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Beginner’s Guide: Building a Capsule Wardrobe

What is a capsule wardrobe?

A capsule wardrobe is a smaller, curated version of your closet. Have you ever gone into your closet to get ready and said “I have nothing to wear!” I literally do this daily… but yet I have SO many clothes that I get overwhelmed. Most of the time I just revert back to the clean clothes bin and just keep recycling the same shirts. If this is you, you need to capsule! In your capsule, you ONLY include pieces that you absolutely love and feel good in. You need to pick items that can all coordinate and mix and match so that you can make a lot of different outfits using your selected few items.

There are all kinds of rules out there about numbers but I tried to not be too legalistic when putting mine together. I know myself, and I know that if I don’t include certain things I will find myself leaving my capsule and grabbing other things from my closet. So, do what you think will work best for you. The goal is that each season you transition to your next capsule. You will have some pieces in your collection that can be used universally year round and others you might swap out a few items.

NOTE: Your capsule does not have to include lounge-wear or athletic items. Your capsule is for when you want to look cute and want to get ready fast.


  • Try to limit your entire capsule to a maximum of 30 items. This includes shoes and jackets!
  • Find a space in your closet or on a separate rack where you can keep your capsule. You will have a hard time remembering what you put in there if you have different drawers and areas for storing your items.
  • Try to coordinate your colors so that everything can mix-and-match
  • Pick 1 pop of color that you can add into your capsule. 
  • Almost all of my capsule was made with things I already had – but it is totally ok if you decide that you need to go get a few more pieces to use in your capsule. The goal is to find pieces that you love and staple pieces that can transition from capsule to capsule.
  • I did not put my workout or lounge wear in my capsule. I just left that separate.

Where to Begin

Living in Michigan, our weather can be all over the place. One day its 40 and raining and the other day its 75 and sunny so it’s important that you note your weather when deciding what pieces will be in your capsule. You want to choose items that will work with your current weather conditions.

1. Purge your closet

This is an important first step. Make sure you pull everything out of your closet and drawers and try EVERYTHING on. Only keep the items that you feel good in. I suggest making three piles to start.

  • Three piles: donate, maybe, keep
    • I’m sure there are plenty of items that you haven’t worn in forever that don’t fit just right so I would take each item and decide if its a donate, maybeeeeee or a keep item
    • Once you are finished go back through your ‘maybe’ pile and decide if you REALLY need the pieces. I find myself trying to justify why I am keeping certain items that in reality will never be worn. Example: maybe I’ll keep this hot pink shirt in case one day there is a neon day and I need it. PURGE SISTER. You can do it!

2. Purge your shoes

If you are like me, you have WAY to many shoes and you don’t even wear half of them. Use this time to really clean everything out so that you can make room for your new capsule.

Will you judge me if I tell you this is my keep pile?

3. Start selecting your items

I recommend trying to stay around 30-35 items maximum including shoes. I know it seems hard. Try to stick to this guideline:

15-20 tops
5 bottoms
3 jackets, dresses
5-7 pairs of shoes

4. Start building your base: bottoms

Example of what I might add:

  • 2 different washes for denim jeans
  • 1 pair of white jeans
  • 1 pair of green chino pants
  • 2 white pairs of shorts (a jean pair and a dressier pair)

I recommend giving yourself options. If you wear skirts, add a skirt in there as one of your bottoms.

5. Add your base tops

I tried to pick items that were a range of style and casualness so that I would have a lot of options when trying to mix-and-match for different events.

  • Tank tops (casual and nicer)
  • Casual white tee
  • Cuter short sleeve tops
  • Long sleeve tops

6. Start layering

Now that you have your base built you need to add in some items that you can use to layer or switch things up. Ideas for this:

  • Jean jackets
  • Utility jackets
  • Cardigans/sweaters
  • Jumper/romper
  • Dresses

7. Shoes

I recommend giving yourself some different options when it comes to shoes. Make sure you include casual and dressy options so that you can mix-and-match!

That’s it!

The best part about creating capsules is that you can change them out for every season. Here is an example of how it works:

You might pull your white jeans, a casual top, a jean jacket and a pair of wedges OR you can take the same top, pair it with a pair of shorts and throw on your birkenstocks to dress it down a bit. The possibilities are endless!

The whole process only took me about 2 hours and it was worth every second. It makes getting ready a breeze and I don’t have to spend 20 minutes trying to find the perfect outfit anymore. Show me your capsules using #ComeStayAwhileStyle on Instagram!

Come Stay Awhile by Amanda Vernaci | Modern Farmhouse DIY + Home Renovation