The Cost Of A Capsule Wardrobe (Week 46)

September 21, 2014


Newly refreshed spring/summer wardrobe.

Newly refreshed spring/summer capsule wardrobe.

I’ve had a few reader questions recently regarding the cost of a capsule wardrobe.  I don’t think there is any one answer to this question.  One’s personal budget and preferences for materials will always influence the cost of a wardrobe.  But as long time readers of Shopping Brake know, one thing that I really enjoy to do, is to crunch some numbers!

Today, I’m going to review the costs of my current spring/summer and fall/winter capsule wardrobes.  I’m also going to include the cost of my current Fall French Capsule Challenge wardrobe.  Since I’ve been tracking the Cost Per Wear (CPW) of my wardrobe for a few years now, I have the purchase price for everything currently in my wardrobe, including the boutique.

(For today’s purposes I’m going to include the total cost of the wardrobe and the cost by categories.  If you are interested in an item by item cost breakdown for one or all of these wardrobes, let me know in the comments section and I’ll write a new post taking a closer look at the wardrobe you are interested in.)

Now onto the number crunching!

Spring/Summer Capsule Wardrobe

I ended the spring/summer season with 53 items.  I recently updated this wardrobe, but did not change the total number of items.

The total cost of this wardrobe = $2,304.61

And this is the breakdown by categories:

  • 8 bottoms (jeans, trousers and shorts) = $548.74
  • 1 hoodies = $59.95
  • 10 toppers (this includes: pullover sweaters, blazers and cardigans) = $750.20
  • 5 knits (3/4 or LS, for layering) = $142.63
  • 5 gear items (2 jeans, 2 hoodies, 1 t-shirt) = $178.42
  • 2 shirts/blouses = $71.11
  • 9 SS T’s/Tops = $170.94
  • 4 tanks = $67.12
  • 3 scarves = $38.75
  • 2 workout gear (top and bottom; no change; not shown in the closet photo) = $111.88
  • 4 dresses = $164.87

Fall/Winter Capsule Wardrobe

I was ready to begin the fall/winter season with 55 items.


Fall/Winter capsule wardrobe before the French Capsule Challenge Items.

Then I added an additional 3 items due to the Fall French Capsule Challenge Wardrobe.

My current fall/winter wardrobe is at 58 items.

The total cost of this wardrobe = $3,243.95

And this is the breakdown by categories:

  • 7 bottoms (jeans and trousers) = $608.00
  • 13 toppers (this includes: pullover sweaters, blazers and cardigans) = $1,393.53
  • 6 knits (used for layering) = $326.04
  • 4 gear items (2 toppers [fleece, hoodie], 1 layering knit [turtleneck] and 1 bottom [jean]) = $188.42
  • 1 shirt (for layering) = $69.50
  • 5 LS T’s (for layering) = $88.60
  • 4 tanks (for layering) =$57.54
  • 6 thermal layers = $168.00
  • 5 scarves = $52.64
  • 4 workout items (2 tops and 2 bottoms; not shown in closet photo; no change) = $223.76
  • 3 Short Sleeve Tops/Knits (added from the Fall French Capsule Challenge Wardrobe) = $67.92

Note: The brown jacket that was from my outerwear capsule in the Fall French Capsule Challenge Wardrobe was not included in the fall/winter total above, however, I did include the cost of this piece in the total of the Fall French Capsule Challenge Wardrobe below.

Fall French Capsule Challenge Wardrobe

I started the Fall French Capsule Challenge with 21 items, and that total includes footwear and one topper that is from my outerwear capsule.

The French Capsule Challenge Wardrobe.

The French Capsule Challenge Wardrobe for fall.

The total cost of this challenge wardrobe = $1,284.92

  • 5 bottoms (jeans and trousers) =$437.20
  • 4 toppers = $411.49
  • 9 tops = $256.30
  • 3 boots/shoes = $179.93

Do you know the total cost of your wardrobe?


  1. I’m a follower of Recovering Shopaholic, and so glad to find your blog as well.

    Thank you for writing about this. You’ve really got me thinking: how much does my wardrobe cost? My knee-jerk reaction was, “I don’t want to know!” but seriously, I so appreciate that you took the time to break yours down. If I had to guess, I’d say my total is about the same as yours, but you may spend more in a particular category than I would, and vice versa. For example, I like expensive jeans, so my total in that category would be more. Conversely I wait for my favorite t’s to go on sale and buy three or four, so that amount would be less. 99% of my clothing comes from only three stores, so it will be easy to look up my purchases online or by debit card statements, and get a general idea of how much I spend. No matter how much we can afford to spend on our wardrobe, it’s important to know how much of an investment it really is. Well done!

    1. I was skeptical about posting the total costs, after all money and budgets are very personal. 🙂 And I was a bit scared to see how high the totals were going to be. I knew my fall wardrobe would be a higher total and indeed it is higher than I would like. Or maybe that’s how much it should cost, who really knows. One thing I did find interesting was the combined spring/summer and fall/winter totals, aren’t really too far off from the total budget that used to used for the show What Not to Wear (it was $5,000). And I used to marvel at how one could own an entire wardrobe for that price. My current total at $5548.56 shows me that is not a bad place to start if one is looking to budget for an entire wardrobe. Thanks for stopping by!

      1. Oh my goodness, you’re so right (re: the What Not to Wear budget and the resulting wardrobe)! I marveled at that just about every week, and would think, wouldn’t it be interesting to know how much I’ve spent and what I got for it? Hey, wait a minute, you’ve actually did that!! Good job! I am excited about how you and Debbie Roes are helping me see my wardrobe in a whole new light. Instead of buying up the store, I’m becoming more educated on what I have, what I should get rid of, how much I spent, and possible future purchases to make my wardrobe go farther. I’m spending less time scanning internet sales and shopping sites (and spending less money), and more time reading blogs such as yours and Debbie’s, and the results are completely changing the way I approach my wardrobe! Thank you!

      2. I am very happy to hear that Debbie’s bog and mine are helping you to shop smarter and own a more functional wardrobe. And ideally also have less stress in the mornings now too! 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!

  2. I really loved this post, Lisa! As you know, I’m also a big numbers nerd, so any post with numbers and statistics is right up my alley. Surprisingly, I have never done this type of analysis and I’m not sure if I would be able to put it together. Although I track MANY things when it comes to my wardrobe, I don’t always track exactly how much I spend on my individual items. I do think it would be very useful to do so, however. My initial reaction was much like Katherine’s, but I know that forcing myself to look at the numbers would be growth-inducing, even if it might make me cringe at first.

    I do have a few questions for you, though. Were these spring/summer and fall/winter wardrobes purchased over multiple years or within a single year? I’m guessing it’s the former, but I’m wondering how often you expect you’ll turn around your wardrobe. I know that Mette of The Yogastic Shopping Planner factored in a 5-year turnaround, but I’m wondering what your thoughts are on this matter. I think that sounds reasonable, but as a shopaholic my turnaround has usually been much shorter, although I do have some items that have been around for 5 years or longer. I don’t think there is a RIGHT answer to that question – it’s an individual thing. I’m not sure what MY answer is yet, though!

    1. Great questions Debbie! Although I do have handful of items that are 4-5 years old, the bulk of my wardrobe, including boutique items, are 2 years or less. The problem with shopping and purging as often as I have in the past, is that my wardrobe had a very fast turnaround. I got so used to shopping to overhaul my wardrobe, I just kept on doing so! I like the idea to turn over a wardrobe over a longer time frame, but I do not have a set plan to do so.

      I am more interested in trying to wear out items more often, which means that my shopping will have to shift from a plan based on time to a plan based on true need. If I truly adored all of my say tops and they all fit and are in good shape, then why should I go out and start replacing them? But that’s probably part of why I shopped and purged so often in the past. There is no way I truly enjoyed everything I owned, if I did, getting rid of items so often would not have been so easy to do. It’s become harder and harder to purge items the more I own what I truly enjoy to wear. I think my wardrobe will evolve over time because I’ll naturally wear things out or just get tired of something. If I had to guess, I would say at least 20-25% of my wardrobe will shift every season between me wearing something out or getting tired of it from one season to the next. With a fall/winter wardrobe of 58 items, 20% would be ~11 items, which could be plenty! That can easily be 3 toppers, 3 bottoms, and 4 layering knits/LS T’s, which would greatly freshen up a wardrobe.

    1. It sounds like you have a nice number for the cost of your project 333 items. Was the total higher or lower than you expected? My totals were higher than I would like, but I do like premium denim, cashmere and wool, and of course these materials will raise the price of a wardrobe.

      1. I would say… Lower lol, I was afraid it was much higher. I know retail price is at least twice what I paid if not more, but I want to invest in the future in cashmere and nice things and not just price hunt! I feel that I’m very good at getting great items for low prices but now that my wardrobe is full I will concentrate on the little luxieries I couldn’t have before.

      2. Lower, that’s great! And it sounds like you have a nice plan for future additions to your wardrobe. Since I now realize I need far less than I ever thought, I plan to spend more on items, because I’ll be able to use them more often. And if I only purchase a handful of items in a year, that’s ok! It’s amazing how time can change a person’s perspective.

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