Fun With Wardrobe Sudoku: A Different 4x4 Capsule

Back in 2020, I wrote about a fantastic capsule wardrobe idea, The 4x4 Wardrobe.  In just four easy steps, you can create a 16-piece minimalist wardrobe to take you through a season or a whole year, with more than 120 different possible combinations (that's almost four months without an exact repeat).

If you've been thinking it sounds too rigid and limiting to stick with a minimalist wardrobe – no matter how much it might simplify your morning or your laundry, or how much opportunity it offers to choose your favorite colors and silhouettes so that you feel comfortable and confident every day – then you have to try this fun wardrobe Sudoku.

If your closet feels overfull, you'll appreciate using your creativity to put together new looks.  This fashion game can do away with the wardrobe boredom that might push you toward a shopping spree.

minimalist wardrobe

What is wardrobe Sudoku?

Of course this isn't really a Sudoku puzzle (although you might want to give those a try if you're not already hooked).  It's a visual representation of a capsule wardrobe.  The grid helps you see at a glance the various combinations you can make with your chosen garments.

A 4x4 grid offers a minimalist wardrobe with many options.  If you design one grid for work clothes and one grid for leisure outfits, each 16-piece grid provides at least 17 unique combinations, more than enough for three work weeks, two months'-worth of weekends, or a two-week vacation.

Wardrobe Sudoku is an organized way of creating a minimalist capsule wardrobe.  It's very simple to do, so keep reading.

Planning your 4x4 wardrobe grid

Imagine your grid – 4 squares wide by 4 squares tall.  In each row across you include one top, one bottom (pants or skirt), one pair of shoes, and one "wild card" – either a layering piece (like a cardigan, jacket, vest, or blazer) or an accessory (such as a purse, scarf, hat, or jewelry).

The trick is to arrange the pieces so that each column also has one top, one bottom, one pair of shoes, and one wild card.  The diagonals need to work out that way too.  (You can download my free template by subscribing here.)

Each row, each column, and each diagonal creates an outfit.  Plus, each corner group of 4 squares creates another, different outfit.  The left and right groups of 4 squares in the middle rows, and the 4 center squares, create three more outfits – for a total of 17 unique combinations.

However, if you choose one neutral base color (black, brown, gray, camel, navy, olive, ivory, etc.), two or three coordinating colors, and mostly solid-color pieces with just a couple of prints, every piece will go with every other piece.  You don't have to stick with the rows and squares if you don't feel like it, and there are actually 256 possible combinations!

An easy start

minimalist wardrobe
You likely have a number of garments that will work for your wardrobe Sudoku.  In addition to increasing the versatility of your favorite go-to items, this fashion game might help you rediscover some wardrobe gems you've been overlooking.

Start by pulling out your four favorite bottoms.  Make sure they fit and are comfortable.  You can build your Sudoku grid around your tops, shoes, or wild cards if you want, but I find that bottoms tend to be the most adaptable.  Basic jeans, leggings, trousers, and a simple A-line skirt will go with almost anything, so try building from the bottom up.

When it comes to your wild card items, remember that a layering piece will create more diverse wardrobe combinations, so you might want to choose at least two of them.  A hat, scarf, statement necklace, handbag, or even a belt can also generate variety.

Put your favorite group of top, bottom, shoes, and wild card in the four center squares, as they will be worn most often if you stick with the 17 grid combinations.  Then fill in the rest of the tops and bottoms in the appropriate squares, moving items around until you create looks you like.  You might want to try them on, since sometimes things don't look as good together in real life as they do in your head.

Finally, slot in the remaining shoes and wild cards.

Of course you can take a picture of each wardrobe piece, print out the photos, and arrange those.  It might be easier.  A quick snap of the finished grid could be hung on the wall in your closet for daily wardrobe inspiration.

You're going to use what you have when designing your grid, and only go shopping if you discover a hole in your plan.


Once your garments are placed in the grid to your satisfaction, you're all set to start wearing your new minimalist wardrobe.  You'll enjoy defining your personal style, streamlining your morning routine, and feeling confident with your put-together look.

Subscribe to get a link to my free template, and try wardrobe Sudoku today!

If you liked this post, you'll love my book The Minimalist Wardrobe: Buy Less, Choose Well, and Feel Confident Every Day.*  It's a modern consumer belief that we need a large wardrobe to be interesting.  Of course we want to be appropriately dressed, and why not wear attractive clothes that flatter our body types and coloring?  But none of that demands a huge quantity of clothing.  Limits encourage creativity, and a smaller closet isn't necessarily boring or restrictive.

The 3rd edition of my best-selling book (packed with 7 additional chapters and 40 pages of new material) can be your guide to a wardrobe that passes the "feel good test" and lets you wear your favorite things every day.

* This blog is reader-supported.  If you buy through my links, I may earn a small commission.


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