Experiment: Building a Capsule Wardrobe

The other day, I had a dentist appointment and most of my favorite clothing was in the laundry or at the dry cleaners. I had a moment of panic, not sure what to wear. I can’t really remember what I ended up wearing that day, but I do remember thinking it was ridiculous that I had plenty of clothing and yet I was still freaking out about having nothing to wear.

That experience and the general desire to pare down and have fewer things, plus the fact that I recently wrote about it for O.info, Overstock’s information wiki (I’ll put the link up when it goes live), made me want to try putting together a capsule wardrobe.

On the face of it, a capsule wardrobe sounds kinda of intimidating, especially if you like fashion/shopping/clothes. “You want me to wear just X pieces of clothing? What?”

The truth of the matter is, there are different types of capsule wardrobes and different “levels,” if you will, of it. For example, if you were to follow the rules of Project 333, you could only  have 33 items, including shoes and accessories, for an entire 3-month season.

But, if you follow the advice over at Un-Fancy, you can have 37 (give or take) pieces, and an unlimited number of accessories. Your workout clothes and work around the house clothing don’t count towards your 37 item limit. PJs, undies and hosiery also don’t count.

I’m doing a version of the Un-Fancy capsule wardrobe, except here’s the thing: I’m not really counting shoes towards my limit. My thinking here is that I don’t really wear  shoes like normal people do (I work from home and spend most of the day barefoot or in stocking feet, even though I’m in business casual clothing). So, coats, blazers, skirts, tops and sweaters all count, but not shoes. Maybe when I get better at it, I’ll include them. But not for now.

Lots of Tears Later…


I decided to try a capsule for Fall, or for the months of September, October and November. The process of picking what clothes to include in the capsule and which to either donate or keep for the next season was tough. The first time I tried it, I actually gave up and figured a capsule wardrobe wasn’t for me.

Today, I picked up  a bunch of clothing from the dry cleaners and decided it was probably easier to put together a capsule now that everything I owned was at home. Plus, I decided not to count shoes and also to leave out my band T-shirts, since I don’t wear those that much and they are more sentimental items than wardrobe items (I’m a beginner,  I’m taking this one step a time, people). Also, reminding myself that just because I wasn’t going to wear something in fall doesn’t mean that I won’t wear in it winter, spring or summer, really  helped. I had to keep reminding myself that I naturally don’t wear lightweight sleeveless tops when it’s cold out or wool skirts in the middle of summer.

I settled on this:

  • 5 skirts
  • 1 pair of jeans
  • 5 blazers/coats
  • 4 dresses
  • 15 shirts/blouses
  • 11 sweaters/knits/T’s


As you can see, I stick with a “business casual” look all the time. I rarely wear jeans, so figured one pair would be fine for fall when it’s not that cold yet. I think 41 pieces (+shoes) will be enough to see me through November, but we’ll see. It looks really sparse. But, with the exception of the telephone print pencil skirt, all of the tops work with all of the skirts (or jeans), so there’s plenty of opportunity for mixing and matching.

My main questions are the following:

  • Am I going to get bored?
  • Will I run out of combinations quickly or will I get lazy and have to do laundry/ironing more often?

Let’s also look at the positives. Sticking to a capsule for a season will make me more excited about the things I do own. For example, I was upset about taking my silk clock print and silk zebra print blouses out of the fall capsule, until I pointed out (to myself) that the two blouses are great for wearing in the winter and that I’ll probably be pretty  happy about wearing them when it’s January and 30 degrees and sad outside.

Going with a capsule will also help me spend less on clothing. Let’s face it, I spend way too much on clothes. I tallied up the amount so far this year and it was not a good amount. Even though I ostensibly have a “budget,” I’m terrible at sticking to it. But, if I’m limited to 41 items plus shoes for the season, I’m not going to be like, ooh, look at that pretty thing, let’s buy it.

I’m excited to kick off the capsule, on September 1. I’ll check in regularly and post outfits to show how I’m making it work.

3 thoughts on “Experiment: Building a Capsule Wardrobe”

  1. Hi! I just started capsule wardrobing in the middle of summer. After I pulled out anything that didn’t fit and things that were better in style, color, weight for Winter, there really wasn’t a lot left. The closet was much roomier, clothes easier to find and coordinate, and easier to see what additions were needed. I didn’t even get those items, and have come through the summer without them. Up here in northern Wisconsin, summer is over by September, winter lasts longer, so I’ve adjusted my seasons. I added a month to Winter and subtracted one month from Summer. Since I sew, I plan to fill in my gaps with items I will make, but I have a long winter to sew them. I mostly hang out at home (retired), but need dressier clothing for church, meetings, dinners out, etc. my capsule is therefore sort of a dual one. Jeans, tees, sweatshirts for around home, mostly. Like you I didn’t count shoes–aren’t they “accessories”?I thought so! Besides, I couldn’t bear to part with any of them, but I don’t plan to add many– maybe just some boots? Life here is casual, so good dark jeans are considered dressy enough for a lot of activities–toss on colorful tops, cute boots, accessorize with scarves, chunky “jewelry” and you’re good to go for lunch with the gals, shopping, club meetings, and so forth.
    Are you sewing for your capsule, and if so, what are you making? I have a couple long sleeved blouses for Winter, and a dark red wrap dress in the “to sew” stash at the moment.
    p.s. Please subscribe me to your blog. I was unable to see how to do that.

    • Hi Pat,
      Thank you for your comment! I am plan on sewing items for my capsule, but since I mostly make dresses and shirts, I will save those items for a warmer season. I currently have one knit dress and a poplin blouse on my “to sew” list.

      I double checked my subscriber list, and I think you should be all set!


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