Creating a Capsule Collection

How many times have you stood in front of your closet, cursing that fact that you have nothing to wear? Me, too… Odds are that in the 62 days between Halloween and New Year’s Day, you’ll be invited to more events than the entire rest of the year. Keeping up with a great new outfit for each is exhausting, and unrealistic. A capsule collection is a small group of useful clothing that changes with each season. Using this concept through the holidays saves time, money, and hopefully a bit of your sanity. It is also especially helpful if you plan to travel!

Now, there are a million ways that you can go about creating a capsule collection, some much more structured than others.There are just so many variables in customizing a collection that functions best for you based on career and lifestyle, climate type, etc. For example, Minnesota weather is all over the place from month-to-month, so seasonal isn't quite appropriate. I choose to change out my personal collection about every two month. Also, if you're like me you will break a rule almost immediately as it's in place, so the following steps are a little more flexible. In the end, a capsule closet is all about being creative with the clothes that you have, and smart about your purchases. Make it your own! 


Get rid of that "closet clutter". Try on items and sort into 4 categories:

LOVE: In season, good condition, fits well, you're excited to wear. Keep in your closet for the next step. 

MAYBE: In season, good condition, fits well, but you're unsure of how to style. Hold off to the side, but don't box up quite yet.

NOT NOW: Out of season or just not feeling it right now. Box these up for the next season or when you're feeling the need for change. Shopping your own closet can be fun and it's totally free!

NOT EVER: Poor condition, doesn't fit, you haven't worn it in years. Donate or dispose of. 


There are all of the basic, neutral pieces that you wear everyday. Based on career and lifestyle, this exact mix will look a little different for everyone, but here are some examples to get you started:

BOTTOMS: favorite pair of jeans, dress slacks, black leggings, khakis, skirt. 

TOPS: tank, t shirt, blouse, button up, sweater.

LAYERING: cardigan, blazer, light jacket.

DRESSES: sleeveless, t shirt, long sleeve, sweater.


This is the most important step in ensuring that all of your pieces work together cohesively and provide you with the most styling options. Start by picking out a few of your favorite patterned pieces that share similar colors and overall "vibe". This is your capsule collection's color story! Search your closet for solid pieces within the same color story, or that compliment what you already have. These can be additional base items, or pieces that add interest....


There are most likely items in your wardrobe with way more versatility than you give them credit for. A blanket scarf becomes an elegant shawl when belted over a dress, and your favorite plaid button-up gets glam tucked into a skirt and topped off with a statement necklace. This is where you're MAYBE pile comes back into play. Now that you have a base and color story, do any of these pieces speak to you? If you need additional inspiration, use Pinterest to search outfits by items you already own (i.e. "red cardigan outfit"). Pick a few interesting or trendy-but-versatile items to keep you from getting burnt out on basics. Side note, I don't personally include accessories or shoes in my capsule collection. These are another fun way to spice things up throughout the season! 


If you are in need of a piece or two to complete your capsule collection, go prepared and choose wisely. Look back through your Pinterest, is there anything you have pinned multiple times- like that amazing throw-over-anything jacket? Also, ask yourself a few questions to ensure you’re not making an impulse purchase (I’m looking at you, sequin skirt!). Is this piece wearable the entire season, or just for the holidays? How does this fit in with the rest of your wardrobe? If one item can pull together at least three new outfits, it’s a solid investment.



At this point, your daily styling should come much easier because you love all of the pieces and they all work together. You can also take things a step further with some outfit planning. I like to put outfits together on the hanger or flat lay and snap pics to save to my very own Pinterest board "Samantha's (Fall, Holiday, etc.) Collection". This extra effort makes things so much easier in the morning, when I'm half-dead and getting ready in the dark. 

Finally, feel free to tweak as you go- you're not in closet prison! Until you start actually wearing your capsule, there are some things you won’t be able to see. After a couple of tries, you'll really get the feel of what works and what doesn't.

This whole process has helped me zero in on my personal style, save time and stress each morning, and keep the impulse purchases at bay.  Have you built a capsule collection before, or are you just getting started? What questions do you have?