Building A Capsule Wardrobe


noun \ˈkap-sÉ™l, -(ËŒ)sül alsoËŒsyül\   ::  an extremely brief condensation

The notion of capsule wardrobes has become a bit of a fad in recent months. In fact, for the last two years a number of lifestyle blogs, periodicals, and style eZines have covered the topic. And while it may seem like a rabbit hole topic for a tiny house blog it is actually an important micro-conversation for the tiny house set. The main idea is this. Instead of having a walk-in closet or some enormous array of closets, bins, baskets, boxes, and storage containers, constantly adding new pieces of clothing and rarely discarding old, you pick practical pieces that make you look good, make you feel good, and are well made.Capsule Closet

Then you rotate in a few select “seasonal” pieces that jazz up the standards and thereby create a “capsule” of clothing with which to take on the world in. When autumn (also known as pumpkin spice latte season) arrives and summer is but a distant memory you put away the pastel polos, the sun dresses, and anything in white, and add in a good scarf, a favorite sweater, and perhaps a pair of leggings. This way you are minimizing your regular spending and teaching yourself to shop your own closet.

When considering life in a tiny house capsule wardrobes just make sense. Mostly because you are dealing with very limited closet and clothing storage space but also because one of the largest reasons for moving into a tiny house is to have less of a carbon footprint, learn to love what you have, and create a larger understanding of ethically made products. Far too many Americans prefer to fall back on retail therapy or spend a hard-earned paycheck each Friday night on cheap, trendy clothing from some chain retail outlet instead of searching out regionally made, well tailored, quality wardrobe pieces.

Buy less, choose well

~ Vivienne Westwood

One of the earliest capsule training regimens was the brainchild of minimalist blogger Courtney Carver. Carver is a wife, a mother, an author, a photographer, and an inspiration to many. With her website bemorewithless and her Project 333 she has taught countless consumers to simplify life and really start living.

Capsule Wardrobe Layout

Project 333 is aptly named as it is makes consumers focus on creating a capsule wardrobe for 3 months consisting of just 33 pieces. This capsule does not include under garments or workout attire (within reasonable parameters) but does not include scarves, jewelry, neck ties, belts, etc. Each participant is recommended to shoot for having 4 capsules by the end of the project; one for each season. Items overlap the capsules. Courtney herself says that she only uses “one small side of my closet, whenever I am creating a new collection, I hang the pieces that I know I will keep on one side, and the maybe’s on the other. If the maybes aren’t put into the mix, out the door they go.”

Her initial capsule included:

1 Sunglasses
1 Purse
1 Laptop/Camera Bag
2 Dresses
2 Skirts
1 Jeans
2 Shorts/Capri
1 Dress pants
2 Light Sweaters
2 Blazers
2 Tanks
1 Button Down Shirt
5 Shirts
1 Sweatshirt
4 Shoes
1 Trench Coat
2 Bracelets
1 Necklace
1 Scarf
33 Total Items

Carver then spent a few weeks determining which pieces would fill the aforementioned slots. What sunglasses would she keep? What shoes would give her the most flexibility while also giving her the most comfort and support? And which scarf would she hold on to? Would it be warm enough on cold days but light enough for merely windy ones? Before she knew it she had turned her generalities into specifics and her closet included pieces such as an emerald green open cardigan, a blue V-neck short sleeved shirt, purple heels, and a necklace her sister gave her.

Your Turn!

  • What pieces would be in your capsule wardrobe?
  • Have you seriously considered revamping your day-to-day clothing?



  1. A while ago I did something similar and pared my wardrobe down to 100 items, 25 for each season. As a guy, I was expecting to have barely enough to worry about cutting anything but was amazed at just how much extra I had. Who knew one person could own so many T-shirts?
    I put each of the three seasons it wasn’t into their own storage container and was able to fit the current seasons clothing into a single antique wardrobe trunk. Now I get to experience a whole new wardrobe every quarter and have no qualms about buying new clothes because I only do it when something wears out.
    Less clutter, less stress and more happy 🙂

  2. When looking at what I actually wear regularly it’s immediately obvious how much excess clothing I can get rid of. I already shop the thrift shop for most of my stuff and I just keep an eye out for replacement basics. Luckily I don’t need a fancy work wardrobe but I do keep a set of “paint clothes” I can wear when doing messy work and a couple of dress up outfits as well as a variety of layers I can combine for various outdoor temperatures. I have a good selection of rainwear, which makes sense for living in the Pacific NW, and since summers have become so hot there’s a selection of summer items that are light enough to smush up tiny for off season storage. Some of the summer items can double as base layers for cooler weather.

    As I replace things I’m working on increasing the number of items that work well with the maximum number of other things.

  3. Hi, great article, but the article itself doesn’t have a way to Pin it, and as a Pinterest junkie, I would love to pin it for future reference.Could you add a Pin button to each article? (I get lots of repins from other Pinterest junkies, and it could give you lots more readers.)

  4. One thing I’m thinking of doing is developing a wardrobe for each season that can all fit into a single load of laundry.

  5. I have a totally different kind of wardrobe, especially since I wear jeans & tees or l/s shirts to work, plus I exercise daily. I own one skirt & one dress; no heels, & that’s before Tiny Homes was even a spark for me.
    My biggest challenge will be paring down the kitchen, since I’m a cook & baker.

  6. 2 hoodies
    5 tshirts
    1 pair of boots
    1 pair of sneakers
    1 pair of my sperrys
    5 pairs of underwear (optional days)
    7 pairs of socks (for winter)
    2 pairs of jeans
    2 khakis
    1 gym shorts
    1 coat

  7. Posted on our FB page. Thanks for sharing the article… we’re forcibly downsizing by renting a room in our house (our bedroom) and moving to a Murphy bed in the home office. Getting rid of all the clutter in a closet is a HUGE step forward. Thanks agian!

  8. I actually live in 100sf with my Mom 2 medium breed service dogs and 2 cats. There are 2 small cupboards and 1 small cabinet in the kitchen area but other than that the space is blank- 1 wide open room. Mom and I have 2 crates each stacked on each other, tipped on their sides, one is for going away clothes and the other for the around the house clothes/pajamas etc. Personal items go into a pillow case then into the crate. We also have a crate for a shoe bin which limits the amount of shoes we own as well. We could also mount these crates onto the ribs of the trailer, but have chosen not to for the time being; it doesn’t look too shabby in here as far as storage space goes. We also have a 5X10 storage locker for things we need that do not fit in our trailer; these things we store in 31gal. galvanized steel garbage cans. Among the storage items is a can of towels and sheets, a can of coats and blankets, 1 can for pet food (still in the original bags), 1 for pet supplies, 1 for extra kitchen supplies, 1 for extra dry goods and dehydrated food (we shop once a month), 1 can for tools, 1 can of clothing for Mom which gets rotated seasonally, and 1 can for my clothes which also gets rotated seasonally. And we’re still downsizing! (Our original storage space once we moved into this trailer was a 10X20 so we’ve made vast improvement in just the first year alone!) We only replace an item when something is too dry-rotted to use anymore and now that we’re doing laundry by hand (using the 5 gallon bucket and plunger method with Charlie’s Soap) our clothes should last near indefinitely.

    This past year has been spent looking up more DIY’s to put some ideas into doable projects so we could go on forever with storage space ideas.

    And I have to agree that the “fear of” is the biggest challenge to downsizing. “What if I need this somewhere down the road” does not fit into this lifestyle. We’ve even downsized to tools that fit in the hand and are multipurpose and so far have not run into any problems needing something bigger. We have what we need and if we’re fortunate sometimes we have space for 1 extra of something, that’s it. Plain and simple!

  9. Wow Jeff, just wow. Here, just trying to tame my t-shirt “collection” to under 50. Different challenges I guess!

    • It’s practice no tiny house yet. Just picked up a authentic 30s steam trunk.

  10. apparently Andrew is not permitted to have any articles of clothing of the bad color (ref: The Village). 🙂

    I work out daily at the gym. I wear a suit and tie 3 times a week. I do yard work, household and automotive repairs. I’d be hard pressed to pair it down as much as you all have, but still the principles apply.

    My wife and I go through regular wardrobe purges… passing on items we no longer wear.

  11. I live in Central Texas, so seasons are less of an issue. I have a few items of clothing for when it is freezing out (a good jacket, gloves, and a scarf) but my closet looks basically the same for the rest of the year.

    All told, I have fewer than 50 items in my closet. I like the idea of rotating wardrobes, but for me it just isn’t necessary.

  12. Part of the way to really pare down clothing is to choose versatile pieces (pants, skirts) in neutral colors – black, grey, ecru, etc., then tops in various colors can be used in combination with them. Choosing colors that can mix and match is a good way to pare down the amount of clothing. I personally don’t own many dresses, but mostly because I am long-waisted and the normal waistline seems to always ride just under my lowest rib, which drives me nuts. I have a couple of dresses that don’t have shaping at the waist, which I can then belt at my natural waist. Otherwise it is skirt and blouse. Colorful scarves help add more variety, and in the winter, I often use lighter shirts as a layer under sweaters in the winter.

  13. When I was homeless and living in my car and tent for a summer, I had 4 shirts, 2 pair of shorts, 2 skirts, 1 dress, a pair of jeans, and a set of sweats. 2 pairs of shoes. I had plenty, although I was really bored with my wardrobe after 3-4 months of it straight. Boredom is the worst part of it, though. Not having a place to live really teaches you how little you really need to live. A tiny house seems luxurious in comparison.

  14. After having a baby and with a cross country move coming up, I know I need to organize and simplify my wardrobe. Just as I was starting to feel overwhelmed by the idea I ran into Monica of Budget Bohemian who is offering a course on unique capsule wardrobes I had never heard of a capsule wardrobe before so I did some research and found my way here. I’m drawn to tiny living and love how it an a unique boho capsule wardrobe go together hand in hand. I’m in love with the idea and am working on the closet clean out today!

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