Is a Capsule Wardrobe the Right Choice for You?

Last Updated on January 2, 2024 by Candi Randolph

Is a Capsule Wardrobe the right choice for you?

I took that question and applied it to myself. Is a capsule wardrobe the right choice for me as a woman over 50 (over 60 if you want to get specific)? This is how I went about responding to the question. See how my journey may apply to your answer to that question as I research the best capsule wardrobe formula to fit my lifestyle.

If your question is regarding how to organize your wardrobe, or how many items should be in a capsule wardrobe, these principles might be very helpful for you, too!

is a capspule wardrobe the right choice for you?

I’m not into paying bunches of money for clothes and accessories, but I do want to look cool and stylish even in my ripe old age. And, I’ve been drawn to the concept of a capsule wardrobe for awhile now. I created a Pinterest board with ideas, and find myself wanting to add inspiration to it fairly regularly, with capsule wardrobe examples.

So I decided to learn more about what a capsule wardrobe is, how to create one using the clothes I already own as a starting point, and what I would need to do in order to shout to the world, “Guess what, world? I have a capsule wardrobe!”

BEFORE GOING ANY FURTHER: As women over 50 and beyond, we’ve experienced some definite changes in our body shape, and that can be frustrating when it comes to the wardrobe and our personal style.

It doesn’t matter what philosophy you follow, a capsule wardrobe formula or anything else, if you’re not sure how to select the clothes that make you look and feel great, you won’t be happy.

But no worries, girlfriend. I created a simple email series course just for you! It will help you redefine and rediscover your personal, authentic style, and feel on the outside like the beautiful soul you are on the inside.

~~~Learn More About The Fashion Cure~~~

Definition of Capsule Wardrobe

Capsule wardrobe examples

Let’s start with what a capsule wardrobe means…what is the definition?

Capsule wardrobe is a term coined by Susie Faux, the owner of a London boutique called “Wardrobe” in the 1970s. According to Faux, a capsule wardrobe is a collection of a few essential items of clothing that don’t go out of fashion, such as skirts, trousers, and coats, which can then be augmented with seasonal pieces.

Okay…that is how the concept began about 40 years ago. I can buy into the philosophy of using a few pieces of clothing and building a simple, classic style from there.

My style of dress has never been one that included a myriad of styles, countless pairs of shoes and a collection of purses. Nope, I’ve always been fairly simple in my choice of clothes and looks.

I did some research to see what has been written and suggested in the last few years with the concept of a Capsule Wardrobe, and it was pretty interesting.

Capsule Wardrobe Formulas and Examples

Capsule wardrobe formula; how to organize your closet

Capsule Wardrobe Approach #1:

Set aside a certain number of clothes and wear them for 3 months, then switch them out for a different, seasonally selected, set and wear that capsule wardrobe for 3 months. When a piece of clothing is worn or outdated, replace it.

My thoughts: This would work well for someone who lives in a climate that has distinct seasons. It also would give some variety and anticipation for a new look periodically.

Approach #2:

Have 10 to 14 outfits that you love, feel good in and are appropriate for your lifestyle. Wear those outfits.

My thoughts: It’s a capsule wardrobe formula that allows for quite a bit of flexibility. If I were to choose this particular example, I would probably mix and match a little bit.

Or, stay true to each outfit and keep things very simple!

Capsule Wardrobe Approach #3:

Approach #3:  Categorize your wardrobe into 3 parts – wardrobe staples, investment pieces, and fashion items…have a selection of each.

My thoughts: If your wardrobe has (or you’d like it to have) investment pieces and you want to stay up with fashion trends, this could be a good choice for you.

Approach #4:

A curated selection of quality clothing and accessories that reflect your personal style and can be worn interchangeably to create a range of outfits, minimizing wardrobe clutter.

My thoughts: For the woman whose budget is up to it, a selection of carefully chosen quality pieces, perhaps with some professional assistance, could be the perfect capsule wardrobe formula for a beautiful, classic collection.

There are quite a variety of concepts and interpretations, but in my opinion, all comes down to the same essential conclusion and goal:

Wear the best quality pieces you can afford, maximizing the versatility of each, to create a variety of outfits and looks that can take you from day to night and fit your lifestyle. Use those pieces as your wardrobe. You will spend less money on clothes, find it easier to get dressed because the choices are fewer, and ultimately it will simplify your life.

Is a Capsule Wardrobe the Right Choice for Me?

A capsule wardrobe formula for women over 60

I decided to go through my closet and take the approach of selecting the pieces I like the best and wear most often. I used these criteria:

  • didn’t worry about how many pieces I was selecting, but chose what I like and wear most often
  • did not include my work shirts (I wear custom tanks and T-shirts on the job), PJ’s or lounging/workout clothes
  • chose a selection of jeans/slacks, tops, sweaters, jackets, shorts, and shoes

This is What Comprises My Capsule Wardrobe

Capsule wardrobe example from my own closet - how I created my capsule wardrobe

It’s pretty simple, but when I pulled out the pieces I wear most often and enjoy, and fit with my very casual lifestyle (and sporadic social life), this is the result:

  • 4 pair jeans/capris
  • 1 pair skinny pants
  • 2 pair shorts
  • 11 tops…a mix of sleeveless, short sleeve and 3/4 sleeve, to cover the seasons in SW Florida
  • 3 sweaters
  • 1 casual jacket
  • 1 sweater coat
  • 1 swing coat
  • 1 sweater/shawl
  • 1 black dress
  • 1 black jumpsuit

I selected a total of 27 pieces of clothing and 5 pair shoes/sandals, for a total of 32 items. And, a purse. Just one. I love unique purses, but the reality of my life is that one works just fine. I own a couple of clutches for those rare, special events when I don the little black dress and head out on the town, but that would be about the only time the purse would change.

So, I ask myself the question again. Is a capsule wardrobe the right choice for me? What do you think of my capsule wardrobe examples? What do you think yours would look like?

I’m not sure, but I’m going to give it a go and work with the 32 pieces that I selected today. They will remain as a group in my closet for the next few months, and will be the items that I choose from every day.

The rest of my clothes are still in the closet, but they’re set aside so I won’t get them mixed up. We’ll see what happens…I’ll report back and let you know 🙂

The Long-Term Results of My Capsule Wardrobe Experiment

It’s been about 18 months since I wrote this post and created my own capsule wardrobe formula, so I thought it would be a good time to revisit the philosophy.

Did I continue with the capsulized wardrobe philosophy? Yes, for about six months. And I didn’t really have issues with the mini-closet idea, that wasn’t a problem.

Actually I rather enjoyed having a more limited selection when choosing my outfits. Quick. Easy-Peasy. No Fuss.

But then I decided to move 1,100 miles north into a 4-season climate, so that life disruption, as well as the drastic change in climate, slid the capsule wardrobe to the back-seat in terms of priorities.

Would I do it again? Yes, I think I would create a capsule wardrobe again at some point.

It works great for these reasons as well as style personalities:

  • it forces you to de-clutter the wardrobe periodically
  • getting dressed is simple with more limited choices
  • by utilizing the clothes you really love, you’re happier with your overall look and style
  • someone who enjoys the simplicity of a ready-made wardrobe will enjoy this
  • someone who thrives on shopping (the thrill of the hunt) and acquiring new pieces may not fare as well with a capsule wardrobe
  • this philosophy could be a wonderful way to ‘start over’ with the wardrobe and make classic, timeless suggestions with quality pieces (fewer, but higher quality)

NEW! See how a Summer Capsule Wardrobe can provide style and flexibility for the warmer months or year-round season. It was great fun selecting the pieces for this fantasy collection that is affordable and flattering for women over 50.

How about you? Is a capsule wardrobe the right choice for you? Perhaps you’ll go through the same exercise I did, using your existing pieces and selecting the ones you enjoy wearing the most.

Use the capsule wardrobe examples as inspiration. Let us know what you think by leaving a comment below!

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32 thoughts on “Is a Capsule Wardrobe the Right Choice for You?”

  1. Great thoughts Candi and I love how you explained the different versions of a capsule wardrobe. Now that I’m retired, I don’t have the need to ‘dress up’ in corporate clothes anymore and just need the odd ‘really dressed up’ outfit. I do have things in my wardrobe that I need to remove and I’m not sure what is stopping me. I basically wear a capsule wardrobe, classic designs and always opting for the ‘outfit’ that looks good all the time. I can put it on and forget about it. I might try putting together some outfits and see what I come up with. Thanks!
    Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond

    1. Candi Randolph

      I think many of us probably use a version of a capsule wardrobe without thinking about the definition of it. That’s what made my own creation rather simple. And you’re right, it depends on our lifestyle, too. I’m at the point in my life like you, where casual clothes are the choice most of the time. Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts, much appreciated!

  2. I retired early from a job I loved about 3 1/2 years ago. Had to have surgery. Once I had recovered, I was lost because everyone I knew was working everyday and I had no idea what I was supposed to be doing. And there are days still where I feel like that. But I discovered a young blogger, Alison Lumbatis at Get Your Pretty On…not even sure how I found her. And that spring, Alison launched her first GYPO style challenge. It was exactly what I needed to slip out of my slump, kind of rediscover myself, revamp my wardrobe and have fun making new, virtual friends doing so. Alison provided a shopping list of capsule wardrobe-like pieces and a few trends, then showed participants how to use the pieces to create 3 weeks worth of outfits. Have you heard of Get Your Pretty On or Alison?
    I continued participating in the challenges for about a year and a half, and have enjoyed getting dressed more at this time in my life than I ever did when I was younger, fitter, slimmer!! Have never been able to afford quality clothing. But have discovered Loft and Loft Outlet, Banana Republic which are a step up from my mama-years in Walmart clothes.
    All of this to say, the idea of a capsule wardrobe was new to me. But I have grown to love having my closet of easy-to-put-together pieces. I probably most follow Approach #1, but struggle to replace old favs that are wearing thin! Working on that now.
    Great post! And I love the pieces in your existing capsule wardrobe and fantasy wardrobe, alike.

    1. Candi Randolph

      Hi Leslie, thanks for sharing a bit of history and how you learned about capsule wardrobes. It sounds like the GYPO style challenge was really helpful to you in a number of ways. I’m not familiar with Get Your Pretty On, but I am definitely going to check it out. Thanks, for the tip and also for your comments. Much appreciated!

  3. Since we seem to be fast moving into the Tiny House Movement and the trend is toward Simplifying Life, this is perfect timing, Candi. Doing this also saves precious minutes each day pondering just which outfit to wear for ladies who are still out and about in their careers. I am ALL IN!

    1. Candi Randolph

      Yes, it makes things easier and quicker in the morning for sure…not so many decisions to make 🙂

  4. I love this. I’ve never heard the term Capsule Wardrobe but I think I already have one! I’ve never owned a lot of clothing at one time and have always had go-to items. Thanks for explaining this. I’m going to have a look in my closet soon and see what’s what in there!

  5. I have to admit I really didn’t know exactly what a ‘capsule’ wardrobe was. I thought it was mainly used in the context of people selling a few matching clothes that could be worn together or in various combinations! (As it’s often used by stylists I guess when they’re selling products.)

    I tend to do the capsule thing without thinking much about it as I buy mostly matching clothes (well, mostly black!) and prefer good quality. I don’t have a lot of clothes but some staples! #teamlovinlife

    1. Candi Randolph

      Hi Deborah, it sounds like you’ve created a type of capsule wardrobe without giving it a name. Your principles are right in line. Glad it works for you!

  6. I mostly work from home, but for when I do have to go to the office I have pretty much a capsule of 3 Thai silk A-line skirts I had made in Hoi An which I team with navy or black long sleeve T-s & boots for the winter and short sleeve navy or black T-s with sandals for the summer. Some great insights here.

    1. Candi Randolph

      Sounds like a beautiful group of work outfits, and it makes the decision of what to wear quite simple. Thanks for sharing, Jo!

  7. I often read posts about capsule wardrobes and although in theory they do make good sense, I think I would still get bored with the limitations of the clothing choices. However I do tend to wear the same pieces over and over so maybe it would work for me. Thank you for the inspiration. #TeamLovinLife

    1. Candi Randolph

      It is definitely not for everyone, so I can appreciate the potential issue of getting bored with the limited choices. So far I’ve been fine with the pieces I selected to become part of my capsule…we’ll see how it goes 🙂

  8. I’ve never heard of this but it sounds like an interesting concept. Not sure if this is for me, but maybe someday I’ll give it a try – It would free up a lot of closet space!
    stopping via Lovin’Life

  9. Interesting. When I used to travel a lot for work I guess I was following a capsule wardrobe so my bag would stay light. Still when I travel I make sure I use a color scheme so everything coordinates. Good luck with your experiment.

    1. I found that I was doing the same thing, so creating my capsule wardrobe just makes it easier to choose!

  10. I have heard so many mixed reviews on doing a capsule wardrobe, but you lay it out clear and simple. I like that you made it work for YOU and didn’t follow a specific number that someone else set in place. Just last month I cleaned out my closet and left only the things I wear on a regular basis and donated the rest. I had no idea I was basically creating a capsule wardrobe!

    1. Yes, it sounds like you created your own capsule wardrobe without knowing it! It is really quite simple and makes sense for those of us who tend to wear the same clothes over again. It also makes me think twice before buying something impulsively…I probably don’t need it and won’t wear it regularly.

  11. Very interesting. I have heard of a capsule wardrobe before but have never really given it much thought. I live where it’s cold for half of the year and decently cool the other half, so I need plenty of things I can layer. But, you know what, after reading this, I feel like I am on the verge of a capsule wardrobe with what I have. I recently went through my clothes and got rid of a lot of them, keeping the main things that I wear. If I made a few small adjustments, it would be easy enough to actually hit capsule wardrobe status.

    1. It’s probably something that many of us do without realizing it, Sarah, and you’re right. You probably ‘capsulized’ your wardrobe without thinking about giving it a term. Thanks for stopping by!

  12. I loved how you explained all the different types of Capsule Wardrobes. I would aim more for types #3 and #4. Basically this is how I was taught to buy clothing (in type #3 and #4 Capsule Wardrobes) from my grandmother and mother growing up. I own a deal of clothing and accessories. I love fashion! Of course with this comes perfume, make-up and a modern haircut. I would love to live with so few clothes but I’m unsure if I would be satisfied with so few clothing pieces. I’m willing to give it a try but with more clothing pieces!

    1. Hi Natalie, I understand the challenge of keeping the wardrobe to a minimum. It’s hard! And I’m not a big shopper or fashionita, but it’s hard to pass up a bargain. I think we should all do what works the best for us as individuals. It’s wonderful that you learned so much from your mother and grandmother!

  13. Candi, I went to your printerest board today and I pinned several items and would love to pin some more BUT every single time I pinned one it would bring me back to the top of the page and I would be forced to have to scroll down the page again to pin anything else. Then it would bring me back to the top of the page and I would have to scroll down the page to pin!!! REPEAT. EVERYTIME!!! VERY FRUSTRATING!! I would love to pin more so please have this fixed!! Thank you!! Your articles encourage me so very much that I really want to share them!!!

    1. Hi Natalie, I’m sorry that you had such a frustrating time with Pinterest. I found the same situation when I pinned from a blogger that I follow. Once I completed the pin I was taken back to the top of her page. But, I found that if I pinned from her board and didn’t click on the pin to see it individually, I wasn’t taken back to the top of the board. I’m not sure if this makes sense or not, but it’s the only workaround I could find. It is a Pinterest system thing and I don’t have the ability to control how it works. I hope this helps.

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