The Capsule Wardrobe: How to Reduce Your Closet to 37 Pieces

How to Build a Capsule Wardrobe



Is it us, or does it suddenly seem like less is so much more? While the minimalist lifestyle has been gaining traction for a while now, lately it seems the trend has narrowed in on an area dear to our hearts: the closet. Whether it’s Marie Kondo’s often wardrobe-focused tidying technique or Matilda Kahl’s choice to wear one outfit to work for three years, many are looking to edit down their closets. We know we’re guilty of stocking some unworn, low-quality items, but we’d like to change that.

One closet-reducing program that’s especially buzzy as of late is the capsule wardrobe. While many have jumped on the clothes-purging bandwagon, the authority on the capsule wardrobe movement is Caroline Rector of Un-Fancy. Below, we explore what a real capsule wardrobe looks like, Rector’s methodology, what it’s done to change her life, and how to start your own capsule collection.

Scroll down to see our how-to and what the capsule wardrobe looks like IRL so you can start simplifying your closet and your life.

How it works:

In the words of Rector, a capsule wardrobe is “a mini wardrobe made up of really versatile pieces that you totally love to wear.” Each season, you clear your closet except for a set number of pieces to be in your capsule wardrobe. Rector’s golden number is 37 items, but it varies by season. Your capsule collection is made up of a combination of items you already own and love to wear, as well as new, quality items that you can shop for once a season. Learn more details about how it works on Un-Fancy.

The benefits:

According to Un-Fancy, a capsule wardrobe represents more time, more money, and more energy for the things in life that really matter (i.e., not your clothes). By shopping only once a season, you save money on frivolous items that add up. Rector also says that by narrowing her wardrobe, she was actually able to define and understand her style more. Plus, she always feels like she has something great to put on, as every single item hanging in her closet is something she would love to wear right at that moment.

capsule wardrobe ideas



How to start your own:

Rector has a five-step approach to building your own capsule wardrobe.

1. Pare down your closet to 37 items.
2. Wear only those 37 items for three months.
3. Don’t go shopping during the season until…
4. During the last two weeks of the season, plan and shop for your next capsule.
​5. The amount you buy for the next capsule is up to you, but less is more.

Check out Rector’s additional tips and rules for paring down your closet.

What a capsule collection looks like in action:

Trench Coat

How to Capsule Wardrobe



Not only is it extremely practical for inclement weather, but a khaki trench coat is a true wardrobe classic that will never go out of style. 

Cream Tank Top

A great tank top is such a perfect layering piece for fall and winter. In the spring and summer, it’s fantastic for staying cool and showing off some skin. 


How to Capsule Wardrobe: blazer



Blazers have the power to add polish to even your most basic jeans and tees. It’s always a smart investment. 

White Blouse

Minimalist Wardrobe for women: white blouse



What’s more classic than a white blouse? It never looks out of place whether you’re at work, at the bar, or running errands. 

Denim Jacket

Does this one really need an explanation? Denim jackets will always be a smart investment. 

Printed Dress

All of our favorite retailers are chock-full of printed dresses, so it’s never hard to find a style that will suit your taste and budget. 

Denim Shorts

How to capsule wardrobe: denim shorts



This is the staple that we’ll never be shy to bust out every single spring and summer. 

Pointy-Toe Pumps

How to Capsule Wardrobe: slip dress



Pointy-toe pumps always give me confidence because they look like they mean business. 


capsule wardrobe ideas



A hybrid of a shirt and a jacket, shackets are ideal for transitional weather as well as layering. 

Slip Dress

To winter-proof a slip dress, simply add a slim-fitting turtleneck underneath. 

Little Black Dress

Minimalist Wardrobe for women: little black dress



As Karl Lagerfeld famously said, "One is never overdressed or underdressed with a little black dress."

Black Ankle Boots

How to Capsule Wardrobe: black ankle boots



A well-made pair of black boots will get you far in life. 

White Sneakers

Minimalist Wardrobe for women: white sneakers



I personally can never stop buying white sneakers. They go with absolutely everything and are never a bad investment. 

Midi Skirt

A midi skirt is so versatile because it looks equally chic styled with knee-high boots as it does with sneakers. 

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This story was published at an earlier date and has been recently updated.