Capsule Wardrobes: How to Build a Sustainable Closet for Life

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Have you ever pulled open the doors of your wardrobe, only to find yourself muttering (or groaning loudly) that you have nothing to wear? Yes, so have I. 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.’ 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 with the intention of being 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, 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 term.

Capsule Wardrobe


Download the Good On You app to help build your ethical wardrobe!


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:

If only every uniform looked this good!Matilda Kahl’s work uniform

New York Art Director Matilda Kahl made waves in 2015 when she wrote for Harper’s Bazaar about why she had worn the same outfit every day for three years and how it had improved her life. Harking back to the days of the school uniform might send shivers down some spines, but we dig the simple elegance of the Kahl’s ‘work uniform.’

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.

Ecomono

Australian fashion blogger Sam Leigh documents her journey from “fast fashion hoarder to slow fashion minimalist” on Ecomono. You can shop ethical brands and pick up tips on how to build a minimalist wardrobe based on Australian seasons.

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 Spring/Summer transition video:

Let’s do it!

If your wardrobe is full of bright colors 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 favorite pieces rated ‘Great’ or ‘Good’ on the Good On You app that will act as perfect staples for the beginner’s capsule wardrobe.

A silk shirt – The Fable GoY-Ratings_4

The FableMarine Life Shirt | International shipping

This Australian brand has reached cult status for the quality and affordability of its shirts. The Fable’s silk is 100% biodegradable and hand-dyed using environmentally friendly vegetable dyes.

A simple dress – Bon Label GoY-Ratings_5

Bon Label_Tank_Dress-vb-CU-02Tank Dress| International shipping

Bon Label was born from a quest for the perfect white tee. All its products are made from 100% GOTS certified organic cotton, and their dresses come in a range of elegant cuts and neutral tones making them perfect on their own or as versatile pieces for layering.

Cropped pants – People Tree GoY-Ratings_5

People Tree_tasha-trousers-in-black-fb25c131bcb0Tasha Trousers | International shipping

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.

Shorts – Nobody Denim GoY-Ratings_4

Nobody Denim_boho_short_reminisce_styled_Boho Short| International shipping

Denim is a timeless fabric, meaning a pair of denim shorts will last you through multiple capsule wardrobes, including in-between seasons. We chose Nobody Denim because they are committed to providing fair and ethical conditions for their Australian workers.

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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.


Discover more sustainable fashion ratings in the app!

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Feature image via Geneva Vanderzeil. Images via the brands, Unsplash and @lilltrill

Camille Soulos-Ramsay

Author Camille Soulos-Ramsay

Camille is an avid reader, writer, thinker and good-timer. She is dedicated to shrinking her fashion (and life's) footprint, and writes for Good On You about how you can join her.

More posts by Camille Soulos-Ramsay

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