If you are interested in a clutter-free closet and want to know how to start a capsule wardrobe, you are in the right place.
I started dressing with less (way less) in 2010. Before that, I avoided my closet chaos while I decluttered the rest of my home. The truth is, I didn’t want to deal with it because I thought shopping reduced stress. Finding a good deal felt good (for a moment) and when I was bored or anxious, a new dress or pair of shoes was often my solution. The problem was I kept adding, adding and adding and I was still stressed out. Soon, I knew it was time to address the closet clutter (and my shopping habits) but I had no idea where to start. That’s when I created a capsule wardrobe challenge that I thought would be fun and interesting. I was curious about what I might learn by dressing with less.
All of these years later, thanks to Project 333, you’ll never find more than 33 items in my closet, including clothes, jewelry, accessories and shoes. This challenge has been very effective (with so many benefits) but there are other ways to start a capsule wardrobe.
In this Ultimate Guide On How To Start A Capsule Wardrobe, we’ll cover …
- what a capsule wardrobe is
- why start a capsule wardrobe
- the benefits of dressing with less
- the easiest way to start a capsule wardrobe
- the rules of a capsule wardrobe
- what a capsule wardrobe should contain
- more about Project 333
- where to learn more about starting a capsule wardrobe
What is a capsule wardrobe?
According to this article, “A capsule wardrobe consists of a set of tops, bottoms, dresses, outerwear, shoes, and accessories that can be easily mixed and matched together to be dressed up, down, and anywhere in between. It means your closet has less trendy pieces that will only be worn for one season and more high-quality ones that stand the test of time and can be worn for years to come.”
The term “capsule wardrobe” originated in the 1940s and boutique owner, Susie Faux brought it back in the 1970s. When I created minimalist fashion challenge Project 333, I didn’t know anything about capsule wardrobes. All I knew was that my closet was out of control and I wanted a little peace.
Most of us already have a capsule wardrobe, wearing our favorite things over and over again. Unfortunately, we have to sort through all of the other stuff to get to what we really want to wear. Interestingly, I discovered that there weren’t just a bunch of clothes that I didn’t wear in my closet but lots of emotion too. I felt bad about the clothes that didn’t fit, guilty for the clothes I spent too much money on and annoyed that I had so much and always had that feeling of not having enough. If you’ve ever thought, “I have nothing to wear!” while staring at a closet full of clothes, you know what I mean.
Why start a capsule wardrobe?
There are so many benefits to dressing with less. Choosing what to wear from a small wardrobe will save you time, money and energy. It’s also surprising how downsizing your closet makes you feel. Instead of being weighed down by decision fatigue or feeling frustrated with clothes that don’t fit or that you don’t like, you get to wear your favorite things every day.
Image credit: @greenineverycolor on Instagram.
The benefits of dressing with less
The benefits you’ll experience will move far beyond your capsule wardrobe. After three months of dressing less (and even sooner), it’s likely that you will:
- save money
- have more time in the morning
- care less about what other people think about you
- develop more confidence
- feel more calm
- have more clarity about what really matters to you
I helped a self-proclaimed lover of clothes narrow down to 33 items. She started with four closets and pared down to using only half of one closet. She was surprised that when we made piles of her clothes, her “love” pile was the smallest and her “toss” pile was the largest by far.
How do I start a capsule wardrobe?
The easiest way to start a capsule wardrobe is to remove all the things you never wear from your closet. Take out the clothes that don’t fit and anything else you simply never wear (even if you think you might wear it someday and even if you paid a lot for the clothes.) There are other practical steps you can take to start a capsule wardrobe but with this first step, you’ve created a much smaller wardrobe of items that you will actually wear.
That’s a great start!
It doesn’t matter if you didn’t create the perfect French capsule wardrobe or own the best 10 pieces for capsule wardrobes according to Pinterest. Start where you are with what you have.
Instead of getting rid of the stuff you removed right away, put it all in a box and get it out of sight for a few months. Deciding what to donate and what to sell and where to do all of that adds unnecessary stress. That will eliminate all decision fatigue and stress around letting go. When you discover how much more fun and relaxing it is to only wear your favorites, it will be easier to let go of the excess stuff later. You’ll have more clarity about all of the donate/sell decisions after separating yourself from the items for a while. This works with everything when you are decluttering your home, not just your clothes. Try hiding something you aren’t sure about for 30-60 days. You’ll probably forget all about it which will make letting go of much easier.
Image credit: @slow.choices on Instagram.
What are the rules of a capsule wardrobe?
While rules apply to a capsule wardrobe challenge like Project 333, if you are simply wondering how to build a basic capsule wardrobe, you get to make your own rules. Here are some guidelines and things to consider.
Consider the colors of your capsule wardrobe.
While there are great examples of colorful capsule wardrobes, it may help to choose a primary neutral color and another color you enjoy wearing. There’s no perfect color combination but making this decision in the beginning may help with some of the choices you have to make when going through your clothes.
Think about how your clothes may mix and match.
When everything goes with everything, you don’t have to spend extra time in the morning figuring out what to wear.
Ask the most important question about your clothes.
Because of all of the opinions we’ve heard about clothes and bodies and fashion, sometimes we forget to ask this very simple question, “What do I want to wear?” Dismiss all of the other style advice and start there. Here’s why this one question can be not only closet changing but life changing too.
What should a capsule wardrobe contain?
What is a Project 333 Wardrobe?
Here are the Project 333 rules to help you get started:
When to start Project 333:
Every three months. New seasons start on Jan. 1, April 1, July 1, and Oct. 1, but you can start anytime.
What to include in your Project 333:
33 items including clothing, accessories, jewelry and shoes.
What not to include in your Project 333:
These items are not counted as part of your 33 items – a sentimental piece of jewelry that you never take off, underwear, sleep wear, in-home lounge wear and workout clothing (as long as your workout clothing is working out).
What to do with all of your clothes:
Choose your 33 items, box up what’s left over, seal it with tape and put it out of sight.
What else should I consider about my 33-item wardrobe?
You are creating a wardrobe that you can live, work and play in for three months. This is not a project in suffering. If your clothes don’t fit or are in poor condition, replace them.
What if the rules feel too restrictive for me?
Modify them and do a version of the capsule wardrobe challenge that works for you.
Where can I find more Project 333 help?
Take the course or read the book!
Where can I learn more about how to start a capsule wardrobe?
If you go to the articles page here and search … capsule wardrobe, Project 333 or Declutter Your Closet, you’ll find everything you need and then some. Because there is an endless amount of information out there about how to start a capsule wardrobe. I recommend getting just enough and then get started. There’s a fine line between research and procrastination.
As you are removing items from your closet and selecting your favorites, don’t overthink it. You can always swap things in and out later. I also don’t recommend buying new items at first. It’s amazing how much clarity you get after only a few months of dressing with less. You’ll have a better of understanding of what you really want and need in your closet after experimenting with your capsule wardrobe.
If you want to see examples of colorful capsule wardrobes or other Project 333 closets, see @project333 or #project333 on Instagram.
One last reminder … have fun with this. Don’t worry about what anyone else thinks. Just do this for you! I’ll be cheering you on.