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So… What Exactly Is A Capsule Wardrobe?

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Conn chapter.

How many of us rush to the mall at the beginning of each season to spend hundreds of dollars on clothes, only to find that we wear it once or twice before it sits in the back of our closet, never to be touched again? Or do you spend hours sifting through your clothes, only to feel like you have absolutely nothing to wear? If you take a look at your closet and seem to find nothing in the sea of everything you own, you should consider the possibility of investing in a capsule wardrobe.

What is it?

Capsule wardrobes are becoming a trend in itself as we are becoming more aware of the speed of the current trend cycle and making an effort to purchase fewer clothing items; instead focusing on buying quality, versatile pieces. But what exactly is a capsule wardrobe, and how can you implement one into your own closet?

The term “capsule wardrobe” was coined in the 1970s by London-based fashion blogger Susie Faux. She owns a boutique called Wardrobe, which focuses on selling high-quality, minimalist pieces that can be mixed and matched to create a variety of outfits. And that is exactly what a capsule wardrobe is — a collection of timeless, simple staple pieces that can be styled in numerous ways while still feeling fresh. Because the pieces are basic and timeless, they will not go out of style as trends change, so you can hold onto them for years while still feeling stylish and confident.

Capsule wardrobes generally do not consist of many pieces, maybe 10 to 20, but those pieces are so versatile that you can make dozens of outfits with just a few items, making it the perfect option for someone who is looking to own less and spend less money. Owning a capsule wardrobe is not only good for you but it also benefits the planet due to lower clothing consumption. If you are interested in creating your own capsule wardrobe that will last you for years to come, here are three steps to get you started:

Step 1: downsize your current closet

The first step to decreasing the amount of clothing in your closet is doing exactly that: cleaning it out! A common misconception is that in order to build a capsule wardrobe, you need to throw everything away and start fresh. But that is not the case; in fact, it actually counteracts the entire idea of purchasing less clothing by throwing things away, as you will likely end up purchasing something similar later on. Take a day (or two, or three…) to go through every piece of clothing that you own, including accessories and shoes. What I have found works for me personally is looking at your clothing in terms of the amount of use they get. If you wear a particular pair of pants or dress multiple times a month, keep those and set them aside for later. If you haven’t worn an item in more than a year, unless it is a special occasion item, toss it. If you find yourself loving an item but it no longer fits you, toss it as well. After you have a closet full of clothes that you love and fit you well, you can move on to the next step.

Step 2: determine what gaps need to be filled

Now that you have a collection of clothes that you enjoy wearing, the next step is to determine what other pieces you need to make them wearable. For example, if you find that your closet is filled with mostly bold statement pieces, you’ll want to buy more basic, neutral pieces that can dress those bold items down and make them more suitable for everyday wear. If you find that you only own one pair of blue jeans that you find flattering, maybe consider purchasing another pair in a different wash, or even a black or white jean. The goal is to only purchase simple items that work with the clothing you already have, as opposed to buying items that need more purchases to make them work. As much as you may love that funky pair of jeans, think about what you already own that can go with them. If you can only imagine one or two different looks, it might not be something you truly need in the long run. Select clothes that fit into your personal style while also making sure to choose items that are easy to pair with other pieces. If you are struggling to gather a list of items you need to complete your new capsule wardrobe, consider reading this article by fellow Her Campus writer Mia Keazer, where she discusses the five essential items you need to create the perfect capsule wardrobe.

Step 3: Purchase new items that work with what you currently own

Start by looking at the companies you already shop at — brands you like and find flattering on you that also work within your price range. You may also want to keep in mind that since you are now buying a smaller quantity of clothes, you can focus on buying better-quality items. This may be the perfect opportunity to shift away from brands like H&M and Shein, and instead purchase items that are high quality and long-lasting. Try to avoid polyester pieces if you can, as those are more likely to fall apart after just a few washes. Instead, consider buying 100% cotton if possible, or other fabrics like wool and cashmere; these pieces will last countless wears and will not need to be replaced nearly as often.

Starting a capsule wardrobe may seem daunting at first, but it will actually de-stress your life in the long run. It will make your clothing decisions much simpler, help your finances, and lead to a beautiful, unique closet that is perfect for you and only you!

Kaitlin is a junior studying Communication at the University of Connecticut. She enjoys writing about the things that interest her, which is anything from lifestyle and wellness to social issues. When she is not writing for HerCampus, she works as a Public Relations Intern at KikiNetwork, a boutique PR agency based out of Hanover, NH. In her free time, you can find her attempting to cook a new meal, watching early 2000's romcoms, or going to her favorite thrift stores.