How to Create a Capsule Wardrobe for Spring and Summer

After months of being bundled up in cold weather clothes, the idea of lighter, brighter spring and summer fashion is appealing. But rather than grabbing your purse and heading out the door with credit card in hand to shop for warm weather goodies, take time to evaluate your closet first. Taking a full inventory of all your clothes may present some interesting finds …

  • Things you’ve completely forgotten about
  • Items you question why you ever bought them
  • Duplicates like five black tees
  • Favorite jeans you haven’t been able to find in a long time

An out of control closet is not unusual and, following the 80/20 rule, most of us wear 20 percent of our clothes 80 percent of the time. A growing trend is the capsule wardrobe, a pared-down wardrobe to a reduced number of clothes that you love and always feel good wearing. It makes every aspect of fashion easier: less closet space, less laundry, less money spent on frivolous purchases, and less time trying to put together an outfit for the day.

Ultimately, you dress better with less by dividing your wardrobe into manageable capsules for each season. With a little planning, you will have exactly what you need to reflect your personal style, and you’ll always feel great in clothes you love.

First step: purging

Purging is inevitable to get control of closet excess. Between clothes, accessories and shoes, most closets are maxed out but still generate the feeling of “nothing to wear” a lot of the time. A capsule wardrobe is about what you love to wear, so this purge is all about heart.

Pile all your clothes on the bed, collected from every cabinet, closet, drawer and even the laundry basket. For purposes of your capsule wardrobe, focus on pants, skirts, tops, dresses, outerwear and shoes only. Consider every piece individually and, if you don’t love the idea of putting it on, set it aside. You are purging anything you don’t really like to wear. This pile can be donated to your favorite charity, sold on eBay, go a clothes-swap party or tossed. Just don’t return them to the closet.


Second step: Comfort, proper fit and condition

For the keepers, try on every item and be ruthless about how it feels, looks and fits. If it’s worn out from too much love, replace it. If it’s damaged, repair it or let it go. Keeping one or two old favorite tees for spring cleaning, painting or gardening is okay, but not as part of your real wardrobe. As you work through the clothes you like best, you should begin to see your own personal style peeping through.

  • Casual with jeans, shorts and tees
  • Frilly, girly blouses, dresses or skirts
  • Solid colors or lively patterns
  • Lovely layers

At this point, fall and winter garments should be stored for inclusion in your cold weather capsule. This could include heavy sweaters, bulky scarves and wool coats. If they need to remain in the closet, Tailored Living’s® custom closet storage systems can help with having sufficient space for everything, while keeping the current season capsule wardrobe front and center!

Step three: Clothes for the lifestyle you live

Sometimes we fill our closets with what we most like to wear without much regard for what we need. For example, if you have a job that requires “office attire” you should have pieces that qualify. Trying to make your “weekend casual” style work for the office is going to keep you perpetually frustrated getting ready for work. Build a wardrobe with quality pieces that can be both casual and dressy, and you’ll always be properly dressed.

  • Fabric, textures and cut can take a simple blouse from casual to dressy
  • A fitted blazer or jacket can dress up a more casual outfit, yet work equally well with jeans
  • Trousers are always dressier than skinny jeans
  • A pencil skirt becomes office attire with heels, or casual with sandals or flats
  • A silk scarf or fancy necklace can transform an outfit

Make a list of your activities and what you need for each, such as workout gear, cocktail dress for date nights, work clothes, daily wear, hiking, etc. If you need formal wear only for a one-time or occasional event, rent a dress. You’ll look fabulous, spend less money, and your closet will thank you.

Step four: Create a mix-and-match wardrobe

Capsule wardrobes range from 20 to 40 items, some including accessories in that count and some not. Find a number that works for you and build around that. The idea is to have what you need, in versatile pieces that you love to wear, that work together to create multiple outfits. One capsule fashionista suggests that each piece should be usable in five outfits or it doesn’t make the cut.

  • Set your colors. Select core neutrals like gray, black, beige or navy that will coordinate with the other colors in your capsule. Add items in favorite colors, prints and solids, that work with your chosen neutrals. Use bright accent colors that contrast or coordinate to add excitement.
  • Select your final pieces. Figure on three to six pieces each of pants, tops, sweaters and dresses/skirts. If you literally live in jeans and shorts, then swap out a dress or two for more jeans. One or two blazers can handle the cooler evenings, and a button-up shirt can be a light coverup over tees or shells as well as a stand-alone top.
  • Shoes and accessories. A short boot, metallic flats, dress heels, tennis shoes and two sandals can serve through spring and summer, plus any specialty footwear like hiking boots. An everyday bag, larger tote and clutch purse can coordinate with all your looks. Belts and scarves can alter an outfit in a minute.

Step five:  Coordinate old and new

List what you already have and see how your existing wardrobe lines up with your activities, style preferences and the numbers. Too many jeans or tops? Pare down to the absolute favorites and move long-sleeved or darker colors to your cold weather capsule. Swap out a darker-wash jean for white jeans for summer or replace shells with short-sleeved tops, or vice versa.

Begin creating outfits to see where there are gaps. Start a shopping list of needed items so you have more options. Do you need a light-weight structured jacket in your core neutral? Printed tops to liven up solid-color pants and skirts? A dress that can dress up or down? Take your list when you shop and only purchase what is needed to fill your spring and summer capsule wardrobe with items that play well together and keep you looking chic.

The perfect closet for your wardrobe

Now that you’ve designed the perfect wardrobe, you need the perfect closet to put it in. Tailored Living can help with designing the ideal closet for your less-is-more minimalist capsule wardrobe, or your maximalist fashion wardrobe with custom storage solutions to keep every item in pristine condition and ready to wear. Call 866-712-3404 to schedule a free, in-home consultation. As whole home organization specialists, we can help with organization and storage solutions for every room in your home, including the garage.

For a more in-depth look at capsule wardrobes, check out a 37-piece capsule wardrobe at, or for the real minimalist, Here’s Your 10-Piece Spring Capsule Wardrobe Checklist.