How to maintain a capsule closet – 6 tricks to keep clothing clutter to a minimum

Make your morning routine simpler with these six tricks to maintain a capsule closet

The Cinquanta Scatola wardrobe makes great use of space, combining a walk in design with an exterior shelving unit.
(Image credit: Go Modern Furniture)

One of the biggest sources of stress or anxiety in the morning can be trying to work out what to wear – especially if you have mountains of clothes that are difficult to sort through. 

This is only made worse if your clothes make you feel bad about yourself – be it that they no longer suit your style, fit as they used to, or make you feel guilty for how much you have spent. While decluttering a closet can help, it is often incredibly overwhelming. 

The solution is to try a capsule closet instead to help keep clothes clutter to a minimum and streamline your morning routine. Here is how the experts maintain a capsule closet to minimize stress. 

How to maintain a capsule closet

Stylists assure you you can still keep your favorite stand-out pieces and have a minimal clothing collection with some simple mindset shifts to prevent clutter. This is how to maintain a capsule closet to reduce stress and improve your home organization.  

white closet and drawers

(Image credit: Go Modern Furniture)

1. Remove items you know you don't like

Before you can organize your clothes, you need to declutter them, reminds Lauren Saltman, professional organizer and founder of Living. Simplified. This is often very overwhelming, but is essential if you want to make noticeable changes to your morning routine, she says:

‘Of course, if you have items that you know you love to wear, then those should be the start of your capsule collection. For everything else, try on clothes, keeping the ones you love and setting aside the rest to be donated. If the clothes are in poor condition, they should be recycled so look for a textile recycle option near you. And if you have high-end items, you can sell clothes you don't want to keep but keep in mind the time and effort it takes to list, sell, and ship clothing. 

‘One of the keys to a capsule wardrobe is that you can interchange the clothes, using a top with multiple bottoms, a jacket that can be dressed up or down, and so on so you can mix and match your clothes to create multiple different outfits, so keep this in mind as you choose which items to keep. You may want to consider choosing a color palette to help you stay focused on what to keep.’

If you start decluttering but still end up wanting to keep huge swathes of clothing, consider asking a friend or family member to help you make decisions and reduce decision fatigue, or opt for a minimalist decluttering method such as Project 333 challenge to help test drive a capsule collection before committing to decluttering.  

Laura
Lauren Saltman

For Professional Organizer Lauren Saltman of Living.Simplified., decluttering and organizing is how she lives her daily life, whether she is organizing her home, a friend’s office, or a client’s garage, her resourceful approach yields happy clients who learn to incorporate techniques for a happier and more simplified lifestyle.

2. Use the one in one out method

The one-in-one-out declutter technique is a must if you want to maintain a capsule closet and prevent it from getting out of hand in the future, urges Amélie Saint-Jacques, professional organizer, certified Kon-Mari consultant, and founder of Amélie Organizes. Sticking to this rule not only forces you to reconsider what you purchase but maintains your inventory with minimal effort, she says:

‘It will also help you pick better pieces and not spend too much, as you'll be asking yourself whether you already own something you could wear instead, or whether you truly like this new piece more than the ones you already have.’

Amélie Saint-Jacques
Amélie Saint-Jacques

Amélie Saint-Jacques is a certified KonMari Consultant and professional organizer based in San Antonio. She has years of experience in professional tidying. 

3. Keep separate seasonal capsules

If you live somewhere with very distinct seasons, it isn't always possible to have one capsule closet collection to last the entire year. In these instances, it can help to set up two separate seasonal capsules – one for spring/summer, another for fall/winter, Cori McDougald, professional organizer and founder of Meat and Potatoes Organizing, recommends. 

The important bit is to only store the current season’s clothing in your closet. ‘The other seasons can be washed, folded, contained, and stored elsewhere until their season arrives,’ Cori says. ‘Identifying the season makes it easy to make decisions about what stays and what goes. This is critical when you are working with a small wardrobe space. 

‘I love underbed storage containers to store off-season clothing or anything else that doesn't need to be taking up precious real estate in your closet,’ she adds. 

Underbed Zippered Storage Bag Natural | $24.99 at The Container Store 

Underbed Zippered Storage Bag Natural | $24.99 at The Container Store 

Depend on this smart, durable storage bag to keep seasonal items protected and out of sight until needed.

Cori McDougald
Cori McDougald

Cori started Meat & Potatoes Organizing because she wanted to help people get down to the basics in life – the Meat & Potatoes – if you will. 

dressing room with wall of closet doors, patterned rug, footstool, two armchairs, side table, shirt hanging up, 2 doors open, retro ceiling lights

(Image credit: Mendelson Group/Tim Lenz)

4. Prioritize timeless pieces

While having the odd trendy item here or there isn't harmful and can help to spice up your outfits, building your entire wardrobe off of them is a sure way to end up hating everything you own within 12 months, Yenia Hernandez Fonseca, stylist and luxury fashion expert at Margo Paige, warns. As such, it is important to prioritize timeless pieces and high-quality basics when laying out the foundations of your capsule closet. 

Using something like the capsule decluttering method can help you be more mindful about what you keep and what you buy by ensuring every item you purchase goes with at least two other things you already own. 

‘This strategy ensures that every piece in your wardrobe serves a purpose and aligns with your style,’ Yenia says. 

5. Only keep items that spark joy

The most important thing to consider when creating and maintaining a capsule closet is that your items spark joy. Having a pared-back closet will make getting ready in the morning easier, but it is pointless if the clothes you have left over make you feel uncomfortable or bored. 

Cori McDougald, a professional organizer recommends pulling everything out of your closet and doing a simple joy check. To know if an item sparks joy, ask yourself the following: ‘Do I feel great/confident when I wear this piece? Does it fit me? How many of these particular items do I already have? How many do I realistically need to keep out? Am I keeping this out of guilt or was it a gift?’ she suggests.

 ‘Be ruthless and relentless about what you decide to keep.’  

6. Practice mindful shopping

To keep your capsule closet orderly, it is important to stop clutter at the source. This means practicing more mindful shopping habits, both in person and online, urges Yenia Hernandez Fonseca, stylist:

‘Always prioritize quality over quantity. There's no need to upgrade your entire wardrobe at once, but you can slowly find and incorporate quality staples into your closet.’ Quality items usually last longer, reducing the need for frequent replacements and they feel nicer too, meaning you will be more excited about what you have in your closet.

Wooden Hangers with Clips | View at Amazon

Wooden Hangers with Clips | View at Amazon
These sturdy wooden hangers with clips are ideal for keeping a closet uniform, clothes in shape, and outfits bundled together to save space. 

FAQs

What is the rule of three in a capsule wardrobe?  

When planning out a capsule wardrobe, the rule of three is the idea an outfit needs three things to look complete. The first two things are your top and bottom basics (i.e. your essential base layers). The third element is something extra on top that makes the ensemble interesting, such as a stand-out coat or an impressive accessory. Using the rule of three when planning your closet ensures you don’t declutter something important.  

What is the five-outfit rule? 

The five outfit rule is an essential minimalist decluttering hack that requires any new item of clothing or accessory you bring into your home to go with at least five other things you already own. Anything that does not pass this test should be left in the store as you’re unlikely to wear it often enough to justify giving up the storage space. 


A simple aesthetic way to maintain a capsule closet is to use pretty closet organizers to keep your closet orderly, suggests professional organizer Lauren Saltman. Something as simple as matching hangers can give your closet a ‘uniform and aesthetically pleasing look’ that will encourage you to keep it neat, she explains. ‘Be sure to organize your dresser drawers with equal care,’ she adds.  

Chiana Dickson
Writer

Chiana has been at Homes & Gardens for a year, having started her journey in interior journalism as part of the graduate program. She spends most of her time producing content for the Solved section of the website, helping readers get the most out of their homes through clever decluttering, cleaning, and tidying tips – many of which she tests and reviews herself in her home in Lancaster to ensure they will consistently deliver for her readers and dabbles in the latest design trends. She also has a first-class degree in Literature from Lancaster University.