style - July 27, 2023

The Ultimate Guide: How to Build a Minimalist Capsule Wardrobe

by gemma prior


Mention of a minimalist capsule wardrobe might have you thinking you’d simply have fewer options available when dressing and finding outfit ideas would be even harder.

But actually, it’s the opposite!

With a minimalist capsule wardrobe it's so much easier to see the ideas hanging in your closet, which makes dressing effortless and far more enjoyable!

Do you struggle at times to find an outfit you feel confident wearing? Do you regularly buy pieces that don't get worn? Or do you have loads hanging in your wardrobe but still find it so hard to put an outfit together? 

Then a minimalist capsule wardrobe is for you!

Keep reading to find out how creating your own can transform the way you dress, make styling your outfits - whether for a run to the shops, work, or dinner out - stress-free and thoroughly enjoyable, and help you save money.

What is a Minimalist Capsule Wardrobe

You may have heard of a capsule wardrobe before, so I’ll just give you a short run down.

Within the fashion world a capsule wardrobe refers to a limited collection of interchangeable pieces. Often classic styles that will remain relevant and valuable for years.

The only variation with a minimalist capsule wardrobe is that the majority of pieces included will be characterised by their simplicity, clean lines and a monochromatic palette, even further growing their interchangeability and timelessness.

Benefits of a Minimalist Capsule Wardrobe
Matteau women's breton t-shirt


The key to a minimalist capsule wardrobe is the theme ‘less-is-more’.

I don’t know about you, but for some reason I love decluttering; refining what I have to just those things I enjoy and use time-and-time again. Having tidy, clear space makes me feel more organised and relaxed.

Whether it’s my wardrobe, my living space, or even the fridge (nothing like a veggie soup made with all the leftovers!).

Likewise, having an organised wardrobe, with just the pieces you’ll use on repeat for years to come, makes dressing easier.

Trawling through an overfilled wardrobe seeing pieces that don’t work together, you don’t know what to do with, don't suit your lifestyle, or that you don’t feel confident wearing can take the joy out of dressing.

It can also knock your confidence regarding your style.

Never mind the time that can be consumed trying to create a look out of all the mayhem!

Here are 8 more benefits of a minimalist capsule wardrobe (and trust me, there are more!):

  • Better for the environment. Not a small benefit! If we’re buying less, companies will inevitably need to downsize their production, which means a reduction in things such as material waste, manufacturing chemicals, and fossil fuels.
  • Buying less also means we’re personally contributing to less landfill when our clothes reach their end-of-life. 

  • Much easier to see what you have if your wardrobe isn’t cluttered. Pieces won’t be overlooked or remain unworn.

  • Easier to put outfits together. Having less to choose from makes it much easier to create outfits as you’re not overwhelmed by what you’re looking at. Also, the pieces you have were chosen because they work together and suit your needs and style.

  • Buying fewer pieces means you can afford to buy better quality fashion, so the pieces in your wardrobe have a longer lifespan, again reducing landfill.

  • It’s fun to discover new ways to style the simple pieces you have. Honestly, it is!

  • You can help others afford some quality fashion by donating clothes in good condition that you remove when you're overhauling your wardrobe. 
  • Return a few dollars to your bank account by selling some pieces you don’t need or want.

how to build a minimalist capsule wardrobe

Rylan handbag - the UndoneImage:

Step 1: Empty Your Wardrobe

First things first, get the music playing, brew a coffee or pour a glass of wine to get you in the mood.

The next step is to remove everything from your wardrobe!

I know this sounds like a big task but getting everything out to sort through your collection is the best way to do it.

If it helps, deal with clothes for cold weather separately to those for warm weather. And best to sort them into piles (e.g. dresses, shirts, pants etc.). 

Step 2: Consider Core Pieces

The key to a minimalist capsule wardrobe is having clothes that work together.

When you look into your wardrobe and see a collection of interchangeable pieces you’ll also see ideas for what you can create using them; pieces you can dress up or down, that are wearable regardless of the season and trends.

The way to do this is to first decide what you need as the foundations of your wardrobe. The fundamental pieces around which to build your wardrobe.

I’ve created a minimalist capsule wardrobe checklist to help you when you’re doing this, sharing the core pieces such as jeans, black tailored pant, blazer, white shirt.

If you refer to this checklist while sorting through your wardrobe it will help you decide what to keep and what to let go

Step 3: Bring on the Audit

It’s helpful to start with the easier decisions, the clothes that require little thinking to know whether you’re keeping or removing them. They might be pieces you no longer need, don't enjoy, or don't fit. 

Now that’s done, it’s time to be a little bit ruthless.

Sort through what’s left and ask yourself, ‘When did I last wear this? Does it fit well? Do I enjoy wearing it? Does it suit my lifestyle?’.

All of us have those pieces in our wardrobe that we bought and then never wore or perhaps only wore once or twice. Pieces we were so drawn to but for whatever reason were never useful.

These pieces often don’t suit your lifestyle, don’t pair with other pieces in your wardrobe, or leave you feeling uncomfortable when wearing them. 

We also often hold on to clothes that no longer fit, hoping they will sometime in the future, which is unhealthy for both our minds and our wardrobes.

It can be hard to let them go but if they’re just going to take up space or leave you feeling disappointed you’ll be much better off selling them or giving them away.

And check out my post on how to sell your used clothes online for some tips.

Step 4: Restocking Your Wardrobe

When returning pieces to your wardrobe try organising them into categories, for example keep pants together, dresses together, etc. This makes it much easier to see what you have each time you go to dress.

Step 5: Plan Your Future Buys

Before you buy, consider the pieces you removed from your wardrobe and why.

Was it their style? Colour? Their fit?

It’s helpful to be aware of these reasons to avoid buying more of the same in the future.

Based on what’s in your wardrobe now, it’s easier to see what styles you enjoy wearing and what you wear most often.

Now you can make a list of what you need so when you're shopping you know what you’re looking for and are less likely to make impulse buys.

It can also help to look on Pinterest to gather some outfit ideas, looks you know you’d enjoy and use, both for warm weather and cold. This will help you see what your wardrobe still needs in order to style similar looks.

I also share lots of minimalist outfits on my Instagram account, so make sure you have a look and save for ideas.

And a minimalist capsule wardrobe doesn’t mean you can only have black, white and brown in your wardrobe!

You might consider adding a few pieces that are more on-trend such as a pair of sandals in snakeskin print or a singlet in a seasonal colour to further diversify your wardrobe.

Just be aware that there are trends and then there are trends.

Those that are big and bright that were created to make a loud statement but have a short lifespan and those that are a less pronounced and will remain wearable for many seasons.

Simple ‘trendy’ pieces can add so much. I recently bought a pair of dark brown snakeskin print sandals by
Aeyde, and they’ve added so much to my wardrobe which previously had just plain black, white and beige sandals.

Although these are a ‘trendy’ set, they’re not a flash statement piece and therefore will have a long life in my wardrobe.

And renting clothes and accessories is a great option if you’re looking for a statement piece or something for a special occasion that you might not wear again

Step 6: Donate, Sell, Demote, or Recycle

Now it’s time to relocate the pieces you removed from your wardrobe.

If they’re still in good condition you could either sell them online or donate them to a local non-profit store. 

Another option is to demote them to around-the-house duties.

And recycling clothes is definitely something to consider. Currently, less than 1% of the materials used to make clothes get recycled each year. This means that thousands of tonnes of textiles end up in landfills.

Companies such as
Upparel make it possible for the clothes you would otherwise throw away to be recycled. There is a small fee, but it’s worth it to keep you’re fashion out of landfill.

There are also some brands providing in-store recycling bins such as H&M, Uniqlo and Zara.

Just be aware that fast fashion brands, including those offering this service, are a huge part of the problem when it comes to the damage fashion causes to people and the planet, so it’s still best to avoid buying from them.

Some of them offer small gift cards when you do recycle with them which is clearly a way to encourage you to buy more!

So there you have it!

Honestly, you'll feel so much better once you've organised your wardrobe. 

You'll be able to see exactly what's in your wardrobe. Styling outfits will be so much easier. You'll discover more ideas for styling what you have.  You'll make some money on items you sell. You'll be able to plan future buys. You'll dress in a way that leaves you in a positive place. And you'll have a tidier more organised wardrobe! 

Enjoy and let me know what you think in the comments below.

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Minimalist Capsule Wardrobe Checklist


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