Building A Capsule Wardrobe: The Technique I Learned From Traveling

Little Black Shell - Building a Capsule Wardrobe Technique Ever since I got back home one of my main focuses has been to re-build my closet. Last year when Nick and I decided to drop everything and travel we sold almost all of our belongings – including my clothes. We got rid of everything unnecessary and packed our lives away into a backpack each. I lived like this for 6 months and it taught me the importance of having versatile clothes. Now, when I say “re-build my closet” I don’t mean getting a bunch of new clothes to have a big wardrobe again. I mean building a closet I actually love out of things I love to wear. Building a closet full of great quality clothing and basics. I mean building a capsule wardrobe.
Little Black Shell - Building a Capsule Wardrobe Little Black Shell - Building a Capsule Wardrobe Technique Little Black Shell - Building a Capsule Wardrobe Technique

Back in my “old” life, I had a ton of clothes and shoes, yet found myself reaching for the same 5-10 items everyday. Anyone else do this? That’s because most of my wardrobe consisted of cheap Forever 21 clothes (or of the like) that were ill fitting or too trendy to be a forever item. When I narrowed down my closet to a backpack I only kept items that were of good quality and versatile. When you limit the amount of clothes you can own you end up really identifying what you love.

The keepers all had 3 things in common:

  1. High-quality
  2. Timeless design
  3. Versatility

I asked myself the following questions when filtering through clothes:

  • Is this item made of high-quality materials/construction?
  • Does this item fit me well?
  • Do I feel good/confident when wearing this item?
  • Can I wear this item in at least 4 different outfits?

Little Black Shell - Building A Capsule Wardrobe Technique

I did this for each item I owned. If the answers were yes across the board then it was a keeper. The amazing thing is that when I did this I realized that I only really loved about 5% of the clothes/shoes I owned! All the other clothes were either made poorly, didn’t fit well, were limiting for outfits, or were simply not even my style! It was amazing how much I found out about myself when I did this. Going through this experience also taught me what to look for when shopping for clothes. Instead of impulse buying or giving into every trend like I used to, I now stop myself and ask these 4 questions. I only consider buying an item if it gets “yes” across the board.

So this is what I have been doing lately, and with this technique I am building a capsule wardrobe made up of items I really LOVE and LOVE to wear. No more spending my money on crap I don’t even like! I’ve also stopped looking for cheap items and started “investing” in quality clothing. This way I can make sure the items I do buy and love stay with me for a long time. I’ll touch more on that subject in another post 🙂 I’ll also explain how you can still have trendy items in your wardrobe!

What closet-building techniques, if any, do you use when shopping? Do you think building a capsule wardrobe is a good idea? Let me know in the comments below!

xx, Karen

Shop the post:

Top: Sincerely Jules (her tees are of amazing quality! Shop here) Jeans: AgoldE (Premium denim. Lasts forever! Shop here) Shoes: Zara (one of the only trendy items I kept!) Belt: Black Magic (real leather, timeless style. Shop similar here)


Little Black Shell - Building a Capsule Wardrobe

All photos taken with Olympus Pen E-PL8 + 45mm lens.

  • This is a pretty cool idea! I never really thought of that. But my closet is definitely filled with cheap trendy pieces from F21. Definitely something to think and invest in down the line. Would really save a lot of space.

    xo, Chloe //

  • Marisa Cavaleiro

    Very interesting post…
    Follow for follow?

  • Yana Kasekamp

    You are so cool for dropping everything and going travelling! I can’t imagine living with one backpack of clothes for 6 months. Was it difficult?
    Also, love your technique of choosing clothes!

  • Ellone Andreea

    That’s great advice, dear! I am very interested in capsule wardrobes! ♡

    Ellone | | Minimal Lifestyle & Fashion

  • How awesome is it to only have clothes that you LOVE when you go to put together an outfit?! I’ve loved your ideas and can’t wait to build my own capsule wardrobe!

  • This post sounds like the natural extension of the one I just wrote! Well said, a timeless piece is the key! xx

  • Damn, Girl

    Yes, great tips! Having clothes that you actually want to wear doesn’t need to translate into a massive unmanageable wardrobe.

  • I love the slogan on your t-shirt. Quality fabrics are my way of existence.

    Inez | My Small World

  • Sounds like you really did learn a lot from traveling, and it all makes sense. I could definitely stand to live with less…

    Amy Ann
    Straight A Style

  • Mes Voyages à Paris

    I love the whole outfit!! So cute!
    Mónica Sors

  • Holly Canon

    Love this! I think we all get so caught up in the trendiness, or just wanting to spend money, that we clutter our closets with things we never wear. I’m so guilty of this. One thing I’ve found to be super helpful is remembering what color scheme I’ve got going on and buying to match. My go-to’s are browns and green, but I’ve been working in some black to tie it all together. This is an inspiring post to get back at it! xo Holly

  • Nice casual outfit! 🙂 I often find pieces in my wardrobe I’m not 100% happy with even with regularly trying to reduce the amount of items I own, I need to develop a checklist like this I think! 🙂 I’m not buying anything for 6 months so I can really find out what I wear and love from what I already own before deciding what else I want to buy.

    Hope you have had a great weekend 🙂

    Away From The Blue Blog

  • great tips! I’m in the process of downsizing my closet. It’s much harder than it looks!

  • I am about to purge my closet at the end of the winter and am definitely leaning more towards a capsule wardrobe. Thanks for these tips and sharing the questions to ask yourself about each item =o) keeping it in mind when I go through my closet!

    • Do it!! I can’t rave about it enough. Now I look at my clothes and love them all. Much better than having a bunch of clothes that you don’t even love. Good luck! xx

  • Amazing outfit! I’ve been seeing this capsule wardrobe project a lot lately and I love it x

    Jessica — NinetyCo

    • It’s the best! I’m so happy now that I have less, but better clothes. xx

  • Kate

    Definitely love the concept of a capsule wardrobe. I have way too many unnecessary clothing vestments.

    • I was the same! Having a capsule wardrobe makes getting dressed way easier!