The Capsule Wardrobe

Is this the remedy to your outfit decision fatigue and desire for a functional high-quality wardrobe without losing your personal style?

Thanks to Marie Kondo’s decluttering bible and a general movement to a minimalist aesthetic across a platform of creative industries, people have been transitioning their wardrobe and its getting a whole lot of positive feedback.

The capsule wardrobe is ultimately a mini wardrobe made up of extremely versatile and functional pieces that you genuinely enjoy wearing. To better explain, the concept require intention. If you intentionally shop for clothes that fit your body well, that suit your lifestyle and work well with other pieces in your wardrobe, you will acquire clothing that last for a longer period of time and that you will continually wear. Each season, depending on the climate where you live, you rework your capsule wardrobe to work best for you and your lifestyle.

Many stylists suggest that 20-30 clothing, footwear and accessories pieces are an appropriate number to have within a capsule wardrobe. Don’t freak out! This does not include exercise clothing, swim wear, lounge wear, under garments, formal attire or any other event specific clothing. We are talking about clothing that you wear to work and on the weekend, when you are out and about with your family and friends. This doesn’t mean the joy of shopping on the weekend is now a fond pastime. It just means you will be more conscious and intentional on your shopping trips.

There are a lot of other reasons why it’s time to transform your own wardrobe. Have you ever stood, almost completed paralysed, barefoot in your bra and underwear looking at all the hangers of clothes in your closet, but there is nothing to wear? We are all guilty of stocking some unworn and low-quality items. Consumerist culture and fast fashion have tricked up into believing that we must own everything. The capsule wardrobe promises more time, more money and more energy for the things in life that really matter. By also narrowing down your wardrobe, you might just also uncover or re-define your own personal style.

If I haven’t completely sold you on tailoring your own capsule wardrobe yet, can I also include that making this transition will help save the planet! Did you know that the fashion industry accounts for 20 to 35 percent of micro plastic flows in the ocean? Let’s not even get started on the carbon dioxide emissions, textile waste, use of chemicals and health risks of developing countries where a whole lot of the worlds clothing is manufactured.

So how do you achieve a capsule wardrobe? Where do you start? Here are Susie's five steps and a few tips to beginning your capsule journey.


Grab out your notepad and pen or your tablet or phone and write down where you spend most of your time. Is it at work? relaxing at friends and families houses on the weekend? attending fashionable social events every weekend? Sun baking on the beach? etc. Be honest here. If you keep a diary, grab it out and actually look at what events you attended or where you had spent most of your time in the last week or month.

Next, with the above in mind, write down what clothing, shoes and accessories you would regularly wear to these events or during a typical week or month.

Viola! You now have the most common pieces that you will regularly re-wear. These pieces should compose at least 80% of your capsule wardrobe.


On your day off, or when you have enough time for a wardrobe clean-out, take everything out of your wardrobe and any draws and place on your bed.

Firstly, take out anything that is still in good condition, still fits you well and is outside the scope of the capsule wardrobe (we are talking underwear, socks, swim wear, exercise clothes, formal dresses and anything else that fits into this category.)

Next, if you have never worn the garment, accessory or shoes before and you purchased them over a four month ago put them in a cull pile.

Then if you have anything that is extremely uncomfortable, ill-fitting or is the incorrect size, throw that into the cull pile too.

Now, let’s take out anything you have not worn in the past year. Put it in the cull pile.

Do the same thing again for anything that you have not worn in the last six months (pay attention to seasonal changes however. If you haven’t worn it because the season has not been appropriate, don’t pop it in the cull pile just yet.)

This should have decreased your wardrobe already by at least 50%.

Next, using the list you created in step 1, pull out any garment or accessory that does not meet your everyday classic criteria.

Finally, take one last look at your keep pile. Is there anything in their you do not genuinely like? If you don’t LOVE it, add it in the cull pile.

Now take the cull pile to your closest charity shop or offer any garments to family member or friends that you think could utilise it.


Hopefully you have significantly reduced the clothing, shoes and accessories in your current wardrobe. Now, let’s look at your list from step 1 and compare it with what you have left in your current wardrobe. Are there any gaps? Are you missing a good pair of jeans? A blazer for work? T-shirts for the weekend? etc. Write them all down and be specific. What colour do I want the blazer in, so that it matches the blouses I already have in my wardrobe? Take that list on your next shopping trip.


Before jumping in your car, plan your shopping trip. Don’t rush down to your local shopping precinct. Remember from now on you are shopping intentionally. You also do not need to purchase everything in one go. Consider the following:

- Can you purchase the garments, footwear or accessories from local or Australian labels instead of fast fashion houses or international retailers?

- Can you support brands that are ethically or socially conscious? (there are lots of them! Do some research)

- Research appropriate garments online first. Understand what the garment is made from. What are the material characteristics? Does the garment need ironing on a regular basis? Is it breathable for your type of work? etc

- Then read the care label. Can you meet the dry cleaning or hand wash care requirements of the garment?


Once you have acquired your final pieces for your capsule wardrobe, you need to make sure you can easily style them every morning. Can you clean out your wardrobe any further? Is there anything in there that isn’t clothing or footwear related? The goal is to create an accessible and minimal wardrobe where you can easily view and access your clothing. Place garments that are easily matched together in groups or present however you prefer!

In this instant we think less can actually be SO much more!

By Susan Johnston

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