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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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. 

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. 

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

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. 

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

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

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

A fashion girl take on a classic outerwear piece, utility jackets are ideal for transitional weather as well as layering. 

There’s a reason every fashion girl is wearing a maxi dress right now, it’s the definition of chic.

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

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

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

A pleated midi skirt is the update to a classic wardrobe staple that we all need right now. It looks just as equally chic styled with knee-high boots as it does with sneakers. 

There’s just something about a good pair of jeans that can take you so far, the opportunities are endless.

I rarely leave the house without a belt on these days. It’s the perfect finishing touch to any outfit and makes your look feel twice as expensive, I’m in love.

If you’re looking for a pair of shoes that you can wear all year round and walk for miles in, I have an answer for you. Loafers have never failed me.

I can’t believe that we made it this far without mentioning wide-leg pants. They’re currently a star player in my wardrobe and I can’t get enough.

It’s rare that we go to the office without seeing a slew of fashion editors wearing a shoulder-bag. Why? It’s the timeless style every fashion person wears on repeat.

If you love wearing heels everywhere but need to be able to actually walk in them—which is so crucial for us—you probably already know about kitten heels. They’re lowkey a gamechanger.

You don’t know true happiness unless you’ve found the perfect white t-shirt. Comfort, fit, and style can make a huge difference.

We’ve found a way to wear a cardigan everywhere from a casual day in the park to a formal dinner. It’s the sweater style that can take you from day to night with ease.

Leather weather is year-round for fashion people. We’ll always find a way to put a leather jacket on top of any outfit in our closet because they’re that good.

Jewelry is the ultimate outfit-maker and you’ll never regret curating a striking collection. Whether you’re ready to spend $20 or $2,000 you’re guaranteed to find something special.

How can we talk about a capsule wardrobe without mentioning our love for sunglasses? They are the accessory that keeps on giving, plus the cost-per-wear stats are quite convincing.

A tailored vest is lowkey a gamechanger in your closet. It can take any boring basic to the next level when styled correctly so naturally it’s in our capsule wardrobe.

The amount of wear that we get out of our button-down shirts feels endless. Since there’s infinite ways to style them, we have fun with it.

Investing in a good slip dress will continue to pay itself forward over and over again. Having this in a capsule wardrobe is crucial because you’re destined to be invited to a beautiful soiree.

Up Next, 9 Under-$200 Brands You’ve Probably Never Heard Of


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