everything you need to know about capsule wardrobes

Posted by Sadie Banks on

Capsule Wardrobe | Capsule Wardrobes how to build a | Capsule Wardrobe work | Sadie Banks Photography

this post is THE post to come to if you're not sure what a capsule wardrobe is. or if you're not sure how to start one. or if you're looking to save money on clothes this year. or if your closet is over flowing & you're just not sure what to do with all of the clothes you've got. 

you've come to the right place, my friend. sit on down. grab a rootbeer (or water if you're trying to be healthier...) and let's talk capsule wardrobes.

i first saw the idea of a capsule wardrobe back in the year of our Lord 2012. i was perusing through pinterest in my college dorm living room. (as i did every day) i thought it was crazy & that the people who had a capsule wardrobe had too much time on their hands in the morning & were way more dedicated to styling their outfits than i ever wanted to be. 

fast forward to 2013. i went on an lds mission for my church & was only allowed to bring 8-10 different outfits. (all of which were skirt & shirt combos or dresses) i also moved about every three months & lived mostly out of a suitcase. i would unpack in each apartment, but everything i owned fit into two suitcases + a carry-on. my clothing choices were all over the place, but somehow they all matched. (or i didn't care...??? i'm not actually sure which one it really is, but either way, i rocked the outfits i wore on my mission.)

when i got home from my mission 18 months later, i was pretty tired of wearing the same clothes that i had been wearing for the last 9-18 months (about halfway through my mission i had to buy some new-to-me clothes because my skirts didn't fit anymore....) & i also didn't have any clothes that weren't skirts or dresses & if you know me, you know i'm not a "wear a skirt every day because i want to" type of girl. so my mom, my sisters, my best friend & i set off for the mall the day after i got home. we bought all the things that were "you could wear this on a date" worthy. however, about 75% of them required extra effort on my part to create an outfit. so while all of them were cute, only about 25% of what we bought actually got worn.

fast forward 18 months later. i was sitting in my newly wed apartment, looking at all of the clothes i have vs. all of the clothes i actually wore. again, it was about 25% of the clothes in my closet. all of the clothes that were neutral colors + were easy to pair together got worn every week, whereas all of the clothes that were bright + colorful & only went with a few different things basically never got worn.

does anybody else have this problem?

okay. so now that we've set the scene for where we're at in our closet journeys-- let's talk about capsule wardrobes. the moment you've been waiting for. 

Capsule Wardrobe | Capsule Wardrobes how to build a | Capsule Wardrobe work | Sadie Banks Photography

what is a capsule wardrobe?
according to wikipedia.comCapsule wardrobe is a term coined by Susie Faux, the owner of a London boutique called "Wardrobe" in the 1970s. According to Faux, a capsule wardrobe is a collection of a few essential items of clothing that don't go out of fashion, such as skirts, trousers, and coats, which can then be augmented with seasonal pieces. in sadie terms: a capsule wardrobe is a small collection of clothing that matches and actually gets worn. 

i don't have money to change my entire wardrobe! how do i start building a capsule wardrobe?!
same. girl, same. (or boy, same. i won't assume gender or discriminate.) i started building my capsule wardrobe + donating items from my closet that i never wore to the local thrift store over time. i had a rule for about 6 months that if i didn't wear it within two weeks it went into the thrift store pile (we have always had a thrift store pile... you just accumulate so much junk...) for some reason, i had a TON of pairs of colored pants. which is fine, but i found myself only wearing my jeans + leggings. i only had one pair of jeans and two pairs of leggings. i hate doing so much laundry, so i invested in a pair of khakis & a pair of black pants (for work-- i can't wear jeans to work). over the course of about 3 months, my closet was starting to look the way i was hoping it would: small + neutral.

how do you find items to go in your capsule wardrobe?
i searched on pinterest for neutral outfits that seemed comfy (i'm ALL about the comfort factor) but still looked like i actually got ready in the morning. after i would find pieces on pinterest that i liked a lot, i would start searching the malls + thrift stores for that item or a similar one. however, i did not start looking for new items until my closet was small enough that i didn't have a week's worth of clothes or outfits. (i also don't wear shirts more than once before washing them. pants are a different story) so i was in need of a few more shirts. parker & i went to the mall one night & seriously scored. i found 7 shirts + 2 cardigans for under $25. 

one thing to remember about the clothes that you're buying is to make sure they are GOOD QUALITY + won't shrink when you wash them. one of my favorite shirts of all time was $30 (i NEVER spend that much on a shirt... especially after this...) i wore it once & then it shrunk in the wash and i couldn't wear it again. i was so, so sad. but i learned my lesson the hard way on that one. so when you buy clothes, make sure they are good quality + won't shrink so you can get the most out of them.

do you get tired of the items that you have?
sometimes, yes. but most of the time, no. i don't have a hard & fast rule about how many items you should have in your capsule wardrobe. but our closet space is pretty limited, so i try to limit the amount of things i have in my closet. which means everything that i have gets worn a lot. and actually, right now, i'm trying to minimize my closet again. i have a few shirts & skirts that i just don't wear often enough to justify having them.

what if you want to buy something new?
i have a rule that i can buy something new but first i have to get rid of TWO items in my closet FIRST. that way i have to absolutely love, love, love whatever i'm purchasing & i have to go home & think about the new item. do i really want to get rid of something? do i already have an item similar to the one i'm thinking about purchasing? do i really love it THAT much? will i actually wear it? when would i wear it? these are all questions i ask myself before i buy something. & i pride myself on how good i am at walking out of a mall with absolutely nothing. it's powerful. i also try not to buy shirts that are over $7. and i don't spend more than $15-$20 on pants ever

what do you have in your capsule wardrobe?
i'm glad you asked! i made a video showing what i have in my capsule wardrobe that you can watch! 

don't i have to have a lot of accessories for a capsule wardrobe to work?
no! i am not an accessories type of girl. necklaces + scarves bug me. earrings hurt my ears (i'm allergic to fake metals, so i just don't wear earrings as often as i used to). i don't have any watches or bracelets. i literally just wear the clothes. but my outfits still feel put together & nicer looking! however, if you're an accessories type of person, a few different statement necklaces, earrings + scarves could really compliment your outfits and give you more variety to work with!

can you explain more about the way you do your laundry?
i actually do my laundry the way that fun, cheap, or free does hers. (also, my mom does her laundry kind of like this too. but she separates by colors as well.) here are two videos & blog posts that fun, cheap, or free has shared on her laundry method.
How I do my laundry. (Unconventional, but it works!)
My Top 15 Laundry Hacks! (You're Welcome in Advance...)

what are the benefits of having a capsule wardrobe?
the benefits are my favorite part of my capsule wardrobe! here are my top 5 favorite benefits of my capsule wardrobe:
1. i love everything i own & feel like a champ every day because i like my outfit.
2. my capsule wardrobe saves me money!
3. my capsule wardrobe saves me time in the morning because i just grab & go!
4. everything matches! i don't have to fret about whether or not something goes together because i already know that everything matches!
5. i do waaaaaaay less laundry.
bonus 6. packing for trips is SUPER easy because i don't have to pack 12 different outfits "in case i don't want to wear that one" (you know what i'm talking about)

does your capsule wardrobe really save you money?
yes. yes. yes. i am suuuuuuper picky about what goes into my closet these days because if anything comes out, i have to be prepared to be able to create at least 5 different outfits with whatever goes back in. AND i have my rule about TWO things must come out before one thing can go in. and also, again, i don't spend more than $7 on a shirt or more than $15-$20 on pants. which are rules i've had for myself for a long time. i highly recommend making rules like that for yourself. they're hard at first, but once your score your first $6 pair of pants, you'll never go back. trust me.

what were your go-to items when you were building your capsule wardrobe?
i looked for striped shirts & basic tees. i love them. they are nice enough that you can wear them out on a date or with friends, but also still comfortable enough to just chill at home in. i actually love silky clothes & am a sucker for them. but i find that i don't wear them enough because i don't want to ruin them. so when i see beautiful silky clothes, i love on them in the store and then walk away because even if the shirt is $5, if i never wear it, that $5 was wasted. so my go-to items were shirts that i would actually wear and pants that i could pair with anything. i recently bought a new pair of jeans (my $12 pair from wal-mart finally got holes in them after 2 years of wearing them twice a week... see what i mean about saving money on clothes?! you can buy a pair of jeans from wal-mart and wear them TWICE A WEEK for TWO YEARS and they'll last!!!) and i was very, very picky about the pair that i chose. i wanted them to be comfy, but also super cute & ones that i would wear over & over again. 

what kinds of shoes do you have?
i have eight pairs of shoes.
two pairs of boots (one pair go up to my calf and the other pair are longer for the snowy winter time).
one pair of tennis shoes that i wear basically everywhere.
one pair of sperry's for work shoes.
one pair of flats for work + church.
one pair of high heels for church.
two pairs of sandals for the summer time.
i am more picky about my shoes than literally anything else on the planet, i'm pretty sure. i absolutely hate how expensive shoes can be, but i also am not willing to pay over a certain price for shoes. (my price range for shoes is different than most people's because i still fit into kids sized shoes....) and i will not buy shoes that i don't love & that are not comfortable. i will not. i refuse. (ask parker, one time he offered to buy me shoes. we spent three hours walking through like 7 different shoe stores & i didn't buy a single pair of shoes that night....)

what advice would you give to someone who wanted to start a capsule wardrobe?
start small & learn to be picky about what you buy or accept from other people. knowing exactly what i like + want in my closet has made my building my capsule wardrobe 100% easier. sure, there are articles of clothing that i'll look at & think, "wow, that is SO cute! i love that!!!" but i've gotten really good at just thinking that & walking away from the item. it takes time & effort, but it's worth it!

if you're looking to start a capsule wardrobe, DO IT. you won't be sad you did! getting rid of clothes you don't wear is invigorating & liberating! feeling like a rockstar every time you leave the house is the best thing in the world & you deserve it! 

if you have a question i didn't answer, leave a comment below & i'll be sure to answer it! 

Capsule Wardrobe | Capsule Wardrobes how to build a | Capsule Wardrobe work | Sadie Banks Photography

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