How to organize a capsule closet – 5 ways to keep your minimal closet coordinated

Even a minimalist closet can become disorganized – this is how to keep it neat and functional

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

Just because a capsule closet has less in it, doesn't mean that it won’t become disorganized, stressful, or overwhelming at times. 

Organizing a closet when you are working with less may seem straightforward as you have plenty of room to work with. However, when dealing with a capsule collection, organizing plays a huge part in ensuring you use everything you own and that you don’t get bored or feel limited by your options. 

This is how to organize a capsule closet to spark inspiration, reduce stress, and keep your mornings simple. 

How to organize a capsule closet

When organizing clothes for a capsule closet, professional organizer Stephanie Deininger, Founder of The Organized Flamingo, suggests taking everything out of the closet before you start. ‘If you’re doing it for the first time, I’d recommend taking everything out of the closet and sorting through what you have so you know what staple pieces you already own.’

This might not be the best way to declutter without making a mess, but it is a wonderful way to stay organized, she says.

Stephanie Deininger
Stephanie Deininger

Stephanie has been helping businesses and people get organized for over 20 years. She is also a member of NAPO National and NAPO Colorado Chapter (National Association of Productivity & Organizing Professionals).

1. Ensure everything can be seen

Large walk in wardrobe with round bench in center

(Image credit: Sarah WInchester Studios/Nicole Hirsch)

The whole point of a capsule closet is to only keep items you know you will wear – so it is pointless if these items are then hidden away, points out Meghan Cocchiaro, professional organizer and owner of Organized by Meg. She suggests hanging everything you can, as you would when organizing clothes without a dresser:

‘I always recommend hanging as much clothing as possible for my clients, and I do this for myself,’ Meghan shares. ‘I find hanging to be easier and faster than folding clothes and it allows you to see everything at once. You'll be amazed at how much just seeing your things enables you to wear them more.' 

Meg believes there is nothing that you cannot hang. For shoes and accessories, for example, you can stack them in clear containers or hang them on shoe shelves. If you are looking to organize a closet without buying anything,  

Wooden hangers with clips |

Wooden hangers with clips | View at Walmart
Keep your capsule closet neat and plan outfits out with these sturdy combination wooden hangers. 

Meghan Cocchiaro
Meghan Cocchiaro

Meghan is a professional home organizer bringing peace of mind to busy families in the greater Denver area, specialising specifically in working with busy women who juggle careers, families, and their passions. 

2. Embrace the use of closet technology

High Angle View Of Mobile Phone On Bed

(Image credit: Getty Images)

When we think of setting up a smart home, we usually think about digital assistants, lights, and home security – but why not extend it to your closet? 

‘Another tip I have is that if there was ever a time to use a virtual closet app, a capsule wardrobe would be it,’ urges organizer Stephanie Deininger. ‘You can record the items you have and plan your outfits on the app, it’s a great way to stay organized and find inspiration.’

3. Keep seasonal items separate

Pull out under bed drawers

(Image credit: Sofa.com)

Where possible, it is helpful to have separate capsule closets for the varying seasons – having a core set of clothing that works year-round (such as jeans, undershirts, blouses, etc), and then sections of clothing that are season-specific such as jumpers and summer dresses. 

Sectioning these off and keeping seasonal clothing in under-bed storage is a great way to keep the current season's clothing visible, says Beth Lennon, decluttering life coach and owner of Destination Decluttered.

‘Moving seasonal clothes or more casual items to drawers or totes out of the way is a great first step. This not only helps you easily get dressed each day, but also when putting away those items after they've been cleaned too.’ 

Beth Lennon
Beth Lennon

Decluttering Life Coach, Beth Lennon, was raised in a home of collectors, antiquers, savers and creatives, with ADHD thrown into the mix. She knows the thrill of the hunt or a bargain, and also knows how overwhelming it feels to be surrounded by too much unorganized stuff that makes it hard to focus or find anything. 

4. Organize clothing in categories

Closet, ensuite

(Image credit: Kitchen Architecture)

'There are so many closet organization ideas you can try out, but setting out clear categories is often the most useful technique, especially when working with limited garments that you need to mix and match quickly,' says Meghan Cocchiaro, professional organizer. ‘Since a capsule wardrobe is about mixing and matching, I would group the categories in the capsule wardrobe by color for ease of mixing and matching.'

Clothes hanging neatly on a clothing rail

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Alternatively, you can chunk clothes together by type, continues Beth Lennon, professional declutterer:

‘Chunking down your capsule wardrobe into categories (dresses, skirts, tops, sweaters) is the first step in maintaining the quantity and quality of your clothing because you can easily see what you already own as far as staple items, where you have too many of one, and perhaps not as much of another. 

‘Within each category, you can then compare items to one another and notice what items may have become stretched, faded, or shrunken. Replacing those worn items with ones in better condition will allow you to maintain a level of quality and feel good about what you're wearing.’

5. Reassess items regularly

clothes rail with shirts hanging on it

(Image credit: Getty images / Aurica Vaduva / 500px)

Just because you have committed to a capsule closet doesn't mean you have to stick to the initial garment you pick out forever. It is okay to change your mind and want to introduce the odd new item into the mix to keep things interesting. 

To stay on top of it all, Audra George, professional organizer and Founder of Pretty Neat: An Organizational Solution, suggests decluttering regularly to stay within the capsule wardrobe guidelines:

'Prioritize keeping quality over quantity,' she reminds. 'This allows you to keep only your favorite, most versatile items, keeping your closet from becoming too overcrowded. This makes mixing and matching outfits each day easier.'

Audra George
Audra George

Audra George has over 12 years of experience working in clients' homes. Her passion is to help others and to organize and help busy families get their spaces in order.

The Curated Closet Workbook | View at Amazon

The Curated Closet Workbook | View at Amazon
This simple workbook will help you build the closet of your dreams without the stress of over-shopping and constant decluttering.

FAQs

What is the five-outfit rule?  

When planning out a capsule closet, it helps to follow the five-outfit rule. When buying new clothing or accessories, the new item/s must make up at least five outfits with items you already own. A skirt, for instance, must go with at least five other tops you have at home. This stops you from buying items that will only get a few wears before being abandoned in your closet.  

How many clothes should be in a capsule wardrobe?  

When using a capsule wardrobe, people usually have around 30 to 40 items, including everyday clothing, formal outfits, shoes, and accessories. These items should be wearable for every possible life event, from casual lounging around your home, to days out shopping, to black tie parties. This item count usually doesn't include underwear, socks, gym wear, or swimsuits – items you usually need a few of as they are worn and washed regularly.  


One of the best ways to organize and maintain a capsule closet is to carefully pick the items you want to keep and ensure they all fit well and make you feel good.

‘If something works well with your capsule wardrobe because it can create many different outfits, but you hate it, the negative way it makes you feel completely overrides how practical the piece is for you,' explains professional organizer Meghan Cocchiaro. 'Replace it with something just as useful but that you enjoy putting on.’ 

Trying out something like the Project 333 challenge can help you whittle down what works for you without the immediate commitment to a minimalist lifestyle.  

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.