Is a Capsule Wardrobe right for you?

is a capsule wardrobe right for you

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately; about wardrobe minimalism, capsule wardrobes, and what it all means to me. For the uninitiated, capsule wardrobes are a carefully curated sub-section of your wardrobe generally limited to the 30 item mark, designed to cater to a specific season, or in some cases, seasons. As much as I’ve enjoyed having a capsule wardrobe, and overall found the experience to be incredibly rewarding, I’m not quite convinced that it’s a wardrobe approach that’s going to suit everyone.

A lot of the things I hoped to achieve with a capsule wardrobe such as a wardrobe that is entirely complementary and cohesive, wearing the things that I love a-l-l the time, and making more conscious and thoughtful purchases, could all have been achieve without going down the path of building a capsule wardrobe – for two years, no less! – though for me, this approach seemed to be the most practical. For others, limiting your closet to a mere 30 items might be completely impractical for your lifestyle.

While a capsule wardrobe was right for me, I wanted to share four reasons why you should think twice about building a capsule wardrobe, if you’re currently sitting on the fence…

If you’re the type of person who is very conscious about what they buy, and as a result has a small selection of clothing to choose from on a daily basis as it is, then there’s no real benefit to try and cut that down further just for the sake of a capsule wardrobe.

As an example, my wardrobe typically sits around the 80-100 mark; I usually operate a loose one in one out policy so I’ve always got a closet filled with pieces that I love. Narrowing it down to 30-40 pieces for a season isn’t an issue, as my wardrobe splits up pretty naturally across seasons. If your wardrobe comprises of only 30-40 pieces as a whole, I would imagine that reducing this further just to have a capsule wardrobe would be extremely limiting.

Coming from the girl who used to avoid ever wearing the same outfit twice, a capsule wardrobe can seem limiting at first. Repeating outfits comes with the territory (but it also means you’ll be wearing your favourite things all the time), and if you enjoy having options, it’s going to be a real shock to the system. If this doesn’t sound like something you’d be happy with – hey, it isn’t for everyone! – then it’s probably worth giving capsule wardrobes a miss.

Going into my first capsule wardrobe challenge, I had a pretty good sense of what my personal style was, and the experience really only helped to further amplify and reinforce this for me. If you’re the type of person that opts for boho one day, rocker chic another day and preppy the next, you’re going to have a hard time not only selecting the pieces for your capsule, but also expressing yourself through your clothing.

Capsule wardrobes as a concept are hugely popular at the minute; it’s a carriage on the minimalist train that a lot of people are ready to get on board with (which is great!), but I think it’s important to look at what’s driving you to compartmentalize your wardrobe. Are you wanting to simplify your life? Reduce the number of items in your wardrobe? Or is it purely because you’ve been reading so much about the concept, that you figure you might as well give it a go? Pinpointing your intentions can help to really understand if this is something that will be a rewarding experience for you, or whether it is purely for the sake of it.

For many, the idea of limiting yourself to an arbitrary number – be it 15, 30 or 37 – doesn’t seem logical. Why restrict yourself when you don’t need to? Getting to a place of balance; a sort of wardrobe set point which you organically maintain, is possible without a capsule wardrobe, it just involves taking a different path to get there…


  1. Xin June 14, 2016 / 10:44 am

    I’m firmly in the not having a capsule wardrobe camp, though I like a lot of the ideas that come from capsule wardrobe building and minimalist blogs like Into Mind. I’m starting to lean towards having a unified color scheme for most of my clothing items, for instance, to facilitate easy mixing and matching with a relatively small number of items. I also adhere to the general idea and preference for buying few items each season, though without a rigid limit.

    • jamie-lee June 17, 2016 / 9:31 pm

      I think that there are definitely a lot of positives to take away from the experience but I don’t think it’s for everyone nor do I think it’s something that everyone should do, especially not for the sake of it. I’ve enjoyed my experience but ready to start wearing my wardrobe normally again I think – looking forward to my holiday away as while I’ll be living out of a suitcase, I think I’ll have a little less rigidity when it comes to my closet! 🙂

  2. Jess | Rose & Fig June 14, 2016 / 1:06 pm

    Great think piece. Especially appreciate the last point. Selective and active culling of your wardrobe should not be a “trend”, it should be a lifestyle change. And the rigid limit has always been interesting to me. I actually come down in favor of it, mainly because if you don’t set some sort of limit (and are really trying to pare down your wardrobe), you can always make excuses. So in the end, I’m in favor of a “flexible” limit.

    • jamie-lee June 17, 2016 / 9:34 pm

      Thanks Jess, and I really appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts. Unfortunately I do feel that it has become quite trendy – I’ve seen it crop up on blogs with all kinds of backgrounds, regardless of whether the whole purpose behind going through those motions is part of their own philosophy. I think having rules is great, but sometimes, you need to know where to tow the line!

  3. Sonia June 17, 2016 / 10:07 pm

    Thanks for this post. It exactly is something I often think of while reading about capsule wardrobes. I completely fall in your third category – while I don’t mind repeating outfits and care little about trends, rather favoring styles that suit my silhouette and lifestyle, my style actually is a huge mix of elegant, modern minimal, sporty and all in between. I love and am tempted by the idea of having just a small, functional, complementary wardrobe and yours sure resembles my ideal. But I can’t help it – one day I feel completely like high heels, wrap dress, trench coat, elegant handbag and leather gloves, while the next day all I want to wear is just comfortable stretchy skinny jeans, sneakers and a sporty jacket, to be able to go to work on bike 🙂 While I am fascinated by the consistent and tightly edited wardrobes, I think it won’t work for me just now – maybe later my style will narrow down and then I’ll give it a go.
    And my thoughts about “trendiness” of the whole capsule and wardrobe editing. I definitely think that what was meant to be a tool for becoming more conscious about shopping has become an excuse for shopping for some in the times when fast fashion has a bad reputation. I see these videos on YouTube and blogs where people supposedly living with a small wardrobe “edit” their wardrobes every three months – and every “edit”, every culling, is followed by a shopping trips to prep their “capsule wardrobe” for the next three months. How does that serve a purpose of owning meaningful clothes that one really needs and enjoy? That’s why I like your blog, because your true favorites come back year after year, updated with just small touches to keep things interesting

    • jamie-lee June 27, 2016 / 11:11 am

      Thank you Sonia for taking the time to write such a thoughtful comment and also to share your experience with me. I feel like the whole idea of capsule wardrobes as a whole have become so trendy and I agree, it’s supposed to be a tool to help you be more conscious, or at least that’s how I used the experience. I’ve never understood people who buy an entire new wardrobe at the start of each season – for me, I always have my eyes out there for something that will complement what I have but also last the test of time, and I don’t think you can do that in one shopping list, it’s a slow burn, that’s for sure. Anyway, thanks again for your lovely comment!! xx

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