How to Build a Capsule Wardobe For Life - Good On You
25 Mar

Capsule Wardrobes: How to Build a Sustainable Closet for Life

Have you ever pulled open the doors of your wardrobe, only to find yourself muttering (or groaning loudly) that you have nothing to wear? Me too. At this point it can be tempting to rush out and buy something new, fun, and affordable. But if it’s this kind of quick-fix buying that leads to the ‘nothing to wear’ dilemma in the first place, then we’re just running in circles. Cue the ‘capsule wardrobe.’

What is a capsule wardrobe?

The term was coined by British fashion icon Susie Faux in the 1970s. It refers to a collection of 30-40 practical and versatile pieces of clothing put together to create an entire wardrobe for a season. While the concept isn’t new, in the age of fast fashion it represents a shift in thinking about how we wear clothes which could inspire important change in our consumption habits.

Why we love it, and why you’ll love it too

In our busy lives, many of us reach the point of decision fatigue early on in our day. By narrowing your wardrobe down to thoughtfully selected essentials you’re saving yourself multiple decisions every day. Alongside the everyday stresses, the fashion industry is one of the biggest polluters in the world, so changing your clothing habits is not just a lifestyle fix, but a planet fix too. Thinking mindfully about how our fashion purchases might improve our daily lives fosters an emphasis on quality over quantity, reducing waste and saving us money in the long run.

Where to begin?

Building a capsule wardrobe is about choosing a logical selection of clothing that you not only love to wear, but that is practical and versatile. To begin the process you may need to pull everything out of your closet and take stock. Some questions you can ask yourself about each item are:

  • Have I worn it in the last year?
  • Does it fit my day-to-day lifestyle?
  • Does it go with my other clothing?
  • Do I LOVE it?

These will help you make decisions about what should stay and what can go. The content of your capsule wardrobe will vary depending on the season and your individual style. But importantly, you want to have a balance of tops, bottoms, layers, and accessories. Neutral colours that pair well are also key.

There are numerous fashionistas and bloggers who swear by the capsule wardrobe or similar minimalist wardrobe systems. Here are some who inspire us:

Daria Andronescu with Wonder Wardrobe

For the last two years, capsule wardrobe queen Daria Andronescu has been taking newbie ethical fashionistas by the digital hand and helping them on their way to sustainable style. Her Wonder Wardrobe YouTube channel boasts more than 40k subscribers, who are treated with regular tips, news and fashion finds.

Project 333

Courtney Carver’s diagnosis with Multiple Sclerosis moved her to “create a life with time and space for what really matters.” After feeling the benefits of minimalist living, she started the popular movement Project 333, which encourages people to create a wardrobe of thirty-three items every three months.

Verena Erin with My Green Closet

Verena is a dedicated minimalist, environmentalist and capsule-ist. We love her YouTube channel because it’s instructive and gives great visual inspo, showing us how many gorgeous outfits can be created with just 30-ish items of clothing.

Here is her Capsule Wardrobe Essentials video:

Let’s do it!

If your wardrobe is full of bright colours and patterns or statement pieces that just won’t work with many other pieces, you may need to stock up on some more versatile items. Here are some of our favourites rated ‘Great’ or ‘Good’ on the Good On You app that will act as perfect staples for the beginner’s capsule wardrobe.

Whimsy + Row

Rated: Good
recycled rayon jumpsuit from ethical fashion brand whimsy and row

Isabella Jumpsuit – Ships internationally

This LA-based brand makes ethical fashion that looks great—a rare find indeed.  By limiting each garment to short runs, Whimsy + Row utilises deadstock fabric, reduces packaging waste, and takes care of precious water resources. Find most products in XS-XL.

See the rating.

Shop Whimsy + Row.

Armedangels

Rated: Great

UNELMAA Blouse – Ships internationally

Affordable, ethical, and on-trend. Germany’s Armedangels gets a ‘Great’ rating overall from us. The brand covers all the basics for women, men, and kids. Armedangels' quality and long-lasting pieces are made from eco-friendly and certified materials, like Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified cotton. The brand also adopted the Fair Wear Foundation Code of Conduct to protect its workers abroad. Its products are available in sizes XS-XL.

See the rating.

Shop Armedangels.

Shop Armedangels @ thegreenlabels.

Dorsu

Rated: Great
woman wearing navy crop top by sustainable brand Dorsu

Cropped Tank – Ships internationally

Everyday basics and key signature favourites that form the core of any conscious wardrobe.

See the rating.

Shop Dorsu.

People Tree

Rated: Great
woman wearing black people tree trousers

Sasha Trousers – Ships internationally

A day at the office, a night out, or a relaxed lunch… There’s almost nothing you couldn’t tackle in these finely cut black pants. On top of this, People Tree are world leaders and innovators in the ethical fashion movement.

See the rating.

Shop People Tree @ thegreenlabels.

Shop People Tree.

Mother of Pearl

Rated: Good
organic cream skirt by mother of pearl

Lisa Skirt – Ships internationally

Mother of Pearl is a sustainable and ethical luxury womenswear and accessories designer brand that celebrates individuality and authenticity. The brand uses a high proportion of eco-friendly materials including organic cotton and ensure the payment of a living wage across some of its supply chain.

See the rating.

Shop Mother of Pearl @ Rêve en Vert.

Shop Mother of Pearl.

Outland Denim

Rated: Great

Ava Oversized Denim Jacket – Ships internationally

Outland Denim makes premium denim jeans and offers ethical employment opportunities for women rescued from human trafficking in Cambodia. Find most of the brand's range in US sizes 22-34.

See the rating.

Shop Outland Denim.

Swedish Stockings

Rated: Great

Doris Dot Tights – Ships internationally

Swedish Stockings creates the best quality eco-friendly black and patterned stockings, knee highs, tights, socks, and pantyhose. The brand also offers a recycling program to help clean up the hosiery industry—if you send in three or more pairs of synthetic pantyhose from any brand, you will receive a 10% discount code to use next time you purchase Swedish Stockings! Find the perfect pair in sizes XS-XL.

See the rating.

Shop Swedish Stockings.

Shop Swedish Stockings @ Luisa via Roma.

Shop Swedish Stockings @ Rêve en Vert.

CARPASUS

Rated: Good

Classic Dark Blue Shirt – Ships internationally

CARPASUS is a Swiss menswear brand that makes fine shirts, ties, socks and pocket squares. CARPASUS uses GOTS-Certified cotton and manufactures locally to reduce its carbon footprint. It also traces its supply chain and ensures workers are paid a living wage.

See the rating.

Shop CARPASUS.

Beaumont Organic

Rated: Good
woman in field wearing black organic dress by beaumont organic

Jaina Organic Dress – Ships internationally

Beaumont Organic is a UK-based slow fashion brand that blends simple style with ethical production practices. Founded by Hannah Beaumont-Laurencia, the brand also has its own charitable foundation which supports people in Fiji. Find the range in sizes XS-L.

See the rating.

Shop Beaumont Organic @ Rêve en Vert.

Shop Beaumont Organic.

BEEN London

Rated: Great

Columbia Crossbody – Ships internationally

BEEN London is a London-based brand turning waste into timeless accessories you’d want to use every day. All their products are made of materials that have been something else in a previous life, including recycled leather offcuts and plastic bottles.

See the rating.

Shop BEEN London.

tonlé

Rated: Good

Long Kaftan – Ships internationally

tonlé provides environmentally-friendly women's clothing with a zero-waste design process. To do so, the brand uses remnant fabrics from large manufacturers as well as recycled threads and reclaimed wood from local suppliers for its trim and accessories. Its range is inclusively sized from XS-3XL.

See the rating.

Shop tonlé.

While going full capsule may not be everyone’s cup of tea, taking even a few steps towards adopting a more minimalist wardrobe will help foster a mindful approach to fashion. A slow fashion mindset is not only beneficial for our stress levels and for our bank accounts, it’s something that can help change the world.

 

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Editor's note

Feature image via Unsplash, all other images via brands and people mentioned. Good On You publishes the world’s most comprehensive ratings of fashion brands’ impact on people, the planet and animals. Use our Directory to search more than 2,500 brands. We may earn a commission on sales made using our offer codes or affiliate links.

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