budget capsule wardrobeWhether its a need to declutter and downsize your wardrobe, or your style and taste has changed, or maybe you’ve changed weight/size/shape, a capsule wardrobe can be the answer. However, if you’re going to have fewer clothes, they need to be good quality to endure the extra washing and drying they’ll inevitably experience. Being a ThriftyMum though, I want to share how you can create a budget capsule wardrobe.

So what is a capsule wardrobe?

A capsule wardrobe is a small collection of clothes and accessories which all coordinate with each other to ensure the maximum number of combinations to create different outfits.

Obviously, not all clothes and shoes are suitable for all seasons so it is better to focus on one season and consider layers as the key to dealing with fluctuations in temperature during the season.

Why bother?

Not only does it make room in your wardrobe for the clothes you love and actually fit, it gets rid of “decision fatigue”. The idea of this is that it gives your brain more time/energy to spend on decisions that really matter. Many high profile business people have gone down this route for exactly this reason see Barack Obama or Mark Zuckerberg.

Where do I start?

Think about how you’re going to be spending your time over the next 90 days. Are you heading back to work and need office attire? Are you gong on maternity leave and need stretchy/comfy clothes? Or do you have long warm holidays planned and need to stock up on swimwear?

Set yourself a budget for any new additions

Even if you have no budget and plan to shop from what you already own, set this plan in stone.


What next?

  1. Empty your entire wardrobe so you can see everything you own and the space you have to use.
  2. Set aside anything definitely unsuitable for the season.
  3. Pick out the items you REALLY love and note the colours of these items. They’re going to form the basis of your capsule wardrobe pallet.
  4. If it is a work wardrobe you’re creating, make your decisions based on how many days a week you’re going to be working.

Everyone’s capsule wardrobe will look different based on their individual circumstances, so don’t panic thinking you have too much colour in there and what you expect from a capsule wardrobe is just monochrome timeless pieces. Of course, going for classic items will make mixing and matching much easier but doing this isn’t meant to take the fun out of what you wear!

How to keep it thrifty

In my opinion, charity shops are the best place to source pieces for a budget capsule wardrobe. Not only are you getting a bargain but you’re selecting items which are already in the waste stream so much more eco-friendly than buying discounted new clothes from a regular shop. Then there’s the bonus of helping a charity at the same time. I’d also much rather have the experience that a shop offers as opposed to buying from EBay. You get the buss of the find and the pleasure of trying it on to check it actually fits and is suitable.

It’s the buzz of the find which I particularly love. In The Jumble is a fantastic book by Victoria Lochhead personal stylist at Frankie & Ruby and she highly recommends charity shopping for this reason too. She comments on the fact that charity shops replenish their stock several times a day so you never know what you might come across. Of course, if there is anything you’re particularly looking out for, you can often leave your details with the charity shop for them to inform you if anything matching comes in.

Top tips for buying from a charity shop

  • Pick charity shops away from a university – Students are always grabbing the decent stuff first as they have time to scour and hunt regularly!
  • Pick a charity shop in a more affluent area – the quality of donations can differ significantly!
  • Look for natural fabrics – these will retain their shape and quality with frequent washes so last much longer.
  • Know what suits you regarding style and colour – most charity shops segment clothes by style, then colour, then size to assist you but knowing what suits you will save you a lot of sifting time.
  • Don’t necessarily think of a charity shop item as an end product – being a thrifty purchase you can consider adjusting it by hemming, dyeing or adding embellishments. Customisation really gives you the opportunity to be creative and make something.

I’m excited to be putting into practice all the things I’ve learnt from Victoria’s book and will be sharing my “Say No To New” capsule work wardrobe in the New Year over on Instagram. My favourite charity shop outfit of this year was my bargain Joules dress I wore for Rich’s 40th Birthday which was from Cancer Research for only £9.99!

budget capsule wardrobe

Disclosure – this is a collaborative post and contains affiliate links