Last Edited: 24 Aug, 2023
Author: Cristina Holm

How to build the perfect capsule wardrobe

And why everyone should have at least two capsules 

They say that if you can remember a fashion item the first time around then you are too old to wear it again.  Whilst to an extent I agree with this, for example I won’t be wearing a mini-skirt anytime soon, trends do come and go and on the whole are best left to the generations that are seeing them for the first time.

However, this is not so for the classic fashion staples that remain ‘en-vogue’ year after year and should form part of your capsule wardrobe.

Let me explain… 

In simple terms a capsule wardrobe means garments that can be mixed and matched to form lots of different outfits using the least number of items.

Providing versatility and functionality whatever the wearer’s style, personality and age.

They are generally basic items, like a white shirt, a pair of jeans, a little black dress and white t-shirt, but whatever your role in life, rich or poor, tiny or tall, they create the foundations of a functional and classic wardrobe.

“In essence the key to successful dressing, is owning a selection of key staple garments that you will love and enjoy wearing often.”

At this point I must stress that this does not mean that every person should own identical garments.

Your capsule will be unique to you and should reflect your “style personality”, your body shape and your lifestyle.

Speaking of which, I have also written a blog on both body shapes and style personalities.  Here are both links:

Style personalities. Which ones are you?

How to dress for your body shape

Now back to the matter at hand!

Clarity on WHAT IS a ‘capsule wardrobe’

Where many of us get confused is the reality that your capsule is actually three and for more seasonal climes like the UK, technically six!  So, let me explain further…

Modesty aside, we wear our clothes to keep warm or stay cool.  Styles we wear in the summer months don’t keep us warm in winter.

This is why I recommend you pack away your summer clothing in Sept/Oct and ditto for your winter clothing in Apr/May.  So that’s two ‘seasonal’ capsule wardrobes.

Then you need to break down each even further to the wardrobe for the ‘working you’, another for the ‘resting you’, and thirdly for the ‘playing you’.

In essence the key to successful dressing, is owning a selection of key staple garments that you will love and enjoy wearing and can mix and match with ease.  Selected to provide you with maximum versatility so you wear them often and many times in the process.  This is a capsule wardrobe.

 The term capsule wardrobe has recently gained a great deal of attention following the demand from consumers for more sustainable clothing

Capsule wardrobes are growing in popularity

Interestingly, the term capsule wardrobe has recently gained a great deal of attention following the demand from consumers for more sustainable clothing supported by an awareness that clothing waste is damaging to our planet.

With as much as 10% of all global carbon emissions resulting from the fashion industry, it’s good we are switching to buy with our conscience rather than on impulse, investing in items that have been made more sustainably and which are less harmful at the end of that garment’s life.

Shifting our focus to quality rather than quantity.

These changes in attitude have meant that as a Personal Fashion Stylist, I now regularly receive requests from customers who want me to help them create their capsule wardrobes with more sustainably sourced and manufactured garments.

Which I love doing as

buying better, wearing more often and wasting less

has always been my motto!

So, how do you create a capsule wardrobe?

A typical capsule will consist of around 18-22 garments that when mixed and matched go with everything.  Generally, they will be of similar colour hues, and will flatter your skin tone and hair colour.

If you are unsure about what colours suit you, I recommend you book a colour consultation with a personal stylist like me.  Here’s a helpful link:

find a colour consultant here in the U.K.

STEP ONE – Where to Start?

Start by looking at your existing wardrobe.  Be honest now, when you look how much of it do you actually wear?

In fact, in the fifteen years I’ve been weeding my clients’ wardrobes, I’ve consistently found 30-60% of the contents never get worn.

What a waste… and precisely what you can avoid by creating the right capsule wardrobe in the first place.   

Now, my following commentary is based upon building the foundations of a capsule wardrobe using your existing clothes.

It is important to note that this blog can only GUIDE you towards creating a capsule wardrobe.  That’s because I don’t know your style personality, nor do I know your unique body shape.

However, when you understand the principals and then implement them into your daily life and clothes shopping habits, you’ll end up with a wardrobe full of clothes that you want to wear and really value.

You will save money and you will help reduce all that unnecessary fashion waste.

You will also choose what to wear far quicker than you ever did!

STEP TWO – Sort into 3 piles for Work, Rest and Play

Firstly, lay all your clothes out and sort them into piles for your ‘working’ capsule, your ‘resting’ capsule, and your ‘playing’ capsule.

If a garment can be worn in more than one of these capsules, then hooray, these particular items, along with ones that you wear more often than others, are worth paying more for.

Think of these as investment pieces which means you should buy quality garments that will last. 

For items that were impulse buys (normally with the price tag still on them!) or those pieces that deep down you know you’ll never really wear or one day fit into (do be honest with yourself), put these out of sight.

For now, whilst you may or may not have some emotional attachment to them, live without them for a season and if you don’t miss them, consider listing them on a resell website like Vinted where you can sell second hand clothes and earn some extra cash.

Alternatively, donate them to a charity to raise funds for a worthy cause.  Just make sure they’re in good condition if you do.

STEP THREE – Remember it’s a Marathon not a Sprint

Working on one capsule at a time, and being quite ruthless, consider which garments you wear the most and whether that is because they go with several other garments you have.  The answer is probably yes.

Also, consider whether by purchasing another key staple garment, perhaps a simple plain shirt or pair of trousers, whether it will mean you can wear these other items you own more often?

It’s worth taking photos of your garments too, so when you are out shopping you can see what items look great with what you already own.

Next you should group tops and bottoms and see how many of each item can be worn in combination?  You should now start to recognise the ‘wear value’ of one item over another and their overall importance in your capsule wardrobe.

It’s important to remember that building a capsule wardrobe is a marathon and not a sprint.  However, the sooner you start, the quicker you’ll be “dressing without guessing”.

Start with the capsule that’s most important to you and which dominates your lifestyle.

Finally, I’m not suggesting you restrict all your clothing buys as it would be unrealistic, but by giving more consideration to the versatility of each purchase, you’ll end up building a wardrobe full of many outfits by owning fewer garments.

You will find you never say you have “Nothing to Wear” ever again.

Plus, you’ll be doing your bit for our environment.  How great is that?

A Guide to key staples by capsule.  Look out for my new series of blogs for work, rest & play

If you’d like to read more about my recommendations for individual capsule wardrobes, check back regularly as I add posts every month or two.  You can also drop me an email (via the Contact Me page) if ever you need support.

Plus if you are planning to buy any new clothes, I also recommend signing up to My Secret Stylist.  It will help you quickly find clothes which will look great on you and makes clothes shopping for yourself far easier.  Here’s the link:

Cristina Holm

Cristina Holm is one of the UK’s leading personal stylists. Cristina is based and operates from her studio in Warfield, Berkshire (United Kingdom).  She serves clients locally and internationally.

Cristina is also the founder of My Secret Stylist, the UK’s best kept clothes shopping secret.  For only £35.99 per year, you can find and ‘see in seconds’ clothes which complement your body shape across all the popular brands.  For more information, go to