Step by step guide to a capsule wardrobe

A capsule wardrobe is a small collection of clothes that fit together in style and colour, and that can be combined to create lots of different outfits.  

A functional capsule wardrobe fulfills the needs of a particular situation or occasion. 

A common misconception is that a capsule wardrobe shall consist of a set number of items. But you know what? There is no need to be so strict. 

A capsule wardrobe can consist of just a few items, or you can have a larger capsule wardrobe. The number of items is not what defines a capsule wardobe.

What decides the number of items is how many outfits you need to create for the situation that you need the capsule wardrobe for. This guide tells you how to create a capsule wardrobe that is based on your particular everyday life. 

When making a capsule wardrobe, it is important to choose items of high quality, durable garments that can stand up to frequent laundering and wear, for a long time, and still look and feel great. 

It's also smart to choose relatively timeless styles, that will not look dated next month. Then you'll enjoy your clothes for a long time, and have a sustainable wardrobe. It is sustainable because you are saving the environment by not buying new clothes all the time. 

It is common to use neutral colours like grey, sand, brown, dark blue or black as the backbone of the capsule wardrobes, at least on basics like skirts, trousers and jackets, and then supplement with their best colours for tops and accessories. 


Make an overview of your lifestyle and situation. 

The first step in creating a capsule wardrobe is to find out which situation you need it for. 

Is it for work or leisure? What kind of work? Are you spending your workdays crawling on the floor with kids, at home or in a day care, or do you work at a desk in an office? How do you spend your leisure time? Are you hiking or gardening, or will we find you curled up with a good book?

Be realistic.

Remember to plan your capsule wardrobes for the life you actually live, not the life you dream of. 

Write down the different situations that make up your everyday life, during a typical week. Most people have at least two different kinds of life situations, wither work and leisure, or two different jobs, or two kinds of situations that demand different styles of clothing. Some people vave more than two.

Important: Record how many times per week the different situations occur. 

Example: Kari works three days a week at an office, the rest of the days she spends in leisure clothes. She volunteers at a youth club for disabled kids once a week, the rest of the time she spends with friends, at the library or walking the dog. Kari feels that she needs two different types of capsule wardrobes, one for work, and one for leisure. She also does yoga but she has a drawer of suitable yoga clothes and she keeps that separate and doesn't count that as a capsule wardrobe.


You need 2-3 outfits for every day you spend in a particular situation per week.

By applying this principle on Kari, who spends four out of seven days a week on leisure activities, Kari will have enough variation if she has 8-12 different outfits to change between on those days (and of course to change into when she gets home from work). This does NOT mean that she needs 8-12 completely different outfits of unique items. A capsule wardrobe consisting of 6-7 items will give plenty of different combinations. 

Capsule wardrobe 1 leisure

Our imaginary friend Kari loves jeans, and prefers blue and green. By picking two pairs of jeans (one dark and one lighter), four tops and one cardigan, she can put together quite a lot off different outfits. All the tops can be used with both jeans, when combined with the darker jeans they will make a little more "dressy" leisure outfit than with the lighter jeans.

Kari has a couple of sneakers and rougher boots that she uses for these outfits. 

And of course an outdoorsy jacket to use with these.

kapselgarderobe basert på jeans og gensere

As said above, all the tops can be used with both jeans. And the four tops can all be layered under the blue cardigan. The cardigan can also be used on its own buttoned up as a top.

This is an example of a casual everyday capsule wardrobe, tailored to Kari's lifestyle.

But let's not forget that Kari also works at her office three days a week. She also wants a more formal capsule wardrobe to use at the office, and she needs 6-9 different outfits for that.

Utvidet kapselgarderobe til kontorbruk

Capsule wardrobe 2 for the office

The tops that Kari already has picked for her casual capsule wardrobe can also be used ar work, but perhaps jeans is not the best choice for her days at the office. 

Kari has invested in a skirt and a pair of dressier pants for her work capsule wardrobe. 

She has also expanded her colour scheme with a couple of nicer sweaters, one coral and one pale lilac. 

She also has two blazers that she uses to dress up her work outfits. 

Eksempel på antrekk i en kapselgarderobe

As shown here, we can assemple quite a few different outfits based on the expanded capsule wardrobe, so that Kari can feel well dressed at the office as well as at the library or volunteering at the youth club. 

This is just a small selection of the combination possibilitities that this capsule wardrobe offers.


Work out how many different outfits you need for the different situations that fill your days. 

The see if you can create that many outfits with a selection of garments that are already in your closet. 

The nice thing about this approach is that you reveal what you have enough of (or too much of!), and what you need more of. 

It's much easier to make a plan like "I need one light grey blouse to expand my work-outfits" instead of haunting the clothing stores with a vague feeling that you need to buy more clothes to go to work in. 

ALso think about whether there are other special occasions that you need a particular capsule wardrobe for. 

For example, if you attend a conference twice a year where you need to represent your business and need some more formal outfits for that, why not create a capsule wardrobe reserved for that? Of course you can borrow items from your ordinary work capsule wardrobe, but in addition supplement with a couple of versatile formal garments just for this use, hanging ready in the closet. Then you only need ten minutes to pack your bag the day before you leave, and not spend it running around in stores looking for suitable clothes to wear. And by choosing versatile, timeless items, you can safely use them again and again. People will not remember that you wore the same outfit last year, they will only notice how put together and professional you look.

Make a list of the garments that are included in each of your capsule wardrobes, so you remember. 


Lifting simplicity into sophistication.

And now we arrive at a very important part of your capsule wardrobe. Accessories. 

To add that certain element of sophistication and make the style more personal, use accessories that fits your taste and style. ​

Simple does not have to mean boring.

Shoes, jewelry and scarves are useful elements to create variation, and just as important, infuse the outfits with your unique style. 


Look at the shoes, jewelry and scarves that you have, and choose the ones that will add a little something to the outfits you have chosen. Make a list of the accessories you will include in each capsule wardrobe, to make the outfits complete. ​

In conclusion:

When you have chosen clothes and created your capsule wardrobes according to your different life situations and the current time of year, make a list of what you might need to buy to complete the capsules. 

You don' need to give away the clothes that you are not using in your current capsule wardrobes. If they fit and are in good condition, pack them into boxes and store them. 

After some time and you are ready to renew your capsule wardrobe or ease it into the next season, you might discover that they are like new to you, and you'll find a place for them in next season's capsule wardrobes. 

That's when you take stock of your capsule wardobe, pack away clothes din, pack down and store the clothes that are not appropriate for the season, and choose a new capsule wardrobe based on the climate and the situations. 

Good luck with your project of building your own capsule wardrobe that is perfect for you, your style and your life!