How To Build A Sustainable Capsule Wardrobe Easily – Meaning, Essentials, And Benefits


3W’s of Capsule Wardrobe

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What Is Capsule Wardrobe

A capsule wardrobe is a set of garments and pieces of clothing that are mixed and put together to maximize the number of outfits available within your closet.

“A collection of few essential items of clothing that do not go out of fashion, which can then be augumented with seasonal pieces”

Susie Faux, Founder of Wardrobe Boutique, London – 1970

The aforementioned quote highlights the meaning of capsule wardrobe in a simple way. You may take a few basic parts of your wardrobe that can be paired to match the current trends. This helps to reuse your existing wardrobe in many different ways and build a sustainable closet.

Related Article: Reuse, Restyle, Rewear – Know What Is Sustainable Fashion

Wardrobe Essentials

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Here are the basic wardrobe essentials that must grace your closet:

  • T-shirts
  • Shirts
  • Skirts
  • Dresses/ One-pieces
  • Trousers
  • Jeans
  • Denim Jackets
  • Trench Coats or Overcoats

Wardrobe Woes

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This section highlights why do we need a capsule wardrobe. It is often the case that when you open the closet, you find it full of different types of clothing but yet fail to decide what to wear.

You may feel like you have already worn a particular piece of clothing or that people have already noticed it. You may also be unable to style two different outfits or lack the styling knowledge altogether.

Often times a disorganized closet full of clothes may confuse you even more. Hence, to escape this dilemma of styling, a capsule wardrobe plays an essential role.

Environmental Reasons To Choose Capsule Closet

Fast Fashion and the mass production, as well as consumption of clothes, has become a serious threat to the environment. From the production of cotton to the final delivery of the product, textiles consume large amounts of water and energy resulting in hazardous carbon emissions.

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According to a study, fast fashion produces more carbon emissions than driving a car around the world six times. This is equivalent to 10% of annual global carbon emissions.

Along with this, WRAP (The Waste and Resources Action Programme), an estimated £140m worth of clothing is sent to landfill each year.

Therefore, as part of the sustainable fashion trend, the need to reduce the over-production of garments and recycling wardrobes is a significant environmental cause.

Capsule closet helps us achieve sustainable wardrobes and prevents wastage of garments. Here are ways in which you can contribute to recycling your clothing and save it from going to landfills:

  1. Repair damaged clothes instead of replacing damaged clothes.
  2. Exchange clothes with your family and friends.
  3. If new clothes are required, check second hand shops such as charity shops.
  4. If you do have to buy brand new clothes, go for sustainable material.

Cluttered Closet Cycle

The cluttered closet cycle is the initial phase of confusion you face while choosing an outfit. Let us understand it in detail:

  • Staring into a closet full of clothes.
  • Too much to choose from (Analysis Paralysis).
  • Failure to identity or decide a final outfit (I don’t know what to wear).
  • Compulsion to buy new clothes (I have to buy new clothes).

According to statistics, we wear 20% of our wardrobe, a staggering 80% of the time. Since we keep donning garments that are more comfortable, we tend to ignore the rest of our clothes lying in the closet.

This triggers the cluttered closet cycle and leads to impulsive buying habits. Hence, building a capsule wardrobe is a great way to start paring down your closet.

Related Article: Decoding Design: A Simple Guide For The Process Of Designing

Benefits of Capsule Wardrobe

1. Get Dressed Quickly

The presence of minimal clothes and an organized closet help you get dressed faster than before. Since every piece of garment is visible, it brings clarity to the decision-making of an appropriate outfit.

2. Wear Everything You Own

Lack of confusion and a tidy set of clothes will compel you to wear everything you own. This will also prevent you from ending up ignoring your remaining closet.

3. Feel Confident In Carrying Any Outfit

Since all the garments available in your capsule closet work for you harmoniously on every occasion, you will feel confident while carrying them.

4. Save Money As You Won’t Impulse Buy

When you have planned a capsule wardrobe you know exactly what you need and what you don’t. This helps you in preventing impulse buying and saves a lot of money in the process.

5. Your Closet Will Be Neat

The absence of clutter, excessive clothing items, and prevention of disorganization will keep your closet neat and tidy. This will also instill a sense of confidence and discipline.

6. Fewer Items, But More Outfits

Since there isn’t a huge bulk of clothing lying around in your closet, it becomes far easier to think creatively and come up with new pair of outfits. Fewer clothing items ensure more room for you to look, plan and stylize countless outfit combinations.

Related Article: Understanding Enclothed Cognition – The Psychology of Fashion

How To Build A Capsule Wardrobe

Let us understand how to create a capsule closet from scratch:

1. Lifestyle Chart

Make a note of how you spend a week:

  • Write down all the segments you might need to take into consideration. This include all activities that you do throughtout the day including office, work, meetings, tasks, leisure, etc.
  • Also note the time you spend in each section.

Example of a Lifestyle Chart:

  • Working hours: Ten hours and five days, that comes to 50 hours. The dressing is professional & smart casuals.
  • Dressy Casuals would be eight hours for weekends.
  • Athletic is for fitness or gym that is three hours.
  • The rest of the hours would be at level six.

2. Sort Your Closet

Sorting your closet is the next step in creating your capsule wardrobe. Here you will create three separate piles of clothing, each with a definitive purpose. Following are three ways you can sort your closet:

a. Discard Pile

These will be clothes which don’t fit you or you don’t wear them at all. It will also include garments you are not sure of yet.

b. Seasonal Outfits
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This pile includes your seasonal wear such as your winter clothes, summer clothes, etc.

c. Outfits You Love

The final pile will include the outfits that you love and are most comfortable wearing.

Keeping aside the discard pile and the seasonal outfits, now you have created different modules out of the outfits you like wearing the most.

Related Article: Nature’s Law of Designing – Understanding Olericulture and Elements of Design

3. How To Create Modules

a. The 123 Rule of Basic Module

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The 123 rule of the basic module includes one outer layer like a jacket or coat. Two bottoms may include pants, jeans, or skirts. You could have three top-wear garments.

The total number of outfits you will be able to create with the 123 rule is 12 outfits. The idea here is to pair each of the sections or a set of clothing to create outfits you find suitable. You may even add one element either in the outer layers, the bottoms, or the top-wear.

Start with the basics first. Look at what you already have and start creating modules.

b. Use Color Schemes

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Another way to create modules is to choose a color theme and stick to the palette. This will help you bring consistency and balance to the overall aesthetic of your outfit.

You can segregate clothing in neutral colors such as white, denim, and black. Main colors such as caramel and kale make great bottom wear. Accent colors for eg. terracotta and goldenrod also play a vital role in balancing your look.

c. How To Choose The Right Topwear

  • Consider including variety of styles.
  • Printed blouses are the easiest to coordinate with.
  • Choose comfortable breathable fabrics.
  • Add a few outfits of viscose or silk.

d. How To Choose The Right Bottomwear

  • Include skirts and pants pieces for bottoms.
  • Add more pants or shorts if you prefer not to wear skirts.
  • Pick what you enjoy and are comfortable in.
  • Include enought workout wear/ activewear bottoms.

e. How To Add Layers

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  • Layering can be a fun and easy way to make your wardrobe pop!
  • Include cardigans in different cuts, blazers, vests, jackets, and coats.
  • Layers work best in neutral colors.
  • Include a statement piece.
  • Denim and leather are excellent choices for jackets.
  • Consider quality as your motivation to buy.

It is advisable to click pictures of your combined outfits to remember the next time you are getting ready. This will save your time and help you get dressed at a much faster pace.

Related Article: How To Become An Image Consultant Successfully In 5 Easy Steps

Tips To Make Your Capsule Wardrobe Work

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1. Invest In Neutrals

Neutrals will be the most important part of your capsule wardrobe. You must choose neutrals that compliment some of the prints and other colors you like to wear.

2. Choosing Colors And Prints

You have to choose the colors you like to wear the most. Contrast colors always go along with the neutrals and hence are the right choice. This will enhance your overall look if you pick prints that are timeless and pair nicely with neutral pieces.

While choosing prints, go for the patterns you gravitate towards the most. These may include stripes, checks, polka dots, floral, etc. Also, while choosing colors do take note of what goes well with your skin tone and hair color.

3. Best Ways To Add Colors

Create a module around a printed or patterned piece. Later, build up a color palette alongside the prints and patterns. By implementing this, your clothing will be interchangeable as well as interesting.

4. Consider Your Style Personality

A capsule should work irrespective of your style personality. Knowing your right personality style will make it easier to pick outfits. This will help you to dress up with confidence.

5. Consider Your Body Shape

Choose clothing that brings out the best of your body shapes. All body shapes are beautiful. It is the right outfit that enhances the shape of your body whether it is a rectangle, triangle, or hourglass body shape.

6. Go For High Quality Fabrics

As mentioned earlier, high-quality fabrics and garments last longer and hence turn out to be more sustainable than low-quality ones. These will not only help you save money in the long term but also serve the purpose of building a capsule wardrobe.

7. Include Dresses In Your Outfits

Dresses are easy to layer as well as wear along with the accessories. This brings more variety to your look while creating different outfits out of the same dress.

8. Create An Expanded Capsule

You need a couple of modules in order to achieve a cohesive capsule wardrobe for yourself that’s functional and easy to get ready in the morning.

9. Don’t Underestimate Accessories

Accessories not only enhance your look but also provide additional elements to pair and expand your closet. These include shoes, jewelry, glasses & sunglasses, belts, caps & hats, watches, scarves, and handbags. For men, additional accessories such as suspenders & belts, ties & bow ties, and pocket squares are a huge upgrade.

10. Create Endless Outfits

Mix and match to decide which pieces to put together. You can also organize your closet by color and style. After creating your outfits, click pictures to save the look and use it again later.

There you go! A complete guide for building a capsule wardrobe. If you wish to know more, watch our exclusive webinar about the same with the link below:


  • Oshin Halder

    Oshin is an Internationally Certified Image Consultant from the Indian School Of Image Management (ISIM), Mumbai | Class of March 2018 | She is the founder and principal Image Consultant at Image By Oshin. She works as a celebrity fashion stylist, as a Wardrobe Consultant, and a Personal Shopper. She has styled celebrities like Shruti Bugde, Sanjana Sanghi, Tara Sutaria, Sapna Pabbi, and many more.

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