Capsule Wardrobe 101 + Free Printable Guide

BY SELENA MILLS
DEC 1, 2017

Capsule wardrobes are nothing new, yet reducing our approach to style is a daunting thought (nevermind task!) to many a fashion-lover. We’re a culture (regardless of generation) sold and bought on the idea that more is better. Quality and a company’s profile are considerations that play second fiddle to the appeal of massive sales and what’s ‘trending.’ Yet, somewhere in the back of our collective minds, we know that cost reflects quality, how and where a product is made, how a company treats their employees, and how a company contributes to society and the economy.

So … what does curating a capsule wardrobe have to do with standing your ethical ground when it comes to the fashion we buy? By going capsule you’ll spend more on higher quality clothing but spend less over time. Fast-fashion items will be nearly eliminated from your closet. The best part about capsule wardrobes is that they help you define your sense of personal style. And supporting local and/or cultural designers/artists that inspire you just feels good.

Trust me, I myself fall prey to bargains and seasonal ‘must-haves.’ In being honest, I know that what I wear on any given day, especially for work and social related events, can make or break my self-esteem. Perhaps someday, I’ll transcend into an ethereal being swathed only in Jedi-like robes, make-up free, barefoot and mirrorless. Until then, I still have a tendency toward emotional spending and occasionally, vanity. Just keepin’ it real. However, IMHO, emo-shopping in the interest of vanity or self-soothing can become an addictive and often toxic combo that leaves many of us financially, emotionally, and spiritually empty. How utterly abysmal, right? Indeed, moving towards a capsule wardrobe should be starting to sound appealing to you right about now. I’ve gathered, I’ve researched, and I’ve confabulated upon 3 main areas of focus to get started with this capsule wardrobe business:

1. Simple Rules: I’m usually one to break rules, but in the interest of prepping my own closet to reflect my admiration for the quality-over-quantity approach — and not procrastinate in the realm of overwhelm — I can admit that sometimes, rules should be embraced.

  1. Knickers, lingerie, accessories, workout wear, or cocktail/black-tie attire don’t count. Because I say so. (Fine print: if all you wear is workout/yoga gear because athleisure is here to stay, take this into consideration.)
  2. 30-40 items are all you need. That includes tops, bottoms, dresses, outerwear and shoes. That’s 30-40 items for a season. (3-4 months, depending on where you live. My winter is almost FIVE. *Shudder*.) It’s up to you on how much you want to simplify. That means that your winter coat is part of your 3-month winter capsule but gets stored for summer. Your pretty earth moccasins can hang out on the shoe rack during spring/summer but are put away for fall/winter. I’m serious about this capsule wardrobe action, but not cruel!
  3. You must love the clothes, they must fit and they must be appropriate for the season! Thus, knowing the colours that look good on you and deciding on the types of patterns you dig is crucial.  
  4. Ask yourself: do you work from home or outside of it? Do you travel a lot for work, are you a stay-at-home mom, do you go to a lot of meetings, do you have a bumpin’ social life? The answers to these questions all factor greatly into what your 30-40 picks will be. 
  5. What do you gravitate to wearing on the regular? Personally, I cannot stay away from the aforementioned athleisure, and I can do this because I work from home. This is not the case for all. I love layering comfortable, quality pieces together in the winter; like strappy bralettes and racerbacks, (considered an accessory) lightweight knits with wool button-downs and yoga pants or jeans. When I go to a meeting or take client video calls, I’m all about business on top, questionable situation on the bottom. When I go out to an event for work or a holiday function in the winter, I kick things up a notch with knee-high boots that can handle the snow and look runaway chic as I mingle/work, perhaps paired with artistic, geometric prints, or soft knits with luxe textures, and high waisted leather or velvet pants. What you gravitate towards is greatly influenced by what your day looks like. In the winter, I rock a waterproof mukluk almost daily with anything I wear, because I live in the polar vortex. Gone are the days of buying multiple knee-high boots each fall/winter to suit trends or because they’ve fallen apart. I have balls to juggle and kids to chase and I need pieces that are comfortable, stylish AND durable. These are some examples of my go-to pieces. Build your picks around the items you love.

2. Strategy + Checklist: we all need a clear roadmap to steer is in the right direction when tackling a new project, especially when it seems overwhelming. I’ve created a free printable, one to guide you along in recapping the above rules. Right click to save and print, and add clearing out your closet to your 2018 vision board why don’t you?

3. Ideas: consider what brands value quality over quantity, timeless appeal and artistic merit! In the vein of supporting Indigenous and Canadian businesses that support a vision similar to our own, I’ve highlighted some winter essentials below. You can see where I’ve focused on what my days look like (working from home), mixed with work events and occasional meetings. Regardless, the *fine-print-workout-clothing-rule* doesn’t apply to me, because ‘streetwear’ is a style I truly love, but I also enjoy glamming things up once in a while. And I couldn’t leave out the Canadian Tuxedo! I work in a field wherein I can wear these laid-back styles to events and meetings too. You do you. Please note: you don’t fill in all of your gaps right away! Especially if you are purchasing quality, wearable art pieces. I have a budget to maintain as well. Which is why introducing one or two — depending on price range — pieces each winter (for this seasonal capsule), is a realistic route. I consider purchasing pieces that will last me season after season, offered by Indigenous and/or Canadian designers and businesses; to be a worthwhile investment.


1. Mystique Parka // 2. Waterproof Tamarak Mukluk // 3. Matriarch Leggings // 4. Mama Bear Fleece Hoodie // 5. Talking Feather Touque // 6. Coppola Wool Trench // 7. Quilted Sweater Dress // 8. Split Sleeve Shirt Dress // 9. Matriarch Scarf // 10. Esme Stretch Leather Jeans // 11. Hugette Lace Blouse // 12. Suede Bound Wool Blanket Wrap // 13. Outback Hat // 14. Neoprene V-Neck with Lace Sleeves // 15. Velvet Skinny Leg Trouser // 16. Métis Mukluk // 17. Fontana Boucle Sweater // 18. Easy Denim Shirt // 19. High Waist Jeans // 20. Boyfriend Flannel Shirt // 21. Okotoks Suede Boot // 22. Fort Garry Blazer // 23. All You Need is Love Maktaaq // 24. Bisou Sweatshirt // 25. Bold Nahaq Leggings // 26. Water Protector Hoodie // 27. Women’s Wool Crew // 28. Warrior Leggings

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