How to build the ultimate capsule wardrobe

Curating a considered edit of pieces will make getting dressed so much easier.

Harper's Bazaar India

Wen the New Year rolls around, we often have the desire to simplify our lives and get things in order—which may well include sorting through an overflowing wardrobe.

Chances are, you have more items than you really need; perhaps during 2023 you made too many impulse buys you only wore once, or maybe it’s just time to clear out some pieces that have been hanging in your wardrobe, unworn, for far too long.

If getting dressed feels more chaotic than you would like it to right now, it's probably a good time for a wardrobe re-set. Try adopting a more mindful approach to dressing by building your own capsule collection.


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Attitudes to fashion and shopping have changed dramatically over the years. Instead of being swayed by passing trends and one-hit wonders, many of us are now trying to take more of a considered approach to what we buy and how we shop. With sustainability increasingly at the forefront of conversation, there has been a shift in focus to quality over quantity, adopting a curated edit and investing in pieces that will stand the test of time.

If you would like to embrace a more considered approach to fashion, but feel that you need a little help on where to start, read on.

What is a capsule wardrobe?

When a wardrobe is considered 'capsule', it tends to mean a streamlined edit of items that all work well together. This helps to ensure that nothing goes unused. Traditionally, a capsule wardrobe sticks to neutral hues so that everything coordinates (but this doesn't have to be the case), and is made up of around 10 to 20 pieces such as staple jeans, the perfect white T-shirt, a classic trench coat, a crisp blazer, dresses that can be styled up or down, and comfortable knitwear. With that said, a capsule wardrobe will look different to everyone—ultimately, it should be comprised of pieces that work for your lifestyle, that make you feel good, and that you love.

“We all have those same few pieces that we wear on repeat, regardless of how many clothes we have in our closet, and we need to be encouraged to build from that,” Brazilian fashion commentator and writer Aleska Servian tells us.

Instead of trying to create a wardrobe of what we think is a capsule classic, we should build around those pieces that we already wear to death. We don't all have the same job, lifestyle or live in the same climate, so a capsule wardrobe should be a considered edit of pieces that you can rely on all the time, and that work together for you. It won't look the same for everyone.

Where do I start?

First off, you definitely do not need to clear everything in your wardrobe out and start from scratch. Curating a capsule wardrobe is about working out what you wear a lot, and want to keep, and identifying anything that is missing.

"There’s no need to toss everything to start over from scratch if you don’t have to," Lakyn Carlton, an LA-based personal stylist and sustainability expert, explains. "Evaluate your wardrobe and pull out the things you already wear, create new combinations from the old, and then if you absolutely need to add something, figure out what that is.”

But, if your wardrobe is overflowing and out of control, it can be daunting to know where to begin. Fanny Moizant, president and co-founder of the pre-loved designer site Vestiaire Collective, advises us on how to detox our wardrobes in a smart, effective way.

“You need to give yourself a couple of hours and commit. Start by splitting up your wardrobe by season,” she notes. “Clear out the previous season so you can focus on what you'll be wearing for the next few months, and then ask yourself these questions: 'Is the item something you still wear? Is it a timeless classic? Does it still fit you?'”


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What if you’re unsure about an item? Moizant relies on the 'hanger trick' when she’s clearing out her own wardrobe so that it feels fresh and under control. “At the beginning of the season, place all your hangers in the same direction,” she tells us. “Each time you wear a piece, turn the hanger the other way. Very quickly within the season, you’ll see what you wear and what you don’t.”


Feature Image Credits (From left to right): Ganni, Burberry, Frame, HommeGirls, Gucci, Veja Veja 

This article originally appeared in in January, 2024. 

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