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How To Build A Capsule Wardrobe On A Budget: 4 Easy Steps

woman holding a sun hat

If you’re like most people who are trying to stay on a budget while looking fashionable, timeless, and classy, then you’re always looking for a better way to update your wardrobe while living within your means and not going overboard with buying a bunch of clothes that you don't need and don't really like. But it seems like fashion is always changing, prices keep going up, and it can be hard to find a good deal.

Good news: Now you too can create your own wardrobe capsule by following my "How To Build A Capsule Wardrobe on a Budget" guide.

Quick note: Some of these links below are affiliate links. I'm referring you to some of my favorite brands and places to shop and by shopping through my links I may collect a small commission with no additional cost to you.

Follow these four easy steps for how to build a capsule wardrobe on a budget

  • Step 1: Know Your Budget. Understanding your budget gives you a solid starting point for building a capsule wardrobe.

  • Step 2: Declutter Your Closet. Know what is in your closet before you start buying items for your capsule wardrobe.

  • Step 3: Identify Essential Pieces. Make a list of essential pieces for your capsule wardrobe (I'll have a checklist for you).

  • Step 4: Shopping On A Budget. This is the fun part! Shop for your essential capsule wardrobe pieces and stay on budget with my helpful tips.

Let’s take a look at each of these steps in a little more detail.

Step 1: Know Your Budget

This first step is pretty simple. What you need to do is figure out your capsule wardrobe budget so that you don't overspend and you can stay on track.

For example, I like the 50/30/20 rule. It's simple really. Spend 50% of your budget on your needs, 30% on your wants, and 20% dedicated to savings.

Therefore, clothing would come out of 30%, but this might be debatable for some people. Yes, clothing is a need, but if you want a new black top and already have one, then I would constitute that as a want.

If you are new to budgeting, then I would invest in a budget planner or system of some kind to help keep you on track.

Another way I like to figure out a budget is to resell the items I have in my closet and use that money for new classic pieces.

You can also make money for your capsule wardrobe by reselling clothes, plus it's good for the environment.

I like to drop my clothes off at one of my favorite local consignment stores and see how much they will offer me. If it's not enough then I will try to resell myself.

Speaking of reselling clothes myself, I've sold my clothes on Poshmark and ThredUP.

Reselling on Poshmark takes a little more effort because you have to set up a store (they call it a closet), upload pictures of the items for sale, write descriptions, and then mail the item to the customer once it's sold. However, it's an easy way to make some quick cash.

When you resell to ThredUP, they do most of the work for you. First, they mail you a prepaid bag for you to send your items in. Then if they sell, you will receive a percentage of what was sold. It's pretty simple to navigate because they do the work of taking the item's picture, writing the description, selling the item, and mailing it to the buyer.

If you are interested in ThreadUP, use my link and you will receive 40% off plus free shipping on your first order.

So once you’ve completed the first step in figuring out your capsule wardrobe budget, then move on to the next step.

organized capsule wardrobe closet

Step 2: Declutter Your Closet

For this step, you will need time, patience, and a plan. Overthinking this step will give you paralysis by analysis.

Trust me I've been there before. Just jump in and follow these super easy steps for decluttering your closet so that you can look forward to accumulating a beautiful, classic capsule wardrobe on a budget.

I'm a mom of three and I'm constantly decluttering my closet as well as my three children's closets. So I've learned a thing or two about closet organization and decluttering.

Let me share with you three tips for making this step go more smoothly:

  • Tip 1: Keep. Toss. Donate. Resell. Designate four areas to stay organized during your journey. The first area is your keep pile. Everything that you will keep goes into this designated area. Followed by the next easiest thing to purge which is everything you want to trash. Sometimes I find it so easy to grab a garbage bag and go to town with decluttering. Throw out any damaged clothing items like things with stains, rips, tears, or holes. Next up, donate pile. I love a good donate pile because that means I'm helping other people out (and myself out) by vising my local thrift store, which I love doing by the way. I've written a great article on How to Thrift in Florida which I will post down below. Last but certainly not least, resell. Grab those items that might not fit you anymore or that don't bring you joy (uh hmmm Marie Kondo style) and let someone else have a go at it.

  • Tip 2: Organize Items Based on Categories. Easier said than done, but group your items together like dresses in one section, blouses in another, all the shorts should go together, hang your pants up, etc. You get the idea. I like to use these nonslip hangers for my trousers and these plastic hangers for my other clothes items. I still have fancy wooden hangers but to be honest, I feel like they take up more room than my slim plastic hangers. Visually, I like looking at the wooden hangers but they aren't functional in my closet because it's on the smaller side. I also have this plastic bin to keep my sports bras, bathing suits, and socks in. While you're at it, go ahead and organize your jewelry too. I find that keeping my jewelry in a drawer helps with decluttering a space. This is the organizer I have for my jewelry that I keep everything in.

  • Tip 3: Organize By Color. This is the last step that will polish the look of your decluttered closet for your capsule wardrobe. For example, once I have all my blouses on the hanger, I will hang them up based on color. This easily helps me find items based on which color I'll need. It doesn't matter if you have short sleeve with the long sleeve blouses, all the blouses should be in one category. From there you will organize clothes based on colors. All of my dresses are hung together as a group and then organized by color. Keep going until you have your closet organized by color.

Once you’ve completed this step, then move on to step three.

organizing for capsule wardrobe

Step 3: Identify Your Essential Pieces

For this step, you need to look for essential pieces that you might have to start your budget capsule wardrobe.

One word of warning: Don't assume you don't have anything to begin your journey of identifying your own capsule wardrobe. Surely you have a key piece that will help build your wardrobe capsule. Do you have a favorite pair of jeans or a long maxi dress that you always gravitate towards? This might be a good starting point for building your wardrobe.

Here are some other dos and don’ts for completing this step:

  • Do look for key pieces in your closet that are timeless and classic. Example: white button-down shirt, black or white t-shirt, jeans, or white shorts.

  • Do try your clothes on before you rule them out.

  • Don't pick an item for your capsule wardrobe just because you think other people will like it. You have to feel comfortable in your own clothes.

Capsule Wardrobe Example for Florida

capsule wardrobe example

Outfit Combinations:

White dress + sneakers

White dress + black sandals

White dress + button-down top + sneakers

Striped top + blue shorts + sneakers

Striped top + blue shorts + sandals

Striped top + pants + sandals

Striped top + pants + sneakers

Button-down top + shorts + sneakers

Button-down top + pants +sneakers

Button-down top + pants + sandals

Green top + shorts + sneakers

Green top + shorts + sandals

Green top + pants + sneakers

Green top + pants + sandals

Green top + skirt + sandals

As you can see, I've built about 15 different outfit combinations based on having 7 pieces of clothing, and two different pairs of shoes. I've added sun hat for extra flair (plus I live and Florida and hats are my friends).

Keeping items in the same color pallette will help you mix and match pieces easier too. However, I like to have one piece that has a pop of color.

This is the checklist that I go buy:

  • Button down shirt (any neutral color will do)

  • T-shirt (black and white)

  • Striped top

  • Shorts (navy and white)

  • Jeans

  • Black dress

  • White dress

  • Wide leg pants (neutral color)

  • Fun top (any print or color)

  • Fun skirt (any print or color)

  • Scarf (neutral color)

  • White tennis shoes

  • Slip on sandals

  • Wedges

  • Sun hat

Step 4: Shopping on a Budget

Let's talk about shopping on a budget. Bargain hunting is one of my favorite past times so if you enjoy hunting for sales or thrifting, then this will be one of your favorite steps.

If you don't enjoy bargain shopping, then I'm sorry. But I promise the thrill of shopping is in the savings!

First check out your local big box store like Target, Walmart, or outlet mall (if your lucky to live near one). This is a great starting point for finding your basic pieces.

What are the basic pieces? The basic pieces are the black and white t-shirts, jeans, and scarf. I think any of those places would have these wardrobe basics to build your budget capsule wardrobe.

Next, check online for the shoes. I find that shoe shopping is always hit or miss. So when you shop on line you are not wasting your time and you can easily search for exactly what you need. Plus, for added savings, you can always look at sites like 6pm, Off Saks, Nordstrom Rack, and the sale/clearance section of your favorite online retailers.

After you find your shoes, it's time to look for the fun pieces at your local consignment stores, thrift stores, and online thrift stores.

I am fortunate to live in an area that has great clothing consignment stores and thrift stores. I never know what I'm going to find but two things are for certain. The quality will be great and the prices will be for a bargain.

Searching for your capsule wardrobe on a budget online is a definite must. As mentioned in step one, check out Poshmark and ThreadUP for essential capsule wardrobe pieces like dresses and fun tops and skirts.

My trick is to find cute pieces on ThreadUP, and then search for the same piece on Poshmark and go with the best price.

You can make an "offer" for items found on Poshmark too. Something a friend told me and I was in shock because I had totally missed that piece on Poshmark. Anyways, give it a try and tell me how it goes. Hopefully, you will save some additional money!

Oh and if you want to shop on Poshmark, you can use my referral code: NAPLESVINTAGE to receive $10 OFF your first order. That's awesome!


So there you have it – a quick and easy four-step process for how to build a capsule wardrobe on a budget. Let’s recap the steps:

  • Step 1: Know Your Budget. Understanding your budget gives you a solid starting point for building a capsule wardrobe.

  • Step 2: Declutter Your Closet. Know what is in your closet before you start buying items for your capsule wardrobe.

  • Step 3: Identify Essential Pieces. Make a list of essential pieces for your capsule wardrobe.

  • Step 4: Shopping On A Budget. This is the fun part! Shop for your essential capsule wardrobe pieces and stay on budget with my helpful tips.

Now there’s just one thing left for you to do – take action! So go ahead and get started on your capsule wardrobe budget. Hopefully you'll start building classic, essential pieces to keep your wardrobe fresh and classy.

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Hello! I'm Tiffany, a creative travel writer, mother to three awesome kids, and Floridian. We like to visit beautiful Florida resorts and beaches, Florida State Parks, and explore destinations by boat. I like to write about our travel adventures and provide Florida lifestyle tips to other families traveling or living in the Sunshine State.


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