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July 5, 2019

How to Make a Capsule Wardrobe

Step by step guide to starting your capsule wardrobe

Building your capsule wardrobe doesn’t have to be complicated

Once you decide that a capsule wardrobe might be for you, it can be a daunting and somewhat paralyzing process to start.

This blog should help you determine what type of capsule(s) you need based on your lifestyle, and how many items you should keep that/those capsules under.

But first, a bit a background on why a girl who had a “closet room” in her house, now has under 50 items of clothing total (including scarves, coats, and shoes). There will be a full haul of my capsule and the why behind it, keep your eye’s peeled.

Upon returning from our world travels, I had NO desire to unpack and re-create my “closet room.” Yes, you read that right. Before Nate and I packed up and left for one year of living in backpacks while we traveled the world, I had a ROOM in our house that was FULL of my clothing – “the closet room.”

About three months out from returning home, I came to realize that I LOVED living out of a backpack. I had more headspace, less decision making, less attachment to clothing and more joy. I had a REAL idea of what clothing items I NEEDED, and LOVED. Items that I wanted to wear almost every day – that served more than ONE purpose.

Mind you I would have NEVER actually committed to a capsule had it not been for our world travels.

So, my quest to create my capsule began. And as you’ll come to find, it takes A LOT of time and energy to plan out a capsule wardrobe…

THAT is what we dive into now. The HOW behind building your capsule.

First we must lay out that there is not ONE capsule wardrobe. A capsule wardrobe is a minimalist idea to apply to your life, however it fits best. Pun fully intended.

Types of capsules:


Seasonal is probably the most common type of capsule wardrobe I’ve seen and read about. It is not however, the type of wardrobe I decided to create. More on that soon.

For a seasonal capsule, you can choose to do a different capsule for spring, summer, fall and winter. Or you can do spring/summer, and fall/winter. So four seasons vs two.

This is your choice and might depend on where you live. A seasonal capsule would not be necessary in Bali or Southern California, right? But in the Pacific Northwest (holler, represent), or Scandinavian countries, seasonal wardrobes are a grand idea as rain or snow boots are most definitively not needed most of the year, while they might be your wardrobe staple for three months of the year.

The point with seasonal is that you store away the seasons you’re not using so they don’t take up space in your life and closet. Eliminate choices, create space between the hangers in your wardrobe, and more joy in each season.


Add one, get rid of one

  • A common goal with capsule wardrobes is to NOT SHOP.

We want to avoid all the excess money spending on clothing we like but don’t TRULY LOVE.

So the number of items has to stay the same (see next point). That means if you want to purchase a new item, you must let another item go FROM THE APPLICABLE CAPSULE. Less is more boo. Promise.

I didn’t say this would be easy. But speaking from experience, it is magical and so worth it. #trust.

  • Under 33-39 items at one time

Some are 33 items per season. Overlap is allowed of course, but no more than 33 items at a time.

  • What counts?

Underwear and socks do not count.

Some blogs I’ve seen count coats and workout attire, some don’t. I count *most* everything…I think that is the point of a capsule after all – to minimize, not to justify our wants.

It’s worth noting, I workout A LOT and film content for programs and instagram. So I give myself five pairs of leggings outside my capsule (I have two within my capsule). I used to have 35 pairs…

WHY? Why Annie, did you ever think you needed 35 pairs of leggings? I low-key shame my past self.


I am not you. My capsule is not yours. Yours will likely not work for me and mine might not work for you. Not 100% anyway.

Ultimately you have to do what works for you and your lifestyle. I wear active clothing often and rarely have to dress up for occasions. Therefor my capsule doesn’t even involve a pair of heels or really any dressy attire.

I have nude sandals and sleek nude loafers if I need to dress up an outfit. Again, whatever fits YOUR lifestyle is what you need to do.

A seasonal capsule style may be for you if:

You live in a place that has LEGIT SEASONS

  • You need multiple types of coats – winter parka, light spring jacket, smaller puff jacket for hikes, dress coats for winter, rain jacket (hello pacific northwest
  • Four pairs of shoes for a year is laughable – just for summer you need wedges, sandals, flip flops and a tennis shoe. For winter you need rain boots, snow boots, booties, and a flat.

You catch my drift. Multiple seasons really DO require a more intricate wardrobe.

You work in a public space and not from your home…like me.

  • You go to the office or a workplace five days a week and are down for a capsule and embracing that minimalist life, but you’d like to change it up every three months or so and rotate your clothing.
  • Perhaps you require a larger assortment of clothing or a particular type/style of clothing for your workplace. For instance, when I coached cheerleading and did personal training, I worked in a non-regulated warehouse essentially. FREEZING in the winter + hotter than hades in the summer. And I had to wear certain work attire to coach cheerleading. This required MORE clothing in my wardrobe.

If you just love clothes and are interested in a capsule, but can’t imagine only owning 39 items of clothing for a freaking year.

Now, let’s ponder over into the more extreme road of the YEARLY capsule.

Pin this post for later!


A yearly capsule simply refers to having one set of clothing rather than multiple sets, some of which are stored away (in their “capsules”).

This is the type of wardrobe I chose to create.

Why? Because my wardrobe needs are minimal though my love for fashion and clothing runs DEEP.

My husband and I are moving towards being location independence. This means we want to be able to up and travel for months at a time, and return home with not much of a transition. Having a travel ready wardrobe helps that process immensely.

I had some practice with a “capsule” wardrobe when we traveled the world for 367 days from May 2018 to May 2019. We had to pack for multiple seasons. From sub freezing temps in the winters of Chile, Poland, Slovakia, and Scotland to 95 degree, 90% humidity in Bali, Philippines, Cambodia and Vietnam.

Try fitting all of that into a 55L backpack. I’ll tell you right now, I didn’t. We bought things along the way and left things as well. But it did give me massive perspective on what I REALLY need and LOVE to have in my wardrobe.

So, my yearly wardrobe is based around traveling and multi-use items. I will DEEP into each item in another post. Stay tuned.

Rules are a bit more…lenient with this one.

You can choose a number for each category like so:

4 shoes, 9 tops, 7 bottoms, 3 dresses, and so on. Get your final number and keep it under that for a year.


You can pick a total number like 39 and divvy up your items however you like within that number.

A yearly capsule may fit your needs if:

  • You work from home and don’t require a wardrobe that suits multiple types of occasions.
  • Live in a consistent climate with minimal changes in seasons.
  • Just want to go all in and embrace the yearly capsule.

How to choose your items

Whether you decide on yearly or seasonal, there is then BUILDING THE ACTUAL WARDROBE.

You need a color scheme, a style, to focus on multi-use items, and to then…PURGE YOUR CLOSET. Keep what belongs in the capsule. Rid your soul of everything else.

  • A color scheme

It is common to go with blacks, whites and denims, or neutrals.

This is because it makes the wardrobe easily interchangeable right? You can then choose an accent color. My accent color for the most part is red or of the coral family. Hot coral might be my favorite color on the planet. Other than that, mine is pretty neutral. But again, you do you.

  • A general look

What’s your style, boo? Classy all damn day? You love skirts? Skinny jeans? Joggers? You can’t actually live without your fav leather jacket?

Great, build a wardrobe that IS your style.

My style is based around timeless items that are COMFORTABLE. This is important to me because I hate feeling restricted in my clothing. Maybe you think the pain is worth it. I used to. And those days are GONE sister.

  • Focus on MULTI-USE items

Hi, we’re talking about making under 40 items last you months or even years. Statement pieces don’t reeeaallyyy have a place in a wardrobe like this. I mean I definitely have a few items that are RECOGNIZABLE, but they are still multi-use items. Like a scarf or flannel. You feel me?

You want pants, shirts and dresses that can be dressed up or down, worn to the beach, church, wedding, or festival. And shoes are an UH-MAZING way to dress an outfit up or down. You’ll see that in my personal capsule post. Nude sleek, low profile loafers were actually sent from Heaven if you didn’t know.

Clean out your freaking overflowing closet of lackluster love

Once you determine some details of your capsule(s) you need to purge. Get rid of anything that doesn’t spark joy or fit the needs of your capsule.

That’s really how simple it is. I didn’t say it was EASY, but it is truly that simple. When I went through all my clothes upon returning home, I took out what I was DYING to have in wardrobe again. And in that process realized how many one trick ponies I had in my wardrobe. I was disgusted with myself. I had no desire for items that served one purpose but took up ALL the space. No thank you.

You will begin to see the same when you embark on your capsule building journey.

Alright young grasshopper. You have plenty to get started. Get over to pinterest and start pinning your capsule ideas. Find outfit inspo, save images, start building photo grids of your potential capsule.

  • Decide if you’re yearly or seasonal
  • How many total items?
  • How many items in each category? (shoes, coats, shirts, pants, dresses? depends on your category needs)
  • What’s your style? hipster? french capsule? sleek skintight everything all day everyday? Athleisure?
  • Search for potential items – start building your capsule inspo
  • Throw out items you don’t LOVE, or just aren’t multi-faceted.

Get to it you minimalist, you. Less is more, promise. You’ll see.

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I'm an adventurous introvert from Vancouver, Washington who lives on sleep + "me time." I'm a lover of lifting weights, dinosaurs, real talk and traveling with my husband. I am here to help you move better, lift more, bust the myths of the fitness industry, and inspire you to love the process.

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