Zero to capsule – Creating a capsule wardrobe from scratch

Creating a capsule wardrobe means investing in quality. Taking care of your clothes is a crucial step in creating a wardrobe that will last. |

You decided to create a capsule wardrobe, a wardrobe that you love. What next? How are you going to decide what to wear for the next month, three months, or even six months? Don’t worry. Step by step you will make it happen!

A capsule wardrobe means you limit your clothing options to a certain smaller number of items (e.g., 30 pieces) for a certain period of time. Limiting your closet to fewer pieces sounds like a big step. And indeed, it is – for me it ment a complete change of mind, a complete change of my wardrobe philosophy. But, as you may have noticed, I couldn’t be happier with my decision and I can wholeheartedly encourage you to try it yourself.

Where to start?

Start with yourself and not your closet. Stop the mental accounting of how many shoes you are “allowed” to have, and do a little soul searching. Why do you want to create a capsule wardrobe? What motivates you to make this step? Do you want to save money? Do you want to live a more sustainable live? Do you want to get ready faster? Do you want to feel confident in your clothes? Knowing your why is a powerful motivator and ultimately, it’s the force that keeps you dedicated and focused..

The first step in creating a capsule wardrobe: searching your why. |

Next up: The declutter

I’m going to be upfront about this: there is no way around decluttering if you want a capsule wardrobe. You don’t remember all the items that are buried in your closet anyway, do you? So decluttering it is. Take everything out of your closet and your drawers, gather all your clothes (yes, that sounds like Marie Kondo) and sort your clothes into piles of definite keep, maybe, and definite out (out can mean selling, donating, or trashing depending on the state of the garment). The maybe items for the season of your capsule stay out, the rest of them is boxed up or moved to a drawer outside of your closet. Out of sight, out of mind. Wait for a month or two, and then go through the items again. You will see much clearer about these items then.

Decluttering your whole closet sounds like too much of a time committment? How about you only declutter items that are relevant for your first capsule wardrobe and store all the other seasonal items out of sight until you need them again.

One more thing about the out category: pay attention as to why you put clothes on the out pile. You only want to wear sustainable, ethical, and high-quality clothes? Throwing all your clothes out, just because they don’t comply with your goal closet, isn’t helpful – or sustainable. If you love to wear an item, keep it in your closet whether it complies with your dream wardrobe or not. Transitioning your wardrobe is a journey and the ultimate criterion for the content of your closet should be whether you love to wear it right now.

Create a capsule wardrobe when you are starting from scratch. Step by step you will create a wardrobe you will love to wear. |

Your capsule wardrobe

Before you dive into creating your wardrobe, take some time and decide which concept is the right one for you to follow. And then? Some alone time. In order to set up your capsule you will have to plan and spend some time with your clothes. Whether you do most of the preparation in your head or in front of your closet is really up to you. Personally (and I’m a planner) I brainstormed my capsule mostly in my head and only spent about one hour in front of my closet. During that hour I tried on the maybe-s and re-organized my closet according to my new capsule.

What you should consider for your capsule wardrobe


Reducing the overall number of items means that you need to have a couple of basics that can be easily combined. Which basics are ideal strongly depends on your style and your lifestyle – are you studying, are you working, do you stay at home with your kids? For me personally, my favorite basics are a pair of skinny jeans, a white button up, a chunky knit, and a Breton-shirt or dress.

Color palette

Deciding on a color palette sounds limiting, but it makes your life a ton easier. If your clothes follow a color palette, it will be easier to combine pieces to an outfit. Neutrals are your best bet to achieve high compatibility. No, don’t frown, I’m not suggesting you should only wear black and white (as in true minimalist stereotype).If you like a little bit of color, how about creating a color scheme out of darker neutrals, such as black and navy, and pairing them with pastels such as pale yellow or blush. Or how about combining bright colors with white and beige. It’s really up to you. My point is: the colors in your closet should be coordinated and you need to have a critical mass of neutrals to ensure compatibility. If you have lots of bright-colored pieces, creating outfits can be more difficult – unless you love the color-clash look. Then by all means go for it!

Your style

In order to create a wardrobe that you love, you need to identify those clothes that you love, that represent your style. Pinterest can be a great tool to find inspiration for your style and how you would like to develop it further.

But while Pinterest is a great way to find inspiration, you shouldn’t solely rely on Pinterest to get a feeling about your style. Pinterest with its beautiful photos can make us dream about a certain way of dressing that is not sustainable in our everyday life. I strongly believe that to evaluate your style, you need to look inwards: inside your closet and inside yourself.

Pick and mix, plan and choose

Brainstorm your capsule wardrobe on a piece of paper, a note on your phone, or in front of your closet. Start with your favorite pieces that have to be in your capsule, and then add pieces step by step. Make sure that you have more tops than bottoms, and that the clothes can be combined. Take the time and try to create different outfits with the items you aren’t sure about. The more time you allow yourself for this planning phase, the easier getting dressed will be, because you already have set outfit-ideas in your head.

Tip #3: Create outfits as you set up your capsule wardrobe. |

On wish lists and waiting

While you’re planning your capsule wardrobe, you will identify a few gaps in your closet. Resist the urge to shop immediately! Create a wish list of all the items that are missing in your closet. Try to be as precise as possible: don’t just write “jeans” – skinny, boyfriend, flare, which color and wash, cropped fit or regular length, distressed, with zippers, plain, …? And then wait. Revisit your wish list a couple of times and re-consider all the items. Do you really need them for your capsule wardrobe? Once you go shopping, be picky. Don’t make compromises on quality, fit, or style!

Have fun

This sounds a little corny, but I mean it. Have fun with your capsule wardrobe. Don’t put pressure on you to create the perfect capsule wardrobe. Changing your habits takes time – just as it takes time to overhaul your closet. Allow yourself the time and enjoy the journey! A capsule wardrobe will teach you a lot about yourself and your style. And if something wasn’t ideal in your capsule, then you learnt something for the next one for sure!

 Full disclosure: this post is based on a post I guestposted on my friend Ann-Kathrin’s blog a few months ago.


Kate is a capsule wardrobe and uniform dressing enthusiast who encourages busy women to embrace a smaller wardrobe and a more intentional lifestyle.
Kate continues to work on simplifying her life – freeing up time and energy on those things in life that are most important to her.


  1. Guten Morgen liebe Kate!

    Mit dem Shoppen warten, wenn man merkt, es fehlt etwas – das kann ich auch nur empfehlen. Vielleicht nicht so lange wie ich, ich habe 1 Jahr mit dem Kauf von Turnschuhen gewartet, die allerdings auch teuer waren; nichts, was ich mir einfach mal so kaufe.
    Und dann hat es ca 3 Jahre bis zu einer neuen Jeans gedauert. ;D Ich hatte genaue Vorstellungen und wollte sie eigentlich SecondHand kaufen. Hat 3 Jahre lang nicht geklappt, bis ich sie diesen Frühling in einem Laden entdeckt habe. Und das Warten hat sich gelohnt, sie passt perfekt zu meinen anderen Sachen und ich könnte sie jeden Tag tragen.
    Man kann das Warten nun also als verrückr bezeichnen (wenn man es übertreibt), aber mir hat es mal wieder gezeigt, dass es sich lohnt. Es spart Geld und Ressourcen (= Fehlkäufe). Und hat mich auch wieder mehr Wertschätzung gegenüber den Dingen gelehrt. 🙂

    Liebe Grüße und einen schönen Freitag!

    • Liebe Sunray,
      das ist ja sehr diszipliniert! Aber du hast Recht. Selbst wenn es länger dauert, es lohnt sich immer auf das richtige Teil zu warten.
      Liebe Grüße und einen guten Start ins Wochenende!

  2. Flamingomania

    I used Polyvore to help me put pieces together 4 capsule wardrobe getting pieces from stores I normally shop at or pieces I already have and it really helps solidify why and what and gives you a goal that you’re working for. I thought that might help other people who were trying to start the capsule wardrobe thank you for your step by step directions above. Very helpful

  3. As the weather in some countries like the Netherlands can be unpredictable (1 day 15 degrees and the other day freezing!), I made a year round capsule. So when the weather changes suddenly I dont need to change my capsule with it every time! Including everything from underwear, jewelry, socks, shoes etc, I have a capsule of 200 pieces. But I think I will expand it to 250 pieces. Are 250 pieces too many??? I dont know but when I need to wash my undies and socks just because I dont have clean ones anymore but not a full wash, thats silly and wasteful too

    Liked your post and tips!

  4. Good Morning Kate

    Thank you for all the tips you give so freely. You are outstanding in the way you plan the capsule.
    I have a granddaughter who is a student at University now and we are busy discussing her clothing wardrobe and yes planning a capsule.
    Have you got some tips for students? Will be appreciated. How many pieces do you normally go on a student capsule?
    Thank you for your website.
    Kind regards

  5. Clarice

    Hello Kate!
    It’s been almost an year since your post here and I only stumbled upon your ideas now!
    Capsule wardrobe is still an emerging concept / idea here in Brazil and your insights and tips were very motivating!
    I first became interested in capsule wardobre in order to try to reduce consuming. But the idea of capsule wardobre definately goes further than that And I am really interesting in knowing more about it and, of course, try myself into this journey.
    Thanks for the post! 🙂
    Kind regards,

  6. I am a plain, simple, classy, modest type of person usually. I also don’t really know myself that much. I am young. I do not know what to wear that would suit me best. I really want to figure it out though. I also want to look my best, and have a capsule wardrobe of sorts. Please help me out.

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