Capsule wardrobe vs minimalist wardrobe – what’s the difference?

Minimalist wardrobes and capsule wardrobes. Sometimes they're referenced as the same thing, but each is a slightly different approach to dressing with a smaller wardrobe. In this post ,I'm breaking down the difference between a capsule wardrobe and a minimalist wardrobe and the benefits of both!

What is a capsule wardrobe?

It was Susie Faux who developed the idea of a capsule wardrobe in the 1970’s. Owner of a London Boutique called Wardrobe, according to Faux, a capsule wardrobe is made up of essential pieces that don’t go out of fashion, which are then complemented by the addition of seasonal pieces.  

Most of the stylish mavens who rock a capsule, create a small wardrobe around each season; carefully curating a number of seasonal items that all mix and match well with the staple pieces. This creates a swag of different looks using a minimal number of pieces. 

Benefits of a capsule wardrobe

You’ll love + wear everything

One of the happiest benefits about a capsule wardrobe is everything you select to be part of the capsule, you love….and actually wear! Have you ever gone on a big spending frenzy, ended up exhausted, dragging home piles of new stuff but nothing really seemed to contribute to your style or your needs? The art in creating the perfect capsule wardrobe is that it’s everything you love or need and offers a ton of different seasonal outfit possibilities that suit your style. 

Rather than having a whole wardrobe of stuff and feeling *meh* about 50% of it, you’ll love 100% of your capsule wardrobe and your closet will make so much more sense. 

Makes mornings a breeze:

Once you’ve picked out your capsule wardrobe for the summer, for example, you know everything works well and there’s no stress putting outfits together in the morning. No more yelling at 300 pairs of jeans  ‘I HATE YOU ALL! I have nothing to wear!!”

You’ll save some money each season:

When you have your delightfully perfect seasonal capsule of stuff, you’ll love it all so much you won’t be tempted to spend more on clothes over the season. Committing to a capsule wardrobe is a great way to put a spending pause on fashion for a season if you’re a bit of a Spendy Wendy when it comes to clothes.

You'll get creative!

One of the best things about rocking a smaller wardrobe? It brings out your creativity. Be bold with mixing and matching pieces and you'll surprise yourself with a bunch of new outfit combinations, all without reaching for your wallet!

You can trial a smaller wardrobe without commitment

You can dress from a seasonal capsule of say 35 items, but still have 335 in your wardrobe.

Wearing a capsule wardrobe doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a minimalist, or want to be one! But it is a good way to experiment with dressing from a wardrobe of less to see if a more minimalist wardrobe is for you.

What is a minimalist wardrobe?

A minimalist wardrobe is like a capsule wardrobe, it too is a small, carefully curated selection of pieces, but it covers all seasons. Rather than adding different pieces for an updated capsule each time a new season rolls around, a minimalist wardrobe tends to be the same staple pieces throughout the year. You add items based on need, not on season or trend. That's how I see my minimalist wardrobe!

With a minimalist wardrobe, you’re investing in clothes for a long term commitment, rather than a 3-month span. Of course, there's the staple pieces for a capsule wardrobe you’ll use over and over, but there is more of a focus on seasonal trend and style with a capsule.

What are the benefits of a minimalist wardrobe?

The benefits of a minimalist wardrobe are much the same as a capsule, but there are a few differences.

You can afford to invest in high-quality staple pieces

You can probably afford to spend more on really high-quality staple pieces if you aren’t looking to swap them up every 3 months. Minimalism doesn’t necessarily equal frugality and I think one of the great places to spend money as a minimalist is on quality clothing.

You're also likely to save more money in the long run (even if you shell out initially for high quality pieces)  more so than a capsule wardrobe because you won't be updating as often. 

You'll create less fashion waste 

With a minimalist wardrobe, you commit to buying less clothing overall and this reduces your fashion waste footprint. Given the insane amount of waste generated by the fashion industry, buying less so my fashion footprint is smaller has become more important to me over time.

You’re less focused on the fashion and trends

Perhaps some wouldn’t call this a benefit but I do. I’m not obsessed with getting my hands what's trending, I have my wardrobe and I’ll add new pieces when needed but I’m not obsessed with the next season. My wardrobe reflects my style and I’m content with what I have. That feels good to me.

You can still create a capsule from your minimalist wardrobe

For a bit of fun recently, I focused on a 10 day summer capsule from my minimalist wardrobe. I was following Style Bee challenge - 10 things, 10 days, 10 outfits.

Since I started freelancing and working from home, I have been a little lazy with my outfits. Who cares what you wear if you’re not fronting up to an office every day ha! So this little challenge shook off my laziness. Check out my combos below!

Elesha 🙂


I’m Elesha! I’m minimalist lifestyle coach, decluttering ninja and expert coffee drinker. I’m here to help you rise up from the clutter.
I help overwhelmed women get out from under the clutter by applying minimalist living principles to their homes and lives!

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