Capsule wardrobes are still popular, even though they’ve been around for so many years. I tried most of the widely known methods and learned a lot. But today, I prefer a curated over a capsule wardrobe. Now you may ask, what’s the difference? Both concepts have a downsized, more streamlined wardrobe in mind. However, when building a capsule wardrobe, this happens because of a given rule. For instance, only 33 items are allowed for three months.
With a curated wardrobe, we don’t need these arbitrary restrictions. We just carefully plan and select clothes, shoes, and accessories based on our needs. And we all have different needs. This is why a curated wardrobe works a lot better for me than all the different capsule wardrobes I’ve ever tried. What about you?
Let’s take a closer look at capsule wardrobes, their origin, and the most popular types first.
A Brief History of Capsule Wardrobes
The capsule wardrobe concept was first introduced in the 1970s by Susie Faux, the owner of a London boutique called ‘Wardrobe’. She defined the capsule wardrobe as a set of essential items that never go out of fashion. This concept was further developed by famous fashion designers, e.g., Donna Karan’s seven easy pieces collection in 1985. Nowadays, various brands pick up the idea and release an increasing number of capsule wardrobe collections.
Experimenting with a limited but versatile selection of clothes, shoes, and accessories resonates with many fashion bloggers and influencers. Especially with those who want to be more conscientious about their purchases and build a wardrobe that’s made to last.
Different Types of Capsule Wardrobes
Following a capsule wardrobe concept means that we choose a set of clothes, shoes, and accessories and wear (only!) those items for a certain period of time. This basic rule is what all types of capsule wardrobes have in common. However, the number of items and the time frame varies.
Project 333: 33 Items for 3 Months
One way of building a capsule wardrobe is the Project 333 method developed by Courtney Carver. It requires you to select 33 items and wear them over the next three months. This can also include shoes and accessories, but it’s up to you how strict you want to be.
The 10 x 10 Challenge: 10 Items for 10 Days
The 10 x 10 Challenge was introduced by Canadian stylist Lee Vosburgh, a.k.a. Style Bee, who invites you to select 10 items and wear only those over the following 10 days. Many fashion YouTubers took on this challenge and shared their experiences. Some of them included shoes and accessories in their list of 10, some didn’t.
Seasonal Capsules: One Set of Selected Items for One Season
Various fashion enthusiasts advise creating a new capsule wardrobe every season. This means selecting a set of clothes, shoes, and accessories from your closet and wearing them for the upcoming months. Creating a seasonal capsule can also involve adding missing pieces to your wardrobe.
The rules for seasonal capsules are less strict than for the two methods above. However, most recommendations range from 35 to 50 pieces per season.
Travel Capsules: One Small Set of Selected Items for One Vacation
Travel capsules also fall under this category. They follow the same basic rule as the other capsules – which is selecting a set of items and wearing them for a limited period.
If you want to travel light, you need to decide on a color palette and rely on versatile pieces that mix and match. This is valid for all types of capsules but fundamental for a travel capsule. From my perspective, a travel version of a capsule wardrobe really shows the benefits of the concept. This is why I love travel capsules, even though I’m generally not a capsule wardrobe advocate.
This is, of course, a non-exhaustive list. There are other types of capsule wardrobes around. But the ones above are, as far as I know, the most popular.
What Are the Benefits of a Capsule Wardrobe?
Building a capsule wardrobe is a great exercise for all that have many clothes but feel they’ve nothing to wear. It can also help you refine your personal style. By picking your favorites, you get the chance to re-evaluate your wardrobe and find out what you really love to wear. Moreover, by only wearing a few selected pieces, you might realize that there are items you haven’t worn for a while and thus no longer deserve a space in your closet. This means the entire process of creating a capsule wardrobe can also help you to declutter.
What Makes a Curated Wardrobe Different from a Capsule Wardrobe?
Like a capsule wardrobe, a curated wardrobe includes carefully selected clothes, shoes, and accessories. The key is that we love every item in our curated closet and wear it regularly. The main difference is that there are no restrictions based on an arbitrary rule. A curated closet simply reflects our needs. A curated year-round wardrobe is carefully planned. Instead of committing to wearing a random number of items for a random period, we know for sure that we always have the right amount of the right things in our closets.
What are the Benefits of a Curated Wardrobe?
A curated wardrobe’s primary goal is to have something to wear for all activities and occasions in our life. Every single item in a well-curated closet is heavily worn because it genuinely represents our personal style and suits our lifestyle. A curated wardrobe doesn’t force us to limit the number of items we own. But we’ll naturally cut down on clothing as we plan more carefully and are more selective.
These benefits are why I prefer a curated over a capsule wardrobe. However, building a capsule wardrobe can still be an option when you don’t know where to start.
And there you have. This is my personal point of view on capsule wardrobes and how they differ from a curated closet.
More Tips and Inspirations
To dive deeper into the topic, check out these 10 proven rules for a well-curated wardrobe and my minimalist/curated wardrobe comparison:
- 10 Proven Rules for a Well-Curated Wardrobe
- Minimalist or Curated Wardrobe: Which Works Better for You?
The fewer clothes we have, the more often we’re going to wear every single item. This means it’s essential to choose excellent quality and to take good care of our clothes. Both, by the way, help you transition into slow fashion.
- How to Spot Quality When Shopping For Clothes – 3 Things to Check
- How to Shop for Quality Shoes You’ll Love to Wear
- All about Wardrobe Maintenance
- Slow Fashion: Where and How to Start
No matter if you aim for a minimalist, capsule or a curated wardrobe, it’s always good to have a clear understanding of what you actually need and want. My posts on wardrobe planning can support you to ask yourself the right questions:
- Wardrobe Planning: Recap + Free Printable Worksheets
- Wardrobe Planning: Why It’s Worth Doing It and How to Get Started
And when you currently feel entirely overwhelmed by the number of clothes accumulated in your wardrobe, decluttering may be a reasonable step for you:
- Wardrobe Decluttering a la Marie Kondo: Pros and Cons
- Wardrobe Decluttering a la Marie Kondo: Lessons Learned
- The KonMari Method: All You Need to Know + Printable Checklist
If you like the ‘less, but luxe’ idea, follow me on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter for more tips and inspirations. And don’t forget to join my email list to receive weekly updates plus content that’s exclusively available to my readers.
Thanks for sharing this post and your thoughts!
What are your experiences with capsule wardrobes? Do you have a favorite method? And what are your biggest learnings? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!