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How to Streamline Your Closet with a Capsule Wardrobe

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This post has been updated on July 10, 2019.

What if we said you could create a month’s worth of unique outfits with fewer than 20 pieces of clothing?

Well, as crazy as it sounds, that’s the idea behind a capsule wardrobe. You minimize your closet collection by selecting a finite number of specific articles of clothing and building your outfits from that. This helps you to free up physical clutter (which can sometimes turn into stressful mental clutter) and focus your attention on beautiful, simple, quality clothes.

how to create your own closet capsule wardrobe — collin shopping for jeans

Capsule wardrobes are gaining a ton of traction as people start to embrace minimalism (think KonMari organizing and Swedish death cleaning). Plus, surveys say that many women only wear 20% of their wardrobe  — how shocking is that?!

We’re loving the idea of streamlining our closets since you can give your closet a total refresh even on a budget! While quality is obviously the main factor in the longevity of this wardrobe lifestyle, you can find the perfect pieces at stylish yet inexpensive retailers such as Target and Walmart, along with Old Navy, Kohl’s, and even Amazon!

What you need to start your capsule wardrobe:

You’ll want to curate pieces that are relatively neutral so they’ll work seamlessly between outfits. This list is a good starting point (click here for the FREE printable!). Remember, this is a generalized list so you can choose pieces based on your own preference to reflect your personal style:

1.) Skinny jeans

DENIZEN from Levi’s Skinny Jeans | Signature by Levi’s Skinny Jeans

2.) Dark or colored jeans

Universal Thread Raw Hem Jeans | Signature by Levi’s Black Skinny Jeans

3.) Black leggings

A New Day Leggings | Athletic Works Leggings

4.) Chino shorts

A New Day Chino High Rise Shorts | Levi’s Chino Shorts

5.) Neutral maxi dress

A New Day Maxi Dress | Sofia Vergara Maxi Dress

6.) Striped tee

A New Day Crew Neck Striped Tee | Thyme & Honey Striped Tee

7.) Neutral or white sleeveless top

A New Day Sleeveless Tank | Time and Tru Woven Tank

8.) White tee

A New Day Crew Neck Tee | Hanes V-Neck Tee

9.) Button down

Universal Thread White Button-Down Shirt | Textile Button-Down Shirt

10.) Neutral Cardigan

A New Day Cocoon Cardigan | Time and Tru Open Cardigan

11.) Jean jacket

Universal Thread Denim Jacket | Riders by Lee Denim Jacket

12.) Neutral vest

Universal Thread Striped Kimono | Rider’s by Lee Vest

13.) Neutral sandals

Mad Love Multi-Strap Sandals | Time and Tru Sandals

14.) Neutral low-heel booties

Universal Thread Heel Boots | Brinley Co Zipper Boots

15.) White casual sneakers

Mad Love Lennie Sneakers | Time and Tru Scrunch Flats

16.) Neutral heels

A New Day Pointed Pumps | Brinley Co Bow Heels

17.) Colorful scarf

Universal Thread Scarf  | Twig & Arrow Scarf

Again, this list includes links just for reference and you’re free to purchase items that are better suited for your style. If you already have some of these items in your closet and they’re in good condition, by all means, use what you have on hand rather than buying new!

Then get to mix and matching.

how to create your own closet capsule wardrobe — collin showing off three outfit options

Buy purchasing neutral tones, you have a wider variety of options to pair into outfits. Then you can spice up your look with fun and bright accessories, like scarves, jewelry, and handbags! We’ve created a list of 30 potential outfits, but you’ll realize that almost all of your pieces work together seamlessly thanks to the neutral palette!

how to create your own closet capsule wardrobe — outfit ideas printable

Get the printable for your shopping list and outfit ideas!

You’ll be curating your capsule wardrobe in no time!

Join The Discussion

Comments 65

  1. Saira

    Love this post! Great ideas given. I really need to get rid of a lot of my clothes in my closet that don’t get enough love.

    • Emily (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Glad it was helpful, Saira! You might even find a new found love for something that made its way towards the back of your closet — that happened for me!

  2. Krista

    Love this! Thank you! I’m a 32 year old going through an identity crisis lately. I’ve always shopped at American eagle but not everything there is appropriate for someone my age. I love everything you posted.

    • mommaof3

      Oh man I feel you. I was there and still am and I’m 36. Lol.

      • Alla

        Oh God, I am glad I am not alone. I am also 36 and petite and weigh under 100. It’s super hard to find something for my “age” to fit me. I would buy teens XS or petite XS in adults. The teens XS clothing fits me perfect, but the look I get from teens sometimes makes me really uncomfortable 😣

      • Sarah

        I feel you guys! ^ I’m 36 now and although I love the cheap, cute jewelry at Forever 21, I’m like “Should I go in there by myself? Without a teenager? Ok, why is everything cropped tops?” lol

        • Juliee

          😂you guys are cracking me up! This is so me! But unfortunately my daughters are 15 and 12 and now THEY are shopping all MY old favorites and I’m like, ummm…. what am I supposed to wear now????

        • AMH

          Uh…I’m 32 and I just bought a crop top (at least I look 10 years younger than I am). It goes to the top of my mid rise jeans. I bought it because I feel good about the fat I’ve lost off my torso lately. Now I’m slightly embarrassed.

          • Andie

            Don’t be embarrassed!! Crop tops go well with mid/high rise pants without exposing any midsection skin. The tunic style shirt/tank is impossible to tuck in without having fabric bulging everywhere. Haha Rock it, girl!

      • Jennine

        To me this is perfect 👌 saying No to fast fashion. Only 1% is actually “recycled” anyway. The epidemic of over shopping “looked what I picked up!” Storms headlines everywhere. Buy second hand. Poshmark actually styles you for free, no obligation to buy. So many awesome ladies shopping second hand for you on that app!

      • sue

        I’m 56, my body identity crisis continues on……….. I lost about 36 pounds, so between aging and weight loss……..I’m not sure what I should be wearing either. The other day, I tried on a pair of black fake leather leggings. The people in the room said “you look ten years younger.” I wasn’t sure if that was a good thing or bad. It’s funny looking 30 from the waist down and 50 from the neck up!!!!!!!!

    • Emily (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      I hear ya, Krista! I’m still shopping at Forever 21 (and I’m definitely over 21) so I’ve run into that problem quite a bit. I’ve been loving the new lines at Target since it helps bridge that gap while still being affordable. In addition to the stores mentioned in the post, H&M and Zara are also great places to look for capsule wardrobe pieces! Happy shopping!

  3. Lolie

    I need this with small closets in our house.

  4. me

    I think I’m doing this for a while without trying LOL, because I’m using the same pair of pants just with a different shirt every day LOL.. I was starting to fell bad but its just practical. now that I read this I feel better LOL

  5. MrsBK

    This idea sounds like something that would really benefit my lifestyle and seems doable. With a 2 yr old and a high schooler thinking about putting together outfits is the last thing I have time for. I need to try this! Thanks for the ideas!

    • Emily (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Hi MrsBK! Glad you think this is something that you can easily work into your routine. I like the idea of printing out the outfit list, pinning it to the closet door, and X-ing out outfits as you go. This way you give all the options a try without having to put too much thought into it!

  6. sarah

    I did something similar with cutlery and plates. I was so sick of everyone going through gobs of dishes –I was washing two loads a day! now, my kids each get a cup and a plate and a set of cutlery that we rinse off between meals. we waste less water and it’s teaching my kids to clean up after themselves…win win! I’ve thought about the capsule wardrobe but haven’t taken the plunge.

    • Emily (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      This is brilliant in sooo many ways, Sarah! Thank you for sharing! If you want to give the capsule wardrobe a try without any expense, try “shopping” your closet first and separating so you can pull potential outfits. Then put them together just a couple days out of the week and see if you’re into this process. If you like it, then you can take the full plunge since you already got your feet wet 😉

  7. Jen

    I totally fell in love with those universal thread utility jeans you’re wearing. I immediately scrolled back up and clicked on the link. I got super excitedly for a few seconds when I saw the smallest size that they go to. My excitement was short-lived when I read that they are high-waisted…I don’t have much torso length for anything high-waisted. I will forever sit in the corner and silently envy everybody that is able to wear anything high-waisted.

    • Sara

      I don’t envy them. High-waisted for me means higher muffin top.

  8. Teresa

    Thank you so much for this. I am a stay at home mom of 5 and I never have time to shop or time to put in effort! Great tips.

    • Emily (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Sounds like you have your hands full for sure, Teresa! Thanks for reading and I’m glad you found it helpful!

  9. Amy

    How about a post like this for the workplace- business casual?
    I have often looked at this idea and wondered how I could have a killer work wardrobe without looking the same each day!
    H2S rocks my world!!!!

    • Rae

      Look into Redbook wardrobes. They create several outfits (maybe a months worrh) out of a limited number of pieces. There are weekend and workday looks. The magazine is often found free, but I’m sure you could see all of the fashion articles online as well.

      Redbook does a wonderful job of showing all of the ensembles, although some might not work for every body type. Hth

    • Emily (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Hi Amy! I will definitely pass this idea along to the team. At Hip2Save we’re extremely lucky to have the comfort of working in leggings 😉but I think a similar professional wear post would be awesome for those in offices — thanks for the suggestion!

      • Lana

        This way of dressing has been around for decades! Google it and you will find lots of help!

    • Chasity

      Check out the blog Putting Me Together!

      • Lynne

        Yes!! I love her practical, easy tips.

  10. Lisa

    Me and my husband have been doing this for awhile now, but never realized it. I seriously on have 2 pairs of jeans and a ton of shirts to choose from. I also have a few pairs of shorts and a ton of shirts.

    • just me

      my husband and I also do this ha ha! We call it our uniform. In the winter I wear leggings and just change up the tops accessories every day. In the summer we just wear our shorts and change up the tops. I think everyone at some point gets to a certain age and you just wear what feels comfortable and what you think looks good. I absolutely LOVE vera wang leggings from Kohls and thats my uniform. I miss the Walmart Wednesdays on Hip2Save.

      • Emily (Hip2Save Sidekick)

        I hear ya *said while wearing my signature leggings and tank top outfit*! Comfort is definitely key, so with any wardrobe it’s crucial to buy pieces that we actually enjoy wearing! Thanks for the suggestion about the Vera Wang leggings and the sweet comment about Walmart Wednesday 😄!

  11. Angie

    Because of my small clothing budget and casual lifestyle, I inadvertently ended up with a capsule wardrobe, lol! I live in a hot climate and keep it simple by wearing slim comfy jeans with pastel t shirts, leggings with tunic style lace camis, kimonos, cardigans, stretch denim jackets, strappy sandals and low heeled booties, all in solid colors to maximize mixing and matching. I may be 61 but why can’t I still look cute and stylish!

    • Emily (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Hi Angie! Maybe you started the trend since it sounds like you have it down pat 🙌Keep rockin’ it!

  12. coldonley

    I love all the comments from you ladies that are on board with this. For me however, I go in the complete opposite direction🙈. I use to have killer wardrobes for my kids, but they are almost 15, 17, almost 19 and 21 and they no longer want me picking out their clothes. I have become a compulsive LLR shopper (I have a lot of stress, and I am a stress shopper) I have over 100 pairs of leggings, 50 T-shirt dresses and the list goes on and on. So hats off to you that can do a minimalist wardrobe. Also don’t look good in neutrals, so I have a lot of bright colors and florals, I love florals. #hopelessclothinghoarder

    • Emilytwinmom

      I too have a drawer of brightly colored leggings (not 100, but fills a drawer, and mine are Charlies Project) and solid tops to wear with them, and 3 colored tshirt dresses that I adore. I have celiac disease and when I get glutened, I need a few weeks worth of “don’t smoosh my belly” pants and loose comfy shirts! Then I have my elastic waisted jeans and cute tops to wear with them in a different section of my closet, for the “haven’t been sick in months” days 😂

  13. Ihearthip

    This reminds me of a line that Victoria’s Secret had for a while. Breezy and compatible pieces. I never bought any but thought it would be great for a vacation wardrobe. I tend to keep a preppy look which is good for maximizing classic pieces. Chinos, tees, stripes that all go together! This is a good post and another side to being thrifty we don’t always see. Thanks!

  14. Anna

    It also cuts down on laundry by so much! You don’t have to sort through a pile of clothes you don’t wear to find what you do, which reduces the “mountain,” which reduces my anxiety. And I get compliments all the time, so win-win!

    • Emily (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      So true, Anna! That’s a lovely side effect of the capsule wardrobe 🤩!

  15. Melissa

    Thanks so much for this post. Between inspiration from Marie Kondo and Jennifer L Scott (see for a great Ted Talk video) I have gotten rid of about 90% of my wardrobe and gone to a very limited wardrobe. I have never been happier with my wardrobe. Less truly is more. I actually wear what I have and know what I have in my closet because it is no longer stuffed with clothes I don’t wear. When I shop for clothing I shop with a purpose. No more impulse purchases or buying something simply because it was a good deal and I kind of like it.

  16. Dani O

    How timely! I was just working on buying pieces to start putting together a capsule wardrobe. ThredUp and Swap have been lifesavers to keep it affordable.

  17. Kitty

    This is a great guide to slimming down my closet and how to fill in the gaps with neutral pieces. Any recommendations on jean shorts? Not super short lol

    • Ihearthip

      Bermuda style with a cuff at the bottom is in. Check out Cents of Style

    • Emily (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      I actually just got this pair from Target and I’m loving them! They have the look of denim but they’re super soft. And they come in a 5″ length and 7″ length depending on your preferred style. Hope that helps!

      • Rebecca

        Thanks! I am in need of some shorts!

  18. Belinda

    Getting ready to pack for vacation, thinking I should pack all my favorite things and get rid of the rest. I actually have a ton of closet space so it’s hard to get rid of more than I did already. Sometimes I keep things that aren’t so cute and then I end up wearing them. Stay at home mom, so I need my outfits I don’t care about splattering grease or bleach on throughout the day. The struggle.

  19. Motherofdeals

    This would be awesome… if I didn’t have to dress up for work. When you see the same people every day it makes it more difficult to do this.

    • Kelly

      Completely agree! I work in an office with a business dress code, which makes it harder. I do try to do this with a few pairs of black pants and a couple of basic skirts, but have a large number of shirts/sweaters that I utilize to mix it up!

  20. Kate

    I’m totally guilty of hoarding clothes but I just don’t see any other way when I keep having babies. My sizes fluctuate a lot from base, sort of pregnant, super pregnant and super skinny while nursing. So chalk me up to that statistic of women only wearing 20% of their wardrobe!

    • Kate

      Super skinny sounds super conceited. I meant in comparison to my 9 month pregnant self, I feel super skinny.

    • Melanie

      I’m in the same boat! I go through so many different sizes during early pregnancy, late pregnancy, postpartum, and then finally, slowly going back to my (new post baby) normal that although I love the idea of a capsule wardrobe, I just cannot get rid of too many of my clothes or I’ll have nothing that fits at certain sizes. I have donated all of my pre-pregnancy jeans because those will never fit again. And when I buy clothes now I go for stretch jeans and tops that I know will work for several of my stages. I’m also a huge fan of cardigans over tank tops, and those will fit me during most of my size variations. 🙂

  21. Sara

    I ended up with a capsule wardrobe because there aren’t many things that fit or I feel comfortable wearing. I wear solid and graphic tshirts, jeans, and sneakers. I am a 2X in shirts and a 14 in jeans. I hate most patterns(paisley in particular). I wear men’s tshirts because most women’s shirts have almost nonexistent sleeves, are too thin, are too low cut, and are too snug. I don’t own any shorts because the only ones I see are either booty shorts or practically capris.
    I don’t have flip flops. I can’t stand having something between my toes.

    • tntibos

      I feel your pain. I am 56 and still have my baby fat from my 32 year old baby. lol. Hope they do a segment on what NON-SKINNY people can wear.

      • Julie Griffin

        I would like the non-skinny size suggestions too, i.e., 14 and up and above XL.

    • Shelby

      Just a thought for when it’s hard to find the length of shorts you want, find a pair of jeans that you like and cut them to the length you want. You can hem them or cuff and leave unfinished. I found jeans on clearance and loved how they fit/looked except they were too short. They became my favorite pair of shorts!

  22. Jackie

    Thank you! I’ve been working on creating this type of wardrobe lately. Especially looking for work I noticed I dont have any streamline pieces! What cracks me up is I need shorts and all I see now are holy ones or ones too short for my age lol! Thanks HIP2SAVE I will checkout the chino shorts.

    Also I’ve been using ThredUP to get rid of clothes! May not get much back but clothing goes to a great cause! Plus they send you a bag with shipping label so no cost to you!

  23. 50ShadesofLipstick

    In other words, just being a minimalist and not hoarding a bunch of clothing for no reason? I love how we’re calling it something else though LOL.

    Clutter is not only damaging to your wallet, it’s bad for your mental health too…more material possessions never made anyone any happier.

  24. Creolegyrl

    I just had gastric surgery and this will save me alot of time and money. Thanks!

  25. LaurieG

    Love this quality over quantity!! Feels really good to wear really quality clothes. If you need/buy less you can get better quality more expensive pieces that will past a much longer time.

  26. Kristy

    Hubby and I purged our closet a few months ago. We got rid of at least 8 trash bags full of clothes. Hubby is a tshirt and jeans guy for the most part. He’s addicted to though so he has a pretty big shirt collection. I’m a housewife so comfort is key for me. I love longer tops but can’t find anything that is long enough for me since I’m tall. Everything is pretty much waist high. I -need- to cover my belly flab. I have resorted to shopping juniors for mini dresses to wear with leggings for the most part. I do have some age appropriate clothes (I’m 40) but not much that fits my body shape. Oh well, I guess I will dress my “how I feel” age 🙂

  27. Amarilys Morales

    AND some of the items are on clearance woohooooooo

  28. Kitty


  29. couponcolvin

    What a great post! When I lose all the “baby” weight I’ve gained from my last pregnancy, I want to do this! It would be great if you made a capsule wardrobe post like this for men too.

  30. Frazzledmom

    I have recently adopted this at 50 years old and after losing weight. I love the flexibility and I always have something to wear. It is budget because you are only investing in a few good pieces. I just bought a capsule wardrobe for my 22 year old son for Christmas.

  31. Momx3

    I loved this post! I hope you do an update as many of the links were unavailable or out of stock in most sizes/colors. I ordered a few pieces and liked them very much!

  32. heid

    I love all my clothes – all the colors. I would never do this. It seems so boring to me. I love change and color.

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