If you’re here, you may be wondering what a capsule wardrobe is. Well, think of the most chaotic wardrobe you’ve ever seen - and now imagine how it would look with a third of the styles, softer colours, and a neat organising system. A capsule wardrobe is a harmonious set of clothes that can be easily interchanged to make a variety of outfits. The goal of a capsule wardrobe is to simplify your life, your wardrobe, and arguably, your impact on the planet. Because the less clothing you need to buy, the less emissions you produce.
Capsule wardrobes are a bit of a hot topic these days. Fashion lovers have become fond of the thought of clearing out their inventory and either starting from scratch or building a very compact wardrobe. But make no mistake - capsule wardrobes weren’t invented by Gen Z! They’ve been around since the 1970s, when fashion designer Susie Faux put a focus on simplicity, minimalism and dressing to feel empowered. Thanks to her innovative thinking, capsule wardrobes were born.
To design a capsule wardrobe you’ll need to think outside the box, and ideally build a selection of outfits around a few items of clothing that you already own. Opt for neutral colours, versatile designs, one-pieces, and sustainable styles that you really love wearing.
Anything that doesn’t meet that criteria or elicit a feeling of joy is not going to have a place in your capsule wardrobe. So it’s time to pass that clothing on, put it on Vinted or take it off to be recycled. You can then add depth to your new capsule wardrobe by selecting a handful of sustainable styles that fit the look you’re going for. Start by settling on a number for each given category (7 tops, 2 pairs of trousers for example), and consider bringing in a few styles that are effectively outfits in their own right, from dresses, to jumpsuits to dungarees.
7 reasons having a capsule wardrobe is sustainable
1. It’s a mindful act
Mindfulness and fashion don’t usually go hand in hand. Instead, some of us are accustomed to buying more than we need, gorging on the newest trends, and indulging in the fastest fashion. As soon as you take a step back, refuse to give into impulse and really think about how you’re dressing - you open the pathway to being more mindful about the impact your clothing has on the planet. Capsule wardrobes are sustainable because they invite mindful thinking and counteract the impulse to buy more than you need. They are also self-sustainable because they reduce decision fatigue - the sense that we cannot make good choices due to having to make too many decisions every day.
2. Minimalism starts here
Make your capsule wardrobe part of a broader lifestyle change that breaks free of materialism and creates more space to really value what you own and who you are. Minimalism typically involves an element of tidying up - or “decluttering”. That’s what makes your wardrobe an excellent entry point for a minimalist lifestyle that’s more sustainable.
3. Avoids waste
Capsule wardrobes are good for the planet (provided you’ve disposed of the excess in any of the sustainable ways mentioned in our intro), because they prevent waste. You know that t-shirt you bought on sale and then threw away a week later? No more of that. Shopping more intentionally also means not buying-into the industry’s ultra wasteful practices of overproduction and overconsumption.
The point in a capsule wardrobe is that it sees you through the good times and the bad. Similarly, the whole point in sustainability is to last longer and create less impact. Capsule wardrobes need to be crafted around styles that transcend trends. That means super simple, paired back designs that have a sleek contemporary appearance. Many capsule wardrobe enthusiasts also tout the value of buying atemporal, multi-seasonal garments that mean you can wear your simple selection throughout the year, instead of getting bogged down with too many seasonal garments.
5. Higher quality products
If you’re buying less, you can use some of that money to invest in true quality. Higher quality garments last longer and once again reduce the need for replacements. Capsule wardrobes should be made of stronger stuff. According to capsule wardrobe innovator Courtney Carver, it can also help to invest in one really good piece of clothing that acts as a “signature style”. “You will find that having one well made version of something will be far better than 10 of the knock-off,” she writes. It’ll be more sustainable too.
6. You choose the fabrics
Probably the most important facet of making a capsule wardrobe sustainable is ensuring that the clothing you buy is either organic, recycled, or all round better for the environment. Handpick fabrics that you personally love wearing and that require less water, energy, and chemicals to be made. For example, organic cotton is a no-brainer ahead of cotton and polyester styles. Meanwhile TENCEL™ Lyocell is an excellent choice for a silky soft capsule wardrobe style that feels amazing to wear. Cruelty-free wool offers wintery warmth. As capsule wardrobes are all about choosing wisely, you can choose to make yours as sustainable as possible.
By shopping at sustainable brands who publish information about their labour guidelines, you’ll also be able to guarantee that the garments are ethical too.
7. Recycle wherever possible
Capsule wardrobes are not an invitation to throw out all your clothing. Their beauty lies in the reuse and repurposing of styles. If you can find and use recycled clothing then it will be even more sustainable.
So what are you waiting for? Go ahead and start your first sustainable capsule wardrobe!