How To Start A Capsule Wardrobe (with Colors & Patterns): 5 Step Visual Guide & Guide Sheet
Learn how to create a capsule wardrobe with colors and patterns using the 5-step visual guide! Step-by-step, you’ll find out the easy way to create a wardrobe you’ll love! Download the Capsule Wardrobe in 5 Steps Guide Sheet below!
I’ve been using the capsule wardrobe concept for about two years now…and, I have saved $1,000’s each year from buying unnecessary clothes! I rely on my capsule wardrobe every season to get dressed quickly, always wear my favorite clothes, have a neat closet, have many outfits ready to wear and save money too.
If you’re not familiar with a “capsule wardrobe”, it is a set number of clothes that can mix and match with one another to create many outfits. Typically, you wear a capsule wardrobe for 3 months, then at the end of those 3 months, you update it for the next season. By having a set number of clothes per season, you limit your shopping, thus saving money! When a piece is worn or doesn’t fit right anymore, then shop for a replacement. You will find capsule wardrobe ideas everywhere on the internet, including here on ClassyYetTrendy.com. I also sell several seasonal capsule wardrobe e-books in my Capsule Wardrobe e-Book Store.
Here’s one of the e-books in my online store:
Do you need a Capsule Wardrobe that is complete & ready to use?
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To start a capsule wardrobe, pull everything out of your closet so that all you see are the walls of your closet. Set everything from your closet aside for now. If you use a clothes rack, take everything off the rack and set it all aside. Without having anything in your closet, you can easily put together your capsule!
Here’s the exact steps to use when creating your capsule wardrobe:
Download the Capsule Wardrobe in 5 Steps Guide Sheet below to help you create your capsule wardrobe! Click on the image to open it. You can save it to your device or print it to use to create your capsule wardrobe.
Step 1: Select “Navy” or “Black” As Your Base Color
First, you’ll need to decide if you want to use navy or black as your base color. If this is your first capsule wardrobe, you may want to choose navy OR black, just one base color. It’s easier to learn the concept if you use just one. You’ll see why it’s easier when we get further in this tutorial. Black and navy are the two most commonly seen colors in capsule wardrobes. Black is an all-around great base color to use because it goes with so many other colors. If you would rather not use black, then navy goes well with several other colors as well. If you don’t like navy or black, you can use a shade of brown as your base instead.
Step 2: Select Your Neutral-color Coordinating Essentials
You might be thinking, “what are neutral-color coordinating essentials”? Let me first explain what “essentials” are. They are tops and bottoms that are solid colors, like black, white, gray, chambray and beige, that are classic pieces that never go out of style. Examples of essentials are a white button-up shirt, gray short sleeve tee, beige sweater, white long sleeve tee, black skirt, etc.
When you select these essentials, make sure they are all neutral colors, like black, white, gray, chambray or beige. Chambray is a type of material that looks like denim but is soft. It comes in light blue, medium blue or dark blue shades. All these colors coordinate well with each other.
Note: When selecting your essentials from the list below and you select any navy or black items, be sure and use the same as your base color you chose above. Navy and black looks awkward when worn together. For example, a navy top with black pants doesn’t coordinate well, but a black top and black pants look great together. A navy top and navy pants also coordinate well.
I chose 5 bottoms: skinny jeans, denim skirt, gray skinny jeans, black ankle pants and black pencil skirt.
I also chose a gray short sleeve tee, gray cardigan, white short sleeve tee,
white button-up shirt, chambray shirt, beige cardigan and black dress.
Things to consider when adding or replacing items in your capsule:
The key to a functional closet is to make sure everything coordinates together. If you are missing any items, know what you need before you go shopping. Try to avoid browsing the sales and give yourself time to think about a new item before you buy it. When I’m considering a new purchase, I ask myself these questions. This helps me stay focused on what will work in my wardrobe and avoid useless spending.
These questions are:
1. Does it go with 3 other items in my capsule?
2. How many outfits can I create with this item?
3. Does it fit with my personal style?
4. Does the fit and fabric work for me?
5. What this work with my lifestyle?
You may like these blog posts:
How To Create a Core Closet
How To Create Outfits With a Core Closet
The 10-Item Wardrobe: Makes 48 Outfits
Choose a few neutral-color coordinating essentials. You may already have a few of these in your closet ! Just substitute the “black” color items below for “navy” if you are using navy as your base color.
(Select 5 or 6 tops, 5 bottoms and 1 or 2 dresses):
white button-up shirt
gray short sleeve tee
white short sleeve tee
black short sleeve tee
gray long sleeve tee
white long sleeve tee
black long sleeve tee
blue skinny jeans
gray skinny jeans
white skinny jeans
blue denim skirt
black ankle pants
gray ankle pants
chambray blue dress
Note: If you want an all-neutral minimalist capsule, then you can resume with Step 5 to choose your shoes and accessories. Otherwise, continue on…
Step 3: Choose Your Accent Color (optional)
Here’s where it gets fun! Is your favorite color blush pink, olive, royal blue or red? Go ahead and add a few tops or bottoms in your favorite color to your closet. Use the Wardrobe Coordinating Color Chart Make sure your accent color coordinates with your base color.
I chose blush and sky blue as my two accent colors:
Step 4: Add A Few Patterned Items & Layers
Now, add 1, 2 or 3 patterned items. They can be tops, bottoms, skirts or dresses. The most popular patterned item that’s even called an “essential” is a horizontal striped tee (see the picture below). This type of top is usually either navy stripe or black stripe. This type of top will go with nearly everything in your wardrobe. Other patterns that coordinate well with other items in your wardrobe is polka dots and floral fabrics. If you choose a floral top or pants, make sure the colors in the top, pants or skirt coordinates with your accent color and your base colors.
striped top | polka dot top (similar) | floral top (similar)
Also, a couple of blazers, jackets and/or coats if the weather-permits. This is a way to add texture and color to your wardrobe!
black blazer | trench coat | utility jacket | denim jacket
I added a black striped top and light blue striped top (similar) as the patterned items.
Step 5: Choose your Shoes and Accessories
Now, that you’ve completed creating the majority of your capsule wardrobe, you can add your shoes and accessories. For the shoes, you can add a pair or two in the same base color, navy or black, add a nude neutral pair of heels or flats, add a casual pair, like sneakers, add boots or sandals. The number of pairs of shoes your choose and the types of shoes depends on your lifestyle.
For accessories, choose one or two handbags. A black or beige handbag is always a great addition to your wardrobe because the colors go well with your outfits. Add a statement necklace or one or two scarves to complete your capsule.
The finished capsule wardrobe!
black crossbody (similar) | cap toe shoes | black heels
leopard flats | blush patterned scarf
Emily & Merritt Wardrobe Rack | Ivory Trellis Rug
CLICK HERE to get your copy today!
Simplified Style®: A Year-Round Core Closet Essentials Capsule Wardrobe
Your capsule wardrobe is complete!
You’ve completed creating a capsule wardrobe. Now, enjoy getting dressed faster, having many outfits to wear, having a neat closet and love what you wear everyday! Do you want clothes and shoes already picked for you, along with 100 outfit ideas, a packing list and more? Click below to go to the Capsule Wardrobe eBook Store for Pre-made Capsule Wardrobes!
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I enjoyed your Fall capsule wardrobe very much, but I would like to make a suggestion that would help busy women like me. Would it be possible for you to format your outfits differently, so that Outfit #1 and Outfit #2 work out to be Day #1 and Day #2 and are not the same outfit with just different accessories? I can only imagine how helpful it would be to print out the outfits and just mindlessly go into my closet and grab Outfit #25 on the 25th of the month and get dressed. Thank you for what you are already doing! I look forward to the Spring capsule!
This is great! Love this idea!
GREAT post, Leanne! Anyone should be able to build a capsule with these guidelines!
I would love to know where the rack came from that your beautiful capsule is hanging on. I need to have one for my bedroom PLEASE and thank you.
Lisa from Indiana
Thank you for the suggestion!
Thank you Mary!
Thank you Saxon!
Thank you for asking Lisa! It is from Pottery Barn Teen. Here is the product link -> http://bit.ly/2luLmQV
Thank you! I have always wanted to do a capsule wardrobe, but didn’t know where to start.
Question: what do you do with all your other clothes? Do you pack them away or hang them in the back of your closet? Also, do you keep around “lounging” clothes?
Ashley, when you create your first capsule, I suggest packing away all your other clothes you won’t use in the capsule, that still fit well and that are in good condition. You can sell or donate the others. “Lounging” clothes are considered weekend wear and you can keep those in a separate area and still can be worn because they aren’t part of your capsule. Thank you!
Great Post! I love the step by step tutorial. All the choices and colors go with my personal style and lifestyle.
I really liked this post. I have always wanted to try this, at least with my work wardrobe and your post explains it so perfectly. Thank you!
Your capsule wardrobe books have completely changed the way I shop, and for the better. I LOVE shopping but found I would shop without a plan and end up with nothing to wear. A classic complaint I’m sure. Anyway, I’ve purchased your seasonal capsule books since last fall and can say that I look forward to what you’ll have each season. Because I’m somewhat of a dork, or perhaps a big dork, I print and laminate the pages and hang it in my closet. But it makes getting ready a breeze. You are 100% correct that going with a capsule wardrobe simplifies and saves a ton of money.
This is really very well done. I have wanted to do a capsule for around 4 years. I have tried stylists and paid $400 for a few Skypes with a few stylists and at the end felt quite deflated as all that transpired was to try on each outfit, take photos and send them in and then we would go over why each outfit didn’t work and that was it: end of story, thank you and goodbye. It was so ridiculous. I have tried having my colours done and been typed differently each and every time, but, this is really what I was after and couldn’t articulate it. I am so glad I never got rid of my black and kept my basics even though I was told to go to chocolates (so hard to find in stores and shoe stores and even bags) and instead my gut ruled and I now have quite a lot to begin with. I have a black knit dress I love, black dress pants, black capris, black jeans, black skinny leg dressy leggings and a good black coat that I just couldn’t part with that I found at a cosignment store and had professionally cleaned and just added new buttons. Add a good collection of black shoes in boots low, boots high, booties, kitten heels, flats, sandals and thongs and I am more than half way there. I feel like singing to have found out that my gut was right all along. This is what I want. Thank you for taking the time to share it and thank God I found it.
One last thing, you have great legs and carry those shorter skirts and heels very well.
I have read many capsule wardrobe posts and this one by far takes the cake. I feel like I can do this easily without feeling like I need new pieces right away. Thank you for making this so much easier!
Thank you for the comment!
Thank you Liz!
Thank you Aime! That’s a great idea to print out the outfit ideas; makes a quick reference to help get dressed more easily and quickly in the mornings!
Thank you Dee! I’m glad you enjoyed the post! My e-Books also provide step-by-step instructions on how to create a capsule wardrobe, but I wanted to put the capsule process all in one easy-to-follow blog post for everyone to reference.
Thank you Brittany! Glad you like the post.
This was the best capsule wardrobe article I have read. You made it so easy to put everything together!!
Thank you Suzanne!
Thank you Leanne – I’m in my 70s, and live in Florida. Originally from The Netherlands, I was so sick of looking like I just stepped out of Bealls like the rest of my neighbors. Your plan has helped me immensely!! I now have isolated the neutral clothing elementsthat I already had, mostly from JJill with a couple of accents – and resurrected my large sunglasses. I love the resulting European look – the best thing was that I didn’t have to go out and spend any money, taking everything out of the closet and putting the items back in one at a time following your plan made it easy to see what worked together. Before, I couldn’t see the wood for the trees!
Glad you liked the post Laurie!
Great post. Clear and easy to grasp. I am short and usually go for monochromatic styles. Never wear a skirt, I substituted capris with the wider leg to modify that look.? I am a horrific packer and travel a lot. Will use the capsule concept when I pack from now on? It will be much easier. Thank you.
LeAnne, thank you so much for this post! I love the concept but sometimes I am not sure how to pick scarves! Solids, prints, ! I also would love to see outfits put together for reference! Thank you from a follower in north Alabama!
Oh my god!! I came to Pinterest trying to find a way to organise my clothes because I feel like I live in a garage sale! This is amazing!!! Just been out and bought a load of stuff!! I know your instructions are to sort the Hingis out of what you have already but I have a million things and they are all random!! Tomoz I am bagging all my clothes and taking them to a charity shop or binning them!
This is amazing!! I don’t have to look like a scrubber that’s got dressed in the dark every day now ????????????
Thank you Lisa! Thank you for discovering Classy Yet Trendy and becoming a reader of my blog!
Hi Leanne! Your post was a game changer for me! You explain the capsule concept só very well… Im having a little dificulty with parting with all my stuff,but sometime I Will Make that Change! My wardrobe os só very full I really neves too!!
Thank you Margarida! I have a capsule wardrobe beginner tip for you: you don’t have to get rid of anything right now. When you create your capsule wardrobe and have hung it all in your closet, store away all your other clothes. At the end of this season when you are preparing for next season’s capsule, go through a few of your clothes and see if there are any you don’t wear anymore. The more you don’t use any item, the more likely you are to not need it anymore.
I would love more suggestions regarding capsule wardrobe for Florida climate. I also never wear leggings or skinny pants, as I am pear shape, heavy thighs!!!!
I agree! I had that same thought, so I did a lot of manual labor to get to that point. I printed out the outfits from screen shots, stacked them in stacks by top, then did a round robin choosing one from each stack in a row until I had exhausted them all. Spoiler alert – there are more white and gray tops than any other so they ended up all together at the end. then I put them in sheet protectors in a 3-ring binder. Now I mindlessly flip the page. Took me about an hour. Good luck!
Have you written anything about capsule wardobing for a tropical climate? I live in South Florida where it is too hot for me to wear jeans and rarely cool enough for layers. My wardrobe is worn year-round. I basically live in shift dresses and sandals, which makes dressing easy, but I’d really like the cohesive ease of a capsule. I’m open to ideas!
That’s a great idea Sarah! I’ll have to consider a tropical capsule wardrobe for the future.
As I am very excited about the Capsules, I wonder whether it is possible to order them from the Netherlands. I don’t have a credit card and the prices are in US dollars.
I hope so!! Thank you in advance!
I can’t wait to get going with this. I have lots of navy and lots of black items and I’m not sure which to start with. (I usually just switch back and forth.) There are items missing in each group.
1) Is it better to just pick one and see how far you can get with it?
2) I’m living in very cold winter now and trying to pack for a week in a tropical place where it’s in the 80s. ( I know, lucky right?)
Do you have a blog or something I can click on for that predicament? It’s really hard to imagine right now.
I need to get it together today. Thanks in advance!
If you are just starting using a capsule wardrobe, I recommend using black as your base color for several seasons. It will allow you to use your clothes in multiple seasons. As you progress further along in using a capsule wardrobe, you can expand your base color to navy and use that base color in the Spring and Summer months if you prefer.
Yes, you can order as long as you use either a Paypal account or use a debit or credit card.
Thank you for this post! Really!
I have one question: for my spring/summer capsule I would love to use more white. For exemple I would like to “replace” the black dress with a white one. Am I, doing so, replacing my base colour (black) with white? Thank you
For the base colors, the popular colors to use are either black or navy, but you can also use any neutral color, including white.
I love this post! It really explains how to start creating a basic capsule! I do have one question. You mentioned “Base Colors” like Black or Navy, but what kinds of pieces In the capsule would this be? Does it matter or it more of an idea of what to keep in mind?
Thanks for your reply. Today I am back in my town (Milan in Italy) to prepare my capsule wardrobe. I will follow your advice 🙂
Years ago, I create a capsule wardrobe in black-white-red for work. I added to it constantly, sometimes going a bit color crazy and adding several other colors. I retired three years ago. At the beginning of this year I realized I didn’t need 90% of the clothes in my closet. I have been packing them up and giving them to charity – it feels so good to have that space in my closet again. While I’m getting rid of so many clothes I no longer need, I started looking for capsule wardrobes that didn’t include dresses, skirts, or slacks. Your ebook for stay at home moms is the only one for strictly casual clothes. I love it! Perfect for me at this time of my life. I had about half of the clothes you suggested and just did the first shopping spree in about ten years. One of the best part of your book – the links to the items! Great book – thanks!
Thank you for your comment! I’m glad to hear that you are enjoying the wardrobe plan in the stay at home mom Capsule Wardrobe eBook!
Hi there, I would like to know if it’s possible to create 2 capsule wardrobes for black AND navy bottoms? I really love both colours… Thank you.
Dee, it is possible to have 2 capsule wardrobes for both black and navy. Instead of having one capsule with one base color of about 25-30 pieces, you could have two capsules with about 12 pieces each.
How perfect the timing is! Found you for the first time today. I have 2 very big things going on now: 1) I am losing weight and plan to continue to loose for the next 3-4 months. 2). I am also letting my natural gray come out with my hair. No more coloring. So I am now going from a ‘warm’ to a ‘cool’. I have been told to stick to the jeweled colors. What are your thoughts?
Glad to hear you found my site! Since you’re in the process of losing weight, I recommend wearing mainly neutral colors right now with 2 or 3 clothes in an accent color. Jeweled colors, like emerald green, ruby red and amethyst purple, look great on women with graying hair.
Hello, thank you for the great guide, it helps a lot for a beginner like myself.
One question, I don’t like chambray, what can be a replacement for it?
Blue Tencel is a good alternative for chambray. It looks the same but is a thinner material and layers well.
Thank you for the replay, I still dislike the color mostly, can I use a different one instead, if my base is black?
Thank you again,
How would you be able to plan for future weather, outings the required day, etc? Since all of the outfits coordinate anyways, wouldn’t it be just as easy to simply pick out a top and a bottom every day and be on your way?
My co-worker just told me about this! She overheard me talking about how I need to go through my closet this weekend and throw out a bunch of things. I cannot wait to try this! Now I have a plan to cleaning my closet and can’t wait to try and find some essentials 🙂 All this information is amazing!!!!! Thank you so much Leanne!
I love how you do capsule wardrobes; but I can’t wear black, and I dislike navy. I would prefer to use chocolate brown but it’s hard to find. Also, I find that many of your gorgeous clients look the same, in terms of clothing.
You could use camel or beige as your base color. So you could just omit black, navy and brown altogether. Use pieces such as a skirt, pants, vest, and a sweater using camel or beige, then build your capsule around those, using white/ivory, gray and a couple of accent colors.
Hi, I’ve read many minimalist and capsule wardrope sites, but your’s is the only one that really inspires me. Well done.
Thank you Muru!
I love how simple you’ve broken this down. I have ventured to the minimalist side and clothing was my last obstacle. I tend to only shop 1-2x/yr but also still found myself impulse buying fast fashion for no reason. I love this concept and is more easy to follow then other minimalist fashion challenges. Your color pallet is what I always seem to revert back to, so I can’t wait to tackle this!
Very helpful, thanks! I do think navy and black look great together, personally. So I would include navy and black together as my base.
How do you organize your closet once you’ve got your capsule wardrobe picked out?
That’s a great question! It depends on your closet layout (small closet, walk-in closet, etc) and which items you want to use to organize it. I recommend you visit Pinterest and use the search term “organize closet” where are lots of ideas (link to Pinterest search: https://www.pinterest.com/search/pins/?q=organize%20closet&rs=typed&term_meta%5B%5D=organize%7Ctyped&term_meta%5B%5D=closet%7Ctyped)!
A tropical capsule wardrobe for work and weekends would be great. Works for Singapore where its hot or hotter all year round…with some rain in between
I love this article, I’ve never thought about the navy or black base- mine is definitely black!
I think this is really helpful, my only suggestion is to include navy as an accent color. Navy and black actually do go really well together, even Yves Saint Laurent put the color combo together at one of his fashion shows. The capsule wardrobe planner step-by-step guide is the best one yet.
This is a very well written article. The visual examples make it easy to use when shopping out or online. Thanks so much!
I have loved everything I read. Last year. I rearranged closet by grouping dresses in one section. Followed by short sleeve tops together,then sleeveless, then long sleeve. It helped a bit. This capsule wardrobe is good idea to try. Thanks Leanne.
Thank you Rita!
When creating a capsule, do you not use any other clothes? It seems like if I did one capsule, then added a second capsule, you’d have even more choices!
If I do basics in many colors, then I can add any color I want, right?
Or am I missing the whole point?
I enjoyed this post. I am 57 and a little bit boho/traditional/casual.
Do you have any styles that I could try without looking too young for my age? I don’t want to look like a grandmother either. I’d really appreciate any help.
I am on a new journey, I am letting go of many of my things. I own wayyy to much and clothing is no acception. A capsule wardrobe is something I have been wanting to try for a long time. This post was very useful for me. Thank you! I especially loved the questions you asked yourself when considering a new item for your wardrobe. So useful!
Glad you liked the capsule wardrobe tutorial! Here is a helpful article also on the Classy Yet Trendy blog for cleaning our your closet and includes a “Detox Your Closet” sheet: https://classyyettrendy.com/how-to-clean-out-your-closet/
Thank you for the free e-book! Following the steps and choosing only coordinating tops and bottoms has been a great way to downsize and eliminate clothes that were just taking up space in my already crammed closet. I will now spend money on a few jewelry pieces or a nice watch and maybe some sunglasses. Thanks again!
This is so cleverly done. I printed out the color chart and i have some work to do.
thanks for the ebook
I Love your capsule wardrobes and its been great. I live in the South where it is very hot, I find that I need at least seven different outfits. I can not wear anything twice without washing and I only wash once a week. I am retired and very active but not ready for beachy grandmother store. I currently use the stay at home capsules and now I bought your core capsule to help supplement. So do I add just a couple of neutral outfits so I have extra selections? I also noticed no capris for spring and fall wardrobes. Thank you
You can add more tops and bottoms in neutral colors in the color palette for additional outfits.