We Tried Out a Capsule Wardrobe and Here’s What Happened


Photo by Sophie Sand

Before coming to college, I used to toe the line of living in excess. Living in an area where the local shopping center was the only place to hang out, I was constantly bringing home new, trendy pieces of clothing from stores like Urban Outfitters and H&M. I loved having new clothes to wear, but my drawers and closet were filled to the brim with pieces I hardly wore because they didn’t fit or weren’t really my style.

Now, after coming to college and spending all of my money, I turned to my closet. Slowly, my closet started to get bigger, as I sold sweatshirts, leggings, shoes and more that I found myself not needing. I still have more clothes than I need, but recent trends in minimalism and purging items to cleanse your life had me, once again, standing in front of my wardrobe.

A capsule closet, loosely defined, is a closet with a lower-than-average number of clothes. The average person’s closet has about 103 pieces of clothing in it, and the capsule closet seems to cut that down to about 25 to 30. Some may get as low as 12, and others sit at around 40, but the main idea is reducing the amount of clothing a person wears drastically. Clothing gets cycled with the different seasons, and a few new, quality pieces can be bought each season.

Capsule closets are specific to each closet owner. Staple pieces are recommended to create a closet that flows together with each piece, but statement pieces show personality! There is no one way to put together a capsule closet, and a shopping spree isn’t necessary. It’s all about working with what you have.

I started by documenting every single piece of clothing in my dorm. In a Google doc, I labeled what I had based on what it was: dresses, sweaters, shirts, exercise clothes, pants, skirts and coats. No specifics except for exercise and every single thing got written down. In total, I could stash away 103 pieces of clothing in the school-supplied wardrobe and drawers. 103. First of all, that’s a huge number. Also, that’s the exact number the average person has in their closet. Absolute proof that I’m average.

After going through my dorm, I went through the list and labeled my clothes: keep, capsule, sell. I broke my closet down to 15 necessities with room for accessories and did not factor in workout clothes or pajamas. For two weeks, I lived off of two jackets, two dresses, three pairs of pants, four sweaters, one scarf and three shirts. I personally am more partial to sweaters than shirts, which made picking sweaters much harder than it should have been, but eventually, I went from 11 to three. The reason I didn’t factor in gym clothes is I like to go to the gym more often than I do my laundry, and I wouldn’t want to be re-wearing dirty leggings to the gym (ew). However, I did wear three pairs of leggings with three different tops and a sweatshirt.

What you do with your leftover pieces is up to you. A capsule closet may be done as a way to test the limits of your closet, or a good way to figure out what you wear and what you don’t. Pieces I found I don’t wear anymore got sold on apps like Mercari and Poshmark; so far I’ve made about 60 dollars. This meant skirts I was saving for a special occasion, shoes that I loved but just didn’t fit, winter coats I haven’t worn since middle school, and more. Nothing is off limits.

I didn’t mind my two weeks with a capsule closet. I wouldn’t say I loved it; there were times where I wanted to reach for a sweatshirt and leggings and call it a day, but my commitment to experimentation stayed strong.

It wasn’t until I went out on a Saturday night that I decided to stray from my closet, and it was all downhill from there.

Do you feel like you are drowning in your clothing? Do you look at your closet and pick between the same few things every time? Consider a capsule closet.