Capsule wardrobes have become extremely popular amongst bloggers, YouTubers and minimalist stylists. It is pinned as one of the best ways to build a sustainable wardrobe.
As much as I love minimalism and would like to agree with the process, I’m not convinced that this is the most practical option for everyone, but it can definitely help you to think about what you are buying and wearing more carefully.
What is a capsule wardrobe?
A capsule wardrobe is a limited collection of clothing items that can be mixed and matched to form several different everyday outfits. The idea is that you can wear the items in your capsule for different occasions in several different ways, in essence extending the wear and versatility of your favourite pieces.
The size of your capsule wardrobe can vary, with some experts recommending up to 50 items and others around 27. The size of your wardrobe will greatly depend on your lifestyle, if you need to cover a bigger variety of occasions then a larger number of items might give you the flexibility you need. Note that activewear, underwear, accessories and sleepwear are not usually counted as part of capsule items.
What is great about a capsule wardrobe?
If you’d like to spend less time and effort on your wardrobe, a capsule wardrobe might be the perfect solution. Depending on your capsule philosophy and previous shopping habits it might also help you to save money in the long term. Curating your closet in this way allows you to create a framework that will make shopping and getting ready in the morning much easier.
While you’re going through the planning and buying process it will allow you to consider each item that you are adding and removing from your closet. This is a good way to live more sustainably and avoid impulsive shopping sprees at questionable fast-fashion stores.
The ethos of a capsule wardrobe is intention, mindfulness, minimalism and an overall curiosity for great style. So investing in a few good quality classic pieces as you work to build your wardrobe will provide longevity and classic chic that you can mix with your favourite trendy looks.
What is not so great about a capsule wardrobe?
The limited number of options in a capsule wardrobe can quickly lead to boredom, especially if you’re not someone who likes to repeat outfits in the same week. Depending on the size of your capsule you’ll potentially also need to do laundry more often, which isn’t ideal if you have a lot of synthetic fibres in your wardrobe.
Fixating on a capsule will mean that you might throw items out that you will wear again in future, potentially adding to the current waste problem unnecessarily and making this process less sustainable. This point is my biggest concern when it comes to capsule wardrobes. If you are like me and have classic items that you love, have had for many years but don’t wear every week, a capsule will limit your options when hoping to keep things as you are focusing on a certain number of items.
Using capsule principles to build a sustainable wardrobe
I believe that applying the principles of a capsule wardrobe is a fantastic way to start your journey to a more sustainable wardrobe. These are:
1. Evaluate your style, lifestyle and local weather
To evaluate your personal style and build a wardrobe that compliments you, I’d recommend understanding your body type. There is a brilliant article by Nordstrom that can help you identify your body shape and recommend silhouettes that will flatter your figure. The clothing you wear should lift you up and complement your body, it should never squeeze so hard that your skin bubbles out of the seems like a freshly baked muffin. That’s not a good look for anyone!
When it comes to personal style, colour is vitally important as the colour of an item will often determine how you can mix pieces and whether it makes your complexion pop or if it washes you out – ready to fit into an episode of the walking dead. Pay attention to the colours that get you the most compliments and work from there, match that with the patterns and colours that draw you in and you’re on to a winner.
2. Invest in a few classic, basic items that you can alternate
Everyone needs a little black dress, a classic pencil skirt, a pair of well-fitting jeans and a beautiful trench coat. Spend money on your wardrobe staples and basic styles as these are the items that you can wear season after season. Some of the staples in my wardrobe has been around for 8+ years and they are still in perfect condition.
3. Think classic chic with a touch of trend
Fast-fashion is not sustainable fashion and I would never recommend that you buy into fads, made for you to buy more stuff more often. However, once you have established your basic wardrobe staples mentioned in point 3, you can add a few seasonal items that you may wear for a shorter period than your classic wardrobe staples. I’d still think long-term here, but this can include things like the dungaree for example. It’s a fun item but never sticks around very long, If you have the closet space once the trend is gone you can literally save it for 10 years and wear it again as it always comes back in fashion at some point.
4. De-construct and re-evaluate your wardrobe regularly
To beat boredom remember to update and refresh your wardrobe following the process outlined above regularly. Depending on where you live you can go through this process up to 4 times a year if your seasons are well defined. When you go through your wardrobe periodically, ask yourself whether something brings you joy and makes you feel good, if the answer is no, then donate or upcycle the piece. If it’s yes then keep it.
5. Plan before you buy
Create a list of items you need to add to your wardrobe and evaluate options from sustainable brands before you shop. Curating your closet regularly as mentioned will help you to identify where the gaps are and how many items you might potentially need. A good list of items will include tops (blouses and t’s), bottoms (trousers, skirts and shorts), coats and jackets for spring, fall and winter, shoes for each season and one or two jumpers.
If you have any questions on how to get started, please ask them in the comments below. We’re happy to assist!