How to Build a Capsule Wardrobe

With the Met Gala behind us, and our Heavenly Body gowns and capes stored away, I thought I could use a little reset. (I was in my bed refreshing my Instagram feed #thefirstMondayinMay.)

But seriously, over the past few months I have been distracted by the shiny objects—an orange furry purse here, Cardi B’s Moschino jacket there. I’m all for getting some fun one-of-a-kind pieces—but I wasn’t wearing any of mine. I was overwhelmed and tired. I would wear the same Adidas sweatshirt, stretchy Old Navy jeans, and slip-on Nikes all of the time. I am also all for rocking a uniform, but not if I’m filling up my clothes rack (my small SF closet is already full) with these fun, shiny things I wasn’t wearing.

My current wardrobe—a lot of stuff I don't wear but do love!

My current wardrobe—a lot of stuff I don't wear but do love!

I knew it was time to finally try a capsule wardrobe.

Come along with me as I try this minimalist trend and see if I learn anything about my personal style and building a more thoughtful—but still fun!–wardrobe.

What is a capsule wardrobe?

London boutique owner Susie Faux came up with the term "capsule wardrobe" in the 1970s to describe a minimal wardrobe composed of 30 to 40 high-quality, versatile items that will meet your needs for a given time amount of time.

How do you build a capsule wardrobe?

I will be following the rules of Caroline from Unfancy who develops her seasonal capsule wardrobes from 37 items. I am going to be honest—I will be doing this test for 30 days and will report back. I will then take it from there. 

Other popular capsule wardrobe challenges include Project 333 and the 10 x 10 Challenge.

Here is am abridged version of Caroline from Unfancy's rules and tips I will follow:

Rule #1:

Pare down your clothes situation into 37 pieces. The pieces include tops, bottoms, outerwear, dresses, and shoes.

That means you get to wear as many workout clothes, jewelry, accessories, purses, swimsuits, pjs, and underwear you want! (Okay, it’s probably good to limit these too.) Caroline chose the 37 numbers because it feels "generous yet minimal". 

I decided to do:

  • Nine pants (jeans, different color jeans, lounge pants, two slacks)

  • Eight jackets (from overcoat to jean jacket)

  • Six pairs of shoes (no heels, did I mention I live in SF?)

  • Five shirts

  • Three sweaters (“The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.” - Mark Twain)

  • Two tank tops (I will be in LA for some of the 30 days.)

  • Two turtlenecks (I love turtlenecks .)

  • One blouse

  • One sweatshirt

My new wardrobe (and hopefully the clothes I will be excited to wear)!

My new wardrobe (and hopefully the clothes I will be excited to wear)!

Rule #2:

Wear only these 37 pieces for three months—one capsule each season.

Rule #3:

Don’t go shopping during the three month season until during the last week or two of the season. This is when you can plan and shop for next season’s capsule wardrobe.

My Fun Rule!:

Try to include some of your stand-out pieces you love, but haven’t done the best job of continuing to incorporate in your wardrobe.

Capsules can be fun—I think!?... talk to me in 30 days.  From left to right:  Adidas  velvet shirt from  Wasteland ,  All Saints  men's sweater from  Buffalo Exchange , vintage 70s light jacket from the  Alameda Point Antiques Faire , vintage 80s jacket from the  Melrose Trading Post , and a  Guess  faux fur jacket from  Poshmark .

Capsules can be fun—I think!?... talk to me in 30 days.

From left to right: Adidas velvet shirt from Wasteland, All Saints men's sweater from Buffalo Exchange, vintage 70s light jacket from the Alameda Point Antiques Faire, vintage 80s jacket from the Melrose Trading Post, and a Guess faux fur jacket from Poshmark.

What results should I see?

Caroline at Unfancy says a capsule wardrobe represents more time and energy for what really matters. I'm excited to see if it also helps me save money and find ways to better incorporate clothes I already have in my closet. 

I hope you join me in this adventure too. Let’s try 30 days and see where it goes. Follow @thoughtfulflamingo for updates. 

Two  Target  (white Mossimo Supply Co. sandals, Sam & Libby black boots), two  Nikes  (my everyday  fly knits  and my newish  Air Max 95s ), one pair of  Asos   Park Lane mules , and one pair of black  Supergas . Let's go!

Two Target (white Mossimo Supply Co. sandals, Sam & Libby black boots), two Nikes (my everyday fly knits and my newish Air Max 95s), one pair of Asos Park Lane mules, and one pair of black Supergas. Let's go!