The Anatomy of a Capsule Wardrobe

HTBACW The Anatomy

Happy Wednesday, sweet friends!

If you’re just joining in, we’ve started a series on building a capsule wardrobe. Thoughtfully considering your wardrobe can save you time, money, and stress.

Before you dive into today’s post, be sure to consider the mindset behind a successful capsule wardrobe if you haven’t already. Our closets, thoughts, and emotions are tightly intertwined and will work for or against us. Without the right mindset, your capsule wardrobe won’t be as effective.

Alright, now that we’ve got our ducks in a row, let’s talk anatomy. (Of the closet, don’t worry. This place is G To the R-ated. (GTR- get it? I know, I know, I am the queen of corny jokes that really don’t make sense but at which I laugh hysterically.)

To have a strong capsule wardrobe, you need pieces that work well together.

This week, we’re covering the core pieces. A simple list includes seven pieces:

  1. tank
  2. short sleeve top (tee or blouse)
  3. long sleeve top
  4. completer piece
  5. pants
  6. skirt
  7. dress

Anatomy of a Capsule Wardrobe I Greater Than Rubies

Two things about this:

  1. I chose these pieces because they cover the basic cuts that make up a closet. If you’re not a skirt or dress person, you could sub a pair of shorts or a different style of pants; they just won’t give you as many remixing options.
  2. I’ve chosen to use black and white pieces to create a blank canvas. We’ll look at additional capsule wardrobes later in the series, but I want you to consider your own closet for now.

Now, look at the possibilities: (I’m so excited about this I can hardly stand it!)

  1. tank, pants
  2. tank, skirt
  3. tank, completer piece, pants
  4. tank, completer piece, skirt
  5. tank, completer piece, dress (as a skirt)
  6. tee, pants
  7. tee, skirt
  8. tee, completer piece, pants
  9. tee, completer piece, skirt
  10. tee, completer piece, dress (as a skirt)
  11. long sleeve top, pants
  12. long sleeve top, skirt
  13. long sleeve top, completer piece, pants
  14. long sleeve top, completer piece, skirt
  15. long sleeve top, dress (if you wore the top under the dress and then over and knotted or belted, you could count this combination twice.)
  16. long sleeve top under dress, completer piece
  17. long sleeve top over the dress (used as a skirt), completer piece
  18. completer piece, pants (this look and the next combination only work if your completer piece can be closed or buttoned to create a wearable shirt! :))
  19. completer piece, skirt
  20. completer piece, dress
  21. dress
  22. dress (worn as top) and skirt

Amazing! When you think about changing up jewelry, belts, shoes, and purses, you can literally come up with dozens of different looks from SEVEN PIECES. If I had a microphone right now, I would drop it and walk away.

Buuuut I don’t, so let’s hear it! What are you thinking? Do you have pieces you could plug into these equations? Did the number of potential outfits surprise you?


Read more about How To Build A Capsule Wardrobe.

Shop the pieces:

tank (j. crew via the clothes mentor, similar)
short sleeve top (forever 21, similar)
long sleeve top (kohl’s, similar)
completer piece (old navy, exact)
pants (kohl’s, similar)
skirt (j. crew outlet- similarsimilar)
dress (jc penney, similar)


About the Author


  • Becky @ bybmg March 19, 2014 at 7:26 AM

    This is so great. All those options are awesome! I need to get a well-fitting button-up. That’s been a challenge for me.

    • Caitlin Author March 24, 2014 at 8:21 AM

      Becky- finding a really good fitting button up was hard for me, too. Just try on, try on, try on! And don’t settle. :)

  • Selah March 19, 2014 at 8:19 AM

    See, this is why math is important! ;P

    You could also use the button-down as a completer piece, for even more options. :)

    I used almost exactly these pieces for my 7+1×7 Remix (I used a sweatshirt instead of a tank because it was Winter). It’s crazy the number of looks you can make, even when working with color & print!

    • Caitlin Author March 24, 2014 at 8:23 AM

      That’s a great point, Selah! I think I’ll go back and add those in as options, because you’re absolutely right. :)

  • megan w March 19, 2014 at 2:16 PM

    I feel so much smarter! I have most of those pieces already, and never thought about making outfits like that! Wow… you’ve completely blown my mind :-)

    • Caitlin Author March 24, 2014 at 8:23 AM

      Yay! I’m so glad you found it helpful! :) I hope you’re coming up with some great new options from your closet!

  • Amy G March 20, 2014 at 4:02 PM

    Wow! So many options from so few pieces!

  • Rachel Nordgren March 22, 2014 at 10:57 PM

    Huzzah! I’m still in the process of building my “basics” because I want to be able to build a capsule wardrobe like this! I love that you stuck with black and white. Definitely a blank canvas for using accessories :)

  • Carly March 23, 2014 at 4:19 PM

    I keep coming back to this post and looking at the pieces and mulling my wardrobe over in my mind. I feel like I own most of these pieces, but I am not sure they all work well together. I am going to go take a look and see what I can put together to see if I can find 7 pieces that feel cohesive to me. I’ve made a ton of progress overall in the wardrobe arena, and I am so grateful, but I still get stuck sometimes. I wonder if these pieces would be good ones to spend more on better quality things that would last. Some good food for thought! I may do a post if I can get myself together enough to post. :) Pinned this to my style inspiration board on Pinterest, too. :)

    • Caitlin Author March 24, 2014 at 8:26 AM

      Carly- that’s great! Building a capsule wardrobe and a working closet is such a process. I hope to hear more of your thoughts moving forward!

  • Terri July 20, 2014 at 4:34 PM

    I love your wardrobe series. I learned so much here that I had not heard before. I’ve been trying to figure this out for a while. This is the best guide I’ve come across. Well written, easy to understand, thorough and seems simple (which is kinda the point, huh?) Thanks!

    • Caitlin Author July 21, 2014 at 3:31 PM

      I’m so glad, Terri! That is exactly the point. If it’s not simple or easily understandable, what’s the point? I’ve learned a lot since that series, and I’ve actually got a really simple, step by step guide I’m working on right now. If you’re on my e-mail list, I’ll release the details there first! Hope you have a great week!

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