Why You Only Need 37 Items in Your Closet: Everything to Know About Creating a Capsule Wardrobe
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
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
A basic bodysuit can be dressed up or down in seconds.
Product we love: Free People Keep It Sleek Duo Bodysuit ($58)
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)
This tan blazer is one of those pieces that effortlessly brings a whole fit together.
Product we love: Maeve Double-Breasted Blazer ($170)
14. Denim Jacket
An oversized denim jacket is a must in every wardrobe.
Product we love: Free People Jolene trucker Jacket ($128)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
A dusty rose works wonderfully as a neutral base, while also giving a slight pop of color.
Product we love: NONchalant Fabi Pants ($284)
The relaxed waist gives the overalls a modern (and a more comfortable) upgrade.
Product we love: ASOS DESIGN 'original' denim overalls in midwash ($60)
Layer this over any top for an instant boost in coziness.
Product we love: Madewell The Oversized Cotton Ribbed Cardigan ($135)
30. Midi Skirt
Don't be afraid to incorporate pretty patterned pieces into your collection.
Product we love: Reformation Bea Midi Skirt ($148)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
37. Knee High Boots
Without a doubt, these boots were made for walking.
Product we love: UO Vix Knee High Boot ($149)