We all have a friend that gets up, gets ready and gets out the door in 20 minutes. It might seem impossible but it’s actually easier than you think. The secret? Some dry shampoo and a capsule wardrobe to help manage your 9-to-5. Because as much as you crave the perfect look, you may also crave a few extra taps on the “snooze” button, too. Now, you can balance both.
Today, you’ll learn how to create a simple, stylish capsule wardrobe you can keep coming back to. Do that and you’ll not only look polished every single day, but you’ll shave some serious time off of your morning routine—because let’s face it, trying to decide what to wear is the most time-consuming and often frustrating part of the pre-work day.
Let’s break it down...
FIRST, what is a capsule work wardrobe?
Let’s start with the basics: what is a capsule wardrobe? Very simply, a capsule wardrobe is a set of carefully-assembled clothes that coordinate perfectly, fit perfectly and can be mixed and matched to create multiple outfits. For example, that pencil skirt, black pants, blazer, blouse, skinny jeans and t-shirt can be mixed and matched to create several different looks.
By pulling together a seasonal capsule wardrobe you’ll never have to think about what to wear. Just grab a top, bottom and layering piece and you’re out the door.
To achieve this, a capsule work wardrobe should be centered on well-made, stylish-but-timeless looks—think tailored trousers, skinny jeans, a little black dress, neutral blouse, versatile blazer and a few pairs of flats and easy-to-wear pumps. Ultimately, you’ll want about 10-20 pieces in your initial capsule wardrobe. To determine if something belongs in your wardrobe, ask yourself:
- Do you love it?
- Does it fit and fit well?
- Does the garment in question go with at least two complimentary pieces already in your capsule wardrobe—i.e. does that black blazer go with your Casual Friday skinny jeans and your new maxi skirt?
- Will you wear it? While it may sound like a silly question, it’s an important one. The number of things I’ve bought because I love the idea of them but rarely (if ever) integrate them into my work-day wardrobe? More than I care to admit.
SECOND, why do I want/need a capsule wardrobe
A capsule work wardrobe saves you serious time when you’re getting dressed for work. Instead of fumbling through countless shirts, pants, shoes and accessories only to decide you, somehow, have nothing to wear, a capsule wardrobe gives you a set of pieces to choose from.
And as you’ll quickly discover, less is more in this case. Just grab and go—the blazer, the shoes, the dress or the skirt, the tee and the cardigan...it doesn’t matter because it all syncs up. That’s the beauty—and power—of a capsule wardrobe. So go ahead and hit “snooze” (again). You’re practically dressed.
BONUS: decluttering is always in-style
Credit Marie Kondo or any of the professional organizers that seem to be dominating HGTV—clutter is top-of-mind right now. And, really, the focus on decluttering couldn’t come at a better time, considering most of us live in a constant cloud of overflow.
While it may feel commonplace at this point, the reality is that being in a constant state of overflow—information, items, tasks to check off your to-do list and fashion, even—can have a serious impact on your mental state. Building a capsule work wardrobe is a simple way to clear the clutter, giving you space to live (and dress) with intention, not overwhelm. In fact, making too many unimportant decisions is proven to wear out our brain and lessen our productivity. There’s even a term for it: decision fatigue.
But that’s not you. You’re going to create your capsule wardrobe and declutter your mind, spirit and closet. Curb the clutter, create easy-to-wear combos and take on the day.
NOW...let’s build your capsule work wardrobe
Now that you know what a capsule wardrobe is and why you need to assemble yours stat, here’s where to start:
Step 1: Brave your closet
Head over to your closet, open it up and remove every single item. Yes, you read that right. Everything comes out and everything goes on the bed. Why? Because you aren’t sleeping on a pile of clothes tonight. Having your wardrobe stacked on top of your sheets gives you plenty of motivation to get the job done before the end of the day.
Step 2: Sort it out
This is not the time for “but maybe it will fit someday” or “I could need that obscure accessory if I ever go to that event again.” Check your emotions at the closet doors and start sorting. And know this can get a little ruthless. Go through each and every piece and sort them into the following categories:
- Love: I wear this often, it’s comfortable and I just love it.
- Unsure: I don’t always wear this, but I just can’t seem to get rid of it.
- Donate: This item no longer fits me, my style or my lifestyle—but there’s nothing wrong with it…
- Recycle: This item is in poor condition and nobody else would benefit from it...myself included.
Step 3: Re-visit and re-evaluate
Take another look at your “unsure” pile with a very critical eye. If you haven’t worn a particular piece in the last year or months, it goes in the “donate” pile. The one exception: if some amazing or timeless piece got lost in the deep recesses of your closet and you’re only now rediscovering it. Otherwise, it’s getting donated.
If you sometimes wear a piece, try it on. Don’t hold it up, don’t eyeball it but try it on. See how it fits. See how you feel in it. And see if it seems to sync with your current “love” pile. If you’re loving it, keep it. Otherwise, it’s getting tossed—there’s no room for uncertainty.
Step 4: Build your capsule work wardrobe
Congratulations—you’ve made it through the hardest part. Now, it’s time to have some fun and organize your very own capsule work wardrobe.
Start by building with the clothing you already own and choose each piece with the current season in mind. If you don’t know how many pieces you want in your capsule, start by choosing your absolute favorite pieces—no more than one to two—from the following categories:
- Casual shirts
- Blouses/work-appropriate tops
- Accessories (ex. belts, handbags, scarves, hair accessories, etc)
- Tights and leggings
- Outerwear (ex. seasonally-appropriate jacket or coat)
Once you’ve chosen your pieces, look for outfit gaps—i.e. you don’t have a top to match these bottoms, or this skirt definitely needs a cardigan or blazer, let’s say. If you’re missing a piece or certain type of garment, see if anything works from your “love” pile. This is an opportunity to plug the holes in your capsule work wardrobe with clothes you already own. Or check out Suitably’s capsule collection and see how we can help create a capsule you love.
With your wardrobe assembled, make good on your donate/recycle promise ASAP. It’s easy for clothes to creep right back in your closet, defeating the purpose of a capsule wardrobe. But that’s not you. You’re all in on decluttering and getting your work wardrobe—and your mornings—back where they belong. And, trust us, that looks good on you.