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What is a Capsule Wardrobe?

Have you heard of a “capsule wardrobe”? My friend Trish shared that she’d jumped into the capsule world and never planned to return. So, I needed to know more. I’m thrilled she agreed to write here so we can all take a peek!

Capsule Wardrobe Header Image

Take one capsule and call me in the morning

I blame Pinterest.

“Easy and stylish, it said. “A few key pieces”, it promised. A “capsule” wardrobe. Style left my wardrobe around the time the Bee Gees had their last hit so suffice it to say, I was intrigued.

Not gonna lie : I have tons of clothes – many types, many sizes, some that still have tags. And yet, I have adopted the mommy uniform – yoga pants and comfy Ts. This outfit goes from school to grocery store and even to the occasional movie date with hubby (Hangs head in shame.) Really, I had nothing to lose.

In brief, the capsule wardrobe revolves around a number of key pieces. Bottoms, tops, footwear and accessories, preferably within a colour palette so lots of things go together. By limiting the number of pieces and offering multiple combinations, the capsule wardrobe makes dressing easier.

My first capsule wardrobe – let’s call it Pretty in Pink (and grey) Summer 2015, was surprisingly successful. I used my capsule for at least 90% of my summer outfits. Fall would be a bigger challenge but I was ready.

A capsule wardrobe can be built at any price. You could even do it at a thrift shop; you’d just need to be more creative. I knew I would be buying quite a few pieces. I wanted stylish but not too trendy. I wanted good fit and I wanted it to be age and lifestyle appropriate. Enter: Reitman’s.

Clockwise from top: 2 leggings and 3 pairs of pants; 2 autumn jackets; 2 booties and 1 tall pair of boots; 3 short-sleeves, 4 long-sleeves, and 3 tanks

Clockwise from top: 2 leggings and 3 pairs of pants; 2 autumn jackets; 2 booties and 1 tall pair of boots; 4 long-sleeve tops, 5 short-sleeves, and 3 tanks

With a fall colour palette of navy, mulberry (not burgundy, mind you. Mulberry, it seems, is the new burgundy), black, white and grey. All tops needed to go with at least two bottoms to make the cut. All bottoms needed to go with at least three tops. Jackets had to be able to go with more than two outfits. Ditto for accessories and footwear.

I had Trish try on a ton of outfit combinations. Here are 4. She's a great sport!

I had Trish try on a ton of outfit combinations. Here are 4. She’s a great sport!

I was lucky to be able to pull a few pieces from my existing wardrobe. I believe most women can defray the cost of a capsule by shopping their own closets. My new items totaled $590, and that includes a new pair of boots at just under $200.

Here are 4 more outfit combinations. If any of the pics are unflattering, it's the photographer not the woman!

Here are 4 more outfit combinations. If any of the pics are unflattering, it’s the photographer not the woman!

I’m pleased with the results and I’m looking forward to finding even more combos from my capsule. It is certainly easy to use. I don’t waste much time looking for an outfit AND I have been able to do a big purge – sending clothes to grateful friends and members of my community who are in greater need. A win-win.

Besides, my husband is grateful the mommy uniform has left the building.

Trish Roche is an Ottawa-based writer and Zumba instructor. Beyond her skills as writer and instructor, she’s known for her amazing abs, love for a good debate, and self-deprecating humour. Oh, and shoes. She’s got fabulous shoes. 


  1. I love this idea… the capsule wardrobe :) I am a pathetic shopper, and thus pathetically dressed. each season I think I will change. I don’t. this inspires me.

    • The best advice the Pinterest article offered me was to choose a colour palette. At the beginning of the season, most stores merchandise according to colour “stories” or groupings. If you have trouble putting things together, go to stores that are expert at merchandising this way. Half of your job is already done. Good luck!

      • I think this is the part that clicks for me most — picking a specific colour palette. At first, I didn’t like it because I didn’t want to “waste” what I already had in my wardrobe, but I liked looking at your closet Trish and seeing how you simply compartmentalized it for the season.

  2. I love this idea. I like the criteria of pants needing to go with 3 shirts and shirts needing to go with 2 pants. Will follow that from now on!

    • Yes! I think my clothes can really go further if I always keep this in mind when shopping … I mean I kind of already do this since I basically only buy black pants and thus, they match with everything! But you know, if I bought something besides black one day. :)

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