Capsule Wardrobe

My friend Jane B. sent me a Facebook message saying that her yoga group was curious about my minimalist’s wardrobe. I understand that it’s hard for some people to wrap their head around, so I pulled my clothes out of the closet and hung them on a bar so you can easily see that I have 29 pieces—a capsule wardrobe. I grouped the pieces into three sections:


The LEFT side is my yoga/activewear.
You’ll count 7 hangers, but we’ll call it 9 because while taking the photo I was wearing a top and bottom from that group.

The MIDDLE section comprises my casual/everyday clothing.
You’ll count 12 hangers.

The RIGHT side is my dressier pieces.
You’ll count 7 pieces, but I purchased a dress after this photo was taken, so we’ll call it 8.

I call my wardrobe an “abalone capsule” because the pieces that aren’t black, grey, or white (my base colors) are comprised of colors found in an abalone shell: blues, greens, teals, and turquoise.


Somewhat like Garanimals (the children’s mix-and-match clothing line), I can grab clothing from any section of my closet and know that they’ll match. The cool part? I only own and wear items that I love.

In my experience, the thing that’s vital in a successful capsule wardrobe is owning well-made pieces. If you looked at my clothing tags, you’d find Patagonia, Title Nine, Marmot, and Columbia. I own one purse (Baggallini), and my shoes are either Clarks or Keene.

The photo of my capsule wardrobe isn’t a single season of clothing, it’s all of my clothing—except for undergarments (Boody Eco Wear) and swimsuit (Speedo). On a coatrack by the front door, you’ll find my coat, vest, ear-covers, and gloves (Patagonia).


My clothing reflects my personality and lifestyle. I’m an active, outdoorsy type of gal.

What kind of relationship do you have with your closet—enjoyment or dread?


113 thoughts on “Capsule Wardrobe

  1. I´m impressed. I tend to get bored with my clothes quickly and need a variety but I do hang them colour coordinated in my closet. I am also a bit of a shoe collector. I have cut down since I retired as I don´t need the business suits anymore. Also, closet space in Spain is limited.

  2. Laurie, I love your capsule wardrobe! This makes a lot of sense and looks good too. I have quite a few warm winter jumpers (I get cold easily!) and T-shirts, which I have far too many of but love. Also in summer, I adore wearing dresses, makes me feel free and happy! Oh, those colours are divine and I realise I tend to buy my cloths in this abalone colour range. (Thank you for teaching me a new word this morning!)

    You’ve inspired me and now I feel a wardrobe sort on the horizon! Also must tackle my husband’s shirts … he has quite a few of ‘sentimental’ value from his 20s and which he has no chance of ever fitting in again!

    • Annika — I’m glad this post inspired you to do a “wardrobe sort.” And you made me laugh when you shared that your husband’s hanging onto cloes from his 20s (that he’ll never fit into again) 🙂

  3. I love the concept and the name of Abalone Capsule. I only have what I need for summer and winter. I would extend that to footwear too: I Only have one pair of shoes, 1 X sandals, 1 X boots, 1 X walking dog trainers and my Zumba shoes too. 👍

  4. I also love it, and I got rid of a lot of clothes when I moved back with my mother. My mother is more of a clothes’ buyer than I am, although it gets quite hot here in the summer and it is difficult to find anything that keeps one cool. Thanks, Laurie!

  5. I hold a grudging attraction to those who live minimally — as I do those who rise early. There is virtue, I hold, in both life styles. While I, on the other hand, come alive after dinner and still hang in my closet my two wedding outfits, one an original Fred Leighton, the other purchased in the lace district of Brussels. I’m “saving” them, first for daughters I never had, now for the granddaughters. I’ll take in-laws too at this point.

    Seriously, I do commend you. You walk the walk; I dabble. Viva la difference

  6. Hanging in my closet: Sleeveless to long sleeves (in that order!) by color which means mostly black, grey and the occasional red or pink thrown in for color. JJill fits me well and my outdoor brands are the same as you–Patagonia or Marmot fit the bill quite nicely. I love a well-edited wardrobe. Yours is fantastic, Laurie.

  7. Oh Laurie, I absolutely love this concept! Interestingly I started cleaning out my closet yesterday, only to become mired in the, “maybe I’ll wear this or maybe I won’t” syndrome. Because of the sheer and utter delightful timing of this excellent post, I’d say a ’round 2′ is in order for this afternoon! Thank you! Cher xo

  8. Laurie, kudos on your self and shelf control! When we left California last fall, I left a lot of “Baggage”. If it didn’t make the cut, it didn’t make the trip. Since my weight fluctuates in a 25Lb. arc, I keep 3 different sizes available. Presently I am hovering in the low weight range, hoping to regain the pounds I’ve lost because my favorite clothes are all in the Big Girl sizes. As for dressier clothes, I always buy a classic design in well-made garment. One of my Favorites is a a lovely vintage Valentino that I may never wear again but I love so much that I’ll never do away with it. I consider it a piece of sartorial art and simply enjoy it being in my closet.

  9. Marie Kondo would certainly approve, Laurie. No mountain of clothing to curate in your closet!
    I’m not minimalist, but my closet (organized by color) is more “minimal” than it’s ever been. I’m happy with it.

    Plaudits for having such neat, well-chosen pieces – and a sensible philosophy as a flattering accessory. 🙂

  10. Another thought. How often do you do laundry? I can go two to three weeks. Reminds me of the debate over disposable vs cloth diapers. Came down to whether my area had more of a landfill issue or a water problem.

    I love following your blog, Laurie. You get me thinking anew.

    • Janet — I wash 95% of my clothes by hand. You see the heat register under the rod of clothes? After I was my clothes out at night, I hang them over the register. In the summer when the registers are off, the windows are open and the breeze flows through the screens 🌬️

  11. I am amazed and inspired! Part of my de-cluttering this year is to pare my wardrobe down to basics. I’m setting aside an hour a day the rest of this month to focus on that one task until I’m finished.

  12. My closet is pretty mundane. My “uniform” in warm weather revolves around golf attire. Cold weather is jeans, insulated vests, pullovers or sweaters, flannel shirts. I’m trending away from T-necks and mock-Ts because I can’t find any of good quality at a reasonable price (not trying that hard though). I also have a weddings-and-funerals suit, a navy blazer, a tweed sports coat, and several dress shirts and a bunch of neckties (a dying trend in fashion other than the business world–not many people bother with even a dress shirt and tie at a funeral, let alone a complete suit. Kind of sad to this old-fashioned, show-respect-with-your-clothing type of guy.


  13. I don’t have a huge wardrobe and I’m not a minimalist either.

    I think the idea of categorizing clothes by personality and lifestyle is useful. My current categories of lifestyle are: leader/coach (in the process of bringing more creativity into what I wear);the older I get the more color I bring in; country casual (refuge meetings; family gatherings; lunch w. sister friends, etc.); new category active sport (walking, stretching, exercise) need a few pieces here; and periodic dressy (weddings, parties, theater). I look best in taupes, blue taupes, rosy taupes, taupe brown for tops and black or brown/taupe for slacks, etc.. I enjoy having a few scarfs for warmth in winter and attention/accent in spring.

    I don’t have a lot of foot wear (by my standards). I do have 3 pair of boots: one dress, one short casual; and one tall for high snow situations. I have 3 pair of dress heels; one pair of casuals (need another), one pair of walking shoes (very worn, ready for a new pair). I’m okay with my collection.

    My goal won’t be to get to your minimalist level (applauds to you). However, significant culling is in order. Although I have let go of many pieces, many more could either find new homes; be cut into fabric; or trashed.

    Thanks for the inspiration.

    • Audrey — I admire that you have an eye to (a) finding new homes for some of your pieces.
      (b) cutting some into fabric (I wouldn’t have thought of that).
      (c) putting some in the trash.

      It’s an effective plan!

      • My youngest sister Joni, skillful seamstress, does many things w. fabric, ex. she makes NELVES, nature loving elves (her passion and PT business). But recently, after my brother in-law died from cancer, she was asked to make sm. pillow covers from his flannel shirts for each of his young grandchildren. His daughter made patches with a loving saying and attached it. Brought tears!

  14. This is perfect. I love this, Laurie, and it’s something I’m working toward. It’s a challenge with the temperature fluctuations between winter and summer here, but certainly achievable.

  15. I’ve not been as disciplined as you are with your wardrobe, but I’m getting closer to achieving that as I get older. In the past, the clothes in my closet have been seasonal, with off-season items in another closet. Then I got lazier, and during this past year did some serious sorting, so now the clothes are arranged by season in my closet, current season getting moved to the front end. I still have a bar of clothes at the back of the closet that I dream of having a use for someday – but I’m working up to sorting ruthlessly through them. My normal wardrobe is jeans or leggings with loose tops, tunics with leggings. That came with girth increase a couple of years ago. Shoes have been my weakness, and I have far too many, but that is also being sorted out and reduced.

  16. I love your approach, Laurie! You have it nailed–beautiful. The abalone shell reminded is great. My closet is now filled to the brim with Goodwill bargains and used clothes from my mom. Since dropping a clothes size or two in the past year am still intrigued with all the new shirts and pants. But perhaps someday will return to a more minimalist approach and will ponder creating something like this. Thank you.

  17. I haven’t purchased any clothing since I retired and I was fairly minimalist prior, I do have an overabundance of fleece jackets and vests, because I can not get warm any more…they are also where I put color pants are black or jeans and tops are white or black. I never go anywhere without a sweater or jacket over the t-shirt underneath. I only have 2 dresses, I just never wear dresses. I do have 3 pair of jeans because they are so difficult to find that fit and they have to go over compression leggings these days. I have compression sleeves and undershirt also not to leave out socks – also compression. I have too many shoes right now – about 8 pair. I have been hunting for a new pair that I can wear all day, – no luck for several years search right now. I change shoes every 2 hours. I can no longer wear clogs, my favorite. I kept one black pant suit, because I do so many Memorial Services when I am on call. I am mostly dressed plainly. No yoga or hiking any more It is fun to talk about minimalism, but then in reality clothing is complicated for me with my inflammation dis-ease I haven’t made peace with it yet. I can not believe how awful I looked in the wedding pictures this past summer. I can’t seem to appreciate the new reality of my body.
    I have a bit of envy going on after reading all the comments to you terrific post

    • Patricia — I wish you well in finding a pair of shoes that you can wear comfortably all day long.

      Inflammation is one heckofa-sonofagun to deal with. I’ve been taking Curcumin Synergy (extra strength tumeric) for years as a preventive measure.

  18. Laurie, I admire and appreciate your minimal wardrobe. Mine is not. I am a fan of beautiful fabrics and clothes that are made well, in the USA or Europe. My closet is filled with clothes that can tell the story of my life and travels. It is a lovely way to visit sweet adventures and memories. I have the beautiful flower girl dress my mother made of white slipper satin to match my cousin’s wedding dress, in 1948, when I was 3 years of age. Our granddaughter loved wearing it, when she was 3 years of age, and cried when she out grew it. She also loved wearing my silver embroidered wedding shoes from 1967. 🙂

  19. I so admire your wardrobe! I remember you looked very professional in person, and you dressed within the narrow bounds of these clothing items. Wow. My closet does not look like that. I have tamed it quite a bit with Marie Kondo’s book’s help. But I live in a climate that varies so much, I do have a summer and winter wardrobe. I could winnow it a bit more. : ) Thanks for the inspiration. -Rebecca

  20. Amazing and lovely! I have been called a ‘clothes horse’ in years gone by. I did have an extensive wardrobe and I utilized every piece. I no longer have need for so many articles of clothing and yet I still own an overwhelming array of things that I probably will never wear again.I am also one of many that has a two sizes wardrobe! The battle of the bulge does not have any mercy or forgiveness for the need to be tidy! I have begun ‘the sort’ and have multiple boxes and bags that will end up at one or more consignment shops, Goodwill or given to family members. What a job!! It would be nice to have less clutter. You have inspired me! Now…if only I could stay at one ideal size! Perhaps only owning stretchy pieces that will work for 2 sizes?

  21. Oh Lord. Dread for sure. I tend to wear the same pants to work for days, though of course I change my underwear, socks and shirt. As far as a clothes closet, what exactly is that? 🙂

  22. I’ve never been fussed with clothes … I buy things in batches when they go on sale, in as many colours as I can find. T-shirts, sweaters, long pants, undies, dressier shirts, shorts, socks. All folded in piles (except for the dressier shirts, they’re on hangers) so all I do in the morning is take the top garment from each pile and I’m set. 🙂 I just swap out the piles between seasons.
    Same with footwear … a couple of pairs of sandals, sports shoes, winter boots, my bicycle riding shoes (not those silly ones that clip into the pedals but a pair with a flat sole) and a pair of ‘going out’ shoes. 🙂

  23. I love this idea! Unfortunately, with a little one (10 months old) and freezing cold winters and hot summers here, sometimes it feels like I go as many clothes in one day as you have in your whole closet! 😉

  24. Much as I do not want to admit this, my closet is a mess. It used to be organized according to seasons and colors. Yet the habit of just throwing due to my life being so filled with trauma leaves my poor closet in shambles. Yes I will go digging to again organize. And when I am done I can step back and be proud of the work I’ve done.

  25. I’ve liked the capsule wardrobe. I had never given thought about what kind of wardrobe that I own. I guess my wardrobe is partly casual and office wear.

  26. As soon as I retired, Laurie, I pared down in my clothing and have a minimalist closet, too. I had so much fun taking my professional items and piling them on my bed then having friends come over and “raid” my closet. I haven’t actually counted my items, but it’s spare. My husband and I have spent the last two years downsizing in any way we can think of, and it’s a wonderful freedom. I like your relationship with the abalone colors. I think that is my palette as well! 🙂

  27. It has to be said, I like your style Laurie ,and in truth , you are completely right. I live out of an attic wardrobe , shapes and sizes , colours and textures, bangles and buttons …anything that suits my mood . I’d love to be simple but I simply can’t . Well done you .

  28. My wardrobe isn’t overly extensive, but I could stand to pare it down even more. I agree that well-made pieces are worth it. I am sooooo disappointed in the DIP clothing line that Fred Meyer now has. I’m not one to go to a lot of stores to shop, but my go-to of Fred Meyer is going to have to change. The DIP line is so cheap 😦 When I’m back in the classroom, I suppose I’ll have to be explicit on being a minimalist, otherwise some 15-year-old is bound to comment on my plain Jane wardrobe 😉

  29. The way you coordinated your wardrobe through the abalone shell immediately brought Anne Shirley of Green Gables to mind, and I named you a ‘ kindred spirit ‘ in using the shell’s colors…but I have far too many pieces and not much style. Hmmm…maybe time to remedy that. You’ve inspired me.

  30. Oh I am so in awe of your organised closet. My wardrobe is a disaster zone full of clothes I hardly ever wear- old/tatty/ cheap/unloved.
    I really must learn how to create a capsule wardrobe that works for me!

  31. Laurie
    I totally agree with you. I do arrange according to color. Since I have moved so many times I have donated clothes every time. It feels good to think that someone else will enjoy a top that I bought but never even wore. Downsizing is very freeing.
    Thanks for sharing.

  32. Hello! I’m a minimalist and also a homeschooling mother of three. My whole house is “minimalized” however, the last minimalizing job is the clothes for everyone😊! I’ve minimalized my children’s clothes and I only need to get rid of the clothes I don’t wear and I’ll be set lols! Quality is a big deal I have learned. Lately my kids keep getting holes in their pants! My clothes sometimes get small holes because of cheap fabric. Thank you for mentioning the importance of quality. I love the minimalistic life it makes everything easier, more controllable and freer.

  33. Good for for you Laurie for living by example of minimalism. I dream of the day we are transformed from being a consumer society to being a conservor society. My closet and drawers I’ve divided into work clothes (many slightly torn or are thread bare) and my “good clothes”. Most my clothing (except for the pants) I’ve gotten from thrift stores or are used and been given by family and friends. Some days I joke that everything I’m wearing have been given to me – my eyes twinkle as I add – except my underwear. Cheers.

  34. I rearrange them for each season, moving the sweatshirts to the middle for winter and glad I have them, bringing the tees and lighter blouses there when spring comes, and glad to put the heavier things to the sides. A little carousel of care for myself.

  35. Hey Laurie!! I really enjoyed this post. The idea of ‘Abalone capsule’ is too good and creative. Arranging the wardrobe is the biggest task before anybody. But by putting innovative ideas through this blog, you help us to deal with such a great task! Thank you so much. 😊 😊

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