How to Plan and Organize a Capsule Wardrobe

In a lot of the articles I read about capsule wardrobes and decluttering your closet, the first step is usually the same: go in with guns blazing, get your hands dirty, and get rid of everything you don’t want. While decluttering is a hugely important part of the process, I’d like to argue that there’s a step you should take before that if you really want to ensure success. That step is taking the time to plan your capsule wardrobe.

If you have downloaded your copy of my free guide, 5 Steps to a Simpler Wardrobe, you’ll see that this is the first step that I recommend you take. To me, this step should be done before you even think about going ahead and decluttering. The reason is that your plan will provide the guidelines for what you should keep versus what you can let go of. It will help you define your personal style and ensure that whatever you do keep fits with the overall aesthetic and function that you’re going for. Essentially, it will help ensure that your newly decluttered wardrobe will work for you and that you’ll love it!

In this article I’ll share some of my tips for this initial stage of planning and organizing your capsule wardrobe. If you’re looking to start your own capsule wardrobe, or are trying to declutter but haven’t had much luck, then just keep reading!

Defining your Personal Style

When it comes to your own personal style, it can be difficult to understand exactly what it is. There’s so much out there when it comes to fashion trends that it’s easy to lose sight of your own personal preferences and what you love wearing as opposed to what you think you should be wearing, just because it’s in fashion.

If you’ve already got a good handle on your personal style, feel free to skip below to see my tips on gathering inspiration and planning your wardrobe. But if you need some help in this area, here are some of my ideas on how you can get a better idea of your own personal style.

  • Take a look at the pieces or outfits you reach for most often. Consider of how these look and feel – the colours, the style, the fabrics, etc. Are they comfortable and functional, do you wear them to feel a certain way or give off a certain vibe, or do you just like to experiment and have fun?
  • Consider your style icons. These could be celebrities, friends, co-workers, or anyone whose style you admire and would like to replicate. Your style doesn’t have to be completely original – it just has to work for you and make you feel your best.
  • Don’t be afraid to experiment a little. If you’re not happy with your style, branch out and try something new. If you don’t feel comfortable in it, then maybe it’s not for you. But you might discover something that you’ve never tried before which really works for you. Taking part in a 10 x 10 challenge can force you to get creative with your current wardrobe and might help you discover a few new outfits you hadn’t thought of before.
  • Write down words or phrases that come to mind when you think of your personality and style. Some examples are: casual, chic, professional, boho, eclectic, trendy, colourful, minimal, comfortable, functional, traditional, contemporary, etc. Keep these overall themes in mind when you’re planning out your wardrobe.

How to Plan and Organize a Capsule Wardrobe

Gathering Inspiration for your Wardrobe

Once you have an overall idea of the style you’re going for, it’s time to gather some inspiration. I actually really enjoy this part, although it can be a lot of work. Thankfully, there are a lot of platforms out there that make it really easy to collect ideas. I like to use Pinterest because there are so many great ideas and it’s really easy to save and organize them for reference later.

Other places to gather inspiration would be your favourite style blogs or magazines, Instagram or other social platforms, people you see on the street – anywhere, really. I do however recommend saving them in one place so that you can go back and look at them later; if you’re using magazines, you could cut out some of your favourite looks and create an inspiration board or book. If you’re using Instagram, saving ideas to a collection works really well.

At the end of the day, I’d recommend using Pinterest most because I honestly just think it’s the best tool for this process. Here are some of my tips and ideas on how to get the most out of it when planning your wardrobe.

  • Have separate boards for different categories to keep things organized. You can set this up however works best for you; for example, you could organize your style boards by season (spring/summer or fall/winter), occasion (everyday or work), activity (hanging out with friends, running errands), or time period (eg. 2018). Personally, I like to organize mine by occasion, and have boards for simple everyday style, travel style, work style, and evening style. I also have a board for celeb style where I save looks of all of my favourite style icons.
  • Unless you’re planning on doing a complete wardrobe overhaul, I’d recommend sticking to saving outfits that use items similar to what you already have. The goal is to create outfits using what’s in your closet, not find a whole bunch of new things you need to buy. If there’s an outfit I really like but don’t have part of it, I’ll still save it, and then see if that item comes up again and if I could get a lot of wear out of it. In that case, it might signal that it would be a good purchase for me to make and include in my wardrobe.
  • Follow people with similar style to what you’re going for. There are a lot of accounts or even just boards on Pinterest that are dedicated to style. If you can find someone who consistently pins ideas that you’re into, follow them so that they show up in your feed more often. In this way, Pinterest can help curate your feed and recommend more ideas that you might like.
  • The nice thing about Pinterest is you can pin anything on the web, so you don’t necessarily have to discover it there. If you follow a fashion blogger, you can save their looks to your board even if it doesn’t come up on your feed. Whenever you’re on a website, if you see an image with an outfit you like, save it to your Pinterest board to keep it for later.
  • The more pins you save, the more Pinterest understands what you’re looking for and will suggest new pins that you might like and suit your style. I find it quite addictive and fun to browse through my feed and look at ideas. Try to spend a good amount of time building up your boards so that you have enough ideas and so Pinterest will know what else to recommend for you.

How to Plan and Organize a Capsule Wardrobe

Planning your Capsule Wardrobe

Okay, so now you’ve got a really good idea of your personal style, and you’re armed with plenty of inspiration and ideas for your wardrobe. The final step before decluttering is to plan it all out.

For this, I like to use an app called Stylebook (affiliate link). I’ve had this app for years – I think I paid about $7 on the app store for it a long time ago. Back then, I didn’t realize how handy it would come in when I started my capsule wardrobe. There’s also an app called Cladwell which I’ve heard really good things about, however since Stylebook works well for me, I haven’t tried it. If you’re not into using an app, good old pen and paper will do the trick, however I do find it a lot easier to have a visual representation of the items in my wardrobe.

So basically what I do is create a list of every item in my wardrobe. If you’re using an app, you can take photos or find similar photos online to import. This can be time consuming, but once it’s done, it’s done. For pen and paper, just write down each item.

Then, for each seasonal capsule, I pick out the items I want to include. In Stylebook, I use their Packing List function to do this. Keep your personal style and all of your inspiration in mind for this part. Select items that you love and that you’ll get a lot of wear out of (i.e. they’re versatile and can work in many different outfits). It also helps to have a colour palette in mind, especially if you’re doing a capsule wardrobe where the number of pieces is quite limited. This helps ensure that everything works cohesively together and doesn’t clash too much.

Next, I take a look at my Pinterest boards and scroll through for ideas. When I find an outfit I like, I’ll use the items in my wardrobe to create that outfit and save it as a look in Stylebook. If you’re not using an app, you could write down or draw out your planned outfits and take note of which items you want to use. Another good idea is to lay your outfits out on the floor or bed and snap a photo of them for reference later. Then, when I’m looking for something to wear, I’ll reference my saved looks and it’s super easy to pick one, grab the items from my closet, and get dressed!

In Stylebook, you can also mark down the date when you’ve worn an item or an outfit. I don’t use this feature much although it would be interesting to see which pieces I’m getting the most wear out of in my closet. On pen and paper, you could keep a tally beside each item to see how many times you’ve worn it in the season or however long your capsule is. This would also be a good exercise to do to help get a better sense of your personal style and what you gravitate towards in your closet.

Overall, the process of gathering inspiration, planning, and organizing my capsule wardrobe is a lot of fun for me. I love trying new combinations for outfits and having a place where I can reference looks if I’m in a pinch. Planning is something I think is just so important to ensure you declutter your closet in the right way. It can be a lot of work and challenging, but when you end up with a decluttered closet full of only items that you love, I think you’ll find that it was worth it.

I hope you found this article useful! I’d love to hear what you think and any of your own tips for planning and gathering inspiration for your capsule wardrobe in the comments below.

Until next time,


Disclaimer: This post is not sponsored by any of the platforms or apps mentioned. These are the actual tools I choose to use and nothing but my own, honest opinions!

Featured photo by rawpixel on Unsplash.

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How to Plan and Organize a Capsule Wardrobe

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