Understanding Wardrobe Capsules
Wardrobe capsules are an easy way of creating groups of clothes that mix and match so you get multiple outfits from fewer pieces, than if you keep garments as outfits.
They are particularly useful if you are building (or re-building) a wardrobe due to pregnancy, weight-loss or gain, change in lifestyle, body shape or colouring. When you’re starting from scratch, they are definitely the way to go. I mean, how many clothes do you really need in your wardrobe?
For some, wardrobe capsules are how they like to order and organise their wardrobes. For others, uniform or outfit formulas are better options (you can figure out which is you here). If you like the idea of a wardrobe capsule, I do recommend that you read this before you throw it all out (a capsule is not for everyone).
If you’re sick and tired of thinking about what goes with what, then a wardrobe capsule is a great way of limiting your choices (so you don’t get decision fatigue) and having a small and sustainable wardrobe.
Here I’m sharing a couple of examples of creating smart-casual capsules for winter and summer, whether you work from home or just live a smart-casual lifestyle.
They are particularly useful if you are travelling or have a limited clothing budget. 12 pieces can be mixed around to create 72 outfits (watch my video on how I pack 72 outfits into my carry on luggage!). Adding one extra piece can take that number to 96 outfits. This means travelling for a few weeks at a time with a wardrobe capsule will allow you to pack lightly but effectively.
You can create wardrobe capsules for different occasions and activities you undertake. Build them around your lifestyle. You can have them for
- Evening wear
Think about larger capsules or multiple capsules for the activities you spend more time doing, and smaller ones for the things you spend less time doing.
There are lots of capsules you can create based on what you do and the season. I’ve included a couple of capsules for someone who may work from home (or work in a casual environment) which allows them to dress up and down a little, but look smart if you need to run errands, but still remain comfortable.
As you can see, the more items you include that can be layered with others, the more outfit options you get!
If you’re building a capsule, you’ll want to think about which colours to choose – check out this post for some guidance on that.
And capsules don’t have to be boring or not patterns, find out how to mix prints in your wardrobe capsule. Or you can just create your capsule around a patterned hero garment like I did here!
Capsule Wardrobe Inspiration and Advice
Here are some of my previous posts on creating capsules to give you the inspiration to create yours. Remember, if you are a pant wearer, there is no point in including skirts in your capsule if you don’t wear them (and vice versa of course).
Two important factors to consider when creating a capsule wardrobe
Corporate Wardrobe on a Budget
Wardrobe capsule to look taller
Wardrobe capsule for the tropics
Post pregnancy wardrobe capsule
How to Work Your Wardrobe Capsule
10 most popular wardrobe capsule posts
Your ultimate guide to wardrobe capsules
thank you for this great selection, cannot wait to see the spring and fall wardrobe capsules! (I am a spring)! I love and follow your articles all the way from France! Regards, Isabelle
Thanks for the working from home capsule ideas! Very topical for me. My first new winter top is on the cutting table. Your selections are a good reminder that I tend too much for pattern. Plain fabrics will help me more with dress up and down versatility. Learning slowly…
Keep warm 🙂
Hi Imogen, thanks, I always love the capsule posts. 🙂
I’m curious about a homewear capsule – I’m a stay at home mum to 2 tiny girls, and since we live in the countryside, probably 90% of my time I spend at home or in the garden. We live in Northern Europe with proper winters, so most of the year it’s chilly both outside and at home.
I’m at my wits’ end with what to wear at home, that would be comfy (can’t wear anything too constraining like jeans while chasing kids and playing with them), while looking fairly decent for any unannounced guests popping over (and my husband, of course! :)). Nowadays I feel like I’ve forgotten how to dress myself – everything I have in my closet from the previous, working life, feels like I’d be “overdressed”, so I tend to always fall back to the the same pattern of leggings/old sports pants with a slim-fitting t-shirt and a zippered hoodie.
Why do you find jeans so uncomfortable? Particularly as there are so many with LOTS of stretch in them these days, they almost feel like leggings?
I also find jeans uncomfortable. Having a disproportionately large tummy means any firm fabrics cut into me when I sit down and my tummy goes up. Extra stretchy jeans slide down as the fabric stretches with body heat and fall off my hips. Fold down waistbands made of stretch jersey are the only pants I find comfortable. Skirts are easier but not as practical when getting in and out of cars whilst making deliveries. Best bet, for me, is an Aline, knit dress – no waist, worn with leggings for warmth and warm socks and boots. Cardigan for around the house and coat for outdoors finish off a stylish, comfortable outfit. Love the wardrobe capsules. Just making my Winter one now.
Hi! I have a similar question as Oks’…I have made great strides in gathering mixable business/relaxed business wear but over time have just really lost touch with relaxation (!) and find myself without much to wear on the weekends. I stay at home often but also go to shops, farmers’ markets’, the movies, etc. and don’t really have anything to wear that I don’t already wear to work. I’d love separate weekend clothes to signal fun! I’m 48, an O shape on the way back down to an 8, and I live in the desert southwest of the USA, where it’s currently ~ 110 degrees F and very dry. Can you offer any suggestions as to relaxed but cute capsule pieces to wear on weekend days? Thanks so much!
Hi, Imogen — a follow-up technical question: do you store your capsules separately — e.g., business versus casual versus evening? If so, how? And if not, how do you remember the components of each in your mind? Thanks so much!