How to build a capsule wardrobe

By And the Kitchen Sink

I’m a cheapskate when it comes to buying clothes. I went all winter without a snow jacket because I just couldn’t justify spending the money on one. Unfortunately, we got snow three times this year. I want a wardrobe that won’t leave me stranded in the cold without a winter jacket, but I hate the idea of having thousands of dollars sitting in my closet. I grew tired of never having anything to match something I had, or never having what I needed for an event.

We’re on a pretty strict budget, and I want to buy clothes that will last me longer than a season. Therefore, I’ve been working on a capsule wardrobe. If you don’t know what a capsule wardrobe is, it’s a collection of clothes/accessories that include only basic and essential items that work for all occasions. Usually, capsule wardrobes are limited to around 24 items that can be utilized to create a variety of outfits with just a few pieces.

There are currently 27 articles of clothing hanging in my closet. Read more about how I survive with just 27 articles of clothing here. I’ve limited my wardrobe down to pieces that will be most appropriate for work, fit well, and are comfortable. I have been working for some time to create a completed capsule wardrobe for myself, and every time I get something new I switch out a current piece.

I’m going to teach you how to build a capsule wardrobe that works for you!

First, make a list of how many of each item you NEED.

Here’s my own list:

1 Pair of sunglasses

3 Purses (one black, one brown, and one cross body)

2 Sundresses

2 Nice Dresses

2 Maxi Skirts

1 Pencil Skirt

3 Pairs of Jeans

3 Pairs of Shorts

2 Sweaters

1 Pair of Dress Pants

1 Blazer

2 Tank Tops

10 T-shirts

3 Blouses

2 Sweatshirts

3 Pairs of Sandals

2 Pairs of Flats

1 Pair of Boots

2 Cardigans

1 Pair of Sneakers

1 Winter Coat

1 Pair of Heels

1 Light Jacket

2 Bracelets

2 Necklaces

1 Scarf

Total: 55 Pieces

My total might seem a little high to you, and I currently have a lot less than this. Since I work in a business professional work environment, I can only use a few pieces for both work and every day wear.

Start with what you already have

After you’ve made your list, take everything you have in your closet and sort them into these categories. Once you have them sorted, begin purging until you’ve reached the number on your list. You are not stuck with these pieces forever, as you buy new clothes get rid of the ones you currently have. If you buy a new shirt, get rid of a shirt you already own.

How versatile are my pieces?

After you have completely purged the unnecessary clothing, look at what you have left. Do most of your tops match all of your bottoms? Will your jewelry go with all of the clothes you have? Do your shoes match all of your outfits? If the answer to any of these is no, it’s time to rework and fill in some gaps.

Fill in the gaps

You don’t have to do this step immediately but begin looking for basic essential pieces to fill in what you’re missing or what you need. Neutral colors and patterns are always a safe bet as far as colors go. For example, I know I need just a plain and basic t-shirt and pencil skirt. I know these items will go with everything I own and I don’t currently have one of either. So when I’m looking for outfits for my capsule wardrobe I will look for a white tee that will go with EVERYTHING I own. If you buy printed tees be aware that these might make matching outfits difficult. I will also want to go with a plain black pencil skirt to make sure it goes with all of my work blouses. You want to make sure that most of your clothes can be worn year round if possible.

Pick quality pieces

Make sure you are picking good quality clothing whenever you are purchasing something. You want clothes that are going to last the test of time and be the best bang for your buck. If you are spending $15-20 on a shirt that only lasts you one year you are throwing money out the window. It is far better to get a $50 shirt that will last 5 years than a $20 shirt that will only last 1. Make sure to try on clothes in the store if possible to ensure that you like the way it fits and looks. If you don’t like it the quality doesn’t matter because you probably won’t wear it anyway.

Your capsule wardrobe will look very different from mine.  The point of a capsule wardrobe is to have as many outfit combinations as possible with the smallest amount of items possible. If you work from home you might not need as many work outfits as I do, or you might need more depending on your job. A capsule wardrobe will cut down the amount of time you spend getting ready and keep you from spending money on clothes you don’t need.

How many outfits can you create with your clothes?


About Lindsey: Lindsey is a born and raised southern girl who dreams of the day she can quit her day job to blog fulltime. She is the creator of And the Kitchen Sink, a lifestyle blog frugal living. Read more about her exciting adventures at And the Kitchen Sink.


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