How to Create a Simplistic Capsule Wardrobe You’ll Love

May 25, 2017

I shared my capsule travel wardrobe a couple weeks ago, but I wanted to dive a little deeper and explain how I prepared, why I chose the items I did, my ideas for keeping things fresh, and how you can create a capsule wardrobe with twenty pieces (accessories included) that has everything you’ll need and want to wear!

1. Get a grasp on the weather. Of course, it’s important to determine what climate you’re going to be living in/traveling to. This summer we are traveling through Europe so we knew it would generally be warm, but we wanted to be prepared for rainy, cooler days as well and my wardrobe heavily reflects this. We will be spending most of the fall in Phoenix which is a warmer climate as well, and then heading to additional warm weather places after the first of the year so summer clothing was our best bet. This won’t be the case for everyone, but I think that having seasonal capsule wardrobes is the way to go!

2. Determine what your laundry system will be like. This will play a huge part in how many items you need to have. If you’re able to do laundry even just once or twice a week I really think you can be super strategic and narrow your wardrobe down drastically. We knew our place had a washer, but I didn’t think too much about having to let things air dry and only having denim bottoms. I just picked up another couple pairs of pants so that I can wear one while I wash and dry the other. Sometimes it’s little things like this you don’t realize until you’re in the moment. Planning ahead is super helpful!

3. Be practical about what your average day looks like. As hard as it might be to narrow your wardrobe down and part ways with all the pretty blouses, heels and dresses, think about what you actually wear. I knew I’d want to have a few nicer pieces so I was sure to include them, but it’s the basic staples that are getting the most play. T-shirts, jeans and chucks are where it’s at when you’re on the move with a toddler!

4. Find your style. This seems silly to say, but I used to be a serial bargain shopper and ended up with a closet full of items I never wore and didn’t like. Before putting my capsule wardrobe together I went back to my Pinterest boards for inspiration and then was really realistic about what I would actually wear and feel comfortable in. When you’re narrowing down your wardrobe this much it’s crucial that you be really honest with yourself and try not to buy into trendy styles you know you won’t like a month from now. There are even a couple tops I initially bought that I’m not in love with the fit on and I’ve already swapped them out.

5. Determine your must haves. Creating a capsule wardrobe can be intimidating so starting with your absolute essentials is the way to go. I’m not talking about your favorite items in your closet necessarily, I’m thinking even more basic than that. Do you need jeans? Will you want running shoes? Make a list of the items you can’t live without and go from there.

6. Decide how many weeks worth of outfits you want. Since we strictly travelled with carryon luggage I decided a little over one week worth of clothing would be best. Not only would it fit in our suitcase, but since we’re staying in places that generally speaking have washing machines we figured that was a manageable amount where we could do a load of laundry every few days and keep up with it all, and so far it has been perfect!

7. Allow yourself a little room to add on as you go. When you do a closet cleanse and get rid of nearly everything you own it’s easy to get a little too strict on yourself. Like I mentioned earlier, I have already noticed that one pair of pants was not conducive for me, and that some of my items aren’t the perfect fit (like the gingham off the shoulder top photographed above) so I’m giving myself the flexibility to add as I go.

8. Add in accessories. I’ve never been huge into accessories, I don’t have much jewelry and I’m pretty basic when it comes to overall style, but I bought a couple bandanna/scarves and they’ve really helped switch up outfits here. Accessories typically don’t take up a ton of space and can completely transform an outfit so it’s super helpful for the times you’re feeling like you’re over what’s in your very small closet.

9. Quality over quantity. Because I got rid of EVERYTHING, I mean everything in my closet, I was left with some money to buy the items I actually wanted for my capsule wardrobe. This is something I highly recommend if you’re thinking of doing something like this and it’s financially feasible. I would rather have one dress I love rather than five I just kind of like. Since I sold so much I actually made money even after I purchased my entire capsule wardrobe so it’s possible to do this affordably for sure!

10. Pick versatile pieces.
Since my entire wardrobe currently consists of 20 items + accessories it’s important that everything can pretty much go together. By having 4 bottoms (shorts, jeans and black jeans), 10 tops, 1 jumper, and 1 dress I have worked out 46 different outfits without adding in accessories! To view my full capsule travel wardrobe visit my Pinterest board here.

Leave a Comment

  • Wow, I’m so impressed you’re managing this with a carry-on!

    • Awh, thanks girl! It almost felt easier to get rid of nearly everything than it would have been to get rid of half or something. Not sure if that makes sense. πŸ™‚ It’s freeing for sure!

  • hi, im travelling Europe early next year with my cousin and want to keep it cheap since we will only be 18. the idea of having only carry on sounds perfect and we Aint big on picking up any reminders other than photos and magnets. any tips on travelling cheap around Europe for a month.

    • Hey there Teagan,

      Thanks so much for reading! Carrying on will be super helpful. How long are you wanting to stay in each city? If you’re not planning on staying long then I would absolutely go the hostel route. If you plan to stay in one city for a month then I’d highly recommend subletting/long term Airbnb. That’s been the way to go for us. There are plenty of benefits to doing Airbnb, but if you’re on a budget this allows you to cook at home and so on which is a huge money saver! Here for any questions you might have along the way. Enjoy your travels! πŸ™‚

  • First of all, your style is killin’ it, girl! I’m in love with basically everything you wear! Secondly, I’m wondering what other tips you may have for someone who wants a capsule-like wardrobe, but is currently residing in a place that has four seasons ranging from uber-cold to blazingly hot. I’ve minimized a lot of my clothing after moving in with my fiancΓ©, but still feel like it’s tough to downsize when I know fall and winter will be knocking at our door before we know it.

    • You’re so sweet Riley! Thank you for saying that. My best suggestion would be to have two capsule wardrobes (cold and warm weather) or one big one (there are certain pieces like jeans & tennis shoes that can be used all year round). Give yourself some flexibility because you will need it with such vast changes in temperature! I’ve also always enjoyed packing away what I don’t need at the moment – helps things feel even more minimal! Thanks so much for reading πŸ™‚

  • Hey Hailey! Been following and reading along. Thanks for always sharing great content. Where/how did you sell your clothes?

    • Hi Krystin! πŸ™‚ Prior to leaving NYC? Here’s a post I wrote about selling all of our belongings. Where I made the most money was definitely ebay! It helped that I had so many photos of items from the blog too πŸ™‚ As far as switching items out on our travels, I have just been donating pieces since it’s not a ton of stuff!

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