Nowadays, it seems nearly impossible to fit all of your stylish dresses, favorite suits, fun tops, funky pants, and everything in-between into your perpetually-too-small closet. 

Great! Then it’s time for a bigger closet, right?! 

If that’s a viable option, more power to you; for most people, however, we have to work with what we’ve got. Make the most out of your closet space and money spent with a capsule wardrobe: a limited set of pieces that are high-quality, fashionable, and most importantly, versatile. Read on for how to create the capsule wardrobe of your dreams.

Research (Read: Window Shop!)

If you’re going to limit your closet size to a set number of staples—experts say 37 per season, but it varies—then they have to be the absolute best pieces you can find. The whole point of a capsule wardrobe is to find items that can be worn in many different (equally stylish) combinations, so do your research before you start impulse-buying left, right, and center:

  • Make a Pinterest board with outfits you love. Pretty soon, you’ll start to notice recurring themes. Then, you can put those themes into practice by buying the items that seem to perfectly complete every look (within reason).
  • Stick to a simple color palette. Of course, you can always throw in vibrant colors and occasional out-there patterns (multipurpose doesn’t have to mean ultra-boring, after all) but your wardrobe’s foundation should consist of about four, mix-and-matchable colors with a few pops here and there—start with earth tones, for example, or shades of blue.
  • Examine and determine how your current wardrobe fits into your new capsule. To figure out which pieces you’re actually wearing (and which seemed like a good idea only in theory), flip your clothing hangers around in your closet. When you wear an item, flip the hanger back. At the end of a month or two, the still-backward hangers will flag the clothes you never touch. Replace these with capsule staples that match the ones you’re already wearing.

Back to Basics

Everyone has their own unique style, but for a capsule wardrobe to work, you may have to simplify things a bit. If you’re somewhat starting from scratch, here are the must-have basics for any capsule wardrobe:

  • Pants – A range of denim washes, from the lightest blue to the blackest hue, a neutral pair of slacks or chinos, and black leggings
  • Outwear – Layers galore, including a jean jacket, oversized cardigan, and leather jacket
  • Tops – About 10-12 casual blouses, tanks, and sweatersin your chosen color scheme
  • Shoes – All the major footwear categories with one pair of boots, cute and casual sneakers, a versatile heel (to work hard, then play hard), flats, and athletic running shoes
  • Full ‘fits – A few fun one-piece staples like a little black cocktail dress, a casual light sundress, and a flattering jumpsuit
  • Undergarments – A well-fitting cup bra in neutral colors: nude, black, white; and various styles: strapless, lace, wire-free T-shirt bras

For those who have to dress business professional during the day, try to find a few pieces that can double as everyday wear, too. For example, an A-line skirt that looks prim and proper with a white blouse, but could also lean flirty and playful with a more vibrant top, belt, and cute heel; a pair of casual slacks that could be dressed up or down; a loose-fitting blazer that ties together a work-appropriate look, or adds an interesting twist to a going-out-fit. 

Ask Yourself the Right Questions

Any new items you add to your collection should pair easily with several other existing pieces. Run through a mental checklist before swiping your card or clicking Place Order:

  • Can I create at least three outfits I love using this new piece?
  • Is it suitable for more than one occasion, or will I be forever waiting for The Right Event?
  • Does it fall within my pre-determined color palette?
  • Do I actually need it, or do I already have something similar that meets the same need?
  • Will I be able to wear it for a long time, or is it cheaply made? Is it likely to go out of style in the next six months?

Don’t Lose Yourself in the Capsule

Even the most versatile capsule wardrobe has to leave space for your own personal style. Fashion is, after all, an outward expression of self. This expression just happens to save closet space, money, and the environment if you’re buying well-made sustainable items

Don’t be afraid to switch things up and add in your own personal flair—remember: this isn’t a time capsule, it’s a fashion capsule. And fashion is always evolving, just like you.