up with. Per Caroline Joy, capsule wardrobes challenge us to build a wardrobe with “intentionality, curiosity, moderation, and mindfulness.” (This is quite Marie Kondo, if you ask me!)

Capsule Wardrobe Basics

Caroline Joy, the creator of Un-Fancy, is credited with creating the modern concept of the capsule wardrobe. She found 37 well-made pieces from her closet that she gravitated toward and genuinely liked. Together, the items created a color palette, making it possible for Caroline to create an infinite number of outfit combinations.

She committed herself to these items for a period of time and found that getting dressed became more innovative in this way. Her capsule wardrobe is one of the most eco-friendly approaches to being fashion-forward.

If all that sounds interesting to you, keep reading for the next steps on how to get started on your own capsule wardrobe.

Step 1 for a Capsule Wardrobe: Take a Challenge

You don’t have to get rid of everything in your closet right now (or ever really). A popular and fun way to a capsule wardrobe is the 10×10 Wardrobe Challenge created by Lee Vosburg of Style Bee. It’s quite simple, and you can do it seasonally.

The 10×10 wardrobe challenge is a way to experience a capsule wardrobe for a short, non-commital period of time: 10 days. For those 10 days, you aim to not stray from any 10 desired clothing articles and find new ways to mix and match. Accessories and jewelry aren’t included in your capsule quota. 

My suggestion: Take this challenge with your friends! Above all, it feels invigorating to set out on a new goal with people who you can celebrate and commiserate with. Snap a picture of your outfit to send to the group chat for accountability. Then, laugh together at mishaps along the way rather than ruminating on them alone.

Vosburg suggests the beginner chooses two pairs of shoes, four tops, one dress, two bottoms, and one top layer. She even offers a worksheet clad with journal space to help you plan it out. This can even become a part of your own Instagrammable journey! 

The whole point of the challenge is to have fun and see what happens next: i.e. no pressure. What you find might surprise you!

gray dress shirt hang on brown wooden rack in front of window with white curtain

Step 2: Declutter and Swap

A capsule wardrobe is for you if you loved the results of your 10×10 challenge. Give yourself time to go through your closet and identify pieces that don’t match your personal style anymore. Put them to the side to sell online, give to a thrift store, or bring to a clothing swap with your friends.

And if you still need to supplement your wardrobe, go for it! We love Vetta for its innovative capsule wardrobe pieces that follow a color scheme and can be worn in multiple ways.

pile of black, white, and gray textiles on white padded chair with brown frame

Keep Taking Small Sustainable Steps

You don’t have to do all of this at once. The stereotypes of fast fashion connoisseur and eco-friendly enthusiast are part of a spectrum, so fashion mindsets truly look different for everyone. Even the smallest sustainability-centered step—like asking yourself “Am I really going to wear this?” before taking an item to the check-out—will make a difference.

If your favorite thing to do with your friends is go shopping, go to a thrift store instead every now and then. Create a capsule wardrobe out of a sense of excitement and innovation—not dread.

Hey there! Want to help us change the world every day through easy, achievable, eco-friendly tips and tricks? Sign up for the Brightly Spot and join our movement of over a million changemakers.

Minimalism has been all the rage lately, but have you heard of a capsule wardrobe? Read on for an explanation and steps on how to build your very own capsule wardrobe.

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