How to Build and Maintain a great Wardrobe Capsule

Wardrobe Capsule

Short Answer:  Shop your closet and go shopping. It seems like I always end up going shopping. Can you tell I enjoy it?

Quick Recap: A capsule is a collection of mix and match, interchangeable, garments assembled to creates outfits and looks. My “go to” formula for building a capsule is following an adapted 80/20 rule. The capsule will have 80% tops and 20% Bottoms. The capsule needs to be flexible to what we need and fun so we enjoy wearing its contents.

A small capsule of 1 jacket or Vest, 2 bottoms (20%) and 8 tops (80%), can create 32 different outfits. The trick is coordination, color and silhouette. Add two  to three different pairs of shoes and a few accessories and you can dress up the outfits differently. Add an extra jacket you can add extra 16 outfits. Add a dress, for fun and variety. A dress will add 2 extra outfits, with your jacket or vest. Unless you can use a top over the dress to create a top / skirt look.

What you need to know before you start:

  • Know what you currently own – meaning, have your closet organized first. Do you need to organize your closet first? You really cannot shop in a messy store, can you? Start here:  Organize Your Closet
  • Know your current lifestyle needs are? How do you spend your time during the week? Work? Leisure? Travel, Exercise? The clothes in your closet should reflect and support your daily activities. If you are working and spend 50% of your time working, 50% of your wardrobe should be work clothes, and so on. Create a daily activity log and evaluate the % of time you spend on each activity.

Here is a example and an easy blank form to assist you:

  • Know your style and color personality as well as your best, favorite colors.

Here are Capsule Rules to follow:

  • Jacket or vest, tops and bottoms must all color and style coordinated.
  • You should consider selecting a couple of neutral colors and a couple of other colors that will work in harmony.
  • Shoes should be color coordinated, a neutral shoes, a black shoe and a color shoe can incorporate with your capsule clothes easily.
  • Have fun with your accessories. Scarves, beads, necklaces, belts and earrings.

Create Your Capsule:

Print a a Capsule Creation Form

Go to your organized closest, start creating outfits. You will select garments you LOVE, fit you well, up-to-date, with colors that suit you.

  • Start by pulling your favorite pants. Place on a bed or use a rolling hanger (if you got one). Pull tops one by one and place (hang) next to the pants. Do they coordinate? Yes? Yeah, you got a great start.
  • Methodically add items from your closet, a jacket (make sure it works with all the tops), and a skirt or any other bottom that will coordinate. Make sure they coordinate with all the tops.
  • Pull out shoes and some accessories.
  • As you pull and place you will see outfits form. Each outfit can go with or without the jacket or vest.
  • Take photos of combinations you like as a reminder.
  • Optional: Play dress up, try the different variations to ensure you love the looks. Play with the shoes and the accessories for variety.
  • If you are using the form, note the areas you are missing items.  Or create a list
    • You may find you lack accessories, a few coordinating tops and so on.
    • Create a shopping list for what you are missing capsule completion. This is your shopping list.
Take your list and Go Shopping! Shop for the missing items in your capsule, if any and complete the “holes.” You do not have to do it all at once.

Here is a Sample of an 80/20 Capsule:

Capsule Maintenance or Expansion:

Going forward, once you have your capsule(s), you created a base, a point of reference. You can choose to expand or maintain it.

  • Expand it by adding clothes that meet the capsule rules.
  • Maintenance means replacement. When an item is outdated, does not fit right, or worn out, you replace it with a newer item.

Your capsule is now you base and guide. Have a photo or a vision of your capsule every time you shop.  You will save money in a couple of ways:

  • You will avoid duplicate clothes purchases. How many black tops do you need?
  • You will avoid orphan purchases, items that go only with one thing.
    • Unless of course that is the intent, for example, a formal evening dress.


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