Capsule Wardrobes for Streamlined Decision-Making

February 23, 2024
The ultimate guide to building a capsule

What Is a Capsule Wardrobe?

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A capsule wardrobe is a collection of clothing that prioritizes quality and versatility over quantity. It focuses on a small selection of timeless, easy-to-mix-and-match clothing you can wear for multiple occasions. 

Capsule wardrobes are part of a minimalist fashion philosophy: less is more. They cut out the distracting excess that weighs down a lot of wardrobes and can help you avoid overbuying.

Some people often create seasonal capsule wardrobes, meaning they have a set rotation of clothing for each time of year. For example, they might have 10 items for a summer capsule wardrobe that they wear during warm weather. Then when the weather starts to cool they pack those clothes away and swap them out for their winter capsule. 

How Many Clothes Should Be In a Capsule Wardrobe?

Cassandra in front of hanging clothes

How many clothes you have in your capsule wardrobe depends on your needs and lifestyle. We get clients asking us all the time for a magic number. But the truth is, there’s not one set answer. 

Your work, lifestyle, location, and personal preferences all factor into how big or small your capsule collection is. 

Instead of focusing on a number, we encourage you to focus on intentionality. Every item should have a purpose. The only pieces you should have in your closet serve your needs, fit your body, and that you LOVE. 

Why Capsule Wardrobes Work

Starting to get the bigger picture around capsule wardrobes? Good. Now let’s take a closer look at why they work. 

1. Capsule Wardrobes Get Rid of the Extra Junk

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We mentioned this earlier, but one of the greatest selling points of a capsule wardrobe is that it gets rid of excess.

So many people have too many clothes in their closet. They have piles of clothes that they never even wear. They hold on to sentimental items, pieces that don’t fit anymore, or clothes they shouldn’t have bought in the first place.

A capsule wardrobe gets rid of all that. You only have pieces that go with each other and make sense for your real life. 

A lot of people get scared about the idea of having less clothes. They think they’ll feel limited or get bored easily. 

At NLW, we help clients scale down their wardrobes all the time and we hear this fear over and over again. 

But the secret to avoiding those pitfalls is picking the right pieces from the beginning. If you only purchase well-made, well-fitting items that go with everything, you’ll feel much more freedom while getting dressed.

2. Capsule Wardrobes Make Getting Dressed Simple

Stylist sorting through clothes

This benefit of a capsule wardrobe may be the most obvious. But a capsule wardrobe naturally makes getting dressed easier. 

No more worrying about what to wear every morning. With a capsule wardrobe, you don’t have hundreds of items that distract from having great style. On top of that, when everything goes together, you cut out the “does this look good with that?” stress. 

3. They Zero-In On What’s Really Important to You and Your Style

hanging clothes

Lastly, a capsule wardrobe allows you to zero in on what’s really important. Each piece of clothing has to earn its place in your closet. That means you have to think through your purchases and ask yourself important questions like:

  • Why do I want this item? Is it filling a gap in my wardrobe?
  • Where will I wear it? Can I wear this to work regularly?
  • What does it go with? Can I make at least three other outfits out of this piece?
  • How often will I wear it? Is this a one-time use, or can I wear this season after season?
  • What does this item say about me? Does it say I’m polished and professional? Does it go with my personal brand?

By answering these questions, you’ll learn more about yourself. From that, you’ll discover what you really prioritize not only in your style but in your life. 

How To Build a Capsule Wardrobe in 4 Easy Steps

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There are many different ways to go about creating a capsule wardrobe. We’ve found that the easiest method is to use the Next Level Wardrobe Style System

Our proprietary system helps busy, driven professionals build a wardrobe that’s simple to navigate and that reflects their success. We use this system on all of our clients regardless of their shape, size, gender, workplace, age, etc. 


Because this customizable system is straightforward enough to fit just about any lifestyle. Keep reading to learn how to build a capsule wardrobe in four easy steps.

1. Edit Your Closet

Stylist holding suits

First things first: start at the root of the problem. If you’re unhappy with your style, that means there’s something wrong with your closet. Your wardrobe should have the right selection of clothes to make outfitting a breeze.

That’s why the first thing we do once we get to know our clients, is we edit their closets.

AKA: We do the ultimate closet cleanout

Take everything out of your closet. Then, try on every single item. If you don’t love it or can’t find anything to wear with it, it goes. Create a donation pile for all the clothes you no longer need.

This is where you need to be ruthless, and where it’s helpful to have a professional stylist with you. We give our clients our honest opinions and make sure they’re holding themselves accountable as well. 

No “Well, maybe I’ll wear this someday” or “I just need to change this about my body and this would be perfect.”

If it doesn’t fit your body now and it doesn’t fit your lifestyle, it goes. 

Once you’ve eliminated anything you no longer need, you’ll see what gaps you may have in your wardrobe. 

From here, make a list of what you need so you can find the perfect pieces to complete your wardrobe.

2. Focus on Core Colors

Man with hand in pocket

So how do you know what pieces to pick in the first place? 

One of the best ways to organize your wardrobe is by color. We recommend thinking of your closet in three sections. 

  1. Core Color Section
    Core colors are those versatile neutrals that go with everything. White, black, grey, and navy blue or timeless, chic hues that act as the strong foundation of any outfit. Because of this, the core color section should be the largest part of your wardrobe.
  2. Tonal Color Section
    The next third of your closet is for tonal colors. Tonal colors are hues and shades of those original neutral colors. This section also includes other neutrals like olive green, brown, and tan. This is a good place to add textures like ribbed knits, leather, suede, or cable knits. Tonal colors and textures add subtle variety to your outfits without sacrificing versatility.
  3. Accent Color and Pattern Section
    Finally, dedicate the smallest section of your closet to accent colors and patterns. This is the place for bold hues and fun patterns. This part of your wardrobe should be the smallest. Why? Because these pieces should act as the cherry on top of an outfit, or that splash of personality.

    By keeping this section the smallest, you avoid going overboard with pieces that are hard to match or that you can’t wear often. 

By focusing on core colors, you’re making your wardrobe easier to navigate and more timeless.

3. Quality Over Quantity

Stylist adjusting clothes on client

Another important step in creating a capsule wardrobe is focusing on quality over quantity. After all, that’s the main idea behind minimalist dressing and capsule collections in the first place.

A few well-made pieces are a better investment than having a hundred poorly-made pieces.

High-quality items last longer, look better, and feel better. You won’t have to worry about constantly buying replacements for pieces that fall apart or look ratty after only a few wears. 

Investing more upfront saves you time, money, and energy in the long run.

(Not to mention that buying quality, responsibly made items tends to be more sustainable.)

4. Invest in Fit

Stylist adjusting sleeve of client's suit

One thing we can’t stress enough to our clients: focus on fit.

The simple fact of the matter is that you will not wear something that does not fit you. If it’s too tight, too big, or unflattering, it’ll make you feel bad about yourself. Anything that makes you feel bad about yourself shouldn’t be in your closet, and definitely shouldn’t be on your body.

When you’re shopping, don’t get caught up in wanting to buy something just to not leave a store empty-handed. Or wanting to purchase a trendy item, even when it doesn’t fit. 

The first thing you should ask yourself when you try on clothing is: Does this fit me? Do I like how it sits on my body? Would I change anything about this?

If you’re not enthusiastic about how something looks on you, put it back on the hanger and keep looking.

We know finding clothing that fits is hard. You have to try a lot of different brands and styles, and you may even need to invest in alterations. 

(That’s another benefit of working with a personal stylist. They can do all of that heavy lifting for you by researching, handling returns, and coordinating tailoring appointments.)

But doing all that homework pays off when you finally snag that perfect fit. 

Discover Your Capsule Wardrobe

Building a capsule wardrobe takes effort. But ultimately, it’s a fantastic way to simplify style and streamline your fashion decision-making process.

Ready for the capsule wardrobe of your dreams? Next Level Wardrobe is here to help. Our team of style experts is ready to use their proven styling system to elevate your closet and take the stress out of shopping. Apply for our styling services today!

About the Author - Cassandra Sethi
About the Author - Cassandra Sethi

Personal Stylist & Image Consultant

Cassandra Sethi is a Personal Stylist and Founder of Next Level Wardrobe, a luxury Personal Styling and Shopping Service that helps successful professionals of all ages and sizes. After working in the fashion industry for over 25 years, she used her expert knowledge to create a proprietary styling system called ‘The Next Level Wardrobe Style System' which guarantees clients more outfits with less items in their closet. NLW has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, The Tamron Hall Show, NY Mag, Huffington Post and more.

*Disclosure: Next Level Wardrobe only recommends products that we’d suggest to our clients or personally wear ourselves. All opinions expressed here are our own. This post may contain affiliate links that at no additional cost to you, Next Level Wardrobe may earn a small commission. Read the full privacy policy here.

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Cassandra Sethi

is a NYC Personal Stylist and Image Consultant. She is the Founder of Next Level Wardrobe and 'The NLW Style System' that guarantees clients more outfits with less items.

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