How to Build a Sustainable Capsule Wardrobe You’ll Love

In the world of fashion, sustainable fashion has emerged as a beacon of hope for our planet. At its core, this movement urges us to rethink our clothing choices, choosing pieces that last longer, harm less, and have less of an impact on our environment.

What is Sustainable Fashion?

Sustainable fashion a powerful counter to the multi-billion dollar fast fashion industry, known for its short-lived trends and questionable ethics.

A capsule wardrobe, with its emphasis on fewer items of higher quality, aligns perfectly with this idea. It champions the idea of having less but better.

Sustainable fashion calls for a mindful approach to what we wear, embracing quality over quantity through capsule wardrobes.

The goal? To curate a collection of clothing that not only elevates your personal style but also respects the world around us. Mindful consumption becomes the main focus here. By carefully selecting what we wear, we are reducing our collective environmental impact and over-consumption of products.

What is a Capsule Wardrobe?

The term capsule wardrobe came to life in the 1970s, thanks to British fashion icon Susie Faux. She pictured a wardrobe that wasn’t bogged down by fleeting fashion trends but was instead composed of 10-50 versatile and practical items.

These pieces worked together to create an entire wardrobe for any season. Over the years, this concept evolved. It began embracing not just classic styles but sustainable clothing brands, high-quality fabrics, and ethical brands.

The brilliant simplicity behind a capsule wardrobe pushed us towards fewer clothes, but better and more conscious choices. Today, this approach has become a cornerstone for the sustainable fashion movement. It offers a creative answer to the woes of fast fashion by encouraging us to invest in fewer items, like that little black dress or those perfectly fitted straight-leg jeans, that stand the test of time.

Step 1: Declutter Your Closet

The first step to building a sustainable capsule wardrobe is to declutter your closet. This means going through all of your clothes and getting rid of anything you haven’t worn in the past year, anything that doesn’t fit, and anything that’s damaged beyond repair. Be honest with yourself and don’t hold onto things just because you feel sentimental about them. Remember, the goal is to create a wardrobe that’s functional and sustainable.

Step 2: Figure Out Your Personal Style

The next step is to assess your lifestyle and personal style. What kind of activities do you do on a regular basis? What kind of clothes do you feel most comfortable and confident in? Use this information to determine the types of clothes you need in your capsule wardrobe. For example, if you work in an office, you’ll need business attire, but if you work from home, you’ll need comfortable, casual clothes.

Understanding your personal style might sound daunting at first. I’ve been there, believe me. It’s like choosing between a little black dress and a denim jacket when you love both. But here’s the thing, figuring out what makes you tick fashion-wise is essential.

It’s really the basis of creating a sustainable capsule wardrobe that doesn’t just look good on the hanger but feels like you. A wardrobe that echoes your lifestyle — whether you’re all about those midi skirts or swear by straight-leg jeans — ensures you’re not chasing after fast fashion trends that fade faster than a poorly dyed shirt.

Imagine opening your closet and seeing only pieces that you adore. Pieces that mix and match effortlessly, reducing both decision fatigue and your carbon footprint. This journey starts with recognizing your unique style. It means fewer clothes, yes, but it also means every outfit feels right. And isn’t that what we’re all looking for? A sustainable style that’s uniquely ours in every way.

The Anatomy of a Capsule Wardrobe

Building your capsule wardrobe feels like setting a foundation for effortless style and environmental leadership.

You’ll start with essential clothing items: that little black dress for those nights out or special occasions, a pair of straight-leg jeans for casual days, and a classic white shirt that never goes out of style. Fewer clothes mean selecting high-quality pieces that last a long time. Think organic cotton tees, a durable trench coat, and timeless pieces like midi skirts that work in different ways.

Choosing a base color scheme centered around neutral colours simplifies mixing and matching. Yet, don’t shy away from accent colors that add a sprinkle of personality. This allows for fewer items, but more outfit possibilities. Remember, a sustainable capsule wardrobe isn’t just about having less; it’s about having what’s just right for you.

A capsule wardrobe could contain:

  • Something for a night out or special occasion
  • A pair of well-fitted jeans
  • A basic white shirt
  • 2x neutral t-shirts
  • A jacket/trench coat
  • A midi skirt that can transition seasons
  • A basic pair of black leggings
  • Layering pieces like a cardigan

Step 3: Select the Right Color Palette

Picking the right color palette for your capsule wardrobe will set you up for success. Think of it as setting the stage for your signature style. Your skin tone and personal preferences are key guides.

Ever heard of colour consultations or exploring your colour season? They were practically made for this. It’s fascinating how a session could reveal the hues that complement you best.

With this insight, you select shades that not only elevate your look but ensure each piece blends seamlessly. Imagine the ease of getting dressed when your wardrobe sings in harmony!

Step 4: Choose Quality Over Quantity

We all yearn for a wardrobe that is not just stylish but also sustainable. This nudges us towards thinking long term. Investing in high-quality pieces made from sustainable materials like organic cotton or natural fibers become a priority. Avoid synthetic fabrics like polyester and nylon. These timeless pieces, (like that little black dress or a classic trench coat) are not just investments in our style but also in the planet.

This conscious choice significantly cuts our environmental footprint.

Opting for fewer items of better quality means less clothing ends up in landfills. Surprisingly, it also turns out to be kinder on our wallets in the long run. Yes, the initial cost might be higher, but these garments stand the test of time. Not to mention, they effortlessly transcend the fast-paced world of fashion trends, ensuring that our sustainable capsule wardrobe remains relevant across seasons.

Step 5: Try Second-Hand and Vintage

Diving into the world of second-hand, thrift or vintage shopping unlocks a treasure trove of unique finds for your sustainable capsule wardrobe. With each pre-loved piece, you’re not just embracing a style that’s distinctly yours, but you’re also casting a vote against the relentless cycle of fast fashion. The hunt for those standout midi skirts, the perfect dress, or a denim jacket infused with history, offers a thrill unlike any other. Check out our post all about scoring great pieces at a thrift store.

By choosing fewer clothes with a past, you serve the dual purpose of elevating your personal style and lessening your environmental impact. Think of it as a great way to add flavor to your collection of clothing without contributing to the drawbacks of the fashion industry.

Another great way to shop thrifted items online is to follow some thrifted Instagram accounts or sign up for a Poshmark account. Many resellers of thrifted items have great items and sometimes even brand new pieces at a fraction of the cost.

Step 6: Adapt Your Wardrobe for Changing Seasons

Seasons change and so should our capsule wardrobe. Think of it as an exciting opportunity to refresh your look without compromising on sustainability. Swapping out items is a great way to keep things fresh. For instance, those breezy midi skirts and lightweight blouses we loved in summer give way to cozy knits and trench coats when autumn whispers. It’s all about making smart swaps that align with the slow fashion ethos.

Layering becomes your best friend during transitional weather. A classic white shirt under a sweater, topped with a denim jacket, provides versatility and style. This approach not only extends the utility of your pieces but also allows for creative combinations across seasons. Remember, fewer clothes with more uses reduce our carbon footprint significantly.

Incorporating versatile pieces into your wardrobe ensures you’re prepared for any weather, without succumbing to fast fashion trends. Essentials like straight-leg jeans can be styled in countless ways. Opting for sustainable fabrics and timeless pieces means your wardrobe won’t just last through the next season, but for years to come.

Maintaining and Caring for Your Capsule Wardrobe

You’ve lovingly crafted a perfect capsule wardrobe. Now, keeping it in tip-top shape will ensure it stands by you, season after season. Caring for your clothing pieces doesn’t have to be a chore. In fact, it can be quite simple.

First off, always look at the label before you toss anything in the wash. These tags are little treasure maps to longevity. Organic cotton? Cool water and a gentle cycle will do. Your little black dress made from sustainable materials? It might prefer a dry clean. Clothing care is all about the details. Every fabric has its own needs, and meeting them can make a world of difference.

Storage is your next battlefield. Folding your heavier items, like those classic denim jackets and trench coats, can prevent stretching and save space. For knitwear and delicate pieces, consider using hangers to maintain their shape. And here’s a neat trick: cedar balls. They deter moths, ensuring your natural fibers stay hole-free.

Rotating items according to the season not only frees up space but also keeps your wardrobe in check. You’ll reacquaint yourself with beloved items and reduce the temptation for new buys.

Sustainable Fashion Brands to Try

Kotn – Voted Best In The World™, each order invests in jobs, infrastructure, and education to alleviate poverty. They have a wide range of basics and layering pieces.

Tentree – Every item purchased plants trees. They have a great selection of women’s, men’s, and kids wear.

Warp + Weft – A size inclusive sustainable brand focused on creating denim from an eco-friendly mill. They create staple jeans for every shape.

LA Relaxed – A wide selection of basics and comfortable natural fibers.

Beyond Retro – A thrift style store with one of a kind vintage pieces and various locations, including online shopping.

Able – Dedicated to creating better opportunities for women. Lots of staple pieces for every season!

A Sustainable Lifestyle Beyond the Wardrobe

You’ve mastered the art of curating a sustainable capsule wardrobe, and it’s a beautiful thing. But why stop there? Imagine spreading those minimalist and eco-friendly vibes throughout your entire life.

For starters, think about your home. It’s a great idea to declutter, donating items you no longer use or need. Suddenly, your space feels more peaceful, more you.

Now, let’s talk about the kitchen. Have you considered swapping plastic for glass or investing in reusable shopping bags? It’s a small change that significantly reduces your carbon footprint.

But it doesn’t end there. Your beauty routine can get a sustainable makeover, too. Opt for products with eco-friendly packaging or ones that come from ethical brands dedicated to natural ingredients.

You see, embracing a more sustainable lifestyle doesn’t just help our planet; it can save you a lot of time, simplify your decisions, and, in many cases, save you money. Dive into this journey, and who knows? You might find new ways to enjoy a lifestyle that’s not only good for you but also for our beautiful Earth.

A Journey Towards Conscious Fashion

We’ve journeyed through the rich landscape of constructing a sustainable capsule wardrobe. It’s been a path of discovery, where the treasures of sustainable fashion have unfolded before us. Each step revealed a new layer of understanding, from grasping the essence of sustainable materials to unraveling the timeless allure of classic pieces.

Embarking on this adventure may have seemed daunting at first. Yet, the horizon now glimmers with the promise of less clothing, but more joy and personal style satisfaction. We learned that a minimalist capsule wardrobe does not confine our fashion expression but liberates it. Through fewer items, we’ve embraced the art of combining versatile pieces of clothing in different ways; celebrating our unique styles while treading lightly on the Earth.

The choice to pivot towards a more sustainable wardrobe is like setting sail towards a brighter, cleaner future. It’s not merely about the color palette of your clothes or the brands you choose. It’s a declaration that the fashion trends of yesterday no longer dictate our choices. We are now curators of our collections, advocates for slow fashion, and pioneers for an ethical brands revolution.

So, take that first step. Transform your closet with essential items that speak to who you are, all while making a profound impact on our planet. Remember, it’s a journey of small steps that make a big difference.

By Dana Fox

Founder of the Wonder Forest blog and brand and bestselling author of the Watercolor With Me book series.

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