How to Build a Capsule Wardobe For Life - Good On You
09 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.

And the benefits are actually proven. A recent study on capsule wardrobes by the
International Journal of Market Research had promising results, showing “a positive impact of a 3-week capsule wardrobe on our participants who felt less stressed, detached from fashion trends, have found joy in their fashion style, and enhanced their awareness of conscious consumption.” How cool is that?

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 few 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 75k 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. Check out 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 ‘Good’ or ‘Great’ that will act as perfect staples for the beginner’s capsule wardrobe.

Armedangels

Rated: Great
woman wearing white sustainable ECOVERO blouse by Armedangels for capsule wardrobe

CEYLAAN Blouse – Ships internationally from Germany

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 classic black tee by Dorsu for capsule wardrobe

Classic T-Shirt – Ships internationally from Cambodia

Based in Cambodia, Dorsu creates everyday basics and key signature favourites that form the core of any conscious wardrobe. You can find the full range in XS to XL.

See the rating.

Shop Dorsu.

CARPASUS

Rated: Good
black man wearing natural linen shirt by CARPASUS brand for capsule wardrobe

Linen Shirt Lisbon Nature – Ships internationally from Switzerland

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. Find most products in EU sizes 36 to 46.

See the rating.

Shop CARPASUS.

Whimsy + Row

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

Isabella Jumpsuit – Ships internationally from the US

Offers

women wearing sustainable loungewear by Whimsy + Row

Whimsy + Row – Loungewear

Roll out of bed, slip on sustainable loungewear, and get ready to take on the world—or the couch! Buy 3 or more styles and get 20% off loungewear with code BUNDLE20. (Ends: 28 MAY)

Checkout code: BUNDLE20
Shop now

Whimsy + Row is an eco-conscious lifestyle brand born out of a love for quality goods and sustainable practices. Since 2014, its mission has been to provide ease and elegance for the modern, sustainable woman. 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.

tonlé

Rated: Good
plus size woman of colour wearing navy blue flowy eco-friendly dress by tonle for capsule wardrobe

Sofia Dress – Ships internationally from the US

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.

Beaumont Organic

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

Jaina Organic Dress – Ships internationally from the UK

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.

People Tree

Rated: Great
black sustainable pants by People Tree

Sasha Trousers – Ships internationally from the UK

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 is a world leader and innovator in the ethical fashion movement. Find most products in UK sizes 8 to 16.

See the rating.

Shop People Tree @ thegreenlabels.

Shop People Tree.

Mila.Vert

Rated: Great
woman wearing white sateen culottes by Mila.Vert for capsule wardrobe

Sateen Culottes – Ships internationally from Slovenia

Mila.Vert offers timeless, minimal, and chic clothing, adding sophisticated details that give the garments a modern feel. The Slovenia-based brand wants to make desirable clothing, avoiding the ethical and environmental issues that the fashion industry represents. Find the garments in sizes XS-XL, or make a custom fit order free of charge!

See the rating.

Shop Mila.Vert.

nu-in

Rated: Good
woman wearing ethical mom jeans by nu-in brand for capsule wardrobe

High Rise Tapered Mom Jeans – Ships internationally from Sweden

Offers

plus size woman wearing light brown eco-friendly cardigan by nu-in

nu-in – Plus Size

Ethical brand nu-in proves that affordable fashion, inclusive sizing, and sustainability can coexist. 15% off first order of plus size clothing with code GOODONYOU15. (Ends: 25 MAY)

Checkout code: GOODONYOU15
Shop now
woman and man wearing beige crewneck sweater made ethically by nu-in

nu-in – Unisex Clothing

The gender binary is so last century. Discover nu-in's range of sustainable, gender-inclusive, unisex clothing for everybody. 15% off first order of unisex clothing with code GOODONYOU15. (Ends: 25 MAY)

Checkout code: GOODONYOU15
Shop now
black woman wearing beige sustainable activewear by nu-in

nu-in – Activewear

Sustainable activewear made from eco-friendly materials and reused offcuts to minimise textile waste. 15% off first order of activewear with code GOODONYOU15. (Ends: 25 MAY)

Checkout code: GOODONYOU15
Shop now
older woman wearing black flared pants by ethical brand nu-in

nu-in – Wide Leg Pants

Have you ever seen comfier looking bottoms?! nu-in's flattering wide leg pants suit anybody. 15% off first order of wide leg pants with code GOODONYOU15.   (Ends: 26 MAY)

Checkout code: GOODONYOU15
Shop now
woman wearing light blue fitted knitted dress with puff sleeves by nu-in

nu-in – Dresses

Trendy, flattering, and sustainable dresses that are both fashion forward and affordable. 15% off first order of dresses with code GOODONYOU15. (Ends: 26 MAY)

Checkout code: GOODONYOU15
Shop now

nu-in is a European brand that features activewear, loungewear, and underwear collections, as well as trend-led men's and women's ranges. It prioritises the planet by using a high proportion of eco-friendly materials, and reuses offcuts to minimise textile waste. The brand is inclusively sized, and features an extended sizing range up to 6XL!

See the rating.

Shop nu-in.

Mother of Pearl

Rated: Good
women wearing white ankle length sustainable skirt for capsule wardrobe by Mother of Pearl

Lisa Skirt – Ships internationally from the UK

Mother of Pearl is a sustainable and ethical luxury womenswear and accessories designer brand from the UK that celebrates individuality and authenticity. The brand uses a high proportion of eco-friendly materials including organic cotton and ensures the payment of a living wage across some of its supply chain. Find most products in UK sizes 6 to 16.

See the rating.

Shop Mother of Pearl.

Shop Mother of Pearl @ Rêve en Vert.

Shop Mother of Pearl Pre-Owned @ Vestiaire Collective.

A.BCH

Rated: Great
curvy WOC wearing sustainable black linen skirt by A.BCH

A.31 Long Linen Skirt – Ships internationally from Australia

A.BCH is a Melbourne-based, Australian-made fashion label for individuals who care about garment provenance. It utilises renewable, organic, and recycled materials. Find the range in sizes XS-XL, or customise to fit you!

See the rating.

Shop A.BCH.

Swedish Stockings

Rated: Great
sustainable dotted tights by Swedish Stockings for capsule wardrobe

Doris Dot Tights – Ships internationally from Sweden

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 @ thegreenlabels.

Shop Swedish Stockings @ Rêve en Vert.

Shop Swedish Stockings @ Urbankissed.

L’ENVERS

Rated: Good
woman wearing beige knitted cardigan by l'envers for capsule wardrobe

Charlotte Wool Cardigan – Ships internationally from Spain

L’ENVERS' mission is to design fewer pieces made in a better way. Specialised in knitwear, this Spanish brand believes in mindful, careful and slow consumption, offering timeless editions guided by conscious, sustainable materials. You can find their knitted collection in sizes XS to XL, or even customise your own piece.

See the rating.

Shop L'ENVERS.

Shop L'ENVERS @ Immaculate Vegan.

Shop L'ENVERS @ thegreenlabels.

Outland Denim

Rated: Great
woman of colour wearing belted denim jacket sustainably made by Outland Denim

Ava Belted Denim Jacket – Ships internationally from Australia

Outland Denim makes premium denim jeans and clothes, and offers ethical employment opportunities for women rescued from human trafficking in Cambodia. This Australian brand was founded as an avenue for the training and employment of women who have experienced sex trafficking. Find most of the brand's range in US sizes 22-34.

See the rating.

Shop Outland Denim.

NAE

Rated: Good
black vegan heel boots by nae brand

Jeanne Block-Heel Ankle Vegan Boots – Ships internationally from Portugal

NAE is a Portuguese footwear, bags, and accessories brand using innovative materials to create goods with “No Animal Exploitation”. Its sustainable materials include recycled PET from bottles, OEKO-TEX® certified microfibres, recycled car tyres, natural cork, recycled thermoplastic, and even pineapple leaf fibre! Find most of the shoes in sizes 36 to 46.

See the rating.

Shop NAE.

Shop NAE @ Staiy.

Womsh @ COMOVITA

Rated: Good
white vegan Womsh sneakers by COMOVITA for capsule wardrobe

The Sneaker – Ships internationally from Spain

Fashion and sustainability can go together and Womsh is the footwear brand that proves it. Their sneakers are entirely designed and manufactured in Italy.

See the rating.

Shop Womsh @ COMOVITA.

BEEN London

Rated: Great
deep blue crossbody eco-friendly handbag by BEEN London

Columbia Crossbody – Ships internationally from the UK

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.

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 3,000 brands. We may earn a commission on sales made using our offer codes or affiliate links.

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