Simple formula for a capsule wardrobe

A simple capsule wardrobe formula

All collages are created in the wonderful


This article was one of my first steps towards developing my own Scandinavian Style Academy™. 

Since then, my system has been tweaked and changed quite a bit. I thought about deleting this blog post, but decided against it, because it was a step on the way to where the system is now. If you want to get updated on the new version of my Scandinavian Style System, click the link below:

My own Nordic Simplicity formula for creating practical and useful capsule wardrobes!

A capsule wardrobe is a collection of clothes (and accessories) that can be combined in many ways so that you get more use out of fewer clothes. You'll spend less time wondering what to wear, and you look stylish no matter how you combine the items. You can use this system whether you have had a colour analysis or you're just interested in traveling light.

A capsule wardrobe can be kept very minimal to use when packing for a short vacation, or you can use it as a starting point for building your own curated wardrobe. I'll explain it here.

Use the 1-2-3-4 formula to create a capsule wardrobe

1 jacket

This is a staple piece, and can be kept minimal and neutral to go with all the other things in your wardrobe, or it can be a statement piece that picks up or expands on the accent colours. It doesn't have to be a jacket. It can be a sweater, a dress, or any other item that you love and will wear a lot. I just happen to think that jackets are really versatile.

2 bottoms

2 pants, 2 skirts, one skirt and one pair of pants, according to taste, lifestyle and weather.

These should also be good quality items that will stand the test of time, be in your best neutral colours and so comfortable that you'll look forward to putting them on. 

3 tops

At least one of them should be a button-down item that can double as a light jacket. I also like to choose one sleeveless/shortsleeve, and one long sleeve, to make more possibilities for layering.

4 additional items

I sometimes use shoes/sandals as one of these, but if you like, you can keep shoes and bags out of this equation and go for accessories in this catagory. Scarves are excellent, statement jewelry and belts are also super for adding interest to an outfit and change a look completely.

Here is an example of a capsule wardrobe according to the formula. For this exercise, I have picked clothes in only neutral colours, and accessories in accent colours. It is very possible to use accent colours for the tops, and indeed also for the bottoms (See the article about a capsule wardrobe for True Spring for an example of that)

Capsule wardrobe using the 1-2-3-4 formula

Creating outfits

Here comes the fun part, putting together outfits. Now comes the time when you find out how the items you have picked can be layered and combined. Remember that you can change a look completely by tucking the top in, a half tuck or wearing it loose, open or held together with a belt. 

Remember: Scarves can also be used as belts, for variation.

I have played around with these items, and came up with these different combinations:

Different outfits created with the 1-2-3-4 formula capsule wardrobe

If you start with a capsule wardrobe like this that consists of a few wonderful items that can be combined in many ways, you can add additional pieces later and expand the possibilities, or change out the accessories and make a fresh new look for the whole wardrobe. 

To shift this capsule wardrobe into fall/winter, put the flimsy skirt into storage and add a wool skirt, take away the white sleeveless top and add a long sleeved merino wool top instead.  Switch to soft wool scarves, black and silver belts and wear with tall boots.

Fun, isn't it?

About the author, Jorunn Hernes

Jorunn is a Certified Personal Colour Analyst, founder of Nordic Simplicity and Scandinavian Style Academy™, the fresh, simple, Scandinavian approach to getting dressed. Jorunn will avoid social settings with more than three people but can be lured out with snacks and the promise to talk about books.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}