How to Build a Capsule Wardrobe As A Minimal-ish

Minimal-ish (noun): One who likes the idea of minimalism, and will use it as a guiding principle in acquiring things... but isn't super rigorously committed to it. See also, Minimalittle bit, Mini-malist, Minima-mostly.

You may be a minimal-ish if you:

_____ Love the idea of minimalism, but it's more of a vague guideline that a hard rule in your life. 

_____ You just kind of do need all those shoes. And you DID wear that dress once!

_____ You think maybe the commitment to minimalism might cause more stress than the way you live now. 

_____ You like the idea of needing less and using certain things for multiple purposes. 

_____ High quality is attractive to you, but it's not always your dealbreaker

_____ You think the minimalist look is beautiful and clean, but it's not always your goal to achieve it.

_____ You love the thought of simplifying life! But maybe there's a limit to the simplifying.

_____ You value less stress, but you aren't that interested in a whole new lifestyle.

So. What did you score? (I don't have a score system - you can decide for yourself)

Do you think of yourself as a minimal-ish? Yes? Well then, read on for a simple guide to building a capsule - or complete - wardrobe as a minima-littlebit.

So why build a capsule wardrobe?

A capsule closet is a wardrobe made up of 'essential' items that you can mix and match to make multiple outfits. It could even contain as few as 5 pieces. Minimalism and capsule wardrobes often go hand in hand because they share the same purpose: declutter and simplify.

I consider my wardrobe a capsule wardrobe. I have cleaned out what I never really liked, what is beyond repair and what doesn't fit. I have slowly purchased new pieces that I love to wear weekly (even more than once a week). I think all of my clothes can work in an outfit with each other. My wardrobe is simplified and decluttered.

But - My closet is probably not in the realm of true minimalism (whatever that means). I haven't limited myself on size, but rather I've gotten serious with myself about what 'my style' really is. I have nothing against minimalism - but it's just not really my lifestyle. I love to dabble, but I'm not serious about it. 

You don't need to be ultra committed to living as a minimalist to build a 'capsule wardrobe'. The idea behind creating a minimal-ish capsule wardrobe is to create a wardrobe you love, without first changing your lifestyle around. So, let's begin with you and your style, shall we?

Simplify By Focusing On Your Style

The goal is to build a wardrobe that you love, that is YOU - One that never goes out of style. In order to build a wardrobe that is complete and useful and joy filled, you don't need to be a minimalist. You can be, but you don't need to be. You don't need to change your life around to enjoy ethical fashion - you can just simply start by loving what you have, and then making intentional purchasing decisions moving forward. 

The one takeaway for building a capsule wardrobe is to get clear on what your style really is (download the Closet Inventory Worksheet below to help!).

The clothes you get excited to wear, the clothes that are very you, will likely fall into similar categories. The idea behind building your wardrobe this way is that in focusing on YOU, yourself, your actual self and the person you truly are becoming, your wardrobe will become capsule. I think the minimal-ishs of the world will find the perfect closet for themselves by focusing on their personality. 

The Foundations of a Minimal-ish Capsule Wardrobe

People often make purchasing decisions based on an ideal self. They may see a jacket that reminds them of what they want to be like. We don't make those purchases because we think that the jacket itself will make us that person, solve our problems. We do it because we believe that we will be that person, so we need the jacket to match. While we are always changing and growing, consumerism will tell us the image of 'ideal self' the jacket gives us does not usually come to fruition. Fast fashion will tell us that the jacket is just a jacket, and unless we actually liked it, needed it, used it, it will end up wasted. So to build something you like and need, let's focus on the foundations of a capsule wardrobe.

Practicality - You are looking to keep clothing that works for your life. Can you move in it? Does it restrict you? Do you dread putting it on because you won't be able to bend down wearing it? 

Feeling of the fabric and fit - Does it fit you nicely? Could you take it to a tailor to improve the way it fits you? How does the fabric feel? Does it feel like it will last if you take care of it? Do you feel comfortable wearing it?

The kind of persona you feel when you wear it - Namely, does it scream YOU! Does it feel like something you would wear? Does it make you come alive as yourself!? If someone teased you about wearing it would you become defensive or embarrassed?

Theme throughout my wardrobe - Are there certain colors or fabrics that you see? Do you have a 'vibe' around your wardrobe? How would you describe your core style? Do all of your clothes fit into this theme?


Questions to Ask Yourself 

I created a wardrobe inventory for you - it is downloadable below. You can use this to go through and see a common theme throughout your closet. As you go through, ask yourself these questions to get a deeper understanding of your style.

Can you rip this out of my cold dead hands?
Will I want to replace this if it rips beyond repair?
Is this 'me'? 
Do I get excited to wear this?
When I reach for this, why do I reach for this?
What are some emotions I feel when I wear this?
Would I rather wear this than something else? 
How do I look in this?
How does it feel on my body/skin?
What would I change about this?
What would pair well with this?

Some Ways To Build Your Capsule Wardrobe 

1. Go through the Clothing Inventory list which is downloadable below to get a sense of the completeness of your wardrobe.  

2. Ask yourself the questions in this post as you inventory your wardrobe. Notice what you feel is missing. Make note of items you've wanted and how they pair with your favorite items. 

3. If you don't like something, can you repurpose it? If not put it in the donate pile. This process isn't always about getting rid of items, but sometimes you need to make a clean break with things you're keeping out of some obligation. 

4. Find your core style. What is really YOU? Make a list of adjectives that describe your style. Make a list of items you would never wear. Write a list of styles or descriptions that aren't you. It might sound silly. But actually, in the kind of consumer culture we're in, the better we know our taste and preferences, the less likely we are to buy into false narrative and spend unwisely on clothing. 

5. Make a list of items you are on the hunt for. Make sure these items are in the wheelhouse of your style (the one you've determined is very 'you'). Consider making a commitment to purchase only things that are on this list for clothing. You can always add to the list, but having this list is preventative - like not grocery shopping on an empty stomach. 

6. Don't stress! Building a wardrobe that has a low turnover rate takes some time. I believe if you commit to slowing down and getting to know your personal style better, you will end up purchasing (and keeping!) items that look very 'you'. 



A capsule wardrobe makes life a little easier. Getting dressed becomes more fun. Wearing clothes that feel very 'you' makes the day a little brighter. It is well worth putting a little energy toward building a capsule wardrobe - minimalist or minimal-ish. 

1 comment

Very thankful for this! I went through my clothes this weekend and was very critical on the things I owned. I have so many clothes, but through the advice in this I was about to figure out what I would like for a while, what purpose each piece had, and the comfort and color of things I wasn’t sure on. Thank you!!

Shelby November 19, 2019

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