How to create a winter capsule wardrobe

What to put behind your wardrobe doors for winter

Autumn seems to have suddenly arrived, and winter lies ahead. Which means that many of us are going through a bit of a clothes crisis. What on earth are we supposed to wear? If you open your wardrobe doors and all you can see is a colourful collection of summer clothes, how do you put together an outfit from those which is suitable for the changing of the season?

For an in-between weather kind of day you can probably get away with teaming a summer dress or shirt and trousers with a lightweight sweater or jacket. And perhaps add in socks or tights as well.

But as the temperatures start to drop, you need to have warmer clothes at your disposal. So in this article we take a look at how to create a winter capsule wardrobe, and also the best way to store your winter clothes.

What is a capsule wardrobe?

Put simply, a capsule wardrobe is a small but comprehensive collection of clothes that includes everything that you need to wear. Ideally everything in the capsule wardrobe will go with most other items, so that you can put together several different outfits by combining items together. 

Many items in a capsule wardrobe are suitable for wearing all year round, and can be supplemented with seasonal items as needed.

The main idea behind a capsule wardrobe is to be able to dress for any occasion without having dozens of items stuffed behind your wardrobe doors.

What should be in your winter capsule wardrobe?

Glossy magazines are full of advice as to what to include in your winter capsule wardrobe. But you need to have a selection of clothes that work for you, not magazine fashion editors. Having said that, most of us have far too many clothes, and if we can pare them down into a more manageable collection, getting dressed in the morning will become a whole lot easier!

Suggested capsule wardrobe items for winter include:

  • A wool coat
  • A puffer coat
  • Blazer
  • Relaxed shirt
  • Smart T shirt
  • Knitted tank top
  • Long-sleeved crewneck top or sweater
  • Stylish cardigan
  • A decent pair of jeans
  • Knee high or ankle boots
  • Chunky shoes
  • A maxi skirt
  • A knitted dress
  • A good quality pair of trousers
  • High quality wool sweater
  • Versatile accessories such as a scarf and bag

Which all sounds great, but how do you get from where you are now – perhaps with a jumbled assortment of clothes – to a stylish capsule wardrobe?

Here are three steps to creating a winter capsule wardrobe:

  • Sort out what you already have

Creating a capsule wardrobe completely from scratch would be very expensive. And, without realising, you probably have quite a few of the essential items that you need anyway. So the first thing to do is sort out your wardrobe. And this time of year – when you are likely to be putting away your summer clothes and getting out your winter ones – is an ideal time to do this.

As you change over your clothes, why not be ruthless and ditch any item that you don’t really wear? Perhaps there are things that don’t really fit, or you no longer like. Take time to try things on and make an honest assessment. A full length mirror is essential to this process, so if you have mirrored wardrobe doors this will really help. 

There may also be some items that you like but that don’t go with anything else so you can’t wear them without buying something to go with them. Unless you think they could become a useful component of your capsule wardrobe, why let those items take up precious space in your wardrobe when they don’t need to be there?

So start by paring down what you already have. We cover this in more detail in our recent article Ten Quick Tips on how to reorganise your wardrobe.

  • Work out the essential items you still need

Once you have sorted out what you already have, you are ready to start building your winter capsule wardrobe. Take time to plan this carefully. Look at our suggested list above and decide which items would be useful to you but you don’t already have. Also add on items you need that aren’t on our list. 

It’s helpful to mentally run through all the likely scenarios you are going to be in over the next few weeks and months. For example, work, days at home, social events, weekends away, days out etc. Then try to visualise what you would ideally like to be wearing in each of those situations. This can help you to narrow down the kinds of items you need most in your capsule wardrobe.

Now you can make a shopping list of items that you need, and can be confident that when you buy new clothes, they will be useful and deserve a place in your capsule wardrobe.

  • Add and test out capsule items one by one

As we mentioned earlier, building a new capsule wardrobe from scratch would be very pricey. So it’s a good idea to organise your shopping list into order of priority and work through it one item at a time. This also gives you a chance to test out your new purchase with other items in your capsule wardrobe to see what goes together and how many different outfits you can create. 

When buying items for your capsule wardrobe, bear in mind that there are alternative sources for buying clothes as well as High Street and online retailers. Hidden gems can often be found on online selling sites such as eBay, Vinted, DePop and Facebook Marketplace, or in charity shops. And, of course, these sources are also a good way of selling and/or recycling all the clothes you are getting rid of.

You might want to focus on buying one really good quality full price item, such as a coat, pair of boots or cashmere sweater, and topping up your capsule wardrobe with pieces from alternative sources.

What is the best way to store your winter clothes?

Once you have a few items and a basic capsule wardrobe, it’s really important that you store your clothes well. Firstly because this will keep your clothes in tip top condition. And secondly because it will make everything easier to find, which means that getting ready for any occasion will be so much easier. 

When planning how to store your clothes, sometimes you need to think outside the box. Literally! There are some items that will need hanging, but others may be better folded or even rolled on shelves and in drawers. The main aim is to store them in a way that will mean they don’t crease, wrinkle, or stretch out of shape whilst they are being stored.

We explore these options in more detail in our recent article Ten Quick Tips on how to reorganise your wardrobe.

And, needless to say, to maintain a fresh-looking capsule wardrobe, make sure that all your items are regularly washed or cleaned, ironed as needed, and that any minor repairs are dealt with straight away. Then you will have the confidence of knowing that you can quickly put together an outfit from your capsule wardrobe without any nasty surprises!

We hope that this article has given you some ideas about how to plan and put together a winter capsule wardrobe. Do check back here soon for more home and lifestyle tips from DIY Homefit.