The Capsule Wardrobe: 5 Steps To Edit Your Closet In A Way That Really Works

As so many of us have done recently, Diana LoMonaco decided to take on a good and thorough closet edit. Unlike most of us, Diana is a talented clothing designer who then used her own meticulous edit to launch a definitive collection called the Classic Six.

The Classic Six is a well-tailored capsule collection of classic essentials meant to fine-tune your closet and last the test of time. Think the perfect blazer, a breezy, but luxe skirt and a cozy-chic knit.

Every piece is drool-worthy and we’re obsessed with the capsule wardrobe concept as a whole lately for three reasons:

One: Brand overwhelm | There are more fashion brands than ever before and our closet gets chaotic when we buy random pieces that fit a variety of brand’s lookbooks, but not our daily lifestyle.

Two: Decision fatigue | We’re all looking for ways to streamline daily life so we can focus our energy on the important stuff. Reducing complexity and making fewer mundane decisions everyday means less stress and more joy.

Three: Sustainability | We’re editing our shopping behavior to reduce waste — that includes our closets!

We asked LoMonaco to walk us through the five phases of building a really good capsule wardrobe and her process is genius. Take 30 days and try it for yourself…

The 5 Phases of a Good Closet Edit

Step 1: The anti-purge purge phase Many experts will say the first step is going through your closet piece by piece and tossing as you go, but I say the opposite. The idea of sorting through a full closet sounds extremely overwhelming, especially if you have trouble letting go. Instead, I suggest first doing an “anti-purge” purge before even thinking about selling or donating and relying on those pieces for a short period of time. Start by separating out the pieces from your wardrobe that you feel like you can’t live without.

Here are a few guidelines to ask yourself as you go about selecting these pieces:

Do you reach for it often? (Be honest with yourself. When was the last time you wore it?)
Do you love it? (Or as Marie Kondo says, “Does it bring you joy?”)
How many ways can you wear it?
Can you easily style it with the other things you own?
Does it still fit?

Step 2: The experimental phase Take this selection of pieces and hang them on a rack outside of your closet or in the guest bedroom closet. Close the doors of your actual closet and make a promise to yourself that you will not open those doors for ONE MONTH. During this one month period, consider this rack your new closet. For the people that have trouble letting go, fret not, your actual closet is still full of the things you never wear, just behind closed doors (we’ll deal with them later).

Step 3: The style phase Here is the fun part. I now want you to take these pieces that you have decided you can’t live without and for the next month wear them in as many ways as you can by styling them with your favorite shoes and accessories. Get creative. This step should feel easy if you picked the right pieces.

If you find the above style phase more fun and less stressful to get dressed than normal, you are ready for Step 4: The real purge. If you aren’t yet finding this easy, head on over to step 3.5: The quality check phase.

Step 3.5 : The quality check phase For me quality is more than just construction, it is about quality in design, versatility, function and detail. When I was designing Classic Six, I made sure that the pieces in the collection checked all the boxes of my “quality checklist.” You should do this in your own closet as well.

Go through your selections and see if they check these boxes. If they don’t, reassess. You may have to add a few special timeless pieces to the mix that do check these boxes or you may have to just give your current closet another once-over.

Is it versatile? (Can you easily style it to create endless looks?)
Is it functional? (Does it do more than just look good on the hanger?)
Is it chic? (Can you see it on the cover of a magazine?)
Will it stand the test of time in style and construction? (Let’s keep clothes out of the landfills, girls!)
Does it have special details that you won’t find anywhere else? (Think beautiful buttons, washability, or any other element that another version of the same silhouette may not have.)

Step 4: The real purge phase Here is when I would suggest doing the real edit and finally opening your actual closet doors to donate or sell what you no longer see as necessary in your wardrobe. Chances are after our month long experiment, this step will come much easier. What you need and don’t need to look and feel great should have become a bit more clear to you.

Step 5: The level up phase This is my favorite phase because it involves swapping out some of the lesser quality items in your newly edited wardrobe with those that are made to stand the test of time.

Did you pull a classic blazer in your original edit, but after a few years of wear is now looking a bit ragged? Now is your opportunity to level up. Start your search for a similar silhouette in better “quality” construction and even style.
Since you’ve now seen first hand that you love and wear this “silhouette,” the investment will most probably seem like a no brainer. And trust me, when you wear something a little bit more luxurious, you are certain to feel that way too.

Side note: When leveling up, I suggest to sell, swap or donate your unwanted pieces so we can try our best to keep clothing out of the trash. And on that note, congrats! This phase is time for you to pat yourself on the back. At this point you know what you like and don’t like in your wardrobe and you are now on the road to not only being a more conscious consumer, but are also ready to combat fashion overwhelm head on!

Whether you want to start from scratch or you are ready to level up and set the foundation of your wardrobe with some really beautiful, timeless, quality pieces, taking on a capsule wardrobe is the perfect way to refresh your spring closet!

Enjoy some of our sustainable fashion coverage here! 

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  1. The basic idea sound and I think the pieces look very nice. I mean I really do like the way they look. But, considering how long I have made something last that costed more like 20 to $60, for each piece – when it didn’t cost even less than that – and considering that I am very likely to immediately feel something on a white shirt, I just couldn’t see paying that much money for pieces of clothing. Maybe if I was super rich sure cuz that would be nothing but it wouldn’t be a matter of saving money over time for me because I would never spend that much money on anything – because I simply can’t afford it – and I would go ahead and wear the same thing for a good 15 or 20 years at minimum anyway. I like the advice then, more than the actual pieces for sale. But I could see why someone who already spends a lot of money on clothes would really go for this!

    Jordan Sloan | 04.08.2021 | Reply
  2. Thank you thank you thank you for this great yet succinct interview! I’ve been a minimalist lifestyle influencer for a while (and STILL-aspirer to the elusive capsule closet) and this is the first time I’ve read a more practical / doable take on the selection process. “Purge” doesn’t work — and it’s a horrible term, we apply it most often in speech to eating disorders. Is that what we want to incorporate for ourselves in any aspect of our lives?? — but it’s hard to see what other options we have if we don’t. This is it. Love it, more kind, and much more informative for when we do make those big closet changes!

  3. I think this needs to be done every season. I wouldn’t want to purge things in the summer that I’ll need in the winter. I’d wait a full year before finally doing the full purge

    Vanessa | 04.08.2021 | Reply
  4. I like to buy thrift places and try to keep them clean. Keeping them xtra large for a big tummy and wide wide thighs is timeless.

    Deborah Drummond | 04.08.2021 | Reply
  5. Love your suggestions ❤ I just started doing this a month ago and made my decision to sell my name brands,donate,share with friends and family and to have a weekend sale for charity ❤

    Vangie | 04.10.2021 | Reply
  6. I am not quite understanding the concept. Is it implying that you should buy five of the same blouse if it fits you well and you like it ? and that all your clothing should be the same coloring and style so you can mix and match it? And many of the suggestions seem to be for professional or office working. So what about weekend wear, date night, girls night, church functions, play dates, spring weddings, fall weddings, funerals etc. My closet is full of many different clothing many different styles for many different occasions. I’m not getting it. 🙁

    Denise | 04.13.2021 | Reply

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