If your closet is overflowing or overwhelming (or both!), it might be time to consider a capsule wardrobe. Here's how to minimize your wardrobe to just the essentials, while reducing your daily outfit-planning stress. Our capsule wardrobe planner will start you off on the right foot.

By Jessi Wilson and Hannah Bruneman
Updated March 04, 2019

Have you always aspired to be a night-before outfit planner, but end up choosing clothes during the daily morning madness? The capsule wardrobe is definitely for you. Learn what a capsule wardrobe is and check out our must-haves for making a simplified closet manageable for the everyday woman.

Image courtesy of Getty

What is a Capsule Wardrobe?

Introduced in the 1970s by Susie Faux, a British boutique owner, the capsule wardrobe system focuses on creating multiple outfits from a few well-made, coordinating basics. These essential clothing items can be mixed and matched to create several outfits without sacrificing personal style. This concept is meant to prevent one from shopping for new items and from feeling overwhelmed when deciding what to wear in the mornings—perfect for the outfit-planning procrastinators. You can even have a separate work capsule wardrobe or a summer capsule wardrobe. Everyone’s capsule wardrobe needs will vary based on lifestyle, but here is a suggested list of items to get you started.

Free Capsule Wardrobe Checklist

Button-Down Shirt

A classic collared or button-down shirt is an essential garment that goes with anything, making it one of the most versatile tops you can own. Pair with jeans and a jacket for a casual day or tuck into a skirt on your way to the office. Put this in your travel capsule wardrobe to make plane-to-meeting transitions a breeze.

Mix & match with:

  • Jacket
  • Jeans
  • Skirt
  • Sweater
  • Neutral shoes
  • Handbag
  • Sunglasses

Jacket

A jacket can be paired with any outfit on this list—score! Layering is key when you're working with a capsule wardrobe, so having a few jacket options will maximize the number of outfits you can create. Invest in an athletic jacket, a jean jacket, and a blazer. An athletic jacket and jean jacket are the most casual, while the blazer can be worn to the office with a sundress or for a dressier night out.

Mix & match with: Anything.

Jeans

Jeans are America's casual staple item—they're a must-have. Make sure you have a pair that makes you feel both confident and comfortable. The right pair can fit into your play and work capsule wardrobes. For a casual day, pair jeans with a button-down or a T-shirt and jean jacket, or a sweater for a chillier night. Dress up your jeans with a button-down shirt, blazer, and neutral heels.

Mix & match with:

  • Bodysuit
  • Button-down shirt
  • Blazer jacket
  • Sweater
  • Neutral shoes
  • Handbag
  • Sunglasses

Little Black Dress

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Dresses are so easy and are a comfy choice for any occasion. Having one in your capsule wardrobe should be a top priority. Spice up your little black dress by adding a jacket or blazer depending on the occasion. Try adding a thin belt to accentuate your waist!

Mix & match with:

  • Sweater
  • Jacket
  • Neutral shoes
  • Handbag
  • Sunglasses

Sweater

A cozy, oversized sweater is another essential layering piece for your capsule wardrobe that works well for all seasons. It's more than possible to dress it up with heels and a blouse or dress it down with a skirt or jeans—choose your comfort level. Add your button-down shirt for an underlayer during colder seasons.

Mix & match with: Anything.

Skirt

No clue what to wear? Grab a figure-flattering skirt and throw on any shirt for a simple yet put-together look. A skirt dresses up any outfit while providing comfort and breathability. Pair with a comfy T-shirt or cozy sweater for your day-to-day activities and switch into a blouse or button-down shirt for a professional look. From a casual day of errands to a night on the town, the possibilities are endless with this statement piece.

Mix & match with:

  • Bodysuit
  • Sweater
  • Button-down shirt
  • Jacket
  • Neutral shoes
  • Handbag
  • Sunglasses

Bodysuit

A basic bodysuit makes getting that polished, "tucked-in" look super easy. The best capsule wardrobe essentials flatter any figure and make it simple for you to throw on and head out the door. Pair a bodysuit with any jacket for a colder day and, of course, essential accessories.

Mix & match with:

  • Jacket
  • Sweater
  • Jeans
  • Skirt
  • Neutral shoes
  • Handbag
  • Sunglasses

Handbags

Accessories are where you can add some fun to your capsule wardrobe list. Add a colorful handbag to any outfit to spice up your look. For a more universal bag that will truly go with anything, choose a neutral color. Give yourself a few options here: A shoulder strap bag for day-wear and a neutral clutch for a night out should meet all your purse needs.

Pair it with: Anything.

Sunglasses

Sun or snow, sunglasses can't be forgotten at home. They add function to your capsule wardrobe and make a bold statement. You can never go wrong with a little added flair and UV protection!

Pair it with: Anything.

Neutral Shoes

Comfortable, neutral shoes are key. Start your capsule wardrobe with shoes in neutral colors and classic designs that can go with anything. Choose comfortable flats, sandals, and boots for errands or the office and neutral comfortable heels for your nights out.

Pair it with: Anything.


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