How to Crush Your Minimalist Capsule Wardrobe Checklist

Does this sound familiar to you? It’s Monday morning. You’re in a rush and there you are standing in your closet. Staring.

There are clothes everywhere but you just can’t decide what to wear. You choose a top but it doesn’t go with your pants. You choose a pair of pants but they don’t go with your top.

You feel like a castaway floating at sea. You’re surrounded by water but you can’t drink a single drop. 


It’s what Psychology Today calls Analysis Paralysis. You’re faced with so much choice that it renders you incapable of making a decision. 

If only you had put together your minimalist capsule wardrobe checklist.

Why You Need Clothing Capsules

For many, a cluttered wardrobe isn’t just a symptom of an uncontrollable shopping habit, it’s a reflection of the time and control that they lack in their daily routines. 

The end result is that they don’t know where anything is or they often buy clothes, wear them once and then banish them to the depths of their closet, never to be seen again.


It leads to a vicious cycle of more shopping, more clutter and more wasted space. 

The Telegraph and numerous other outlets have suggested that women only wear 20% of the clothes in their closets. We’ll likely never know how accurate that figure is but the point is that most, if not all of us, have too many clothes that we just don’t wear anymore.

You Spent How Much?!

If there’s one place you feel the pain of impulse buying more than anywhere, it’s your wallet.

Take a moment to think about all the times you bought a piece of clothing because you felt like you needed it right then and there. 

What became of those clothes? 

Do you even know where they are in your closet right now?

Now think about all the money you could have saved for more important things. A vacation. A car. Maybe even a mortgage.

I know, sucks doesn’t it?

Sorry, I can't do anything today. I have a headache.

That’s why you need to start building a capsule wardrobe. And ticking off your minimalist capsule wardrobe checklist.

This is how you take control of your spending habits. And your daily routine.

The Significance of Clothing Capsules

Clothing capsules are by no means a magic bullet. Yes, you will feel like you always have something to wear but a minimalist wardrobe will not cut straight to the heart of the issue. 

As world-renown Japanese organizing consultant Marie Kondo explains through her KonMari Method, “Tidying is a powerful tool, but it’s not the destination. The true goal of tidying is to clear away clutter so you can live the life you want.”

The simple act of organizing your closet puts you on the path to deciding what’s most important in your life. It gives you back some control, even if it’s just a little, which you can then begin to extrapolate out into other areas of your life.

With a minimalist wardrobe women can save time, money and energy for the things that really matter to them.

That means less time spent deciding what to wear. Less time spent shopping. And less laundry time, too. Bonus!


On the flipside, you will have more time to reflect and take stock of what really matters to you. 

Maybe now’s the time to start saving for that vacation and pursuing the dreams you’ve lost sight of.

The process of building a capsule wardrobe also allows you to find your style. When you really start to boil everything down, you begin to discover what you enjoy the most. Those pieces form the foundation of your personal style as you find yourself wearing them again and again across the seasons. 

Now you’ll never be left wondering what to wear. Rejoice!

Here’s something else you may not have considered. Human rights and the environment. In his groundbreaking documentary, The True Cost, director Andrew Morgan explores the darker side of the fashion industry. 

Watch it if you want to feel bad about yourself.

On the other hand, if you want an excuse to feel good about yourself, just know that cutting back your spending habits could actually be helping the environment! 

Building a capsule wardrobe really adds up to a lot when you think about it.

In short, you will be happier.

What Even is a Clothes Capsule?

We’ve all dreamt about having that luxurious walk-in closet. You know, one that’s big enough to be someone’s bedroom. Where there’s enough room to not only swing a cat but maybe two cats. No three. And maybe even a dog or two!


Well, a capsule wardrobe isn’t that. Time to pop that balloon.

Simply put, clothing capsules are wardrobes made up of the most practical and versatile clothes you already love wearing. 

Anything that doesn’t make the cut either gets stored away for another season, donated or discarded.

Depending on which methodology you follow, you may be left with more or fewer clothes after the decluttering process is finished. Courtney Carver, founder of Project 333 advocates for wearing a total of 33 items each season i.e. three months.

Other minimalist experts like Caroline Joy of Un-Fancy advocate for a maximum of 37 items. 

Whatever number you choose, just keep the mindset that less is best. Remember your goal is to find the things that bring you happiness, not the things you sort of, kind of, maybe like.

At the beginning of each season, you can rebuild your capsule with the other items you stored away or you may replace them with new ones, which you have carefully planned for ahead of time. This is not an excuse to impulse buy! 

Some women have taken this a step further.

Rather than buy new clothes, services like Rent the Runway allow women to rent designer items and swap them as and when they see fit.

What is in a Capsule Wardrobe?

The most important pieces of your capsule wardrobe should always come first.

What are the most important pieces of a capsule wardrobe?

The most important pieces are the basics. They are the essential wardrobe pieces for minimalist living. They are everyday items you wear no matter the season like t-shirts, leggings and basic tank tops.

Some basics you might want to include:

White Tank Top




White Blouse


Denim Jacket



The reason you want to focus on the basics first is that they can be easily combined with your outfits and dressed up or down accordingly.

Once you build out your minimalist closet essentials, you can start to include things like party wear and seasonal items.

If you need a little more clarity on the basics, Signe from Use Less offers some helpful advice in the video below.


The general items you will need to check off your minimalist capsule wardrobe checklist include:

  1. Jackets/Blazers
  2. Pants
  3. Jeans
  4. Shoes
  5. Shirts
  6. T-shirts
  7. Blouses
  8. Knitwear
  9. Shorts
  10. Dresses
  11. Skirts
  12. Shoes
  13. Jewelry 
  14. Accessories

These are the items that will make up your minimalist wardrobe list. Of course, you should adjust your final capsule according to seasonality and any potential events you may have coming up. 

For example, you probably won’t need shorts until summer. Store those for safe-keeping.

Once you’ve figured that out, your next task is to find the pieces that you absolutely love. That’s where things can start to get a little tricky. But it’s necessary if you want to break your old habits and free yourself from the burden of long-forgotten impulse buys. 

This is where you create new habits. New styles. And a new you.

Keep in mind that a minimalist wardrobe does not include essential items like:

  • Underwear
  • Socks
  • Activewear
  • Or things you might wear around the house, like your sweats

However, this comes with a caveat. If you find that you wear your leggings more often to the grocery store than to the gym, then they become part of your basics.

Building a Capsule Wardrobe

Make Time

Like an addict entering the 12-step Program, the first step may be the most difficult. And that’s making the time to build your capsule wardrobe.

One complaint I hear time and again from those who lead chaotic lives is that they just don’t have time for anything. 

Their problem isn’t that they don’t have time, however. It’s that they are inefficient with it. And that’s really one of the fundamental ideas behind building a capsule wardrobe. Efficiency. 

Clothing capsules are a critical first step in finding and developing efficiencies in your life. 

No, this isn’t some woo woo philosophy. Just think about the practical implications. By finding essential wardrobe pieces for minimalist living you have already cut down the time it takes for you to find an outfit. And dress yourself in the morning. 

All of a sudden you have 15 extra minutes, maybe more, to start your day. 

That could be 15 less minutes spent in traffic.


Or 15 more minutes to think about your priorities for the day.

That could lead to even more time saved throughout your day.

With that being said, you need to make time to do this properly. Don’t think ‘I’ll do this over the course of a few weekends.’ You need to do this in one shot. 

Why? Because if you don’t one of two things are going to happen:

  1.  You’ll start the process but do it inefficiently, dragging it out for weeks. Maybe months.
  2.  You will find yourself making excuses not to do it at all. 

Bottom line, make the time and unburden yourself as quickly as you can. 

Visualize & Sort

The next step is to lay out everything that’s in your closet. Lay them on your bed. Clear the room if you have to. Just find somewhere where you can clearly see everything.


Your sorting process should be a take-no-prisoners approach. Don’t think, just go with your gut and put them into the following six piles:

  • Basics I Love: These items make me feel good about myself. They fit me and I wear them often.

  • Basics I’m Not Sure About: We all have those things in our lives that we want to keep. But for the life of us, we just don’t know why. Maybe they require a simple fix like a missing button.

  • Seasonal/Non-Basics: These are the items you love but can’t reasonably wear right now due to seasonality. This also includes non-essentials like leopard prints or other trend based items.

  • Special Occasion Wear: This is anything you might wear to a party or a special event like a wedding. 

  • Items I Want to Donate: These don’t fit me or my lifestyle anymore.

  • Items Neither I Nor Anyone Else Would Want: Just ew.

    Fair warning, this process can be a little daunting. So, be sure to prepare yourself both physically and mentally. And take breaks if you need to. 

    If you think you need a little more guidance on how to sort everything, Signe shares some more useful tips in the video below.

    Now that you’ve gone through the first round of sorting, it’s time for round two! 

    Before you ask, no we’re not trying to get to the magic 33 items right away. That would be crazy. You’re just trying to narrow it down to the things you love. Nothing more.

    Take a closer look at your Basics I Love and Basics I’m Not Sure About piles. Try on the clothes you’re not sure about and ask yourself this:

    1. Would I buy this today if I were in a store?
    2. Am I likely to wear this in the next three to six months?

    If the answer to either question is no, add it to your donate pile.

    Make Your Minimalist Capsule Wardrobe Checklist

    Borrowing from the general list of items I mentioned earlier, your goal is to narrow things down to the final 33 items.

    Break down your minimalist closet essentials category by category. For example:


    • Jeans
    • Dress
    • Skirt
    • Basic tee
    • Basic shirt
    • Blazer


    • Necklace


    • Sunglasses
    • Scarf
    • Purse


    • Flats
    • Heels
    • Boots

    When getting your basics sorted, ask yourself What do I wear most often? And What fits my current lifestyle? 

    This is where we start to get down to the nitty gritty and answer the question - what are the most important pieces of a capsule wardrobe for you? 

    Do you prefer jackets or blazers?

    Do you prefer monochrome or lots of colors?

    Do you prefer tight or relaxed fits?

    It’s the point where we start to move past merely sorting through your possessions and answering the fundamental questions about who you are and what’s important to you.

    This is where you start to take back control.

    via GIPHY

    After you take a deep breath and find out what makes you tick, it’s time to move on to seasonal and trend pieces.

    If it’s winter, throw in a heavy coat. Feeling that animal print right now? Add it to the list. Think about any special occasions you might have coming up as well like a wedding or a friend’s birthday party.

    Need a new party dress? Check out some of these styles.




    You might even choose to build your clothing capsules around a theme or color for each season.

    Remember that as much as this is a practical process, it should be a fun one, too.

    Your final minimalist capsule wardrobe checklist might look something like this:

    • 15 basic clothing pieces
    • 5 seasonal/trend/special occasion clothing pieces
    • 5 pairs of shoes
    • 3 pieces of jewelry
    • 2 accessories

    If you feel like you would really benefit from adding one or two extra items, go ahead. But like I said before, less is best.

    You’ve Completed Your Minimalist Capsule Wardrobe Checklist, Now What?


    Now that you’ve completed your minimalist wardrobe list, it’s time to pack it all up into your wardrobe again. 

    Anything that didn’t make it into your final 33 needs to be stored, donated or thrown away.

    If you want to make sure your clothes are safely stored away until next season, I suggest you vacuum seal them where possible. This not only saves space but keeps them fresh and clean from any dust or debris they might otherwise accumulate.

    Choosing Your Outfits 

    Clothing capsules are an opportunity to find your personal style. 

    You might surprise yourself with the combinations you come up with. But ultimately you should find that all your looks have a common theme. 

    The best part is that your wardrobe will be completely versatile, meaning you will never run out of ideas for what to wear. 

    You might choose to pair your favorite tee with your favorite jeans and sneakers for a dressed down look one day. 

    The next you could just as easily layer with a blazer and swap out your sneakers for some heels. Instant smart-casual attire.

    You might even decide to create a few standard outfits for yourself, so you’ll know exactly what to wear for any occasion. Whether it be for a client meeting, sunday brunch or date night. 

    Even if you think you’ve exhausted your outfit options, look to Pinterest and Instagram. You might just discover a new way of wearing something you never even thought of!

    Although the process of choosing your outfits should be much easier now, if you really want to optimize your wardrobe, you could try out an app like Stylebook.

    Stylebook is a neat little app that helps you organize your closet. It gives you a complete overview of what you own and what you wear. So you can plan your outfits and keep yourself in check whenever you get the urge to splurge.

    How to Shop For Clothing Capsules

    Newsflash, almost nobody gets it right the first time. 

    Maybe you feel like you’re missing something. It could be a basic piece or a trend that you desperately want to try out. 

    Whatever it is, the key thing to bear in mind is that it needs to fit in with the rest of your wardrobe. There’s no sense in buying something if it doesn’t blend in. Odds are you won’t wear it very often

    Plan Your Shops

    If you really want to stick to the minimalist wardrobe mindset, you need to say goodbye to impulse buys once and for all.

    via GIPHY

    Every shop from now on needs to be planned and purposeful. 

    Realistically, the only reason you should shop is either because of a new season or trend. Or you’ve decided to replace some of your basics because they don't fit you or your tastes anymore. 

    Whenever you get the urge to buy something new, stop and ask yourself:

    1. How many outfits can I make out of it?
    2. How often am I likely to wear it?

    If you struggle to see yourself wearing it 20 - 30 times, avoid it like the plague! This is where something like Stylebook comes in handy for visualization. 

    Remember also that you don’t necessarily need to shop at all. If you stored away enough items at the beginning of the process, feel free to revisit these and replace them with what’s currently in your capsule. Think of it like shopping in your own little boutique.

    Signe also has some good advice on this if you need a little more guidance.

    Key Takeaways

    • Building a capsule wardrobe is the first step towards wrangling in your spending habits and your closet.
    • Make time to create a minimalist capsule wardrobe checklist and finish it in one day.
    • Sort through and find your essential wardrobe pieces for minimalist living.
    • Find what you love and store, donate or discard the rest.
    • Plan ahead and think about things you’ll need for the upcoming season or any events you might be attending.
    • Narrow everything down to 33 items, give or take, and tick off your minimalist capsule wardrobe checklist.
    • Optimize your time further by planning your outfits by yourself or with the help of an app like Stylebook.
    • Plan your next shopping trip ahead of time and ask yourself whether any potential new items fit in with your minimalist closet essentials.
    • Start living the life you’ve always wanted.

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