Maintain a Capsule Wardrobe: How to Add, Edit & Refresh
While a capsule wardrobe does simplify getting dressed, it’s not a 100% set-it-and-forget-it option.
Think of it more like a potted succulent. It’s low maintenance, but you should check in on it every once in a while for the best results.
Scroll on for 7 steps to maintain a capsule wardrobe with ease.
How to Maintain a Capsule Wardrobe
Step 1: Evaluate Your Current Capsule Wardrobe
🔍 Take inventory of your current capsule wardrobe.
My first recommendation for a well-maintained capsule wardrobe? Start with a solid foundation. Take a look at your current closet and evaluate each piece.
Be honest about what’s working and what is not. After all, maintaining a capsule wardrobe is much easier with a solid starting point.
🗓️This is an ideal time to:
- Look for items that need to be replaced
- Identify gaps in your closet
- Get rid of clothing that no longer fits
- Find items you didn’t end up wearing
- Remove items you are bored of
My Capsule Tip: Remember, you don’t have to switch out every single piece to maintain a capsule wardrobe. Instead, reevaluate and update specific parts of your capsule.
For instance, I found a few items that I thought I’d wear all the time but ended up not. As pretty as my dark ruffled mini skirt was, I barely wore it over the 3-month span. So I decided to donate it to make room for something else.
Is your capsule on solid ground? Learn the steps to build a capsule wardrobe that lasts here.
Step 2: Transition Your Closet Between Seasons
🍂 Determine which items in your current capsule are suitable for the next season.
Like a corporate brand trying to woo a young customer base, your capsule needs to stay relevant.
Editing it each season will help you maintain a capsule wardrobe. So consider the temperature ranges and any specific events or activities that may influence your outfit choices.
👗As you analyze the upcoming season, assess which pieces from your current capsule wardrobe can effortlessly transition with you.
For instance, my wide-leg trousers move from my fall capsule wardrobe to winter because they can easily be warmed up with tights underneath. But I swap light cardigans in favor of thicker ones.
My Capsule Tip: Put out-of-season items in a separate storage area. I personally find it helpful to use a clear storage tub when storing clothes for different seasons.
For example, during winter, I pack away my summer essentials and keep them out of the way. There’s no need for sundresses to take up valuable closet space in November!
Step 3: Implement the “One In, One Out” Rule
📏Maintain the size of your capsule wardrobe.
Let’s face it. It’s easy to slip back into old habits. If you’re worried that your orderly capsule is going to balloon into a massive wardrobe, use the “one in, one out” rule.
🔄 Whenever adding a new item to your capsule wardrobe, remove one existing item: Adhering to the “one in, one out” rule helps you maintain the desired size and simplicity of your wardrobe.
I prefer to keep my capsule within a range (20-30 items) rather than a set number of pieces. So sometimes I’ll remove one item and add two.
As long as I stay within the preset range, my closet is a peaceful place.
Need some guidance? The helpful capsule wardrobe checklist can steer you in the right direction.
My Capsule Tip: Carefully consider the purpose, versatility, and fit of a new item before adding it to your capsule.
An item can look very cute and fit your capsule color palette yet still not play well with items in your closet or meet your needs.
So ask yourself if the item goes with the current capsule and if it is something that you would wear on repeat.
Step 4: Properly Care for Clothing
🧺 Care for and store every garment properly.
Think about a beauty product you’ve splurged on. You cherish it. You use it to the last drop. Now apply that level of care to your capsule.
A key part of maintaining a capsule wardrobe is treating every piece you own with care.
👕Handle your garments gently. Yes, it takes a bit of extra effort at the start. But you get more life out of your clothes when you pay attention to recommended washing methods, drying techniques, and storage guidelines.
By treating your clothes well, you prevent unnecessary wear and keep them in tip-top shape.
My Capsule Tip: Use the dry cleaners. Don’t give up on a garment just because of a stubborn stain. I once thought that a sweater dress was ruined forever because of a foundation stain I couldn’t get out. But rather than tossing it, I made a last-ditch effort and took it to the cleaners. Thanks to the expertise of dry cleaners, the dress looked like new.
Plus, I found out they offered tailoring services. A win in my book.
Step 5: Add New Items Thoughtfully
🛍️Shop intentionally and selectively.
To maintain a capsule wardrobe, you need to supplement it with new items from time to time. I approach shopping in 2 steps:
Pre-shopping: Planning my capsule.
Before I step foot in a store (or open a shopping tab), I identify the missing pieces in my current wardrobe. I highly recommend considering the activities you engage in the most so you can be sure that your capsule supports you in those endeavors.
A little prep will give you clarity on the specific pieces you need. Hello, focused and intentional shopping.
Shopping – Quality and style alignment.
Now for the fun part. Shopping is less overwhelming when you can narrow down the options.
During the shopping process, I prioritize two essential factors: quality and style alignment. I seek out garments that are crafted to last.
Need to fill in gaps? Browse the list of the best capsule wardrobe brands to shop.
Secondly, I have a well-defined personal style that serves as my North Star. This helps me pick pieces that align effortlessly with my current closet.
While a fuzzy flannel shirt might look cute and cozy, it doesn’t align with my feminine and chic aesthetic. I gracefully move on to find a better match.
Step 6: Regularly Assess Your Closet
🗓️ Set aside specific times for closet assessments.
Yes, your capsule wardrobe is low maintenance. But it needs attention like the rest of us. To ensure it continues to meet your style needs, check in regularly.
👋Personally, I find it helpful to fully evaluate my capsule every 3 months or so. But a mini check-in every 5-7 weeks or so is helpful too.
This allows me to adapt to seasonal changes and infuse new life into my wardrobe without getting stuck in a style rut. So I say goodbye to pieces that are not working and make room for new items.
My Capsule Tip: If you use each assessment as a learning experience, you’ll fine-tune your capsule wardrobe.
So take note of the lessons you’ve learned throughout the season. This way, you can apply them when curating future capsules.
Step 7: Maintain a Capsule Wardrobe Long-Term
🔄Continually update your capsule wardrobe.
Your lifestyle and fashion preferences evolve over time. Naturally, your capsule should reflect that.
💡Take a step back and evaluate any shifts or developments in your lifestyle. Career changes, new hobbies, or a location change may call for a wardrobe refresh.
By understanding how your daily activities and commitments evolve, you can adapt your capsule wardrobe accordingly.
My Capsule Tip: Your capsule wardrobe is meant to simplify your life. If it starts to feel restrictive, then it’s time to reevaluate.
Here’s the good news: You can do this in small doses to avoid being overwhelmed. Little by little, remove pieces that don’t work and add in ones that suit your new life.
How often should you update your capsule wardrobe?
I recommend updating your capsule wardrobe at least once every season. This will be a roughly 3-month timeline that allows you to evaluate the current closet and swap out pieces based on upcoming life, climate, and style changes.
If you’re new to capsule wardrobes or just prefer a more comprehensive approach, evaluate your closet every 5-7 weeks. This way, you can see how your closet is holding up in the middle of a season rather than waiting until the end.
How do you create a capsule wardrobe that lasts?
The key to creating a capsule that lasts is to choose clothing that fits the following 3 criteria. First, each garment should suit your lifestyle needs. Second, each piece should be versatile and go well with others in your closet. Last but not least, each piece should be durable and high quality.
Remember that to make a capsule last, you have to evaluate and update it routinely. The frequency you choose will depend on your needs and climate.