Learn how to curate an effortless and elevated minimalist wardrobe capsule. This year-round capsule is incredibly versatile, with a multitude of chic outfit possibilities and a downloadable checklist that will leave you feeling stylish and chic through every season.
*this post contains affiliate links, updated for 2023*
An Effortless Minimalist Wardrobe Capsule
Do you find the thought of being a capsule wardrobe minimalist appealing? If so, you are in the right place!
If you are a fan of minimal, neutral style and want to streamline your wardrobe to reduce stress, the time it takes to get dressed, and save some moola, my guide is for you. It will help you create the perfect minimalist capsule wardrobe that can be enjoyed year-round.
Before I get into the capsule itself, let’s go through some common questions about minimalist capsule wardrobes below.
Is a capsule wardrobe minimalist?
Yes, the philosophy behind a capsule wardrobe is rooted in minimalism. The whole concept is to utilize a smaller selection of clothing for a season (or several seasons) and get ample use out of each item. This is in contrast to having a closet full of clothing that you don’t really wear – I’ve been there, and I have to say that creating a wardrobe capsule has been a game-changer for me!
Many people use capsule wardrobes to save money, have less of an environmental impact, and reduce the time it takes to get ready.
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How do you make a minimalist capsule wardrobe?
There is no specific number for how many pieces need to be in a minimalist capsule wardrobe. Rather, each piece should be versatile, able to be worn multiple times a week, and good quality.
My minimalist capsule wardrobe contains 17 pieces of clothing, six pairs of shoes, and three bags. Your minimalist capsule wardrobe might need to be larger depending on your lifestyle, or it might be smaller too!
In my opinion, the key is including neutral staples that can be layered, and having the right footwear for each season. This way you can adapt your outfits for cold and hot weather, and temperatures in between.
**Download the free checklist at the end of this post!
The Essential Minimalist Capsule Wardrobe
For my essential minimalist capsule wardrobe, I’ve separated the items into The Basics, which can be worn almost all year round, Seasonal Swaps, that can be pulled into the capsule specific to the season, as well as Accessories.
Read on to understand how each piece in the capsule has been thoughtfully chosen and can carry you from season to season.
I recommend choosing a neutral color like camel (one of my favorite neutral shades!) which has an elevated appeal, or go with navy, black, or grey.
A leather jacket is a great layering option for spring, summer, and fall. It also has an edgy look that can be perfectly paired with a pair of vintage wash denim, loafers, and a tank top. My favorite way to wear my Quince leather jacket is with a slip dress and heels – I just love the combo of a leather jacket with feminine pieces, and it’s perfect for a date-night-ready look.
A crisp button-up shirt belongs in every capsule, in my opinion! This lightweight and airy staple is so versatile and can be dressed up or down.
I love a button-up with a slightly oversized fit, as it can be worn over jeans or trousers for a more casual look. While white is the most versatile, a light blue or neutral striped pattern is a great option as well.
Knit Crewneck Sweater
On cooler days, whether it’s winter or summer, a knit crewneck can keep you feeling cozy but also has an elevated look and feel. I love the fisherman cashmere sweater from Jenni Kayne or the Quince fisherman sweater with a pair of jeans and mules. But if cashmere isn’t in the budget, a linen, cotton, or wool blend sweater works great too!
Layered over a t-shirt, tank top, or dress, a knit cardigan is another wonderful piece to wear throughout the year. My favorite is the oversized Jenni Kayne cashmere cardigan included in the capsule, but a more affordable option is the oversized cashmere cardigan from Quince. I recommend choosing one made from cotton or linen if you prefer a cardigan that doesn’t give as much warmth.
Black & White Tank Tops
These staple pieces can be worn multiple times a week with a layer over top (sweater, cardigan, denim jacket), or on their own if the weather is warm. The classic, polished look of a simple black or white tank can be elevated even more with layered dainty pendant necklaces.
Neutral t-shirts are a key piece in a minimalist wardrobe. I love to dress them up or down, and wear them over and over again all year long. I chose the J.Crew cashmere t-shirt for this capsule as a more elevated option, as well as the organic cotton crewneck from Everlane. Quince has a more affordable cashmere t-shirt worth considering as well!
In this capsule wardrobe, I included a minimal, chic, and stylish slip dress. Slip dresses can be easily dressed up or down – I personally love pairing this dress with heels and a leather jacket for a date night, or sneakers and a denim jacket for brunch with friends. You can swap the slip dress for t-shirt dress as well if you prefer something that’s more casual.
Vintage Wash Jeans
A staple in any capsule is a pair of lightly distressed vintage wash jeans. When you find the perfect pair, you will wear them multiple times a week. I am a huge fan of the Madewell Perfect Vintage Jeans (in multiple washes), but Levi’s, Agolde, and Everlane, are all fantastic brands to choose from as well.
Off-white, ecru, or ivory jeans, utility pants, or trousers are a great staple to have for every season. I absolutely love the Everlane Barrel Pants or 90s Cheeky Jeans in Bone. You can dress them down with sneakers and a cardigan, or dress them up with a pair of heels and a nice top. The light color has a fresh, elevated feel and is very versatile.
Classic black trousers or utility pants (for more casual capsules) are a great addition for their versatility and ability to be dressed up or down. They can have a polished look with the right top, shoes, and accessories, and can take you from running errands to date night.
If you live in a locale where winter = snow, a classic pair of warm leather boots are a must when it comes to capsule wardrobe footwear. I adore simple, ankle height boots for practicality and style. Not every outfit works with knee-high boots, so ankle boots are much more versatile and they also look great styled for the fall and spring.
A great pair of white or off-white sneakers are a must for a minimalist capsule wardrobe. I love using classic white sneakers for a casual chic outfit when I’m running errands or meeting someone for coffee. Pair them with just about everything – jeans, trousers, t-shirt dress, etc. and be on your merry way!
Leather sneakers are easier to keep clean, but if you prefer canvas, I recommend using a protectant spray.
Loafers or Mules
To elevate any outfit, a pair of classic loafers will add sophistication while still maintaining comfort and versatility. But, if you can’t justify a pricey pair of Gucci loafers, then try the polished look-alike pairs below.
While you might not be wearing heels every other day, it’s always a good idea to have a pair of classic pumps for date nights, dinners out, and dressier occasions. Because I love neutrals, I recommend going with classic black or a beige tone for versatility.
Leather Tote Bag
A leather tote bag is a perfect, minimal, and practical addition to a minimalist capsule wardrobe. It is a wonderful every day bag that can be dressed up or down and is great for a woman on-the-go!
A crossbody purse is another great capsule staple. When you are not running from place to place with a tote full of things, opt for a smaller crossbody that can hold just the essentials.
If you are able to, I recommend investing a little more in accessories to elevate the moderately priced clothing items in your capsule. An investment bag goes a long way and can be worn every day of the week.
Seasonal Swaps & Accessories
Now that we’ve covered the basics, it’s time to talk about the seasonal swap-in items. If you live in a climate that varies quite a bit, you’ll need to make adjustments as you move from season to season. Swapping out the wool coat for a trench coat for example, or adding in a couple pairs of shorts and a summer dress when it’s hot.
You also want to make some swaps with footwear, the boots can go and summer sandals can be added, and so on. Below are the seasonal swaps I’ve chosen to include in this minimalist capsule wardrobe.
A classic trench coat is a great staple for any minimalist capsule wardrobe and has a lovely Parisian vibe. It can be dressed down with sneakers and a great pair of jeans, or dressed up with a dress and heels. Because some seasons can be cooler and rainy, this top layer is a sophisticated way to handle the weather and look great doing it.
A denim jacket is another great essential for cooler days in the spring, summer, or fall. You can choose from a classic blue wash (my personal fave!) or go with black or ivory. Also, a slightly oversized denim jacket will elevate any look and is very on-trend!
In the spring and summer months, add a pretty sun dress into your minimal capsule to wear on breezy warm days. You can layer it with a cardigan or jacket, or on it’s own. And I love how easy it is to dress this piece up or down with different footwear and accessories.
Shorts (2+ pairs)
When warmer weather arrives you likely won’t want to be wearing jeans or trousers. So add a couple pairs of shorts to your capsule to wear with the tanks and t-shirts, then you can layer on a sweater or jacket if needed.
A good pair of denim shorts and a dressier pair of black or ivory shorts will give you a lot of outfit options. Although, I have fallen in love with the casual striped shorts that have been trending in 2023, and I’ve included a stylish pair in a neutral palette below.
Sandals (2+ pairs)
In the spring and summer you’ll want to swap in sandals to your capsule wardrobe. I recommend a pair of flat comfortable sandals for day-to-day, and dressier heeled sandals are good for evenings out or special events.
Woven Tote Bag
For sunnier days and warmer weather, a woven tote bag is a great add-in or swap for your capsule wardrobe. It can become your every day catch-all bag that takes you from day to night. Plus, this piece is an easy go-to if you’re in need of a cute tote that you can bring to the beach or pool.
Sunglasses & Accessories
Lastly, adding in a selection of classy accessories to your minimalist capsule wardrobe will tie everything together.
I love a great pair of sunglasses, a black or brown belt, neutral hair accessories like clips and scrunchies, and dainty gold plated jewelry. Subtle, classy pieces that are the cherry on top of every great outfit.
Minimalist Capsule Wardrobe Outfit Inspiration:
Now that you know about all of the essentials for a minimalist capsule wardrobe, you can see how all the pieces work together to make a plethora of stylish outfits. Take a scroll through the looks below and pick your faves!
elevated fall outfit
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to the office and beyond
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casual weekend look.
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date night/girls night outfit
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elevated spring or summer look.
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cute and casual.
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Parisian-inspired spring style.
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simple summer look.
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coffee date in the sun.
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What’s not included in the minimalist wardrobe capsule?
A capsule wardrobe does not usually include specific items including:
- undergarments (bras, panties, socks, etc.)
- pyjamas and lounge wear (sweats, hoodies, etc.)
- workout wear (leggings, sports bras, tank tops, etc.)
These items are considered every day essentials and can be kept to a minimum as well.
Becoming a capsule wardrobe minimalist and curating the minimalist wardrobe of your dreams takes time, years even! So don’t rush the process. Take time to hone in on your personal style and discover which clothing makes you feel amazing.
Narrow down your closet slowly to contain only the staples you love, then play around with mixing and matching to create endless outfit combinations.
Creating a minimal capsule wardrobe can be a challenge as it will force you to look at consumerism differently, but give yourself some grace and little by little you’ll build a minimal wardrobe you absolutely love!