Look: a semester’s worth of clothes! Image courtesy of Flickr user Ann-Christin Karlén Gramming. Licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.I’m about to start my least-favorite yearly process: packing all of my belongings into some somewhat abused luggage and hauling it to campus in order to move into campus housing. Because I am not as minimalist as Kelly, this is kind of a pain. My biggest packing issue is clothing–I like vintage clothing, which is difficult to pack well without planning. So, to cut down on the number of clothes that I’m hauling to campus, I’ve devised some capsule wardrobes.

For the uninitiated, capsule wardrobes are a set of clothes carefully planned to be worn for a maximum number of outfits with a minimal number of pieces. Generally, they’re favored by travelers as a way to cut down when packing. However, with some adjustments, the capsule wardrobe mindset works really well for people with limited closet space who want to make packing easier (ie, college students–particularly those  thinking of going abroad). Here are the principles to keep in mind when packing:

Build for the life you actually have: This is the biggest downfall for a lot of college students who overpack–they stuff everything they own into their bag, on the off-chance that they might need to go to a black tie dinner at some point during freshman year. As a student, you will probably spend 90% of your time doing whatever it is that you normally do (presumably attending class and going out). Pack for that 90%. If you’re not going to work out regularly, don’t pack tons of tennis shoes and gym shorts. If you don’t have an office job yet, minimize the number of suits you pack if you pack any at all. If there really is something that you didn’t cover with your clothes, college is a uniquely good place to fix it: you will have friends whose clothes you can borrow. If in doubt, don’t pack it.

Pick a color scheme: This is a tip for both packing and further wardrobe building. Really think about the colors that you’re picking. If the one pair of dress shoes you take with you is brown, that will limit what color of formal shirts you can wear; keep that in mind when you pack. In my case, I buy almost exclusively red and brown shoes, cool-toned shirts, and brown or navy bottoms. I don’t really own any black clothes, and it means that most of my clothes already match each other. Because I am phenomenally lazy, this is awesome! With a little bit of forethought, you can make it so all of your clothes go with the others. If you want to get an overview of what colors you mostly own, arrange your clothes by color in the closet or take photos of your items and look at the thumbnails in a group. It will become clear.

Avoid duplicates: Really think about what function individual pieces of clothing serve. If you have two shirts, both of which you only wear to church (which you attend twice a year), you probably only need to pack one of the shirts. If you have a lot of denim and want to save space, try packing only one pair of each kind of jean as is appropriate for your life–you probably only need one pair of going-out jeans. Some clothes will need duplicates (boot cut jeans, if you wear them a lot, are a likely candidate), but you want them to be intentionally done.

What your capsule wardrobe will look like will depend entirely on what your interests are and what your life at college is like. However, the principles of capsule packing can be applied to ollege wardrobes in order to structure a cohesive, and easy-to-manage collection of clothing. With this, dressing gets easier, freeing you up for more important things, like sleep.

For more good, basic clothing outfitting advice, check out this post from our friends at CollegeInfoGeek.

Do you have an intentionally-designed wardrobe? Let us know in the comments how you designed it and what your essential items are!