Capsule Wardrobe step by step 1

Ever gone to your wardrobe in the morning and wished that somehow, some way, wardrobe fairies had visited in the night and left you with a whole new set of clothes?

Well that’s precisely the result you get when you start using clothing capsules. They’re the easiest, simplest way to extend your wardrobe, and once you understand how they work, you’ll be amazed at what’s in your closet.

A clothing capsule is a group of 5-12 pieces (jacket, skirt, slacks, etc.) that work in combination with each other. They can be complimentary colors, of the same colour, have similar elements, or be of the same pattern.

For example, let’s say you have:

  • White blouse

  • Black skirt

  • Blue jacket

  • Red pants suit

  • Black tee shirt

…and that you normally wear the white blouse with the black skirt and blue jacket, and the black turtleneck with the red pants suit.

When you use clothing capsules, you “break up” your tried-and-true combinations to create other fabulous ensembles. For example:

  • White blouse, red pants suit

  • White blouse, black skirt, red jacket

  • White blouse, red pants, blue jacket

  • Black tee shirt, red pants

  • Black tee shirt, red pants, blue jacket
  • Black tee shirt, black skirt

  • Black tee shirt, black skirt, blue jacket

  • Black tee shirt, black skirt, red jacket

White blouse, black skirt, red jacket

Black tee shirt, black skirt

So now, instead of two combinations, you have ten. Same number of clothes, eight times as many combinations. It’s a fabulous way to make a little go a long way.

Or to borrow an old Aboriginal saying, “The more you know, the less you need.”

So why don’t more women use clothing capsules? Good question! I think there are two primary reasons:

    1. Most women are so used to wearing certain clothes in certain combinations that they never stop to think about mixing and matching with other items in their closet.

    2. They buy clothes on impulse, not as part of an overall plan. When you buy a little of this and a little of that, you only have a little to work with.

Once you start to view your wardrobe as the investment it is, you start making smarter choices. Just as you put together your career plan or investment portfolio with calculated diligence, so too, should you design your wardrobe for maximum return.

Unfortunately, the media make it easy for us to overspend and make mistakes. With the latest “must haves” and “what’s hot and what’s not” lists, it’s so easy to put aside logic when it comes to our appearance. Don’t do it.

Instead, start with a plan.

  • First, arrange your closet by types of clothing, hanging all jackets together, all skirts together, all blouses together, etc. Break up the suits, and mix up the sweater sets.

  • Secondly, start wearing your clothes in completely different combinations, like those described above. Mix a brown skirt with a blouse that has brown dots, for example, and trying pairing the jackets from some suits with the skirts or pants of other suits.

  • Finally, make note of what you could use to extend your wardrobe even further: belts, scarves, jackets, etc. By process of eliminate, these become YOUR “must haves”.

So how well do clothing capsules actually work? Very well, particularly when travelling.

Here are a couple of comments I’ve received:

“I am going on a weekend retreat this weekend,and I have to tell you – those capsules of yours are amazing! I actually had to ‘downsize’ my suitcase! Boy do I wish I had known about this years ago – it would have made packing so much less tortuous!”

Laura Broughton


“I just returned from a professional conference , and applied the clothing capsule rules to packing. Never before have I had so much with so little. I was gone five days and four nights, and took only a small roll-around suitcase. Everywhere I went I was treated with great respect, and I think my clothing had a lot to do with it.”

Kimberly Dominic

Clothing capsules are a great way to build or rebuild a wardrobe. Start with a few pieces, add a few more, and top with trendy, inexpensive accessories for a fresh look any time.

Once you master this simple wardrobe strategy, you’ll never look at your closet the same again. You’ll also never have to travel heavy any more, because with a few well-chosen pieces and a little imagination, you can make a little do a lot. Try it yourself and see!

series by
Diana Pemberton-Sikes

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