How to Apply the Capsule Wardrobe Philosophy to your Non-Capsule Wardrobe

Capsule wardrobes are big news right now.

capsule wardrobe for people who hate capsule wardrobes

Everywhere we look, people seem to be embracing minimalism, clearing out their closets and decided to create a simple capsule wardrobe instead. Entire blogs have been built on the capsule wardrobe principle, and you only have to look at Pinterest to see tons of images of perfect, colour-coordinated capsules, for every possible scenario.

While it’s not difficult to understand the appeal of the capsule wardrobe, however (Seriously, who hasn’t looked at those images of perfectly-organised closets, and thought how much easier life would be if you didn’t have to work out what to wear every morning?), it’s also true to say that they’re not for everyone.

How a capsule wardrobe works

Capsule wardrobes work by limiting choice, and thus limiting the amount of decisions you have to make every day: let’s be honest, though, they also limit the amount of fun you get to have with your wardrobe. You can remix to your heart’s content, but how long do you think it’ll take to get sick to death of wearing the same old stuff day after day? How will you feel, faced with an amazing dress, which you feel absolutely fantastic in – but which you’re not “allowed” to buy, because it won’t work with your capsule wardrobe?

Some people, of course, won’t be even remotely troubled by these objections. These are people like Matilda Kahl, who made headlines earlier this year by wearing exactly the same outfit to work every single day, without exception, in a bid to simply her life. What Kahl has is more of a uniform than a traditional capsule wardrobe, but the theory is the same: you have fewer options, which makes getting dressed a whole lot easier.

What if you’re not like Kahl, though? What if you love the idea of a capsule wardrobe, but you ALSO love the idea of still being able to buy the clothes you love – even if they won’t work with your capsule? What if collecting clothes is your hobby, or you just like to switch up your style on a regular basis?

if you love collecting clothes, or switching up your style, a capsule wardrobe probably isn’t for you

The bad news is that a capsule wardrobe just won’t work for you in that case. The good news, however, is that you CAN apply the capsule wardrobe principles to your NON-capsule wardrobe, and get all the benefits of a capsule (saving time, making it easier to get dressed in the morning, always having something appropriate to wear, whatever you’re doing), without any of the restrictions of one. How? By creating a capsule WITHIN your wardrobe.

What’s a Capsule-Within-Your Wardrobe?

It’s exactly what it sounds like. You get to keep all of your existing items of clothing, so you still have just as much choice as you have before – and you can keep ADDING to your existing wardrobe too, if you want to. But you also create a capsule.

The capsule you create isn’t a traditional capsule wardrobe: instead, it’s a section of your wardrobe (ideally a LITERAL section of your wardrobe, in that you keep these items separate from everything else you own) in which you create your own capsule of basics. You can think of this as a capsule wardrobe, but you can also simply think of it as your CORE wardrobe: the essentials you need to get through your day to day life. These are the basics which form the backbone of your wardrobe: the building blocks which form the basis of your personal style, and which you can then build upon, by adding in whatever else you like.

the capsule-within-your-wardrobe is your core wardrobe: the building blocks which form the basis of your personal style

Developing your non-capsule wardrobe

So, what do you put in this capsule wardrobe that isn’t actually a capsule wardrobe, then? Good question. The capsule-within-your-wardrobe should contain your closet essentials. These will be different for everyone, so rather than providing you with a list of ’30 things every woman should own’, or whatever, what we’d suggest you do is this:

01. Make a list of the the things you find yourself doing most often: so, work, hobbies, social activities etc.

02. Write down your ideal outfit for each of those occasions.

03. Go to your closet, and see if you can pull together all of the outfits you’ve come up with, using clothing you already own.

capsule wardrobes limit choice, but they also limit fun…

04. Transfer the items you’ve used to a separate section of your wardrobe if you possibly can: if space is limited, try just grouping them together on the rail – maybe tie a ribbon around your clothes rail to mark off that section, or use a different colour of hanger for the clothes in your “capsule wardrobe”.

05. Make a list of any items you felt you needed, but didn’t have.

06. If you can, go shopping for those items: if you can’t, keep the list in your purse or on your phone so that when you ARE out shopping, or have some spare cash, you can start filling these closet holes.

07. In the case of activities like work, which you need more than one outfit, make sure you have enough of these basics to put together as many combinations as you’ll need.

And you’re done: now you get to enjoy all of the benefits of a capsule wardrobe, without having to restrict yourself to always wearing the same things!


Your new “capsule wardrobe” is NOT a traditional capsule wardrobe, and it’s not supposed to be in any way restrictive. So, just because you’ve pulled together a selection of outfits that are suitable for wearing to work, say, it doesn’t mean you can ONLY wear those outfits to work – not at all.

your new “capsule wardrobe” is non-restrictive – you can still wear everything else in your closet, too

What it means is that you can still wear whatever you like to work, because you still have access to your entire wardrobe, and you’re not placing yourself under any kind of shopping ban: heaven forbid. But on those days when you’re running late, feeling un-inspired, or simply having those “I have 500 dresses and nothing to wear!” moments, you have a capsule of basics which you can turn to, knowing that in the space of just a few minutes, you’ll be able to pull together something that works.

What it ALSO means – and this is the REALLY good part – is that now that you’ve got all of the basics in stock, you can really start to have fun with everything else. No more feeling guilty that you’re buying another impractical dress when you don’t have anything to wear to work: that dress is now just the cherry on top of a perfectly put-together closet!

[See my own capsule wardrobe here!]

The Ultimate Collection of Capsule Wardrobes and Style Essentials

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