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Minimalist wardrobe guide: how to make a capsule wardrobe and create your daily uniform

Want to save time, money and energy with a well-curated closet of essential items that compliment your shape, aesthetic, and lifestyle? Building a capsule wardrobe, or daily uniform can get you there.

capsule wardrobe example

In this robust minimalist style guide we teach you everything you need to know about the popular capsule wardrobe and daily uniform concepts. Get ready to thoughtfully redesign your wardrobe with the perfect fit, fabrics, and colors for you.

Only great minds can afford a simple style

Stendhal

You’ve likely heard anecdotes from or about smart and successful people (such as presidents, celebrities, entrepreneurs, and more) who opt to simplify their style.

Why? Because it eases decision-making, allowing them to more efficiently allocate their precious resources (time, energy, money) to more important matters.

Unfortunately, many smart people struggle with what to wear on a daily basis because they don’t know the secrets to perfecting their wardrobe. 

However, when you learn the benefits of the capsule wardrobe and daily uniform methods you can dramatically improve your sense of style and build a closet you’ll love. 

The desire for a more pleasing (and practical) closet typically comes after a major life change or arises from the goals you set, challenges you experience or responsibilities you take on.

You periodically go through situations where something shifts in your lifestyle — for instance, you move to a different city, take a new job, have a baby or adopt a new belief system — which leads to a reassessment of your values and forces you to rethink the way you do things.

What you wear and how you dress may be one of the first areas to be re-evaluated in the midst of change because personal style is so intricately connected to self-expression and self-esteem.

If you are frustrated getting ready each day and self-conscious about the way you look, then it’s likely because the items you own are no longer the best reflection of you.

To feel fully confident in your personal appearance you must sync your style with your lifestyle.

When you have a lot of things in your space – including your closet – that seem completely off, it is likely due to the fact that you are purchasing without first considering who you are and how that manifests in your daily routine.

However, there is no reason why you can’t change this and be in love with every item you own — this is not reserved for a privileged few. We created this comprehensive step-by-step guide to help on your journey to crafting the perfect closet.

In the steps that follow, you will learn how to adopt a style of minimalist fashion, particularly through the creation of a capsule wardrobe and daily uniform.

minimalist living clothes

What is a capsule wardrobe?

A Capsule Wardrobe is a thoughtfully assembled collection of timeless pieces that work seamlessly together. It allows you to easily create outfits you absolutely love from a limited number of pieces.

You will save more time, spend more wisely, and increase your confidence with a streamlined signature style. Most of all, you’ll never worry about what to wear again.

Sounds exciting? Before you start creating your capsule wardrobe, you need to be thoughtful about the things that should go in it. The fundamentals of a capsule wardrobe require you to use insights and cues from your lifestyle and self-image to inform and develop a clearer sense of your personal style.

What are the benefits of a capsule wardrobe?

You ever notice a person who, at first glance, seems understated and unassuming but something about their appearance keeps your gaze fixated?

Upon closer inspection you realize that they seem effortlessly pulled together: maybe it’s the quality of the fabrics, the intention in the fit, or the carefully selected silhouette that fits their shape so well.

Or perhaps, most of all, it’s the confidence they exude. This person doesn’t need to wear the “it” bag, showcase a range of luxury logos, or be a walking billboard for the latest trends.

They’ve thoughtfully crafted their own style and that understated elegance is so much more effective than running after seasonal fashion trends.

If this is a style you are eager to embrace you’ll be able to accomplish it with a capsule wardrobe. In fact, these are seven main benefits from adopting the capsule wardrobe method.

  • You will know what works best for you
  • You will know where to find what you need
  • You’ll develop a keen eye for quality
  • You’ll take better care of your clothing
  • You won’t get caught up in trends
  • You won’t need external validation

How do you create a capsule wardrobe?

Now that you know what a capsule wardrobe is and the benefits, it’s time to get into the nitty gritty of building one. There are nine steps to the process:

Evaluate your Lifestyle

First, you must take time to summarize to what you want to convey or express about yourself through your style and what important elements of your lifestyle and routine heavily impact your style.

Understand your unique aesthetic

This step involves gathering and assortment of outfit inspiration that will serve as a visual roadmap to follow as you move through the rest of the process.

Evaluate your Closet

Next, you need to assess what you already have in your wardrobe vs. what’s missing in relation to (a) your aesthetic and (b) your lifestyle needs.

Create your Checklist

In this step you your inspiration board and closet evaluation to create a list of the essential items you want in your capsule wardrobe then take inventory of what you have vs. what you need to purchase.

Determine your Budget

After you make your checklist, it’s important to have a set budget in mind before you go on a shopping excursion so you don’t break the bank. That would defeat the whole purpose of simplifying.

Decide on your Go-to Brands

The benefit of this shortlist is that in the future, whenever you need to replace an item, it will save you time and effort because you already know where to turn.

Shop without Impulse

With your checklist in hand and a clear breakdown of your budget you’re ready to go shopping. However, you need to know how to avoid falling into the trap of impulse purchasing.

Increase Longevity with Proper Care

If you wear a daily uniform or capsule wardrobe then you should be especially mindful of the upkeep of your items if you want to extend their longevity. Maintain your commitment

After all this work you wouldn’t want you to revert back to a closet full of stuff you don’t adore, so it’s important to revisit the process above periodically to maintain your Capsule Wardrobe.

how to create a capsule wardrobe

Building a capsule wardrobe as a minimalist

The single most important thing you should not do when creating a capsule wardrobe is allow yourself to be tricked by “needy objects.”

Ever been in a situation where you embarked on a brief shopping expedition to purchase one item but ended up spending 5X more money and time than you planned, and bringing home a bag full of stuff you didn’t realize you needed?

You were tricked by what a needy object. Needy objects are things that you initially think you can buy in isolation but actually require several more add-ons to make it work in context. The potential of falling into this death trap is one you need to be mindful of when making purchases for your capsule wardrobe.

Inadvertently buying needy objects is a direct result of not having a thoughtful process for making purchases.

How to choose the best capsule wardrobe brands

A major perk of adopting the capsule wardrobe — i.e. a minimalist approach to curating your closet — is relying on certain tactics that save you time and effort.

One of those tactics is having a go-to list of brands for your capsule wardrobe that you know without a doubt work for your style, your body type, and your budget.

You also probably want to know that the brands you support align with any important ideals (such as environmental friendliness or giving back to the community) that you care deeply about.

Focusing on the issues that have a tendency to cause the most problems in the wardrobe, there are five main considerations for creating your go-to brand list.

Quality

When choosing a brand, especially for a capsule wardrobe or daily uniform, the first element to investigate is the quality of its production and fabrication.

Fit

Not all brands conform to the same sizing standards so know your body measurements before you go brand hunting.

Price

“You get what you pay for” is an obvious rule of thumb when comparing opposite ends of the spectrum (like H&M vs. Acne Studios) however a higher price does not always mean better. Once you establish your price range and it’ll take a bit of trial and error with fit and quality to nail your go-to list.

Service

Because there is so much competition in the retail industry and a plethora of options, you should have a zero tolerance personal policy for bad service. There is no reason to patron a brand that doesn’t exhibit A+ customer service.

Mission

Connecting with a brand on a higher level can help you narrow your list. Take some time to learn about their corporate policies, company culture, and reputation in the press, and see if they resonate with any of your personal ideals.

What is a daily uniform and how do you create one?

Daily uniforms are a limited set of outfits that align with each of your major lifestyle activities and make getting ready totally effortless — this is because you are wearing the same or similar thing every day.

If you’re up for the challenge, you can go a step further than the capsule wardrobe by pulling together a short signature set of daily uniforms. In order to own your daily uniform you’ll have to be secure with yourself and your sense of style, so carefully consider the types of items that boost your confidence.

Summary of minimalist style rules

Building a minimalist style takes time but to simplify the process, here’s a summary of the rules we’ve covered.

Respect your Lifestyle

Sometimes you may want to be something you’re not. It’s a natural human tendency. But if you succumb to this impulse,  unrealistic desires could lead to poor decisions. Either change the life you live or accept it, but don’t psych yourself out.

Reading Vogue editorials or following a bunch of fashion bloggers is great for inspiration but the (rather theatrical) images they tend to portray may not always fit with the reality of your day-to-day.

When it comes to building your wardrobe how you truly see yourself and how you spend most of your time should be the leading influencer. Otherwise you’ll have a lot of stuff that looks good on hangers but not on you.

Dress for Yourself

At times it seems as if women, in particular, make style choices so they can be attractive to men or the envy of other women. And with the rise of metro-sexualism and gentlemen’s fashion, males appear to be following suit.

But dressing for another person is a major contributor to the stress associated with wardrobing. It’s natural to care what others think of you, but when purchasing items or getting ready each day their opinion shouldn’t overshadow your own.

Create Daily Uniforms

A handful of daily uniforms would make it easy to pull together a look in about 5 minutes flat, and your capsule wardrobe should be comprised of a series of these uniforms.

This is an excellent style strategy because whenever you’re making a decision about what to wear (be it packing for travel, a special occasion, or just a normal day) all you need to do is select one of the uniforms that applies to a particular event.

Rely on the Basics

No matter your aesthetic (be it classic, boho, or edgy) you can benefit from having a selection of staples that represent the bulk of your wardrobe.

These staples (or basics) are the foundational elements worth spending your money on because they are items that can be worn more frequently. Take the time to determine the best staples for you, where to buy them, and how to maintain them so they last.

Spending effort on this just once or twice a year will almost completely eliminate the time you waste getting ready throughout the rest of the year.

Once you have your staples established, if you choose, you can embellish them with a small number of accessories or other more elaborate apparel pieces that help you create a signature look.

Prioritize your Comfort

Have a limit as to how far you are willing to go in the name of fashion. Think over some of your most intolerable or disastrous style moments and make a firm commitment to never go there again.

When you aren’t comfortable you aren’t confident. And when you aren’t confident it shows no matter how expensive, on trend, or chic your outfit may be.

Be Subtly Stylish

Subtly stylish people have an allure because they aren’t actually trying to stand out but the quality of their look makes it impossible to ignore them.

That quality is most apparent because of the clear attention they’ve devoted to fit and fabrication — not necessarily because they were worried about brand names or trends.

Being a walking billboard may turn a few heads but it may not be because you look good — you aren’t automatically a connoisseur of style because you rushed out to buy the latest “it” bag.

Paying attention to how certain silhouettes complement your body type and learning how to select well-made garments crafted from high-quality materials is more likely to get you admiration.

Simplify Your Style

Learn to build a capsule wardrobe, create a unique style and curate a closet you adore.

Practice Discernment

All of the rules above really come down to this: be discerning about what you buy, what you keep in your closet, and what you decide to wear.

Consider the quote, which gets at the heart of it:

“Think of yourself as a curator, rather than a consumer.”

– Christine Koh

Another way to look at it is that your personal style is just another area in life that gives you the opportunity to act with intention.

Your capsule wardrobe should be thoughtfully assembled from a collection of timeless pieces that work seamlessly together, allowing you to easily create outfits you love from a small number of items.

We want to stress the importance of staying true to your personal style. Your personal style may not be minimalist but it doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from a simplified approach to perfecting your closet.

Understand and conform to your own aesthetic, as you can abide by these rules no matter the type of look you’re going for.

Capsule wardrobe style rules

Resources for Building a Capsule Wardrobe

We’ve created some of the most robust resources to help you elevate your personal style and support sustainable fashion with a capsule wardrobe or daily uniform.

Start by signing up for our free capsule wardrobe essentials checklist and bonus style challenge. If you prefer reading, you may like to explore our Capsule Wardrobe eBook (only $9), with step-by-step, daily instruction to guide you through the process of building a capsule wardrobe.