How to find your style and create a capsule wardrobe (without spending a ton of money)

One of my goals for 2015 was to simplify my closet. I wasn’t sure if this would mean getting rid of more stuff or putting together an actual capsule wardrobe.

I took it one step at a time, and a few months into 2015, I now have a clutter-free closet and a spring capsule filled with clothes that I love and will actually enjoy wearing.

So what is a capsule wardrobe anyways? According to (where I spent most of my time getting inspired for this project), a capsule wardrobe lifestyle is the practice of keeping a small number of useful clothes in your closet and remixing them each season. Useful clothes are clothes that fit today (moms, you understand this), are suitable for the season, and are appropriate for your lifestyle.

Because I live in Phoenix (where spring feels like summer) and work from home, my capsule is filled with cool and comfortable clothes.

The biggest benefit of having a capsule wardrobe is this: I can now get dressed quickly in something that fits and feels good on me. All the hard work has already been done.

If all of this sounds overwhelming, it doesn’t have to be. Here are some tips to get you started.

1. Find your style – If you had asked me a year ago to define my style, I would have had a hard time coming up with the words. But I could easily point out what I liked in magazines and on the people around me. Just recently it hit me that my style was staring me in the face on my Pinterest board. Looking at Pinterest, it’s obvious that I lean towards neutrals in classic shapes with a pop of color every once in a while. Once I figured this out, it made everything easier.

2. Shop your closet – Save money by starting with what you already own. Try everything on. (Yes, everything.) It’s time-consuming but worth it. Try to make multiple outfits. See what goes together and what doesn’t. See what fits and what is uncomfortable. I ended up getting rid of some pieces that I thought would be really cute, but turned out looking frumpy in the mirror. I also let go of a few things that just didn’t go with anything in my closet.

3. Sell & donate – After you try everything on, decide what you can sell and what you can donate. If there are stains or rips, just toss it. Otherwise, check out these ideas for getting money or credit for things in your closet.

  • Tradesy – There are lots of websites for selling clothing, but I have had the best luck with Tradesy. I love that they send me a shipping container when I sell something so all I have to do is drop it at the post office. Once the post office scans the envelope, the money goes into my Tradesy account. You can either cash out (for a small fee), or use your credit to buy something on Tradesy. (Just last month, I used $40 credit to buy brand new Frye sandals. Score!)
  • Facebook groups – I just found out about these, and I’ve already sold five or six items. There are groups for Stitch Fix, Anthropologie, and more. The best part about these groups is that the people in them are looking for these specific brands. So clothing that may get lost in the shuffle on other websites sell quickly here. You can also trade on these boards.
  • Swap parties – I have done these a few times with friends, and they are great! Bring items from your closet that you don’t want anymore (but are in good condition), and go home with something brand new (to you) from your friend’s castoffs. Items that are leftover can be donated to charity. Here are some more details on how to plan a successful clothing swap party.
  • Thrift store – Maybe your clothes aren’t selling, or you just want them out of your closet already. Make sure to donate items that are in good condition (no one wants a big bag of trash).

4. Shop – Use your Tradesy credit or the money you earned from selling some of your clothing on Facebook. Fill in the gaps of your wardrobe with quality items you can use for a long time or resell. Remember, if you own less, you can afford to spend a little bit more. Or you can be a patient shopper and pick up things on clearance (like the black Paige skinny jeans I scored for $12.50 the other day).

5. Put together your capsule – I didn’t pick a specific number, but popular numbers are 33 or 37. The capsule doesn’t include workout clothes, swimwear, loungewear (or what my mom might call “knock-around clothes”), undershirts, or fancy dress-up clothes. Just your everyday put-together look. For me, almost everything in my capsule I already owned, so I just needed to weed out the extras. Also, I’ve decided that I am not going to be a stickler about this, and I probably will end up buying a few more tank tops because ARIZONA.

If you’ve read this far and are interested in what is actually in my capsule, I’m going to list it below.

How to find your style and create a capsule wardrobe. |

Top row: White muscle tank (Target), Off-white sheer tank (bought at a store called Splash a couple years ago), Black racerback tank (Stitchfix), Pink and black tank (Francesca’s Closet), Navy Michael Kors tank (bought second-hand from a Facebook group)

Second row: Gray v-neck (Old Navy), Love is sweet t-shirt (Sweet T’s on Etsy), Market & Spruce cozy tee (Stitchfix), Bobo navy v-neck (bought on clearance at a boutique in Missoula), Collective Concepts shirt (Stitchfix).

Third row: Papermoon top (Stitchfix), Sanctuary denim shirt (bought on clearance at Dillards), Zara denim shirt (bought with credit from Tradesy), Rails chambray print shirt (Christmas gift), GB dress (bought on clearance at Dillards).

Fourth row: Floral sweatshirt jacket (clearance at Anthropologie), Blue knit cardigan (clearance at Anthropologie), Do Justice zipper sweatshirt (Food for the Hungry), Pilcro jean shorts (Anthropologie), Pilcro shorts (clearance at Anthropologie).

Fifth row: White denim shorts (Forever 21), Rock & Republic skinny jeans (Kohls), Paige black skinny jeans ($12.50 at Down East Basics), White denim BCBG jeans (second-hand from Buffalo Exchange).

How to find your style and create a capsule wardrobe. |

The shoes I will wear the most are on the top row. The Frye sandals were a steal (brand new in box with $40 credit on Tradesy). The TOMS sandals were bought with Zulily credit (start sharing Zulily finds on Pinterest and build up credit for yourself!). My gray TOMS are at least two years old, and well worn in. The burlap TOMS (I may have an obsession. Ahem.) are a few summers old. And the wedges don’t get much wear because I’m not very fancy.

The small bag on the bottom is from Noonday Collection. And the beautiful brown leather bag is from fashionABLE.


Full disclosure:

  • Most of these items have been in my closet for a long time. Some are starting to fall apart, but I love them so much I keep fixing them.
  • Everything was bought on clearance or with credit except for a couple things I felt were worth spending money on (the R&R jeans I’ve had for over 3 years, and the Pilcro jean shorts get tons of wear since last summer).
  • Stitchfix links don’t earn me money, but if you sign up and place your first order, I will get $25 credit (and you will too if you share your link!). Same goes with Tradesy.


So there you have it. My first capsule wardrobe!

What do you think? Have you wanted to put together your own capsule wardrobe? What holds you back? How can you take one step to simplify your closet? 

  • Emily @ Glitz Glam Gluten-Free March 23, 2015 at 12:33 am

    I’ve heard about capsule wardrobes lately but haven’t done it myself– maybe this is the inspiration I need because I’m definitely in need of a clean out! I didn’t know about the Facebook groups or Tradesy so I’m going to check those out!

  • Stacy March 23, 2015 at 6:54 am

    I really need to do this! Thanks for the inspiration!

    • InspiredRD March 30, 2015 at 11:25 pm

      Good luck!

  • Robin March 23, 2015 at 8:58 am

    Thanks for not only showing what is in your wardrobe, but also listing brands, stores, prices, etc. It shows you can have awesome style without breaking the bank!

    I live in the midwest, where it can be in the high 70’s one day, and 30’s the next. I love the change in seasons this time of year, but any desire I have to pack up/donate winter clothes I’m done with comes to a screeching halt when I hear the windchill is in the 20’s! I lose motivation so quickly!

    • InspiredRD March 30, 2015 at 11:25 pm

      Oh Robin, I feel you. I grew up in Kansas, so I know how quickly the weather can change. That would definitely add more challenge to a capsule!

  • Amy Allen Clark March 23, 2015 at 10:28 am

    Ah, I love your capsule and ideas for outfitting it. I will link this up to my notebook post this week! The capsule has been such a game changer for me and has started to trickle into other areas in my life. The idea of doing more with less is such a good thing! xo

    • InspiredRD March 30, 2015 at 11:24 pm

      Thanks, Amy. I love seeing your capsule posts!

  • Tracy Mueller March 23, 2015 at 12:04 pm

    Thanks for posting! I discovered un-fancy not too long ago and really want to give this a shot. I’m struggling with how/when to start since I’m only 6-months post-baby, so my body and my energy to try everything on are not what I’d like them to be! Curious to see how your experiment goes.

    • InspiredRD March 30, 2015 at 11:24 pm

      Loving it so far. Not sure how it would have gone during the baby years though. My body changed so many times!

  • Stephanie Sheaffer March 25, 2015 at 10:40 pm

    Fun post! I’ve been leaning toward putting together something like this…or even a simple uniform. 😉

    • InspiredRD March 30, 2015 at 11:23 pm

      Ah, a uniform would be so nice!

  • Links Worth Sharing: Week of March 28, 2015 - March 30, 2015 at 5:27 am

    […] How to Create a Capsule Wardrobe […]

  • Stacy Lingle April 2, 2015 at 10:31 am

    This is so helpful! Your style is definitely my style too 🙂 so seeing the pictures made it easier for me to visualize what I’ll do. My biggest hang up is “oh, maybe I’ll wear this some time (even though its been years since I wore it) and I want to save money by not throwing it away”. Spring Closet Cleaning here I come!

  • Darla April 6, 2015 at 7:16 pm

    I have wanted to do a capsule wardrobe for a while but I am fashion challenged and I live in Phoenix, too. All of the capsule wardrobes I’ve seen online don’t really fit with the hot weather of Arizona. Thank you so much for the inspiration!

    • InspiredRD April 8, 2015 at 12:11 pm

      Thanks Darla! It’s funny, I am going to be in Montana for the summer, so my summer capsule will look more like spring, while my spring capsule looks more like summer.

  • lindy marie abbott April 6, 2015 at 8:12 pm

    I love color and change. It would be so hard for me because I don’t gravitate to neutrals but fun, bold pieces. I think when you like neutral clothes people don’t notice so much that you are wearing the same shirt/dress/skirt/etc. But with really run bold designs it is hard to wear the same items week after week or worse yet, day after day.

    I substitute teach and live in middle TN where we have a large change in seasonal temperatures. So I need my turtlenecks, sweats and thicker material skirts/pants/dresses for one season but need very light items for others.

    Now I do a lot of mixing and matching but I go through color phases based on the time of the year. I love to express myself with what I wear. A lot of my shopping is at the goodwill or thrift stores buying only high quality brand clothes and I anchor it with a few high quality expensive pieces that I fall in love with and wait to go on sale.

    So when I pack for a trip a try to pick a color theme and pick 5-7 outfits that can mix and match. This helps with jewelry and all other accessories. I would say my packing style is more of a capsule then my closet.

    I do go through my closet a lot and toss out items that I can’t wear/fit or that look worn.

    • InspiredRD April 8, 2015 at 12:11 pm

      I think with a love for bold and bright, you would just have to be more intentional about specific outfits, or maybe pairing bold pieces with neutrals like black or white. Also, I’m sure living in a hot climate makes it easier for me, I don’t need as many layers!

    • Abbie May 31, 2015 at 1:09 am

      I’m with you, Lindy, on loving color! Which is why I hadn’t done a capsule wardrobe because I couldn’t stand wearing only neutrals/bascis – even if dressed up with scarves/jewelry. Which I also like to do.

      But, I decided to try “packing” for a long trip, using my colorful skirts and shirts, as well as pants and dresses. It worked. Without counting pieces until I was completely done, I ended up with 40 items – including five colorful skirts, at least two colored shirts that match each of them, as well as some denim, black, brown and white.

      I didn’t count camis, shoes, scarves or sweaters – because living in CO I need to be able to layer from 40 degrees to 80 in one day! I decided to try my capsule for a month. I’m two weeks in and loving it. When the month is over, I’m going to decide to either go for another month or switch out a few things.

      I guess, all that to say, it CAN be done with color! And make up your own “rules” if someone else’s don’t work for you. 🙂

  • FrancineC April 7, 2015 at 5:02 am

    This is something I keep meaning to do and you’ve inspired me once again! I’m just about to do the seasonal switch, so it’s perfect timing too.

  • Alyssa May 28, 2015 at 3:12 pm

    We have the same taste in clothing. I wish I could just transfer your capsule wardrobe into my closet and call it a day!! 🙂

  • FloridaLife Minimalist May 28, 2015 at 4:09 pm

    I recently started working on my 37 piece capsule wardrobe and have come to the conclusion that I have no idea what my style is. I’ve also come to the conclusion that most of the clothes I have are from Goodwill and are worn out junk. I’ve bought a couple of things from Old Navy to fill gaps or replace items for the capsule that were too worn out to wear in public. Overall I suppose I lean towards dressing for a Florida (hot, humid) lifestyle, but that’s basically tank tops, shorts and flip flops. I’d like to try to be a little more stylish than that, but haven’t come up with anything comfortable enough to wear in this humidity!! It’s been more difficult than anything as a Minimalist, actually. I have never been good with dressing myself well. Work in progress…

  • G May 28, 2015 at 7:15 pm

    I definitely want to try this. Thanks for the inspiration. Meanwhile, I can’t stop obsessing about that gorgeous leather bag from fashonABLE. Lovely!

    • Alysa May 28, 2015 at 7:51 pm

      Right?? I use the bag every day and it is ah-mazing.