Everything You Need to Build a Minimalist Capsule Wardrobe

Anna LaPlaca

We’ll be the first to admit that, yes, composing an outfit that’s both comfortable, seasonally appropriate, occasion specific, and in line with trends of the moment takes a concerted amount of time and mental effort. And to do it every single day? That can be exhausting. Enter the capsule wardrobe. Experts like Marie Kondo have found ways to apply the minimalist lifestyle to our closets, too.

You’ve likely heard it before: This wardrobe-focused tidying technique can do wonders for your closet. It’s by no means a novel concept, but the benefits that go along with embracing a “less is more” mentality actually extend far beyond simply saving valuable real estate in your closet. According to psychologist Barry Schwartz, giving yourself fewer options to choose from when getting dressed has a direct connection on your overall happiness. With that in mind, we set out to discover exactly how we can try out a minimalist capsule wardrobe for ourselves.

According to Clutter Healing founder Lili Pettit, you don’t have to dramatically gut your entire closet in order to achieve sartorial simplicity. With her 10x10 method—keeping just 10 pieces in rotation for 10 days at a time—it’s never been easier to try out the minimalist capsule wardrobe. See our Q&A with her below.

What are the benefits of building a minimalist capsule wardrobe?

One of the benefits of building a capsule wardrobe is definitely less clutter. A capsule wardrobe also allows for an easier to organize a closet. In return, you can focus on the things that are important to you, like spending time with friends and family, instead of spending more time and energy on laundry, picking your clothing around the house, and figuring out how to organize your shopping sprees.

How many pieces are necessary?

There are different versions of a capsule wardrobe, however, I try to stick to the 10x10 concept, where you use 10 pieces of clothing (accessories not included) to create 10 looks within a 10-day time block. The key is to stick to a neutral palette with staple items like a good pair of jeans, a white tee, a lightweight sweater, etc. so that you can style them in different ways. I throw in a little color with a great scarf or a red lip.

What should you consider before building one?

Always consider where you live! If you live in Los Angeles like I do, I can get away with a thick cardigan as my warmest layer. If you live on the East Coast, where it's still snowing, you should stick to your trusty black coat. Also consider a little heart-to-heart with yourself before you build. Ask yourself: What do you actually wear? If you're not a jean kind of girl and are always throwing on leggings, stick to your natural instincts not what you think you "should" wear. Lastly, make sure you're comfortable.

What should you rid your closet of?

There's a saying that if you haven't touched it in three months, you're probably never going to wear it. Many impulse purchases end up not getting worn, so if you can't return it, donate it! You should also get rid of items that don't serve a purpose for you anymore—clothes that don't fit, your ex-partner's clothes, damaged items, your prom dress, etc.

How long can you get by on a capsule wardrobe?

If you follow the 10x10 challenge, it can easily last you for at least a month because you are changing to a new set of clothing every 10 days. Although, if you stick to items that you love, like a perfect pair of jeans or your go-to tee, a capsule wardrobe will come naturally, and you will end up needing less and less to feel great every day.

Which pieces are necessary for building one?

Everyone is different in what they prefer to wear, but for me, my Wedgie Levi's, a lightweight vintage layering sweater that I purchased for $2 four years ago, black Everlane loafers, and a good trench coat are always in my rotation.

What would you tell someone who wants to build a minimalist capsule wardrobe for themselves?

Remember to be comfortable not only in what you are wearing but in how you feel when you have on your 10 capsule items. You'll set yourself up for failure if you don't love every item that you have selected. Stick to a neutral color palette and items that can be interchangeable, such as a basic black midi dress. You can wear a dress with sneakers and a denim jacket for a casual weekend look or dress it up with heels, large statement earrings, and a clutch for date night. Everything should be versatile and make you feel comfortable and confident inside and out.

Now, shop 10 essentials to get you started on your own minimalist capsule wardrobe:

The capsule wardrobe can be so effective for saving closet space and serious spending money. But can it also help increase your overall happiness? One editor investigates.

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