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How to Build the Best Affordable Capsule Wardrobe

Discover the art of cultivating a timeless wardrobe without breaking the bank! Dive into our latest post for savvy tips and budget-friendly strategies on building the perfect capsule wardrobe that reflects your style without compromising your wallet.

A handful of shirts hanging on a clothing rack


Building a Budget-Friendly Capsule Wardrobe

Can you have your dream wardrobe on a tight budget? Yes! Absolutely!

A minimalist capsule wardrobe is a great way to fill your closet with everything you need and love without breaking the bank. I’ve been working on my own capsule closet for a while now and have plenty of tips that will help you stay on budget and get what you want.

What is a Capsule Wardrobe?

A capsule wardrobe is a collection of essential clothing items that are carefully selected to be versatile, timeless, and easily interchangeable. The concept of a capsule wardrobe is to have a small, curated selection of high-quality clothing items that can be mixed and matched to create a variety of outfits.

The goal is to simplify your wardrobe, making it more functional and reducing the need for excessive shopping.

Typically, a capsule wardrobe consists of a set number of items that can be mix and matched for a variety of different looks. These pieces are chosen based on factors like personal style, lifestyle, and the season. By focusing on quality over quantity and selecting items that complement each other, individuals can create a wardrobe that is both stylish and efficient.

The idea behind a capsule wardrobe is to promote a more sustainable and mindful approach to fashion, encouraging people to invest in timeless, durable pieces rather than constantly chasing trends and accumulating a large number of items that may only be worn a few times.

This concept was popularized by fashion consultant Susie Faux in the 1970s and has gained renewed interest in recent years as part of the broader movement toward sustainable and minimalist lifestyles.

Woman wearing grey t-shirt and black jeans

What is the Benefit of a Capsule Wardrobe?

A capsule wardrobe is a great idea for its simplicity, cost-effectiveness, and sustainability. By selecting a small collection of versatile, high-quality pieces, you simplify the process of getting dressed, save money in the long run, and contribute to a more environmentally friendly approach to fashion.

The curated selection allows for a range of outfit combinations, promoting efficiency and reducing clutter in your living space. Embracing a capsule wardrobe encourages mindful consumption, focusing on personal style and timeless fashion choices.

Overall, it’s a practical and intentional approach to clothing that aligns with minimalist principles and a more conscious lifestyle.

Does a Capsule Wardrobe Save Money?

A capsule wardrobe has the potential to save money over the long term. By prioritizing quality over quantity, you invest in durable, timeless pieces that resist the wear and tear associated with cheaper, trend-driven items.

While the initial cost may be higher, these well-made garments often last longer, reducing the frequency of replacements and ultimately saving money. The focus on timeless style means your wardrobe is less likely to become outdated quickly, reducing the pressure to continually update your closet to match fleeting fashion trends.

The concept of a capsule wardrobe encourages mindful and intentional shopping, helping you avoid impulsive purchases and unnecessary expenses

What is a Good Budget for a Capsule Wardrobe?

The budget for a capsule wardrobe can vary widely depending on individual preferences, personal style, and the quality of clothing desired. However, the emphasis of a capsule wardrobe is on investing in quality, versatile pieces that will last, rather than buying numerous inexpensive, trend-driven items.

As a general guideline, some people suggest allocating a budget of around $500 to $1000 or more for a basic capsule wardrobe. This amount may seem high initially, but when you consider that the goal is to build a wardrobe that will last and withstand trends, it can be a cost-effective approach over time.

Keep in mind that the key is to focus on quality over quantity, and you can gradually build your capsule wardrobe over seasons.

How to Save Money on a Capsule Wardrobe

So you have a small budget? Can you really create an entire capsule wardrobe? Yes! Fewer clothes will keep your budget down for sure.  There are a couple of different ways to save money when building a capsule wardrobe.

Assess Your Current Wardrobe

You’ll spend less on new clothes if you don’t start from scratch. Go through your current wardrobe and pull out the clothes you wear on a regular basis. This will be the start of your new wardrobe.

Get rid of all the pieces you don’t wear on a regular basis that aren’t seasonal items. Every item in a capsule needs to be worn and you’ve already proven you don’t like to wear these items.

What about special occasion items? Well, that depends on how often you really wear them.

Also, can all your special occasion items be replaced by one nice black dress? The answer is probably yes.

If you can afford to get rid of the items you have and buy one high quality black dress that will stand the test of time then do it. If you need to save money then keep one nice dress you already own and plan to replace it later.

Know Your Personal Style

This is the only way to create the perfect capsule wardrobe in your unique style that works for your body type. While you can get ideas for your own capsule wardrobe from others you need to find what works for you.

For example, I love skinny jeans. They will always have a place in my capsule but a lot of people consider them out of style. I don’t care. I like the way the look on me so I’m keeping them.

In other words, don’t follow other peoples rules just because. Capsule wardrobes tend to use a lot of neutral tones so you can have interchangeable items but you can definitely have bright colors in a capsule if that’s what you like. You still want to make sure your colors mix in a way you like.

Figure Out Your Color Palette.

This is so important. You can use whatever colors you like but you need to make sure they mix and match so you can create a ton of outfits.

This is why so many people go with neutral colors.

Personally, I think only buying items in white, grey, and black is a waste because your outfits all start to look the same. While I do utilize all those neutral colors, I also add in greens, browns, and orange to my wardrobe because they are some of my favorite colors and they look good together.

Red Orange button up sweater, black and white striped tank top, black skinny jeans laid out on bed with accessories and black shoes

Make a Plan

You need to decide what you want your wardrobe to look like based on your style and how many items you want to work with. There is no set number of items when it comes to a capsule wardrobe but you should try to keep the numbers on the lower side to save money.

Decide how many pieces will be in your wardrobe and then figure out what you still need to buy based on what you kept from your old wardrobe. Then write out what items you still need to buy.

Make sure you are exact in your plan. Don’t just say you need 3 new shirts. Say you need one grey v-neck, one short sleeve white button up, and one black turtle neck. Be exact and only buy exact. Close enough doesn’t work.

Don’t Go Overboard on Seasonal Items

Some people like to create a capsule wardrobe for different seasons. Talk about a serious waste of money.

When you don’t have a whole lot of money to spend then you should have one capsule and then add a small number of seasonal pieces. Only have a small number of summer items, like shorts, for warmer months and a couple of long sleeve items for winter months. 

Autumn clothing essentials - gold color sweater, jeans, and black, velvet loafers.

Spend Money on Timeless Items

You might need to spend more money on key pieces of your capsule wardrobe. These should be classic, high quality items that can last for years if not decades.

We’re talking the classic trench coat, little black dress, cashmere sweater, maybe a great pair of jeans, and a couple pair of shoes. 

Spend Less Money on Staple Pieces

Once you’ve established a foundation of timeless items, you can allocate a smaller budget for your basic, core pieces of clothing. These essentials, like t-shirts, sweaters, jeans, or joggers, become more cost-effective as you won’t need to constantly replace them due to changing trends. 

By focusing on versatile basics that complement your classic pieces, you enhance the mix-and-match possibilities within your wardrobe, ensuring a variety of stylish outfits without the need for frequent and costly additions. This strategic approach to wardrobe building aligns with both financial prudence and sustainable fashion practices.

woman wearing classic white t-shirt and jeans

Keep Fast Fashion to a Minimum 

Fast fashion refers to the rapid production of inexpensive, on-trend clothing that is quickly made available to the mass market. The industry thrives on quick turnover, pushing out trendy pieces in response to the latest fashion trends, often at the expense of ethical and sustainable practices.

Keeping fast fashion to a minimum is crucial. 

The rapid pace of production contributes significantly to environmental degradation through excessive resource use, water pollution, and increased waste. And the low-cost nature of fast fashion often comes at the expense of fair labor practices, with workers facing poor working conditions and low wages. 

By minimizing our reliance on fast fashion, we can promote a more sustainable and ethical approach to clothing consumption. Investing in timeless, durable pieces and supporting brands that prioritize ethical and environmentally friendly practices not only helps combat the negative impacts of fast fashion but also encourages a more mindful and responsible approach to personal style.

Shop Around

Once you have your shopping list you can start shopping. You don’t need, and shouldn’t, buy everything at once. You should not be in a hurry. When you go too fast you buy pieces that are “close enough.”

You want to find the perfect piece for every article of clothing on your list. You want to absolutely love everything you own. That’s how a capsule works best. You love it all so you wear it all. 

I like to start my shopping at thrift stores. You can find so many great items there.

After I’ve spent some weeks going through my favorite thrift stores then I expand to my favorite clothing store and then keep expanding from there.

Ask friends where they like to shop. Go to the mall for a day of shopping. It’s up to you. I buy what I love and cross it off the list.

If I didn’t find everything then I wait a couple of weeks and start the rounds again.

Learn how to start a capsule wardrobe on a a budget.

As you embrace the journey of building a capsule wardrobe on a budget, remember that style doesn’t have to come with a hefty price tag. By making intentional choices, prioritizing quality over quantity, and embracing the beauty of simplicity, you’re not just curating a wardrobe – you’re crafting a sustainable and stylish lifestyle that stands the test of time.

How do you stick to a budget when buying clothes? Share your tips with us in the comments!

You Might Also Like:

Why You Have Too Many Clothes and What to do About It

How I Cut My Wardrobe In Half and Why You Should Too!

How Thrift Store Shopping Benefits the Environment

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