Budget Wardrobe

Capsule wardrobe?

whatcha talkin about willis

The term capsule wardrobe was first used in the 1970s by Susie Faux, the owner of a London boutique.  Ms. Faux used the term to refer to a collection of a few essential items of clothing that never go out of style, like skirts, trousers, and coats, which can then be added to with seasonal pieces.  In 1985, Donna Karan popularized the term capsule wardrobe when she released a collection of seven items of clothing that could be interchanged.

According to Wikipedia, here are the widely accepted ways to create a capsule wardrobe:

  • Select a color scheme, typically with one or two base color that goes with everything (black, navy, white, etc.). The idea is that items bought in shades of the color(s) you selected can be put with anything else in your wardrobe.  After choosing the base color(s),  select 1-2 accent colors that are brighter than the base color(s) and coordinate with each other. These items would typically be tops, dresses, or accessories. The idea is, once a color scheme is selected, all items in your wardrobe can be interchangeable.
  • Think about your body shape and select flattering cuts. If the clothing is flattering, the wearer will more likely to want to it in her wardrobe.
  • Consider your complexion, as certain colors are more flattering than others.
  • Select classic shapes and patterns because classic cuts and patterns do not go out of style.
  • Choose high-quality fabrics because the goal of a capsule wardrobe is to own a few items of clothing to wear in different ways. Thus,  individual pieces of clothing get a lot of wear and need to b well made to last and continue to look good.
Sample women’s wardrobe 

Belted trench coat
Jeans (skinny or otherwise)
White shirt (silk if white is too starchy)
Black blazer
Black Trousers
A little black dress
Pencil skirt (but, if you have hips and muscular thighs, like me, an A-line skirt)
Quality T-shirt (greys work with everything)
Cashmere sweater
Sundress (plus cute sweater for chilly nights)
Ballet flats – many people recommend Tieks.  These are very pricey ballet flats ($175+) but are supposed to be very comfortable.
Ankle boots (I like Clarks for comfort)

There are many blogs that modify these guidelines.  I hope to create a capsule wardrobe for home and for travel.  But, before I can begin to do that, I gotta deal with…the closet…

Guidance for Streamlining Your Closet

The Less You Own, the  Less You are Owned.

silhouette of woman holding two hangers with dresses

Too much clutter! Are you paralyzed with fear every time you think about going through your clothes and deciding what stays and what goes?  Encircled, a Canadian clothes company that has embraced the capsule wardrobe concept recently sent me an email  on how to “Perform a Closet Audit.” It recommends that you determine your top three activities (for me it’s casual get-togethers, traveling, and lounging).  Then, you should categorize your existing wardrobe into one of three groups:


• You love it
• It fits, and you look great in it
• It’s in good condition
• You’ve worn it at least once in the past few weeks

For me, being the casual person I am (after years of wearing suits), it’s jeans, black tees, and ballet flats.  I also have a few “nice” silk tanks and shirts


• You like it, but it may not be your go-to piece
• It fits, and it’s in good condition
• You’ve worn it at least once in the last few months
• It’s got a positive vibe or memory associated with it

I have a nice grey sheath dress that fits the bill, as well as some black dress pants.


• It’s worn or stained
• It doesn’t fit (and probably never will ever again!)
• It’s out of style and not a vintage gem
• It carries a bad memory or negativity

Well, it seems a lot of my impulse buys in the past fit here. Many pairs of shoes that I have not worn in years, clothes that are too tight, a couple of suits that are ten years old…

Once you have your piles,  you have three other tasks:

1. Define your Ideal Style

In creating a streamlined closet, you have to own your style, your shape, and your lifestyle as it is TODAY.   How you spend your time reveals your true priorities.   What are your favorite outfits for each of the activities where you spend the most time doing weekly?   What outfit do you feel most comfortable or confident in?

One of my go-to “going out” outfits consists of a silk yellow tank, black skinny jeans, a light black jacket, kitten heels or ballet flats, my red bag, and a necklace. Pinterest is a great site for finding outfits in your color scheme and that will work with your activities.

outfit consisting of black skinny pants, yellow tank, black jacket, red bag, kitten heels, black necklace
2. Map out the colors you love.

Take a quick look at your wardrobe. Are there a few consistent neutral colors in your wardrobe? Examples of neutral colors are black, grey, white, beige etc. Having lived in Seattle, I noticed no one wore any vibrant colors, just black, grey and sometimes navy. So… my closet is already full of black, grey and navy items.

3. Write down 1-2 accent colors that make you shine.

Then, create dream outfits considering the colors and three activities you selected. For me, yellows and reds garner the most compliments.

Capsule Wardrobes on a Budget

For creating a capsule wardrobe on a budget, check out this blog and this one (for women over 50) and this one.  If you are on Pinterest, there are many interesting images of – and ideas for- budget capsule wardrobes.

As I move towards a more streamlined closet, I’m going to see what I can use from my existing wardrobe rather than spend money on brand new clothes.  Of course, when I buy new items to replace worn out ones,  I will end up spending more:  well-made clothes are expensive, but they last longer.   Given my budget, it will undoubtedly take a while to create the capsule wardrobe collection that I want.

Having fewer clothes frees up closet space and saves time when it comes to dressing and clothes shopping. It may even curb impulse buys (for me, it’s shoes)!  Also, If you sell clothes from your “toss” pile, you may even make some bucks!   Hold a garage sale! If you have gently worn name brand items, consider selling using a consignment store or online (eBay, etc.).  Otherwise, do some good and donate them to your favorite charity.  I just donated to the Salvation Army three bags of clothes I had not worn in over a year!


I purchased two capsule pieces from a company called ADAY. There were beyond my typical budget for those items, but I read great reviews. I bought a pair of black “Throw it Higher” leggings ($125 after discount) and an interesting “Something Borrowed” smoke gray shirt ($125 after discount). The leggings are the most comfortable I’ve ever worn – although I can see my cellulite on my upper thighs :(. I’m not as impressed by the shirt – It was very stiff and I am not a fan of the collar. However, it would work as a layering piece/jacket.

I also bought some black and grey “Dress Yoga” pants from Betabrand. They were on sale (regularly $58). Love the fit, but they are way too long, especially since I can no longer wear heels. I am taking them in to be hemmed.

Picture of a Capsule Wardrobe

Capsule wardrobe


I am a 50-something retired woman, currently residing in Las Vegas, Nevada. This blog addresses the budgetary challenges and other concerns of "young" retirees. We are an overlooked group: too old to be considered middle-aged and too young to be called senior citizens.

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