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Someone in the snow raising their hood overhead wearing Bouncer jacket by Houdini.
22 Sep
Someone in the snow raising their hood overhead wearing Bouncer jacket by Houdini.

How to Create a More Sustainable Winter Capsule Wardrobe

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As winter creeps up on us, it’s time to drag all our cold-weather gear out from the back of the closet and air it out a bit before adding it to the rotation. I don’t know about you, but my accumulation of coats, beanies, scarves, and gloves has gotten a little out of hand over the years of moving between climates. What better time to learn how to create a more sustainable winter capsule wardrobe and to share it with all of you?

The benefits of seasonal capsules

We’ve talked about building capsule wardrobes before, so consider that your starting point, then come right back.

Welcome back. Now you know that capsule wardrobes bust decision fatigue, reduce our footprint on the planet, save us money, and overall de-stress our relationship with clothes. Sounds like a win-win to me. While it is possible to make a single year-round capsule wardrobe, it’s impractical for many people—especially those who live in more extreme climates with four distinct seasons. There’s not much use having delicate dresses and strappy tops taking up space on those chilly winter days. So, consider neatly packing away everything you know won’t work for winter, and let’s get stuck in.

Step one: Take stock

First things first: take stock of what you have, and make some decisions. Chances are most items will land in one of four categories: repair, give away, recycle, or keep.

  • Increasing the longevity of what we already own is one of the most sustainable things we can do for our closet, and repairing is a great way to do that. If your favourite scarf has a hole you’ve meant to fix, now’s the time.
  • If you have an old beanie in a colour or style that you loved five years ago but can’t see yourself wearing again, consider swapping with a friend, reselling it, or even responsibly donating it so it can keep someone else warm.
  • If your knitted gloves are literally falling apart, pop them in a bag of beyond-repair clothes to take to a fabric recycling bin or drop off at an animal shelter.
  • The “to keep” pile should be made up of pieces that make you happy, fulfil a specific purpose, and are comfortable for those cold winter days.

Step two: Make a list

Now that you know exactly what you have, it’s time to make a list of every must-have for a winter capsule wardrobe. That way, you can see what boxes are already ticked and what you might need to source elsewhere.

What to include in your winter capsule wardrobe

This list will, of course, require tweaking depending on where you live, your work life, and your style, but this is generally a good place to start for most people.

  • long sleeve shirts
  • sweaters
  • a warm coat
  • comfy jeans
  • long socks
  • knitted accessories (beanie, scarf, gloves)
  • boots
  • cosy PJs/loungewear

Feel free to throw in a long dress or skirt if your climate allows it or any technical gear you might need if you plan on some winter sports.

Step three: Check it twice

List complete, it’s time to compare it against what landed in your “to keep” pile and start to fill the gaps. There might be a few gaps, or there might not.

Wherever you land, a good general rule of thumb is that the most sustainable thing we can do is shop our closet. The second best is hunting down some appropriate pre-loved clothing and finally investing in quality pieces from top rated brands. And, of course, thoughtfully disposing of whatever doesn’t make the cut.

So far, for me, it has gone a little like this. Last season’s black ankle boots were worn to the bone, so I opted for some second hand non-leather ones on Depop and have been wearing them most days since. Sadly, I realised that my two sets of winter PJs (both with a cat print, don’t judge me) were stretched out beyond use, so I upcycled them into peg bags. Simply cut off half the leg, tuck a couple of inches inside and secure with an elastic band, then cut two holes in the top to hang and recycle any leftover scrap fabric. I then got my hands on a long set of Boody bamboo PJs to see me through the season, and they’re probably the comfiest PJs I’ve ever owned.

While it may take a little more thought and time than simply chucking half your clothes in the bin then heading to the nearest chain store to stock up on the latest trends, it’s a rewarding process that benefits you, workers, animals, and the planet in the long run.

Step four: Get your goodies

So, you know exactly what you have and what you need. Time to get your goodies. As I mentioned, after you’ve exhausted the “shop your closet” option and made any repairs, the next best thing is second hand. Why not meet up with a few friends and see if they want to swap their winter coat for yours or take a couple of scarves off your hands? Next, head to your local op shop or jump online to one of the many second hand apps and websites for pre-loved or vintage gear. If, after all that, you still can’t quite find what you’re looking for, it’s time to invest in some quality fashion pieces for your more sustainable winter capsule wardrobe that should last you many winters to come.

A few of my favourite cold-weather staples

These brands are rated “Good” or “Great” on the directory, which means they prioritise people, the planet, and animals when producing their clothes and accessories.

A.BCH

Rated: Great

A.14 Long Sleeve Skivvy – 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. This black skivvy is made from 100% GOTS certified organic cotton and is perfect for layering.

Find the top in sizes 2XS-2XL at the time of writing, or customised to fit you.

See the rating.

Shop A.BCH.

Whimsy + Row

Rated: Good
Someone wearing deadstock quilted jacket by Whimsy + Row.

Liam Jacket in Hunter – Ships internationally from the US

Whimsy + Row is a US-based lifestyle brand born out of a love for quality goods and responsible practices. Since 2014, the brand’s mission has been to provide ease and elegance for the modern woman. Whimsy + Row utilises deadstock fabric, and by limiting each garment to short runs, the brand also reduces packaging waste and takes care of precious water resources. We’re loving this hunter green quilted jacket for layering in cold weather.

Find the jacket in sizes XS-XL at the time of writing.

See the rating.

Shop Whimsy + Row.

Shop Whimsy + Row @ Earthkind.

Citizen Wolf

Rated: Good

The Long Crew – Ships internationally from Australia

Citizen Wolf uses revolutionary technology to give you high-quality custom fit t-shirts. It’s so confident in its t-shirts that it guarantees they’ll be the best you’ve ever worn. After capturing your customisations, the brand hand-makes each tee in Sydney from certified more responsible fabrics like cotton, hemp, and Merino wool milled in Melbourne. A white long sleeve crew neck is a flattering addition to a winter capsule wardrobe and works under lighter-coloured outerwear for a softer look, or paired with black for contrast.

Find the t-shirt in custom sizing.

See the rating.

Shop Citizen Wolf.

Etiko

Rated: Great

Unisex Grey Crew Neck Organic Fairtrade – Ships internationally from Australia

Etiko is a designer of more responsibly-made, organic, and fair trade clothing and shoes. It has a range of unisex crew neck sweatshirts like this cosy grey one that are “good for the earth and its people”.

Find the hoodie in sizes XS-2XL at the time of writing.

See the rating.

Shop Etiko.

Wuxly Movement

Rated: Good
A green vegan Canadian puffer vest sustainably made by Wuxly.

Annex Vest – Ships internationally from Canada

Wuxly Movement is a Canadian brand that produces outerwear designed to be a unique combination of tech-based and recycled materials for elite performance. Drawing on Canada’s heritage in quality manufacturing, the founder saw an opportunity to innovate using more sustainable materials while peacefully leaving animals out of the equation, like in this snow proof, fleece-lined Annex Vest.

Find it in sizes S-2XL at the time of writing.

See the rating.

Shop Wuxly Movement.

Houdini

Rated: Good
Someone wearing recycled black puffer jacket by Houdini.

W’s Bouncer Jacket – Ships within Europe from Sweden

Need a warm and highly weather resistant women’s puffer jacket for alpine environments and demanding conditions? This puffer jacket is recycled and recyclable, PFAS-free, and made without stealing the feathers off any birds. Houdini is a functional outdoor clothing label for men, women, and kids.

Find the range in sizes 2XS-XL at the time of writing.

See the rating.

Shop Houdini.

Outland Denim

Rated: Great

Lucy Jeans – Ships internationally from Australia

Outland Denim makes premium denim jeans and clothes and offers responsible 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. With a high waist to tuck in your tops and a slim enough cut around the ankles to tuck into your boots, the Lucy Jeans tick all the winter capsule wardrobe boxes.

Find most of the brand’s jeans in US sizes 24-34.

See the rating.

Shop Outland Denim.

Shop Outland Denim @ Good.

Underprotection

Rated: Good
Close up of recycled black polyamid tights, and people posing playfully in tights by Underprotection.

Bibiane Tights – Ships internationally from Denmark

We love these classic tights, made in soft recycled polyamide in 30 denier. Underprotection is a Danish brand combining ethics and aesthetics. The brand only works with certified factories to create underwear, loungewear, and swimwear from more responsible materials like recycled polyester and organic cotton. Underprotection exists to celebrate women of all kinds, and its goal is to make them feel as beautiful and comfortable as possible.

You can find tights in sizes S-L at the time of writing.

See the rating.

Shop Underprotection.

Plant Faced Clothing

Rated: Good

Plant Faced Beanie – Ships internationally from the UK

Streetwear without sweatshops, that’s the motto of this British 100% plant-based and cruelty-free streetwear apparel brand. It’s essential to keep your head warm, and this Plant Faced beanie is up to the challenge.

Find garments in sizes XS-2XL and this beanie in one size at the time of writing.

See the rating.

Shop Plant Faced Clothing.

Mila.Vert

Rated: Great
Someone wearing ribbed knitted scarf by Mila.Vert.

Knitted Scarf – Ships internationally from Slovenia

Offers

Mila.Vert – Sale

Discover capsule wardrobe hero pieces to complement your style, including 100% organic cotton favourites. Get up to 50% off sample sale. (Ends: 5 JUN)

Shop now

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. This elegant yet casual ribbed knitted scarf has clean edges and is made from 100% organic cotton yarn.

Find the garments in sizes XS-XL, or create a custom fit order free of charge.

See the rating.

Shop Mila.Vert.

Burberry (Pre-Owned)

Rated: It's A Start
burbery scarves at Vestiaire Collective.

Pre-Owned Burberry Scarves – Ships internationally

Burberry is a British luxury fashion house known for its timeless beige trench coats. The brand has good policies to monitor suppliers, but it still uses exotic animal products. Shopping Burberry second hand allows us to add items to our wardrobe without using additional resources from the manufacturing process, keeping clothes out of landfills, and to (re)discover Burberry’s unique and special pieces along the way, like the classic scarves.

See the rating.

Shop Burberry Pre-Owned @ Vestiaire Collective.

Krochet Kids

Rated: Good
A playful person smiling wearing gloves by Krochet Kids.

Bennett Gloves – Ships internationally from the US

Krochet Kids produces more ethically made clothing that creates jobs and changes lives. It uses responsible materials and is on a mission to improve social conditions for workers.

The Fair Trade Bennet Gloves are unisex and the thumbs are tech-friendly.

See the rating.

Shop Krochet Kids.

NICO

Rated: Good
A 3-pack of socks and someone posing with legs folded wearing socks by NICO.

Recycled Cotton Long Socks 3-pack – Ships internationally from Australia

Established in 2012 by Lis Harvey, NICO celebrates minimalism and understated luxury. The brand brings high-quality basics and underwear to the Australian fashion landscape, featuring clean lines, luxe fabrics, and the styles and colours needed for everyday wear. NICO’s factories are signatories to The Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Accord and are compliant with BSCI and certified with WRAP. Speaking of wrap, wrap your feet in these cosy recycled cotton socks.

Find the range in sizes XS-2XL, and these socks in one size at the time of writing.

See the rating.

Shop NICO.

Shop NICO @ SlowCo.

Thesus (Alice + Whittles)

Rated: Good

The Limited Edition Allegra Weekend Boot – Ships internationally from Canada

Offers

Someone taking a selfie wearing boots by Thesus.

Thesus – Site-wide

Thesus encourages you to #BeOutside with its range of responsibly made footwear, using materials like recycled plastic and featuring handmade and vegan styles. Get an exclusive extra 15% off with code THESUSGOOD15. (Ends: 20 MAY)

Checkout code: THESUSGOOD15
Shop now

Alice + Whittles favours transparency, more ethical manufacturing practices, and responsible materials as a means of creating long-lasting, positive change. An undeniable winter capsule wardrobe addition is a good pair of boots, and I’m loving the brand’s Weekend Boot available in 14 stylish colourways.

Find the boots in EU sizes 36-46 at the time of writing.

See the rating.

Shop Alice + Whittles.

Sealand

Rated: Great
A black recycled nylon backpack for adventures, made by Sealand.

Recycled Rowlie Backpack – Ships internationally from South Africa

Rooted in Cape Town’s southern peninsula, Sealand is a brand that believes in smart material selection, compelling functionality, and product durability. In line with the brand’s ethos, the Recycled Rowlie Backpack is made from nylon waste that has been through a radical regeneration and purification process. The reworked roll-top design is perfect to hold winter adventure gear and trail accessories.

See the rating.

Shop Sealand.

Boody

Rated: Good

Goodnight Sleep Long Sleeve Set – Ships internationally from Australia

Founded in Australia by two best friends, Boody is a clothing brand with comfort, style, and health at its core. It creates comfortable, thoughtfully-made everyday essentials made from organically grown bamboo. It reduces waste through lower-waste cutting techniques and uses a closed-loop system in its supply chain, supporting the green and ethical movement. These cute and comfy bamboo PJs are as good for the planet as they are for your skin.

Find the set in sizes XS-XL at the time of writing.

See the rating.

Shop Boody.

Editor's note

Feature image via Houdini, all other images via brands mentioned. Good On You publishes the world’s most comprehensive ratings of fashion brands’ impact on people, the planet, and animals. We love to recommend some of the best more sustainable brands, rated “Good” or “Great”. We also encourage shopping pre-owned as another great way to reduce the impact of our fashion choices. Use our directory to search thousands of rated brands.

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