Beyond the Basics: How to Put Together a Capsule Wardrobe That Still Looks Like You

Capsule Wardrobes

Do you truly love your wardrobe?

When you get dressed in the morning, how often do you absolutely LOVE what you put on? Are you usually totally thrilled with the options you have when you open your closet — or do you feel more like you’re sifting through a ton of things you rarely wear and wouldn’t ever choose again if you found them at the store?

Let’s be real: a lot of us are the latter. In our world of fast fashion and trends that come and go even faster, it’s so easy to accumulate clothes that don’t really do much to communicate our individual style. So many of us have clothes that we received as a gift, purchased on a whim because they were SO on sale, picked out five years ago and feel guilty getting rid of… the list goes on. It’s really hard to look your best and communicate your personal style when your closet is full of pieces that don’t do that.

It’s even harder to pull together an outfit we love when our closets are stuffed with an assortment of hits and misses (mostly misses, if we are being honest). It’s overwhelming! We are a society suffering from decision fatigue and the daunting task of sorting through all of that to get dressed is enough to make you stay in your pajamas every day!

is a capsule wardrobe too rigid or just right?

That’s why capsule wardrobes are so amazing. Your closet, drawers, and overall life feel less cluttered. Getting dressed in the morning involves less guesswork and less time. Everything goes together, and best of all, you know that no matter what you put on, it’ll be something you really love and carefully thought about — not just something you bought on clearance that you now feel obligated to wear at least once.

But then again, capsule wardrobes can seem a little restrictive and…boring. Where’s the personality? Where is the flare? Where…are YOU? It’s pretty daunting to imagine narrowing down the pieces you wear, especially if your closet is currently overflowing with OPTIONS (I know that is what some of you are thinking). And even more daunting to think you might disappear into a one-style-fits-all uniform of neutral basics that don’t tell your story.

I’m going to let you in on a secret: capsule wardrobes are not one-style-fits-all. Putting together a capsule wardrobe doesn’t mean you have to suddenly wear only one color, toss out all of your shoes, shun all prints, and go spend hundreds of dollars on a bunch of items you’d never pick out otherwise, all in the name of a concept that is equal parts alluring and frightening.

What a capsule wardrobe really means is shopping your closet before the stores, refining your individual style so that you shine through in every piece and every outfit, thoughtfully choosing pieces you really love, and simplifying your life. And as long as you follow a few simple steps, there’s nothing scary about that.

"Style is a way of saying who you are without having to speak."

Rachel Zoe

How to Put together a capsule wardrobe that looks like you

Here’s how to start putting together a capsule wardrobe that really rings true to you and your individual style.

  1. 1. Figure out your signature style
    First, think about your favorite pieces of clothing in your closet. Your go-tos, your wardrobe workhorses, your laundry basket regulars. Do you gravitate toward timeless, classic looks? Do you feel the most comfortable in tailored, minimal pieces? Do you crave an element of cuteness and fun in each outfit? Or maybe you love a look that strikes a balance between edgy and sophisticated? Think about what clothes make you feel the most beautiful and the most you.

    If you feel like your closet represents the clearance section rejects you scooped up only for the the thrill of the deal instead of showcasing the real you, consider that for the same amount of money you could have spent more per item on fewer things you truly love and wear rather than a closet full of things you don’t love and ignore. Who are the celebrities, influencers, or friends whose style feels natural to you? It’ll be a lot easier to put together a capsule wardrobe you love once you already have a vision for it.

    Not sure what your style is? It’s easy to admire what you like on someone else instead of what actually suits you (I made that mistake for years). Take the Style Twist Quiz and find out what your style could be.

    The Stunning Style Wardrobe Guides are full of shopping links labeled by Classic Style Twist so you can choose the items that suit your personal style perfectly.


  2. 2. Start with the basics

    Start with the basics and fill in with details that let your style shine through. Don’t let that scare or bore you before you start. Basics are the foundation of every wardrobe, but ESPECIALLY a capsule wardrobe. They are called foundational pieces for a reason, because they are a basic framework to build upon. They are what hold up the rest of your outfit. Flour, water and salt on their own seem boring, but they are he beginning of every bread and pastry out there.


  4. 3. Choose a color palette — and stick to it
    A successful capsule wardrobe doesn’t have to avoid color altogether — the secret is to choose a cohesive color palette that’s flattering on you. Look for colors that work both with the current season and your own coloring.
    One method is using color theory. There are four categories of colors: Hues (pure color, think primary colors), shades (pure color with black added), tones (pure color with gray added in), and tints (pure color with white added). This basically follows the seasonal color analysis method. Hues are Winter, shades are Autumn, tones are Summer, and tints are Spring.

    I’m a winter, and I only wear that color palette. That means my wardrobe is extremely cohesive. All of the colors in my wardrobe are hues and harmonize perfectly, which means I can wear just about anything together, and I don’t have to limit the colors in my capsule.

    I think most of us have a general idea of what looks good or bad on us. Mustard makes me look like I have the flu, and that means I can rule out Autumn, for example. I get compliment after compliment when I wear cobalt blue or black, so that clues me in that I’m a Winter (though I was professionally draped when I was eight and my mom was into Color Me Beautiful). Once you know your season or color palette, you’ll know what colors you should be filling your closet with from now on.

    The Stunning Style Wardrobe Guides are differentiated by color palette so you can get a truly cohesive and flattering wardrobe.


  6. 4. Shop your closet
    Now that you know what you love and what colors you look best in, head straight to your closet first. Look for pieces you already have that express your personal style and flatter your look. Choose pieces that you’d be happy to wear on a regular basis. Look for clothing that goes well with your designated color palette. If it works with your palette, it’ll work together! Find the clothes that express you instead of stifle you.

    Hint: If you have items that you put on and immediately take off, they aren’t your style for one reason or another. For me that was fit and flare skirts. I adore them on others, but I feel like a five-year-old when I put them on. Now I know they are all wrong for me, and I don’t even consider them. I feel the same way about anything loose and drapey.


  8. 5. Incorporate your Classic Style Twists

    Now that you know what your Twist is (or are. You can be a combo of multiple), look for the details that will tell your story. Your wardrobe basics don’t have to be basic. Your basic striped tee can have leather trim for an Edgy Classic vibe, or a peplum hem for a Cute Classic look, a cowl neck for a Soft Classic detail, a moisture-wicking fabric for a Sporty Classic outfit, and if you are Minimal Classic, keep to a timeless look.


  10. 6. Fill in the rest
    Assess what you already have, narrow it down, and figure out what’s missing. Do you have a lot of tops and only one good pair of pants that work with the season, fit well and look great on you? Do most of your shoes usually sit untouched or make you feel meh? Do you have a few go-to accessories you love and could wear with most outfits? Figure out what’s missing from your capsule wardrobe and make a shopping list. In fact, I’ve done a lot of that work for you — check out my seasonal capsule Wardrobe Guides for a piece-by-piece, outfit-by-outfit guide catered to your individual color season and Style Twist.

a capsule wardrobe is one thing that is all about you

Of course, there’s plenty of room for customization even when it comes to structuring your capsule wardrobe. Many try to narrow down their capsule wardrobe to a magic number. Personally, I don’t feel the need to be so rigid when it comes to dressing myself — or anyone else, for that matter. To me, the purpose of a capsule wardrobe is to simplify your closet and be intentional about showing off your style from season to season. If that means you need 54 pieces instead of 33, or you really want a lot of shoes — do it. The whole purpose of a capsule wardrobe is to serve you and your needs, not the other way around. If 20 is your magic number, don’t stress about adding more.

Start embracing and expressing who you really are with a capsule wardrobe that’s full of pieces and outfits that speak to you and about you. Armed with an understanding of what styles you love most, what pieces you look best in, and detailed guides on what outfits and pieces to wear every single day of the week, you’ll look better and feel more confident than ever before.


Looking for more inspiration? Discuss capsule wardrobes and classic wardrobe style with a community of like-minded women at the Classic Capsule Conversations Facebook group!


are you ready for some classic style inspiration?

If you’ve been nodding along with this article, you may be a woman with classic style. Check out these posts  to find more style inspiration. Or take our Classic Style Twist quiz here, and then read about the different Twists here to learn how to bring your own personality type through while still embracing classic style.

Have you joined my FREE Facebook group? Classic Capsule Conversations is the perfect place to discuss capsule wardrobes and classic clothing style with a community of like-minded women!

You can also follow me on Instagram for more outfit inspiration!

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