Why You Only Need 37 Items in Your Closet: Everything to Know About Creating a Capsule Wardrobe

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Raise your hand if you’ve ever stood in front of your closet tearing through your clothes trying to find something to wear only to come up empty handed. We like to call it dresser’s block (like writer’s block, but for dressing yourself), and trust us, we’ve all been there. But what if we told you that there’s a solution that can end wardrobe frustration once and for all? Allow us to introduce you to the art of the capsule wardrobe, the minimalist fashion approach that will make your life so much easier.

Now, taking a minimalist approach to fashion is nothing new. But having spent countless months indoors has made us re-evaluate what we actually need versus what we don’t, and nothing is more applicable to this than our closets. Whereas pre-pandemic, we were constantly looking for new looks for work and special occasions, we've since stepped away from consuming too much fast fashion, especially as our awareness around sustainability grows. This is where capsule wardrobes come in.

Curious? Scroll down to see some of our tips on how to get started, plus what a capsule wardrobe looks like IRL, so you can start simplifying your closet and never have to say “I have nothing to wear” ever again.


What Is A Capsule Wardrobe?

The process of creating a capsule wardrobe is like doing a detox of your closet, with the end goal being time saved getting ready every day, while also saving money. A capsule wardrobe consists of a set number of pieces that can easily be mixed and matched with one another, so theoretically, you could reach into your closet blindfolded, pick different items out and they’re guaranteed to match regardless of what you’ve selected. Beyond this, having a capsule wardrobe provides some structure to your shopping habits because it deters you from picking up impulse buys that won't fit into your aesthetic (and will end up unworn in the back of your closet).

How Many Pieces Are In A Capsule Wardrobe?

A capsule wardrobe typically consists of 37 different clothing items (although it can be more or less): some dresses, shoes, tops, bottoms and outerwear. As the seasons change, so should your capsule wardrobe. For example, during cold winter months, you’re going to have more sweaters and coats in the mix, whereas in the summer, you'll swap in more flowy sundresses, shorts and tank tops. However, if you’re not sure how many you should have for each category, aim for about five pairs of shoes, three pieces of outerwear, two dresses, nine bottoms and 18 tops.

How Do I Create A Capsule Wardrobe?

Step one is pretty obvious: Clean out your closet. And by clean it out we mean literally take every single piece of clothing and lay ‘em out so you can see everything better. Slowly but surely, make your way through each piece, keeping what you want and donating (or discarding, depending on the condition) what you don’t. (Hint: If you can’t remember the last time you wore something, toss it.) Take note of the pieces you truly love—or as Marie Kondo would say, the pieces that "spark the most joy." Is there a consistent aesthetic with them. From here, start to curate different pieces that fit within your newfound aesthetic, making sure everything you select has the same vibe and overall style.

37 Capsule Wardrobe Pieces To Shop

a day tee shirt
A Day

1. white T-shirt

Worn with jeans, trousers, flowy skirts or denim shorts, a white T-shirt will never let you down.

Product we love: A Day Made It T-Shirt ($90)

capsule wardrobe update tank
Abercrombie & Fitch

2. white Tank

For when it’s too hot to wear your white tee, of course.

Product we love: Abercrombie & Fitch Essential Scuba Tank ($25)

capsule wardrobe update high neck tank

3. mockneck Tank

Not only is this cut super-flattering, it’s also a fabulous layering piece when you don’t want to add too much bulk.

Product we love: Maeve Mock Neck Tank ($34)

capsule wardrobe madewell

4. crop Top

It doesn’t have to show your entire midriff: Paired with a high-waist silhouette, a crop top can be totally elegant.

Product we love: Madewell Birchmoor Sweater Tank ($59)

capsule wardrobe update flowy tank
A Day

5. sleeveless Blouse

We love linen for how lightweight and breathable it is. No to mention that it goes with everything.

Product we love: A Day I’m Flaxible Linen Crop Top ($115)

capsule wardrobe quince

6. white Button-down

Crisp, clean, versatile and guaranteed to become one of your most used pieces.

Product we love: Quince Linen Long Sleeve Shirt ($80; $40)

capsule wardrobe update buttondown
J. Crew

7. patterned Button Down

Leave this baby unbuttoned and pair it with a white crop top and some denim.

Product we love: J. Crew Cotton-linen beach shirt in stripe ($89; $79)

capsule wardrobe update cami
Abercrombie & Fitch

8. cami Top

The sweetheart neckline and black and white contrast makes this a sweet and simple top that goes with everything.

Product we love: Abercrombie & Fitch Ponte Sweetheart Top ($40)

capsule wardrobe free people
Free People

9. bodysuit

A basic bodysuit can be dressed up or down in seconds.

Product we love: Free People Keep It Sleek Duo Bodysuit ($58)

everlane turtleneck

10. turtleneck

This baby comes in three neutral hues, making it an ideal sweater for fall.

Product we love: Everlane The Oversized Stroopwafel Turtleneck in ReCashmere ($195)

capsule wardrobe sweater vest

11. sweater Vest

Suffice it to say that we're thrilled sweater vests are trending. Keep warm and layer this over one of those aforementioned button downs.

Product we love: Boden Relaxed Rib Sleeveless Sweater ($110; $66)

capsule wardrobe update trench

12. trench Coat

Have you ever seen a more autumnally appropriate shade for fall? Didn't think so.

Product we love: Bardot Vegan Leather Trench Coat ($199)

capsule wardrobe update blazer

13. blazer

This tan blazer is one of those pieces that effortlessly brings a whole fit together.

Product we love: Maeve Double-Breasted Blazer ($170)

capsule wardrobe jean jacket
Free People

14. denim Jacket

An oversized denim jacket is a must in every wardrobe.

Product we love: Free People Jolene trucker Jacket ($128)

capsule wardrobe update leather jacket

15. leather Jacket

Fact: A leather jacket is a timeless closet staple that adds an edgy touch to any fit.

Product we love: SNDYS Lu Faux Leather Shacket ($89)

sam edelman puffer

16. puffer

A warm chocolate-toned puffer couldn't be more perfect for fall if it tried.

Product we love: Sam Edelman Faux Leather Puffer Jacket ($180; $118)

capsule wardrobe update quilted jacket

17. quilted Jacket

The quilted stitching adds the ideal amount of texture to this otherwise stark, but crisp jacket.

Product we love: SummerSalt The Reversible Eco Quilted Jacket ($135)

capsule wardrobe maxi dress

18. maxi Dress

We can't resist the Bridgerton vibes this breezy maxi gives off. *Adds to cart immediately.*

Product we love: J.Crew Cotton Poplin Dress ($168; $130)

dannijo slip dress

19. slip Dress

No closet is complete without a satin slip dress and this black number certainly fits the bill—and then some.

Product we love: Dannijo True Black Slip Dress ($295)

reformation mini dress

20. lbd

A little black dress is a timeless staple for a reason. Pair it with your fave outerwear and you're good to go.

Product we love: Reformation Marlowe Sleeveless Minidress ($98)

topshop jean shorts

21. denim Shorts

Denim shorts are the unsung heroes of capsule wardrobes everywhere. Whether you're pairing them with a white tank and an oversized blazer or a flirty blouse and some sandals, these blues go well with everything.

Product we love: Topshop A-Line Mom Shorts ($56; $39)

capsule wardrobe update straight jeans

22. straight Leg Jeans

These are going to be your next favorite pair of jeans. Just trust us.

Product we love: Zara High Rise Straight Jeans ($50)

capsule wardrobe update white jeans

23. white Jeans

Whoever said you can't wear white after Labor Day was fooling themselves. Just think of how cute these would look with a warm-toned crewneck and some Chelsea boots.

Product we love: Madewell The Perfect Vintage Wide-Leg Crop Jean in Tile White ($128)

capsule wardrobe update black jeans
Abercrombie & Fitch

24. black Jeans

These have that ideal straight leg fit that is so flattering.

Product we love: Abercrombie & Fitch 90s Ultra High Rise Relaxed Jeans ($99)

revolve trousers

25. Trousers

A dusty rose works wonderfully as a neutral base, while also giving a slight pop of color.

Product we love: NONchalant Fabi Pants ($284)

capsule wardrobe update overall

26. overalls

The relaxed waist gives the overalls a modern (and a more comfortable) upgrade.

Product we love: ASOS DESIGN 'original' denim overalls in midwash ($60)

everlane shorts

27. bermuda Shorts

Every capsule wardrobe needs some high-rise shorts in a warm-toned neutral.

Product we love: Everlane The Way-High Canvas Short ($60)

capsule wardrobe update cardi

28. cardigan

Layer this over any top for an instant boost in coziness.

Product we love: Madewell The Oversized Cotton Ribbed Cardigan ($135)

capsule wardrobe update skirt

29. mini Skirt

The raw hem on this mini adds a cool, textured touch.

Product we love: Good American Good Waist Mini Skirt ($99)

capsule wardrobe update midi skirt

30. midi Skirt

Don't be afraid to incorporate pretty patterned pieces into your collection.

Product we love: Reformation Bea Midi Skirt ($148)

jeffrey campbell mules

31. heels

If tan isn't really your vibe, these sky-high mules come in plenty of other shades, so you're bound to find a pair that suits you.

Product we love: Jeffrey Campbell Caviar Platform Slide Sandal ($140)

steve madden boots

32. ankle Boots

These bad boys are so cool, we won't blame you if you decide to wear them every single day.

Product we love: Steve Madden Hayle Platform Chelsea Boot ($120)

capsule wardrobe update sneakers

33. sneakers

Whether you pair them with a slip dress or jeans and a white tee, these sporty sneaks will complement any fit.

Product we love: Tory Burch Classic Court Sneaker ($198)

sam edelman loafers

34. loafers

If you haven't hopped on the loafer trend yet, what are you waiting for? Snag this chunky iteration to step up your shoe game stat.

Product we love: Sam Edelman Laurs Platform Loafers ($150)

capsule wardrobe update flip flop platforms

35. platform Flip Flops

These platform thongs can easily be dressed up or down to your heart's desire.

Product we love: Melissa Free Platform Flip Flop ($85)

everlane flats

36. flats

Ballet shoes are making a comeback and what better way to incorporate the trend into your wardrobe than with this pair of chic tan flats.

Product we love: Everlane The Italian Leather Day Glove ($115)

capsule wardrobe update boots
Urban Outfitters

37. knee High Boots

Without a doubt, these boots were made for walking.

Product we love: UO Vix Knee High Boot ($149)

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