Skip to content

What’s a Capsule Wardrobe & How Can It Save You Money?

Woman thinking about how to recycle old clothing.

When I look my best, I feel my best. How about you? Wearing an outfit that makes me feel confident and put-together helps me be the best version of myself. Whether you’re headed to an important interview or to happy hour with friends, looking good can make you feel infinitely more self-assured. Of course, dressing well can become expensive quickly, especially if you gravitate toward pricier brands. That’s why creating a capsule wardrobe is such a genius idea. Not sure what a capsule wardrobe is? I’ll explain everything you need to know and share how it can work for you, even if your financial resources are limited. You don’t need to go into debt to look gorgeous!

So, What Is a Capsule Wardrobe Anyway?

Remember that scene in Clueless where Cher decides what to wear to school by consulting her computer? She had some kind of amazing futuristic software that assembled the pieces already in her closet to create a rockin’ outfit. It took all the guesswork out of creating a cute and well-coordinated look. A capsule wardrobe is a simplified (and far less Beverly Hills) version of this concept. It consists of a minimal number of classic pieces that you can mix and match for dozens of great looks. If you’ve ever decided not to buy a new piece of clothing because it doesn’t go with anything you own, you have the right idea already. 

Cher’s Closet From ‘Clueless’ – Keri Kelly

Ideally, your capsule wardrobe would allow you to open your closet, choose from any of your clothing, and have it look good together. A capsule wardrobe is an expansion on the “little black dress” idea—it always looks amazing and never goes out of style. 

Minimal Wardrobe, Maximum Possibilities

So, you want to start a capsule wardrobe for yourself? Chances are good that you already own several staples, like a classic pair of jeans (no knee holes or funky washes, please) and a crisp, white blouse. To expand your wardrobe, you’ll want to find versatile pieces in classic colors, like black, white, brown, and navy. To keep things coordinated, choose just one or two accent colors, like fuchsia or sage green, rather than filling your closet with dozens of vibrant shades. The blog Classy Yet Trendy has some handy tips for getting your capsule wardrobe started. Once you’ve assembled the pieces that work for you, check out Modern Frugality’s pointers for how to organize your closet.

Woman frustrated having a wardrobe problem needing a capsule wardrobe.
To Keep Things Coordinated, Choose Just One Or Two Accent Colors (Image Source: Shutterstock)

Stocking up on timeless pieces for your capsule wardrobe doesn’t have to break the bank. You can find staples at stores like Loft, Nordstrom Rack, Gap, and Uniqlo, all of which have great seasonal sales. Remember that you get more bang for your buck investing in a well-made piece you can wear forever. You can always make a basic outfit feel current and fresh with a piece of statement jewelry. 

Are you dying for a few luxury items that are out of your budget? You might explore some well-known reselling sites, like Poshmark and ThredUp. If you’re willing to wear something that’s gently used, you could score some designer pieces for way less than retail price. Additionally, if you’re looking to unload some of the things you know you’ll never wear again, you might sell clothes online yourself. Most of us have a number of unwanted items languishing in storage, and unloading them is one of the easiest ways to make money from home. You’ll earn cash to put toward your capsule wardrobe purchases and free up precious real estate in your closet and dresser. It’s a financial wellness win-win! 

More Ways to Look Great and Save Money

When you’re on a budget, the idea of investing in your appearance can feel intimidating. Here’s how to save money and look fabulous too.

Put Together an Outfit for Less

We’ve all seen someone whose outfits look absolutely incredible, whether it’s an Instagram fashion guru or a Hollywood celebrity. And, yeah, they ought to look good for what they spend on clothing! However, you can always take inspiration from your favorite influencers and assemble a similar look for less. Check out the brands they’re wearing with an app like LikeToKnowIt, and then start hunting for less expensive duplicates. Chances are good that you’re not the first person to want to swap in $25 leggings for $150 ones. There’s nothing wrong with getting your outfit ideas from the glitterati (and their unlimited financial resources) and your clothing from more affordable sources.

Man in new outfit looking at himself in mirror indoors.
Take Inspiration From Your Favorite Influencers And Assemble A Similar Look For Less (Image Source: Shutterstock)

Bonus: Substituting cheaper dupes works well when you’re buying makeup and other beauty products, too. Check out sites like Temptalia for recommendations from the pros. For example, instead of the iconic NARS Orgasm blush ($30 at Sephora), try Milani blush in Luminoso or Dolce Pink ($6.99 at your local drugstore). No one will know the difference but you and your wallet.

Watch for Discounts

The idea of a capsule wardrobe is quality over quantity. If you have your eye on a pricey piece, watch carefully to see when it goes on sale. You can use Google Shopping to compare prices across competing websites and to let you know if any of them drop. Additionally, browser tools like Capital One Shopping and Honey can test current codes and promotions to make sure you have the best possible price. Even luxury department stores like Neiman Marcus, Saks, Bloomingdale’s, and Nordstrom have great sales. You can also keep an eye on the designer items that land at your local T.J. Maxx or Marshalls at a deep discount.

Find a Clothes-Swapping Buddy

Here’s an easy way to access an entirely new closet: Find a close friend or relative who will swap clothing, shoes, and accessories with you. There are a few considerations, of course: You’ll need someone who wears your size, unless you’re only swapping jewelry and sunglasses. It also needs to be someone you can trust with your own clothing—but who also understands that rips and stains sometimes happen. And, of course, you’ll need this person to have a similar taste to your own!

Friends checking out clothes for swap.
You Need Someone Who Wears Your Size And Similar Taste To Your Own (Image Source: Shutterstock)

You don’t have to trade bags and bags of clothing with your swapping buddy to achieve fresh new looks. A new pair of statement high heels worn with your favorite dress or tailored pants can make your whole outfit feel brand new.

Now you have some great tips for looking fabulous without going into the red (unless that’s your color, of course!). Enjoy shopping and creating a timeless and chic capsule wardrobe!