Okay, so this isn't a capsule wardrobe tutorial. Don't get me wrong – I'm a huge fan of capsule wardrobes. They make getting dressed so much easier, and they help you create a wardrobe filled with only items you love. But the term alone can make people feel a little stuck – like they won't be able to adhere to a set number of items, or having to create a new capsule each season... or maybe there's just too many different rules floating around on the internet on how to create a capsule. And the last thing we need is to feel stuck. That might already be the problem – we stand in our closets, staring at tons of clothes we thought we loved when we purchased them, but end up wearing the same 5 items... or wearing items that we just don't feel that great in.
"Capsule wardrobe" is a term coined by Susie Faux, the owner of a London boutique called "Wardrobe" in the 1970s. In Faux,'s own words, a capsule wardrobe is "a collection of a few essential items of clothing that don't go out of fashion, such as skirts, trousers, and coats, which can then be augmented with seasonal pieces."
Still not sure sure? Let's simplify this term: a capsule wardrobe is an edited foundation of timeless pieces that you can easily mix and match, and that you just feel good in. As Dacy Gillespie of Mindful Closet says "when you refine your wardrobe down to this 'capsule', you're left with only items you love and actually wear." That means it's not an exact number of items, you don't have to go out and buy new clothes, and your closet doesn't have to look like anyone else's. Yay!
That's good news... especially for my friend and fashion blogger, Tyler of Girl Meets Gold, who had a closet packed with amazing clothes, but loved the idea of creating a capsule wardrobe. Yes, I jumped for joy at the chance to work in her closet surrounded by stacks of vintage Levis and Sezane tops... but I also had a hunch that I wouldn't really be creating a classic "capsule wardrobe" for her – and we definitely wouldn't be reducing her closet to 37 pieces.
After hearing more about what Tyler wanted, based on her lifestyle (her marketing day job and fashion influencer side hustle), what she needed was a closet that only contained items she wore, loved, and made outfit creation simple – for work, for photos, or for a walk with her INSANELY cute dogs. This would include a designated "capsule" area so she could easily pull any top, pant, and shoe that could all be interchanged and go together. She also wanted a section of her closet to be reserved for upcoming posts (so fun!).
Whether you're going for a capsule wardrobe or just a closet makeover, I believe the key to success is to make it work for you – to simplify your morning routine, to make creating outfits you love easier, to take away any closet overwhelm and replace it with ease and enjoyment. And no, you don't have to be a fashion blogger to curate a closet that makes you love getting dressed in the morning... even if it's just because you love standing in your closet :)
Sound good? Here's how I helped Tyler create a closet that works for her, and how you can make one work for you too! Let's do this!
1. Get Clear on Your Style... and Lifestyle
One of the biggest reasons we have so many clothes in our closets that we don't wear is because we're not clear on our personal style. Heck, I'm still finding mine – and that's okay. What's important in this process before you starting editing, is knowing what you feel your best in. It might help to grab a few of your favorite, most worn items in your closet and think about why you love it. It's ok if your answer is "I just love the way I feel in it." Is there a theme?
This process was very simple with Tyler – the girl clearly loves her denim, white blouses and chunky sweaters. It helps that she was fairly clear on her style already. And what about lifestyle? For Tyler, she works in an office by day, and has her fashion blog creative outlet. So denim, blouses and sweaters totally match her lifestyle. For others, maybe your wardrobe needs to have more business-casual attire such as tailored pants, skirts and blazers. Or maybe you're a mom like me and need items that you can crawl around on the ground in, but still feel good in.
2. Take It All Out – Section by Section
Once you've gotten clear on your style meeting your lifestyle, it's time for the big pull. Find a spot in your room where you can review all the items – a bed is my surface of choice (wow, that sounds weird). Start with the tops (blouses and shirts), sweaters, jackets, dresses, pants and skirts. Next move on to athletic/athleisure, sleepwear, swim, underwear, bras, socks. Then bag, accessories, and shoes (saving the best for last, right?)
Section by section (no, do not empty your closet all at once!), you'll begin editing...
3. Start Editing
This is the most important step in creating a wardrobe you love – eliminating what you don't love, don't wear, don't need, or don't feel good in. Hold each item and ask yourself these questions:
Do I wear this?
Will I wear this?
Does it fit?
Would I buy it now?
Could someone else enjoy this more?
Do I love the way I feel in it?
Of course, you don't have to ask yourself all these questions for each item. It sometimes only takes one question, and the most helpful is usually the last one: "do I love the way I feel in it?" Or it's even easier than that, and the item simply doesn't fit or there's a stubborn stain. But if you're stuck, ask yourself more questions. Remember, you want to simplify!
What made the editing process smoother with Tyler is that she is very clear on her style. This is where so many of us (including myself!) get stuck, and why we have so many clothes that we don't wear. We often purchase items on a whim because we like the idea of a certain style, or certain trend, but it ends up not really working for us (Boxy Madewell shirts... I want to love you!). Like I said in Step 1, once you're more clear on your style, editing will be easier, and you'll be less likely to purchase items that will just take up space in your closet.
Which leads me to duplicates. So you know your style – you like white tops and vintage Levis (I wonder who that could be). And you have more than five of each. Do you have to reduce your coveted collection? The answer: It depends. Again, go back to the questions you asked yourself in the editing process and see if you can reduce it down. If after all those questions, you still love them all, they all fit perfectly, are high quality, make you feel good, then sure... keep em. I definitely don't want anyone to go buy another white blouse;)
4. Create an Organized System
Once you've paired down your closet and you're left with only the items you love, it'll be so much easier – and fun – to organize. PAUSE. This is not where I say you need to go and buy a bunch of organizing products. You might even already own more than you need now that you edited your wardrobe down. You'll likely have a pile of unused hangers, empty shoe boxes, and perhaps a few random containers hanging around. So start with what you have.
Recycle the mismatched hangers and try to use all one color. If you're going to make a purchase, get all matching hangers. This will make a big difference in your closet, and be the most budget-friendly.
Create zones for your categories, in areas that make the most sense for retrieval. This means your capsule should be front and center, easy to reach. For Tyler, this meant that her jeans, sweaters and most worn shoes were neatly stacked on the open shelves. We hung her blouses (white first, of course) on the opposite side, with jackets and outerwear below. In the back of the closet, we hung dresses, shirts, formal coats, and special occasion outfits. Athletic wear, socks, underwear, and bras stayed in the dresser. Boots were lined up top in the closet, and the remaining shoes were placed in drop-front shoe boxes, stacked under the dresses. Purses, belts, and accessories were grouped in matching open boxes on the shelves. And last, we created a hanging zone for "outfits to shoot" at the front of the closet to act as a physical reminder of what's next.
To maintain a tidy closet, keeping your most used items easily accessible (which also means easy to put back) is key. Besides selecting smart locations for your items, you don't want to over contain them. Keep containment simple. If you're constantly having to open a box top to retrieve shoes or a sweater, you're going to end up with a lot of shoes on the ground and a pile of unfolded sweaters.
A few of my favorite simple containment products include clear sweater and pant dividers, open boxes to place small purses and accessories in, and "S" hooks to hang larger purses on. If you lack shelves, you can always buy some drop-front sweater boxes to create make-shift shelves and maximize storage.
5. Round Out Your Wardrobe
Now that you know exactly what you have, exactly where it is, and it's only what you need, you may find that you're missing a few essential items that will complete your wardrobe. Okay, to be honest, there were no holes in Tyler's closet (um, yes, dream closet). But for others, that means they need a basic black boot, a beige sandal (thanks for the help, Shira GIll, closet extraordinaire!), or a leather jacket that will go with everything. Whatever it is that will help tie it all together, and fit seamlessly into your newly revived wardrobe and re-established style.
In order to avoid your simplified closet becoming another clothes wasteland, you'll want to make sure that you revisit the questions you addressed about your personal style and lifestyle when making future purchases. And when you go out to shop, stick with your plan and steer clear of the latest trends luring you in. I'm not saying don't buy trends – they are SUPER CUTE – just be sure that they compliment your personal style... and that you feel great wearing them
So how did Tyler do? After just 3.5 hours, we went through every item of her clothing (yes, pinch me), and ended up with 5 extra-large garbage bags full of clothes, and 1 huge box with over 16 pairs of shoes to donate or sell. In the end, we reduced her closet by more than half and left a huge pile of unused hangers. Now when Tyler walks into her closet, she can effortlessly grab any item in her closet and make an outfit she loves and feels great it. Mission accomplished. And yes, total #closetgoals.
Want the details on the products we used?