How to Create a Casual Wardrobe Capsule Outfit by Outfit

casual wardrobe capsuleOne of the biggest things in fashion right now is the wardrobe capsule.  Everyone wants to know how to create the smallest and most cohesive closet of clothing they possibly can.  Yet, creating a one of these capsules can be daunting.   Most women don’t know where to start.  The truth is, creating a wardrobe capsule isn’t that hard.  The problem is that most women approach it backwards.  In today’s post I am going to show you how to create a casual wardrobe capsule outfit by outfit.  This is a much smarter way to go about it.

But before I do.

denim on denim Last week I wrote a post on how to wear denim-on-denim with style.  On Friday, I took the day off to spend with my mom and just happened to wear this look.

Okay, back to casual capsule wardrobe talk.

When building a professional or casual wardrobe capsule I want you to try taking this approach:  To start, begin with one complete outfit.  From there, take one piece from that original outfit and create a new one.  Next, take one of the pieces from the second outfit you created and use that piece to create a third outfit.  See the pattern?  Basically, by doing this you are creating a grouping of outfits that has a cohesive thread running through it, which turns it into a capsule.  Taking this approach is much simpler versus saying you want a capsule of 10 pieces, grabbing ten items from your wardrobe and  struggling to create a bunch of different looks.  Doing that is actually backwards thinking.  The other benefit of building a capsule wardrobe outfit by outfit is that you can build the capsule to whatever size you want. At any point you can stop building when you feel you have created enough outfits.  Additionally, as you introduce new purchases into your wardrobe they will be much easier to assimilate into your existing capsule of looks.  All you have to do is feed it in and build from there using what you already own.

Take a look at the casual wardrobe capsule I created below using this outfit by outfit approach.

How to Create a Casual Wardrobe Capsule Outfit by Outfit

Outfit #1

casual wardrobe capsuleHere is the starting point outfit, consisting of a pair of white jeans from Michael Kors, a green Boden t-shirt, a navy J. Crew blazer, gold ballerina flats from Vince Camuto, a statement necklace from Max & Chloe and handbag from Hobo.

Outfit #2

casual capsule wardrobe To create this new outfit I took the green t-shirt from the last look.  I styled the top with a denim skirt from LOFT, a Nic + Zoe cardigan in coral, a pair of tan sandals from Spendid, pendant necklace from Stella & Dot and the same bag as used previously from Hobo.

Outfit #3

casual wardrobe capsuleIn this outfit I took the coral Nic + Zoe cardigan from the last look and used it layer over this striped dress from Modcloth.  The outfit is finished with a pair of navy wedge sandals from Style & co., a pair of coral earrings and the same bag, again.

Outfit #4

Recently Updated980In this fourth look, the dress was pulled from the last outfit and I brought back the navy blazer from J. Crew to create a more tailored look.  I used the same blue wedges, the same handbag, yet again, and, this time, used a long gold necklace and blue stud earrings, both from Kate Spade.

Outfit #5

casual wardrobe capsuleFinally, this this last look, I took the navy blazer from the previous outfit and used it to create this ensemble.  Here the blazer is styled with a pair of boyfriend jeans from the Gap, the same gold Vince Camuto flats, a pink top from French Connection, the long gold necklace as used previously, a printed scarf from Bloomingdales and that same Hobo handbag that has been used in every outfit.

Now I could go on from here, and if I were to I would probably take the pink top to build another outfit, maybe using the white jeans from the first outfit, and so on.  By approaching a wardrobe capsule in this manner it’s much less complicated and confusing, plus it forces you to work with what you already own and then really hone in one what you might be missing.

I can’t recommend this approach enough when creating a cohesive grouping of outfits in your closet.  As you prepare for the next season, start with one of your favorite outfits and build from there.  I can’t wait to hear how some of you make out trying this approach to getting more from your wardrobe.

  • Melissa

    Love this idea. I suspect the ‘gaps’ in the wardrobe that need to be filled would quickly become obvious this way, such as variety in shoes or toppers. Will try this on the weekend!

  • irene

    Thank you!
    So simple and logical

    • Right? Plus you can splinter off in several different directions. For example, if I had taken the white jeans to create the second outfit a whole new grouping would have happened.

  • Tarah

    It feels like you wrote this just for me! 😀 Thank you Bridgette! Great inspiration!

  • Alicen

    I need to go through this exercise. I think it would help a great deal to identify the gaps in my wardrobe. I’ve been adding neutral pieces and I think what I need are the accents and pops, printed tops and the coloured accessories to go with them. But I should go through this exercise before I head out shopping.

    • It will definitely help you really hone in on your needs, plus you may realize you have a lot more to wear in your closet than you originally thought. I am glad this will help you!

  • Laura

    I love this approach. I’ve tried to plan an entire capsule wardrobe on paper with lists, etc. and wasn’t getting anywhere. I was unable to find many of the items that I planned for in the stores. You’re approach is far more practical from a shopping standpoint.

    • Exactly! A lot of people plan wardrobes like you which is way too complicated and there are too many variables that are beyond our control. If we could just wish the right things into our closets it would be one thing, but we can’t. This process also forces us to work with what we own and then when we buy something new just assimilate it into the rotation.

  • Pat

    Oh, Bridgette, thank you for breaking this process down to a manageable endeavor. I so need a spring-summer wardrobe, wander the stores, not able to get started. The only problem I have finding “pieces” is with proportion from one ensemble to the next. I’ve cleared my closet of items i don’t “love” and there’s not much left. Whew! Where to start, bottoms or tops??

    Your fans so appreciate your wonderful brain!!
    A faithful fan,

    • Hi Pat, first, I owe you an email. The past few weeks have been SO crazy but I am finally coming up for air. In the meantime, start with an outfit. Whatever outfit you like, but one you enjoy wearing. It’s better than starting with tops or bottoms, etc. From there just take one piece from that outfit to try to build another one. If you get stumped go back to the original outfit and take another piece from it and try again. I bet you can build a new outfit from one of the original pieces. If you can’t it’s a good sign you need to add some things to your wardrobe, but by using this approach you should be able to more closely hone in one what your needs are. I hope that helps.

      • Pat

        I’ll start today!! Woopsy, I forgot to tell you how adorable you look!! Your Mum is soooo lucky to have you as a daughter.

  • Dawn Fields

    You know when someone explains a concept in just the right way and you’re like “Duh! Now I get it!” I am SO going to try this tomorrow with my closet. I think it might also point out those WTH was I thinking pieces that I can’t seem to find a place for ( and finally let them go if I need to) and help me make a list of the little things that I need to complete those outfits that you put on but then take off again because you don’t have the right shoe or bra or whatever. Good post!

    • Ha, yes! How funny is it when that happens. Yes, it will be easy to figure out your WTH pieces. I am so glad you liked the post!

  • Charlene

    Such a smart, smart way to build a cohesive wardrobe, Bridgette! Thank you! Love your denim-on-denim photo, too!

    • Hi Charlene! Thanks, I really liked the outfit too. Originally I had a tank under the cardigan and then tested out the chambray shirt under it. I thought it would be too bulky but it was really comfortable. Finally I added the scarf and voila.

  • Patricia

    I can’t stand it. It’s so simple.Yet one more reason why you’re the stylist/blogger and I’m the blog reader…I want to have a capsule creating party with my sis this weekend! A little wine, a few nibbles,and I’ll have my entire closet “capsulized”.

    • Haha, sometimes the most obvious solutions are the ones we don’t immediately see. A capsule creating party! I will not be held accountable for any outfits created after a few glasses of wine. 😉

  • meli22

    Best.idea.ever! How could I have never thought of this? Good grief how simple and easy AND you can incorporate your own items instead of starting over…. Mind=blown

    • LOL!!!! Your comment made me laugh! I am glad I blew your mind!

  • JanieBabes

    Really like this one, easy to follow. And better yet, although the colors you have shown above aren’t right for me, I can see easily what I could change to make it work. Sometimes I find it hard to figure out how to do a capsule if the colors are completely wrong for me and I can’t work out where to start to make the color changes

    • I am so thrilled to hear this! Yes, this is the best part about this approach to a capsule, the rules are so simple that you can spin it any way you want and still be effective.

      • JanieBabes

        I love it when I see a something and go “I’d just need to go for a deeper cooler green top and swap the coral for either a blue-red or fuchsia pink”. Usually with a capsule I’ve found that if they are too far from colors that suit me, I don’t know where to start changing things.

  • Mary T.

    Awesome…you should make this a challenge!

  • Sylvia

    This is great. Changes how you look at your wardrobe. Rather than agonizing over what you need to buy, you work with what you have. Thanks so much :).

    • Yup, plus when you are ready to add more it is easy! Just work it in the mix

  • It is wonderful to know a generous genius 🙂

    I’m not into having *a capsule wardrobe* but I am into creating ‘grab and go’ capsules so I don’t drive my hubby to work in PJs before the grey matter warms up, or when the time gets away from me 😀

    One of the things I’ve done, thanks to you, is create a small standby capsule each week. Any item not worn from the capsule goes back into the closet and I create another capsule the following week just so I can make sure I have a couple outfits ready at all times.

    Love the necklace, btw, I had no idea it was going to be sterling and not costume!! Wow, your kindness never ceases to amaze me.

    • I am SO glad you liked the necklace and that it got a good home!

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  • Patricia

    I did this yesterday with my sister. She loved it so much I’m sending her the link to this article. Thanks for some fun sister bonding time.

    • Oh I am so happy to hear it! It’s great to hear how well it worked in practice! Thank you for sharing and I am glad it created some fun bonding time with your sister!!!

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  • Pam

    This is genius! I think I can do it!

    • Great! yes, that is the beauty of this approach, it is so simple!

  • So do you then take a picture of each outfit so you don’t forget what you have put together?

    • I would, unless you have a great memory. I always take photos of the outfits that i create for my clients so they can remember everything we put together.

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  • Wendy

    Brilliant idea — just one question — how would this work if one is a dress-wearer?

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  • Emily R

    Brilliant. This is exactly what I needed! Thank you!

  • SmallDisciplines

    Interesting! I’ve never thought of doing it this way before! This made me want to give wardrobe capsuling another try.