How to Build a Capsule Wardrobe

If you guys have been on this site, Instagram, or the B&B YouTube for like two seconds you know capsule wardrobes are my everything.

I hate waste and I hate trends. I’ve been promoting adopting a capsule wardrobe for years – and you guys have been begging me for information on how to build said wardrobe this entire time.

So I desperately apologize for my delay – but I wanted to be thorough. So let’s be thorough and do this.

What is a capsule wardrobe?

First things first – let’s clarify a capsule wardrobe, both what it is and what it isn’t.

My definition of a “capsule wardrobe” is a wardrobe built on mix and match basics that are timeless, classic, and never trendy. A capsule wardrobe should allow you to make multiple outfits out of single items – promoting versatility and usability. Capsule wardrobes never go out of style.

What capsule wardrobes aren’t:

Cheap or expensive – they’re quality.

Capsule wardrobes don’t have to be designer price expensive – but they also aren’t always “cheap.” Focus on quality pieces first and foremost – pieces that are built to last you for years not weeks or months.

Trendy.

Capsule wardrobes can be modern and relevant (“classic” doesn’t mean stuffy or stodgy) – but they should never be trendy. The purpose of a capsule wardrobe is to have clothing that doesn’t go out of style – if you think an item or a trend won’t be “cool” to wear by next year, don’t buy it.

Or do – but know it for what it is. 🙂

Introducing the B&B capsule wardrobe.

Every time I talk about my capsule wardrobe on the blog or social media, I’m asked two very specific questions…

HOW do I start a capsule wardrobe? WHAT pieces do I need?

Introducing the B&B Capsule Wardrobe page – a new “shop” page here on Blondes & Bagels that will live in perpetuity as a live guide and reference for capsule wardrobe essential pieces. This page is broken down by category – from tops all the way down to shoes. On this page you’ll find the building blocks for how to build your own capsule wardrobe – and I’ll be updating this page frequently and seasonally as I find new pieces of better quality or price. Bookmark it! Check back. You can also now easily access this page in the blog menu bar up at the top by clicking the word “Shop” in the menu.

While the B&B Capsule Wardrobe page will always be there as a handy shopping guide, this blog post will serve as your 5 step roadmap to actually building said wardrobe from the ground up. There’s even a free printable checklist for you – let’s get started.

5 simple steps to building your ultimate capsule wardrobe.

Deep clean your closet.

The first step of building your new capsule wardrobe will be a closet exorcism.

You need to purge your closet of all the clothing that no longer services you and your new, edited wardrobe.

If you’re the person that opens up your closet filled with clothes and constantly feels like you have nothing to wear – this step is crucial for you and you need to get strict. Why don’t you reach for items? Are they too trendy and they’re no longer in style? Maybe they no longer fit? Maybe the quality isn’t good and there’s a hole, tear, or excessive pilling?

If you haven’t worn an item in the last three months – not because it’s not seasonally appropriate, just because you haven’t worn it – toss it in the donate pile.

Bagel babes never throw their clothing in the garbage. Donate all wearable clothing in good shape to your local drop off spots and refer to this handy list for options when your clothes aren’t in shape for donation.

Take inventory.

With your closet now narrowed down, it’s time to take inventory before making any purchases.

You may even come to find you already have the building blocks for a capsule wardrobe and will only need a handful of pieces.

The B&B Capsule Wardrobe page will live in perpetuity and be updated seasonally, but I did make this free checklist for Bagel Babes to download what items you already own and which you have left to purchase. This list is as concise and season-less as possible – you may need to adjust if you live in a particularly warm or cold climate.

Set a budget and set your pace of purchase.

A massive piece of advice: do not rush out to buy all the items you’re missing all at once. Seriously – it can get expensive really quickly!

Keep your checklist handy and scan over all the items you’ll want to add to your capsule wardrobe over time. Prioritize seasonally needed items first (for example, you may need a wool coat sooner than a denim jacket depending on the weather).

It’s also important to assess what your budget is and what items make the most sense to invest in. Opt for quality where possible – the higher quality the item, the longer it will last you, saving you money in the long run.

Outerwear, shoes, and accessories are the three categories I find make the most sense to invest in, especially when it comes to quality and price. These items keep you warm, will get the most use, and need to be able to hold up to frequent wear.

Reorganize your closet seasonally.

Unless you also live in the year round moderate climate that is San Francisco, you’ll likely need a seasonal wardrobe. Bookmark the B&B Capsule Wardrobe page and check back as this page will be live and constantly updating – but I do have a few basic seasonal tips to share.

Don’t overstuff your closet. Only have the current season’s clothing within reach.

A too full closet results in not actually wearing all your clothing. I recommend packing up the items that aren’t in season and putting them in temporary storage. For example. we rarely get hot weather in San Francisco so I store all my sandals and summer weather shoes in a storage bin under our bed. The shoes are always there if I need them – but since I don’t reach for them on a daily basis they aren’t taking up valuable closet space.

Organize your closet by category for easy reference.

I organize my closet by category. All my tees are in one place, sweaters in another, dresses in another, etc. Organizing your closet by category allows you to grab seasonal items quickly when needed – such as that extra layering piece for when the weather is extra chilly.

It’s okay to shop seasonally – but try not to shop trends.

Shopping seasonally is functional – it makes sense. What doesn’t make sense is shopping trendy seasonal items. Ask yourself before purchasing if this item is seasonal or a trend? Seasonal items can be worn for winters and summers to come, while trends will go out of style by next season.

One in, one out.

The quickest way to clutter up your wardrobe again is to shop without evaluating what old item your new item potentially negates. Does buying a new sweater potentially mean you’ll never reach for another, older sweater? It could!

I hold myself to a fairly strict “one in, one out” rule. If I purchase a new item, I need to “declutter” (donate, sell, or recycle) and older item it potentially replaces. I do this in part because we live in a small apartment – space is precious. I also do this because I don’t personally want to own loads of items just to own them. I read a super interesting Daily Stoic passage about what your items are “really costing you” (physical space, mental energy, etc) – it really changed my perspective on having a bunch of items just because I can.

I’m a big fan of do what works for you – I love my “one in, one out” rule. But over time you’ll find ways to manage your capsule wardrobe that you love, even if this rule seems a little to strict for your taste. Do you!

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