Capsule Wardrobes are all the buzz right now … and for good reason.  They make lots of practical sense.  If you are unfamiliar with the concept they are basically mini, mixable wardrobes full of only pieces you love.  “Mini” is relative depending on who you talk to.  Some go as minimalist as 10 pieces but the norm is generally around 40 pieces (seasonally based).  One of the reasons for their popularity is depending on how you build a capsule wardrobe they can help keep your clothing budget in check.  A second reason, they help ease the decision making burden in the morning.   #NoCoffeeRequired

Capsule wardrobes can encourage creativity.  You will start mixing pieces in your wardrobe you would not have originally thought to pair together.   And this is why I love them.  While I can say my closet is far from the definition of a capsule wardrobe … my suitcase almost always is!  #TinyTumiProblems

When I travel I need to get a week worth of clothes in a tiny little box.  The only way to do this is to maximize versatility and then get creative with my pairings.  I create a mini capsule wardrobe to minimize the number of items I need to take and ensure that everything can be worn with everything else.  I employed this very technique for my conference last week in Utah. See the looks I created  on that trip here and then see a similar capsule wardrobe below.

My “Utah” Capsule Wardrobe

Gray Equipment Blouse (or Rebecca Minkoff floral blouse) | Gray Wedges | Stuart Weitzman Heels | Burgundy Crop Pants  (similar pair in Skinny style here) | Tahari ASL Suit | Pleated Blouse | Wrap Top | Burgundy Dress (or try this gorgeous floral wrap dress)

I’ve created a very similar wardrobe as the one I took to Utah with 8 pieces (including the shoes).  How many outfits do you think you can get out of these 8 pieces?

Not counting switching out shoes (which can totally change a look) I created 12 outfits.  Twelve is more than enough to get me through a week of travel and allow for weather surprises, accidental coffee spills and my moodiness.  #AllHappen

Don’t believe me?  Here’s how:

  • Wear the suit with any of the three shirts with or without the jacket for a total of 6 different looks (if you add the two different shoe options then you really have 12 different looks)  #Powerful
  • In a similar vein, the burgundy pants can be worn with all three shirts for 3 different looks (or 6 mixing up the shoes)
  • Wear the dress by itself, with the suit jacket or with the wrap shirt (leaving it open like a vest) for another 3 looks

Don’t travel? No problem.  Look at your closet in this same manner and you could build a powerful wardrobe with a small number of pieces.

So how do you start?

How To Create a Capsule Wardrobe (Big or Small)

When I travel I generally start with the shoes (or sometimes it is determined by what suit is NOT at the dry cleaners).  What shoes are going to work for my schedule and location? I generally take two work appropriate shoes.  I then build from those keeping a consistent color theme.  If I picked my Navy Mary Janes (or Navy suit) then this becomes my neutral base.  I then choose a few (usually two) coordinating colors.  I stick to two or three coordinating colors to make sure all the pieces will mix and match.

You can apply a similar approach even if you don’t travel.  Start with a neutral color (in the Utah example I used taupe).   Then select two colors you love (generally this can be determined by looking at your closet and seeing what you own the most of).  For my Utah trip the two colors were burgundy and blue.  You now have your color palette and you can mix and match within this.  As you expand your closet (or attempt to clean and purge) think about this color palette and whether or not each piece works.

I have a rule when I buy a new item – I must be able to wear it with at least three items I already own (special occasion excluded).  This is why I can so easily build these mini capsule wardrobes week after week.

Don’t believe me?  Follow me this week while I am in Denver with a black and white capsule wardrobe.  When I wrote this I hadn’t picked the third color yet … check my Instagram to see what color I chose …