Capsule Wardrobes 101

A wonderful friend and excellent writer, Aimee Dewar commented last weekend and told me that she too has undertaken a capsule wardrobe of only 22 pieces! Ack! And asked if I had a beginners post which is helpful, now I have as we all know spoken a lot about capsules but today I thought I’d write a quick condensed what to do and what to expect post about starting a capsule wardrobe.

Your first Capsule will probably suck.

Elegantly worded I know but honestly if like most people you’ve come to this decision because you have loads of clothes and nothing to wear than never fear this will help but your first few months? Yeah, they’ll probably suck.

Why? Mainly because you’ve come to this conclusion because you’ve bought a lot of stuff without a pulled together vision and that’s ok, we’ve all shopped to make ourselves feel better, shopped to look better or just because consumerism states that we ‘need’ stuff. So in your first few months you may find that you in fact don’t actually like anything you own and that’s ok, that’s acceptable and you might also find that what you own no longer suits your lifestyle and this is what the challenge aims to change.


Personal style and fashion isn’t relevant to all of us. We don’t all spend our lives thinking about clothes but personally? I do. Before I began the capsule wardrobe I took some time to think and write down what I wanted to achieve from the capsule wardrobe.

  • I wanted my own personal, cohesive style
  • I wanted to make everyday dressing simpler
  • And I wanted to save money and buy less.

With all of that in mind I was then able to think about what type of style I wanted to eventually achieve and to start that I firstly looked at what I owned


Rather than pulling out what you don’t like or wear pull out what you love and what you want to wear on a day to day basis!

Throw any of the following items;

Items beyond repair, which include things like un-mendable rips and holes and jumpers which are bobbled beyond repair.


Anything that is still good quality as a personal choice I choose to donate to clothing banks which clothe the homeless but you can sell or donate to charity shops or any course you love you can also do a clothes swap with friends, I had one item which I felt would work well for my sister in law so there are multiple options when it comes to giving clothes a new lease of life!

Scared to Purge?

Most of us have probably had some reservations when it comes to throwing away large quantities of clothes which are perfectly wearable and why shouldn’t you? You spent your hard earned cash on these items! They’re not worn out, they might even still be high fashion and worst-case scenario? They might still have the tags on! Acknowledge the areas where you have spent irresponsibly but don’t beat yourself up about it most of us have been there too. But what to do about it?

The reality is having a lot of things we don’t need can often lead to dependency on these items to give our life worth and that’s not good. You are more important, more beautiful and more wonderful than any outfit you can pull together, I promise you that. So don’t feel bad for getting rid of the clutter in your life! There are plenty of incredible clothes banks and charities who can take your clothes and give them to well loved homes, it may be the end of your journey with these items but its not the end of the clothes life!

If your not sure you’re making the right decision with a certain item however there’s an easy way to find out. Only throw current season items but if your still not sure keep them close by and accessible during your first capsule and if you don’t wear it and think about it, then you probably never needed it in the first place!

Exceptions to the rule would be shorts that fit great but the sun never shone that summer, or snow boots/coats during mild winters.


It might seem obvious but it wasn’t to me at first but your first capsule should probably just be items you already own.

Why? You need to establish the gaps in your wardrobe what have you been overlooking when impulse buying? What’s needed to develop your style? These are things you can only find once you’ve spent some time looking at what you already own.


Your possibly a week in, a month or you’ve done three months or more but keep assessing your wardrobe, what do you love to wear and what makes you feel like the best version of you, every time you wear it?

Take notes and pay attention because even if you think you have no style or fashion sense now its in these reflections that you may come to realize you did have it all along! Big things to ask yourself is;

  • What pieces do I always fall back on?
  • What does my real life actually need in the way of clothes?
  • What type of functionality do these pieces need? (to be moveable, comfortable, smart, casual? Etc)
  • What’s my core style foundation? (Do you wear lots of skirts? Dresses or pants/trousers? Etc)
  • Are you a neutrals girl or a colourful girl?

There are a lot of questions but most things will just come up naturally and these things will be really helpful to know in the next stage,

Design, again.

This is where things get fun again! In order to avoid falling back into old habits I suggest making a tonne of lists before even thinking about hitting the shops and in this section I suggest designing yourself your dream wardrobe and this is where things get interesting.

Stage one:

The basics, everyone’s basics are different but this is the core foundation to your style and the first thing you should buy post capsule. For example mine looks like this for Autumn/Winter

  • Two tank tops
  • Two pairs of Leggings
  • Three short/cap sleeved V-neck T shirts
  • One – two jersey pencil skirts
  • A pair of smart work trousers (cropped, cigarette trousers)
  • A cardigan
  • A heavy, warm jumper
  • A great pair of blue jeans in your chosen shape (mine is low rise skinny)
  • A pair of Ankle Boots
  • A great pair of supportive trainers/sneakers
  • One work blouse
  • At least one just above the knee dress

The colours; The easiest way to dress well and make the most of any size wardrobe? Well that’s as simple as choosing cohesive colours! Making sure all your basics follow the same colour scheme means you have a really solid foundation to build upon with any stand out pieces.

Functionality; Before you hit the shops remember one thing. Everything you buy has to fit in and work with your real life, everyday. For example if you work in a lawyers office than buying a load of revealing tops isn’t going to be a good use of your cash or your wardrobe and if you work outside a lot than smart office clothes aren’t going to work for you either! So look at your life and only buy what you need now, there is after all plenty of time to re buy should your life change.

Helpful Rules for spending

Controlling your spending can be a long on going problem and we won’t necessarily have the same ways with coping with budgets. Myself, personally I have a very small budget for clothing, if I’m going to be realistic, at 24 I now know that I need to save more than I spend and that I have dreams and responsibilities which require me to be sensible and purchase responsibly and that affects my shopping choices.

Make sure everything you purchase is;

  • On your list
  • That you can’t live without it
  • That it fits perfectly, now. (Do not buy anything you have to get skinny to fit into!)
  • That it suits your actual frame. (We all like to think we might all be supermodels but your perhaps not, I know I like to pretend I don’t have a large rack but that’s me lying and roll necks will never be cute on me so be real with yourself and that honesty will pay you back with dividends.
  • Buying big names doesn’t give you style and it won’t necessarily make you happy. Remember, you are more than your clothes or hair, if you listen to India Arie.
  • Set a budget and stick to it.

What you stand to gain;

I wrote about this last week so check out the post here+ 

That is I believe most of it I might drop back and fill this in more but the main points are all here! If you have any questions or anything else you want answered just drop a comment below and I’ll even answer you there or add another section up here!

Helpful Posts

there are a lot of links here to make life easier simply search for website for tags as every article is under the heading of, Capsule Wardrobe.

therealjlow, Fashion New Year: Building a Signature Wardrobe

Capsule Wardrobe: Building on Classics

The Capsule Wardrobe | Part 1

The Capsule Wardrobe | AW 2014

The Capsule Wardrobe | First Week and Shopping Mistakes

Ethical Purging & The Capsule Wardrobe

India Holiday Capsule

India Holiday Capsule Part 2

India Holiday Capsule Part 3

The Capsule Wardrobe | His

How to Maximise your Capsule Wardrobe

The Capsule Wardrobe | Winter 2015

Honest Basics and the Capsule Wardrobe

Why I cheated on the Capsule Wardrobe with my other clothes

Vacation and Packing with a Capsule Wardrobe

Real Reasons why the Capsule Wardrobe will change your life!

4 thoughts on “Capsule Wardrobes 101

  1. Mr Pinfold says:

    Liking this article and some good tips! 🙂

    I wonder if living in certain countries lends itself to a capsule wardrobe. In the Netherlands for example, women tend to wear trousers and jeans in any context (meaning you don’t need lots of dresses as well as tops and jeans/trousers/skirts). In-fact, everyone does – kids don’t wear school uniforms, people don’t wear special clothes to work. Even weddings it’s acceptable to go in jeans! Ideas about capsule wardrobes tend to be pinned on Scandinavian fashion – which makes sense because in Denmark, say, the norm is to dress very minimalistically and in dark/neutral colours. There’s that uniform element to it that helps, because you don’t need to juggle 2/3 wardrobes! In-fact, outside of jogging bottoms (which are now more acceptable than ever before), I don’t really know what the difference between smart/casual and casual is nowadays.

    I don’t work in a place where I have to wear a suit everyday, but I certainly have to store them for special occasions, because fashion/style is as much a social/cultural thing as it ever is about your own basic essentials. One of the secrets to your list being so slim is there is there’s only really 2 work-specific items on there.


    • therealjlow says:

      Thank you – I think it must do! I think in constantly warmer climates or constantly colder ones it would make dressing so much simpler and stop you having a wardrobe bursting full of duplicate items! It has definitely taken its cues from the Netherlands style, my ultimate favourite site on the topic is into-mind and you can definitely see those Scandinavian influences!

      It really is for sure – it was my trip to India in 2013 that really prompted me on this journey as both myself and my partner felt so much better for cutting our ties to items and seeing all these incredible people getting by with much less than us that really spurned us on! I wish I could say my list was everything here but it’s not. It’s really a snapshot of all I really need but of course I have multiples of these items, where I say I have a pencil skirt I have three if you see what I mean. That list was more about uncovering what styles/shapes you need and then building from there as you see fit. I too work in a relatively casual office so the opportunities to wear whatever I want is vast which is a great position to be in.

      Thank you for your comments and throughts  Jess xo

      Liked by 1 person

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