How to Build a Happy Minimalist Closet Part 3: The Importance of Color Choice in a Capsule Wardrobe

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Update August 2016 -- I have HUGE news for a fashion-savvy, Capsule Wardrobe lovin' girl like you!  My shiny, awesome new book Secrets of the Capsule Wardrobe:  How to Find Your Personal Style & Create a Happy, Confident Closet! is now available!!  Feel free to continue to read this post if you like, but just be aware you're basically reading an incomplete rough draft... my book is the Perfected Guide to finding your personal style and building a effortless, confidence-inspiring, non-boring capsule wardrobe, step-by-step! It also contains never-before-published information on how to avoid the three most common mistakes that will SABOTAGE your Capsule Wardrobe, how to continue to curate your collection of clothing by purposeful shopping in the future, a whole chapter on the role of accessories in your minimalist closet, and more.  Go check it out right now... a happy closet awaits you! 

Super girly post alert!  Writing today about fa-SHUN... ready to be glamorous and sophisticated with me??  Third in a weekly series of six.  Missed the first two installments?  Click below to catch up on:

Part 1: Finding Your Style!
Part 2: The Winnowing Phase

Last week I promised this post would be on the theme "Now Multiply Outfits," but I realized that I spoke too soon!  There is a really, really important step that we have to do first... one that I'm worried you might not be too pleased about.  Read on to discover what it is...

Minimalist Style for the Rest of Us -- 
aka, How to Transition to a Capsule Wardrobe Without Losing Your Mind!

Part 3: The Drastic and Undeniable Importance of Color Choice

I just came away from reading a blogger decrying the capsule wardrobe as too "overwhelming" with all of that "mixing and matching."  While I totally understand that some systems will work for you and some won't, I have to say that if your capsule wardrobe is overwhelming, you're probably doing it wrong!

When you DO have a capsule wardrobe, you can literally pick a base, pick a top, put them on, and look great.  Boom, and you're done.  There is no hassle about mix-and-matching once your wardrobe is set up... it all just WORKS, no thinking required.  

BUT to have a capsule wardrobe that works this smoothly, there is one drastically, undeniably important thing you have to commit to now.  *looks around nervously*  If you really are committed to a minimalist capsule wardrobe, you're going to need to limit what colors you own.  *watches reader gasp and cringe*  Yes, this is hard!  But for a true capsule wardrobe, you want a piece of clothing to look great with as many other pieces as possible.... which basically means you can't own all the colors of the rainbow.  Aside from black/grey/white, I wear red and shades of blue.  I can throw on almost any top with any bottom, add an accessory or two, and look put-together.  Like I said... boom, five minutes, NO thinking, and I'm done.

Your Assignment (if you choose to accept it...):  

Start by picking brown/navy OR black/grey as your neutral "family" of choice for base items.... either/or.  A minimalist closet can't have all four of these colors, unless you're that rare creature who mixes brown with black, or black with navy, in a single outfit with grace and poise... for most people, you're going to have to pick one or the other to achieve a true capsule wardrobe.  This will have pretty far-reaching ramifications... shoes, accessories, belts, hats... when I chose black/grey as my family of neutrals, I was able to get rid of all that brown stuff. And just that made a huge difference in simplifying my closet choices!

Once you've picked your neutrals (black/grey or brown/navy -- white and khaki are bonuses), then you need to choose two or three colors to build your wardrobe around.  You probably identified some favorite colors in Step 1 of this series, as you were finding your style, so going forward is just a matter of committing to those favorites.  You CAN change your color choices in the future!  You are't stuck.  However, at the same time, in order to maintain a stress-free, effortless capsule wardrobe, you will need to be deliberate about color choice when it comes to future purchases.  Don't worry, we can talk about that more later.

Quick note about colors:  there is lots of stuff from the 80s and 90s about how only certain colors will look good on certain people.  Stuff like, "Oh you have a 'warm' complexion, so you should only wear pastels..." but I basically believe you should wear colors that you feel good in.  Sure, if you always get compliments when you wear a certain color, that probably feels pretty good and you might want to take that into consideration.  ;)  But I'm here to say that it is rare to see a color on someone and think, "gee that green makes her look terrible."  In my opinion, colors really don't work like that.  Wear colors that make you feel cheerful and comfortable.  That's all!

Are you freaking out a little bit over there?  She says I only can have black OR brown?  And I can only pick two or three non-neutral colors??  Is she crazy?  Does she think I'm a nun??  Luckily you get to decide whether this system will work for you or not, but think about how nice it would be to put your hand into your closet and dresser, put on the first two items you touch, and have them look good together.  I have found that the ease of having a minimalist capsule wardrobe FAR outweighs the "bummer" of having fewer colors of clothing.  And admit it, don't you mostly gravitate towards your favorite colors anyway?  Don't those other colors mostly come out to play on laundry day?  This whole thing might be easier than you think.  

Next week, join us for Step 4: "Now Multiply Outfits Adventurously!" -- where we test out the mix-and-match capabilities of your evolving capsule wardrobe.  If you haven't already, may I suggest you might want to subscribe via email, bloglovin', or twitter?  ;)

Here are some of the places you might see this post partying! 

Like what you're reading? Subscribe via email, and I'll keep the good stuff coming! 


  1. I love your writing style too! Let's form a mutual admiration society! You host the first meeting, and make cake!
    Then we'll work on our secret handshake. So glad we met!
    I was waiting for you to mention khaki!!
    I think this is a terrific idea! I basically wear anything together anyways. And always purple, if I can!!

    1. Oooooh I've always wanted to be in one of those!! Sounds great! I'll start working on the cake now... ;P

      And you make that purple look fantastic, btw!

  2. You are so right, it would make things so much less complicated to just decide which neutral color family. I'm going to work on that assignment!! Loving this series, I thought about it first thing this morning, looking forward to getting the email about it!!

  3. I totally agree on the importance of narrowing down colors. When I have worked on my own capsule wardrobe I actually try to stick with grey/navy as my neutrals and then wear a lot of maroon, cream, and turquoise with them. It works fairly well! Thanks for sharing!

    1. You're brilliant!! Grey and navy sounds like a fantastic color combination, but didn't occur to me because I wear so much black. Thanks for pointing that out!

  4. I had to go back and read the other two posts, this one was great! I've been eyeing a capsule wardrobe for a while, but I find it hard because I LOVE colours, like a magpie! Lately I've been trying to narrow it down, but it's hard tossing all those clothes that have memories. I just need to do it! Thanks for sharing this! #wednesdayshowcaseparty

  5. This spring I cleaned out lots of my clothes with the goal of having a minimalist wardrobe . . and then I helped my daughter plan her wedding, which led to lots and LOTS of shopping, and my closet was soon full again. Heeeelp! I plan to come back next week!

  6. Pretty much agree with what you're saying about the neutrals, BUT, in my typical, offbeat-way, I choose both black and brown as neutrals, because everything else I have goes with either of those and I actually do pull off brown with black. :D My 3 colors are orange, green & purple, but I have also been given quite a few bright pink tops lately and while I pretty much can't stand pink as a color, for some reason I don't mind these tops and feel pretty happy in them. :) And, of course, that is all far more than you cared to know about my closet.

  7. I never thought about it this way Sarah - but I think you're absolutely right when it comes to narrowing down your wardrobe colors! Great tip!


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