Building a Capsule Wardrobe

I first realized I had a slight ‘situation’ on my hands back in December 2015. It was party season, and just like anyone else I had events to attend but found myself lacking wardrobe inspiration. Feeling like this was fairly unusual on my part, I started looking back at the last few months, and realized I generally found I was lacking fashion inspo…but why? It wasn’t that I didn’t have nice clothes – I had plenty – and then I realized that was the issue: I had too many pieces of clothing, way too many.

As someone who is admittedly a slave to fashion, I certainly shouldn’t have been feeling like I’d lost my fashion mojo. I went through my late teens and early 20s working for fantastic fashion brands before launching my own fashion PR and marketing company. So, what was going on? Standing in my underwear looking at my wardrobe with the door wide open, I realized I had become overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of pieces I owned. I’m not talking stupid amounts, but it’s safe to say that my wardrobe was pretty well stuffed.

Since this realization, I have been on a mission to build my ideal capsule wardrobe that works for me come rain or shine, mountain trek or cocktail party. The reality is with far fewer items, I feel like I a dress better. My little fashion rain cloud has been lifted, and if you’re finding yourself feeling somewhat similar, I urge you to try building a capsule wardrobe too.

Out with the old

capsule wardrobe

7 Tough Love Commandments for Spring Cleaning Your Closet // Source: Elle

I had to force myself to be really ruthless with this. If I wasn’t going to get rid of at least half of what I owned, I was never going to build a great capsule wardrobe that worked for me. I got rid of everything I hadn’t worn in the last year and everything I had only worn once or twice in the last year. Anything else I felt a little unsure of, I popped away in a bag and stored for three months. At the end of those three months I found I hadn’t once gone into that bag to get an item out, and so I threw those pieces away too.

Follow the same system, carry out a wardrobe spring clean, it’s amazingly therapeutic.

Build with quality pieces

capsule wardrobe

Capsule dressing: Fashionistas who swear by wearing just 10 items of clothing // Source:

Now you should have a pretty good basis for your capsule wardrobe and around half of what you started with. You should just be left with pieces you really love, that fit well and that you feel confident in. Start to build on your capsule wardrobe with quality pieces. Rather than spending your money on fast fashion (cheap fashion and trends that won’t be around for long,) invest in quality pieces that will last, that you love and that you know you’ll feel confident in wearing for at least the next three years.

 Invest in versatility


If you’re limiting your wardrobe to, say, 30 pieces, they need to work for a variety of purposes – work, evening drinks, walks in the park, a chilled Saturday afternoon, dinner, events and so on. Buy pieces that are interchangeable, that can be dressed up and dressed down, and mixed and matched. Accessories work wonders for completely changing an outfit, so invest in some beautiful quality pieces.

Items I swear by

Screen Shot 2016-04-07 at 9.18.08 PM

For me, these are the items I have to have in my wardrobe: A pair of high waisted skinny jeans, a midi stretchy bodycon skirt, a white blouse, a printed blouse or shirt, a silk cami, a simple mac, a skater skirt, various vests and bodysuits in neutral tones,  a midi bodycon dress, a simple skater dress, a few cardigans, high waisted tailored trousers, a co-ord (I have a gingham shorts and crop co-ord I’m obsessed with,) a pair of tailored shorts, an oversized leather bag, a smaller leather bag, chunky heeled ankle boots, Nike trainers, a pair of heeled sandals and a pair of heels.

I find these items work well for me, I can mix them up, for example on an ‘off duty’  day I might wear high waisted skinnies with a vest tucked in, layered with a gingham boyfriend shirt worn open with my chunky boots, but for drinks I could wear the jeans with the silk cami, heels and my mac, or for work the jeans with a blouse and heeled sandals…you get the idea.

Creating inspiration

Follow The Style Note ‘s board Capusle Wardrobe on Pinterest.

The most difficult thing to do when trying to build a capsule wardrobe is to not get swept up in fashion fads and one-off trends. A great way to avoid this is to figure out what your style is really about. I find Pinterest great, to build style inspiration boards, and even if you’re not sure what your signature style is, when you start building your boards you’ll soon start to see patterns emerging. Staying focused and true to your own personal style means your capsule wardrobe will work for years to come.

I’m really loving this simple approach to dressing. I find getting ready in the morning so much easier, and I’m never left in that bizarre state where I’ve tried on every possible outfit in my wardrobe and still feel like I have nothing to wear- it happens to the best of us.

Header image source: Today

Give creating a capsule wardrobe a go and let me know how you get on in the comments.

Eilidh MacRae is a 27-year-old lifestyle editor, journalist and owner of Eilidh MacRae Media, a lifestyle media agency. She’s based in the beautiful city of Bristol, and is a firm lover of simple style that stands out.


Leave a Reply

Be the First to Comment!