The fashion industry is one of the most polluting industries in the world.
Greenhouse gasses from textile production are estimated at 1.2 billion tonnes annually – more than all international flights and maritime shipping combined.
More than half of the fashion items are thrown away within a year.
All scary facts that make it even more important for us to take a hard look at how we consume fashion.
We as consumers, have decades of conditioning to unlearn.
Decades of chasing trends, ‘too good to miss out on’ sales, and social media culture of being seen in the latest and greatest.
And yet we feel like we always fall into the problem of “I have nothing to wear”.
Now what if I said, think about the size of your wardrobe now, and cut it down by 50 – 90% ?
Why A Capsule Wardrobe May be Right for You
A capsule wardrobe is a complete, self-contained wardrobe made up of essential, timeless basics that never go out of style.
Some like to limit it by a certain number of items, or categorise it by seasons.
But one thing you will notice is – there’s not much items in it.
Everything has it’s place, is worn regularly, and leaves its owner feeling content and with very little need for shopping for more.
We use fashion a lot more intentionally with a capsule wardrobe, breaking away from the cycle of endless buying of fashion that is treated carelessly and viewed as disposable.
Every piece in the closet, belongs.
And Less is definitely more.
I love capsule wardrobes – even pictures of them make me happy.
- You’ll save time getting dressed;
- You’ll waste less mental energy trying to put looks together; and
- You’ll do justice to the environment cost of your clothing
And best of all:
- You’ll always look good, because every outfit is your favourite outfit.
A capsule wardrobe is one way to help us unlearn, to be more intentional, and it gives us a goal to work towards.
A goal of less instead of more.
I’m sharing 4 different ways for you to begin building your very own capsule wardrobe.
Test them out for yourself, find the one that fits you best.
A few notes BEFORE YOU BEGIN..
Use What You Have
A capsule wardrobe is not achieved through more buying. Take a look at the clothes that you do have, most of your ideal capsule wardrobe may already be in there, they’re just hidden underneath the excess.
It isn’t about a dream jacket that would be perfect for a capsule. Or a shirt you must get to complete it.
Take your time to go through your own experiments through these methods, review and assess for yourself because the individual components are going to look different for each person.
Your ideal capsule wardrobe that fits your lifestyle might look nothing like the next person’s or a Pinterest inspiration board.
Choose Second-Hand or Source for Sustainability-Focused Wear
And if you do decide to add an item to your wardrobe – source them second hand or choose sustainable sources like TENCEL™ branded fibers.
I’ve become a fan of clothing made of TENCEL™ branded fibers after discovering it a couple of years ago, particularly because of its dedication to sustainability – they are plant-based made of wood cellulose, produced sustainably and are 100% biodegradable.
But what really makes them part of the capsule closet essentials is the amazing long-lasting quality these fibers give to the clothes.
Speaking from personal experience, I own a few pieces made from TENCEL™ which have remained firm as my wardrobe staples for the last couple of years. They feel gentle and comfortable on my skin because of the breathable and soft materials and they don’t have that sticky feeling even when I sweat.
So if you do go new, I’d suggest choosing pieces made of TENCEL™ fibers that are also classic and timeless in design, to fully maximise its utility in a capsule wardrobe.
Click here to find out which brands use TENCEL™ branded fibers in their collections.
Boundaries are a good thing
Limiting yourself to an experiment, or a certain number of items can be a great thing. Boundaries push us to be more creative within the space that we have. Limitations can be motivations.
If we had unlimited closet space and money, we may never have a strong personal reason to stop buying carelessly and impulsively – but dealing with a mountain of clothing can also take a mental strain on you apart from the destructive environmental cost.
Don’t Repeat Past Mistakes
After going through my own experiments with fashion, decluttering, zero waste living and minimalism, I’ve noticed that:
- People tended to buy the same things repeatedly.
Most fast fashion brands don’t actually need to innovate new designs – when I worked in e-commerce as a model, I would see the same designs repeated for years because people just kept buying the same stuff.
- People often didn’t consciously understand their body types and the styles that would suit them best
The point of all these exercises is to understand what styles work for you and what doesn’t by reviewing:
- which pieces did you use most often
- what sort of styles you felt best in
- which pieces did you barely use and/or are happy to get rid off
- the number of items for each type of style of clothing
Going forward when you do buy something, this will help you avoid falling into the same purchasing mistakes i.e. repeated purchases, impulse purchases or aspirationally skewed purchases.
You will be more immune to flashy sales and how clothes look on pretty models in a look book – because you will have the benefit of experience and confidence in your own style on your side.
Alright, let’s get to it! Here are FOUR different ways for you to work towards a capsule wardrobe:
1. Project 333 by Courtney Carver
Project 333 by Courtney Carver is a great short term challenge you can try that really helps ease you into living with a capsule wardrobe.
In A Nutshell
Pick 33 essential items in your wardrobe.
For the next 3 months, challenge yourself to ONLY wear from those 33 items.
The 33 items include your clothing, shoes, bags, and accessories, but does not include underwear, socks, sleepwear, at home clothes, and workout clothes that aren’t just for athleisure ( you have to actually work out to wear them without being counted towards the number)
Limiting yourself to a certain number of items for a period of time allows you to experience the benefits of a capsule wardrobe for yourself before moving on to more drastic measures like decluttering.
It’s great for giving you a sense of what you actually need, and what you can do without.
2. French/ Parisian-inspired Minimalist Capsule Wardobe
My eyes went wide when my #zerowaste muse, Claire, who is not only French but also very stylish, shared this anecdote –
Nearly all Parisian women have capsule wardrobes.
Paris real estate is one of the most expensive in the world. Most people in the city live in much smaller apartments with very limited wardrobe space. So French women’s taste in fashion evolved to fit their circumstances .
Yet the French are envied around the world for their chic style.
They aren’t trend consumers. They invest in high quality pieces that withstand fashion’s fickle ways.
In A Nutshell
To achieve your own French-inspired capsule wardrobe, slow down and take your time.
Invest in high quality basics and keep to a small number of items.
Only invest in one or two new pieces per year – choose them carefully and thoughtfully.
There are tons of inspirational capsule wardrobe images online to give you a sense of what you may like in your capsule.
3. The KonMari Method by Marie Kondo
Marie Kondo’s hit Netflix series ‘Tidying Up With Marie Kondo’ brought a global mania of decluttering in early 2019.
Marie Kondo shows us the “How-To” in a brilliant and entirely achievable way to an organised life. Her signature KonMari method is a system designed to organize your home by getting rid of physical items that do not bring joy into your life.
Her methods encourage a deep appreciation and respect for the items we bring into our lives (though it may not be as prominently featured in the series).
But if we don’t reassess the habits that led us to a life of clutter, the clutter creeps back again. As beautiful as the before/after shots are, it is uncertain if they looked that way for long.
For the “Why To” in journeying towards a meaningful life and how to keep the unnecessary clutter out of all aspects of it , I would highly recommend you to check out some of my favourite minimalists – The Minimalists, Joshua Becker, Courtney Carver, and many others.
In A Nutshell
In one fell swoop, empty out all your cupboards and storage spaces of clothing by category.
Go through each and every piece.
Decide if you want to keep it by asking yourself “Does this item bring me joy?”
If yes, you fold it and organise it in Kondo’s method. If not – thank the item and donate it / get rid of it.
Check out my guide to eco-friendly decluttering here
4. The Minimalists Packing Party
I love the Minimalists and highly recommend checking them out to start your own journey towards a more intentional life with less.
The Minimalists designed the Packing Party for people journeying towards minimalism in all areas of life.
And the Packing Party is also a great personal experiment to figure out your way to a capsule wardrobe.
In A Nutshell
Pack your entire wardrobe away into boxes, and label them clearly into categories.
For the next month, retrieve only what you need from the box when you need to use them.
At the end of the month, whatever is remaining in the boxes unused, you may not actually need.
Then you can decide if it really does add value to your life – and if you want to part ways.
The Capsule Wardrobe – Better For Us And The Environment
The journey to mindful relationship with fashion begins here.
We use fashion a lot more intentionally with a capsule wardrobe. More importantly, we step away from the cycle of endless buying of disposable fast fashion and the feeling of “not having enough”.
A capsule wardrobe will not only equip you to dress confidently without the stress, it will help us be better stewards of the environment as we use fashion more mindfully and break the vicious cycle of overproduction and overconsumption.
So go forth, enjoy your wardrobe in new ways, and let me know how it goes for you!
This post is in collaboration with TENCEL™ Global.