Create a Low-Cost Capsule Wardrobe

I’ve seen all these pins on Pinterest within the past year or so on “how to create the perfect capsule wardrobe” or “how to create a travel capsule wardrobe” and I could just tell it was something geared towards Type-A, plain Janes like me. After scrolling past pins for a while, I decided to look up exactly what a capsule wardrobe was.

create a low cost capsule wardrobe

“Capsule wardrobe is a term coined by Susie Faux, the owner of a London boutique called “Wardrobe” in the 1970s. According to Faux, a capsule wardrobe is a collection of a few essential items of clothing that don’t go out of fashion, such as skirts, trousers, and coats, which can then be augmented with seasonal pieces.” –from Wikipedia (wouldn’t site this in a college essay, but trusting it for the sake of this post!) 

Wow…so I’ve been building a capsule wardrobe over the past couple years and didn’t even know it!

I prefer to spend my money on road trips and any restaurant where I can get chips and salsa before my meal. Other than that, I try to save up my money for the allusive bigger and better things in life. (i.e. The puppy I’m going to get one day, maybe a nice couch for my future apartment, and a trip to Europe.)

I find that most capsule wardrobes are all about investing. Investing in a great coat. (Ahem, a $300 coat that comes with it’s own warranty) Investing in a great pair of pumps. (Pumps that you’ll keep in a dust bag when you’re not wearing them because they cost a month’s rent.) And you know what? I’m all for investing! But for us girls on a college budget, our idea of “investing” is buying an Amazon firestick to stream our Netflix so we don’t have to pay for cable.

There are some pieces that are great quality, can be worn several times, and will still be under $50.

Wear everywhere jeans

My favorite “wear everywhere” jeans are the high-rise jeggings from American Eagle. I get a nice dark wash so that I can dress them up with nice sandals and a blouse if necessary, but man are they super comfy. They’re the only jeans I’ve bought for the past 5 years! The pair I have now is actually two sizes too big, but I bought a $6 belt from Ross and plain to wear them till the next big sale where I can get them for under $50. (They usually have great back to school denim deals, so be on the lookout in August!)

The “on-repeat” gray tee

So yours doesn’t necessarily have to be gray, but once you find a tshirt that can be worn to both the gym and a business meeting, you’ve got to hang on to it! I have one I got from H&M for under $10 last spring and I wear it at least twice a week. I’ll pair it with cotton shorts when I’m just lounging around or dress it up with my jeggings and fun jewelry.

Slip on sneakers

I bought cheetah print “vans” style sneakers this past fall from Old Navy. (One of my favorite places to get those low-cost capsule wardrobe items!) Surprisingly, they go with so much! I think that a good, low-cost capsule wardrobe should definitely have a pair of casual shoes. Something that doesn’t have a heel, but isn’t opened toed and too flashy.

A dress to make you a total Lizzie McGuire outfit repeater

I’m a total dress lover. It’s the one thing that I’ll occasionally step out of my capsule wardrobe for and spend a little fun money on. (Remember this boho date night dress?) However, when I buy a dress, I have to imagine at least 3 different ways I can wear it and 3 different places I can wear it. I stand in the dressing room and make a list in my head before I can buy it!

A pair of workout leggings for the gym… or pretending you went to the gym

I get my leggings from the outlet mall (at either Adidas or Nike) because I know they’ll last me for years and I can justify it with how often I workout. The prices are much better, too! If you don’t have an outlet near you, consider going to Old Navy and shopping their workout section! I once had a pair of leggings from there that were DARLING and only cost $16. I wore them to the gym, to Chipotle, and even to bed when it was chilly!

A “matches every outfit” bag

I always get complimented on my Kate Spade and Tory Burch bags and I feel compelled to tell you that they each have been lovely gifts from loved ones! I’m so so grateful for those bags, but when I don’t carry those, I love to grab a “faux designer” bag from Forever 21 or Charming Charlie! The price tag doesn’t matter, you just need a catch all for restaurant mints and 6 lip balms.

Now here’s where you add your own flair, because each of us has a different and unique style! 

I definitely love to be comfortable, so I when I do a shopping spree once every couple years, I like to add comfy pullovers, cardigans, and simple dainty jewelry to my closet. You might be a bit more ambitious and colorful and want fun scarfs and bright statement jewelry or maybe your one true vice is shoes and you love to treat yourself to fun flats.

I hope you enjoyed this little style guide of creating the perfect inexpensive capsule wardrobe. Here’s to laying around in the same pair of leggings all week and spending our hard earned cash on an iced latte because it’s just perfect for Instagram!

What’s going in your capsule wardrobe?