Capsule wardrobes are growing evermore popular and it’s easy to see why. They’re a great way to live more minimally, make shopping sustainably more feasible, and make getting dressed in the morning less of a struggle. Don’t get me wrong; a capsule wardrobe is not for everyone. If you’re in the public eye a lot, work in fashion, or go to lots of events, you might find a capsule too restrictive. But if you’re none of the above, there’s a good chance it will work for you.
A capsule wardrobe is a small but carefully curated selection of garments that all go with each other and all make you look and feel fabulous. The idea is that you own fewer pieces of higher quality, all of a similar color palette and change it up each season or as often as is required based on the climate you live in.
Maintaining a capsule wardrobe can be an incredibly sustainable way of consuming fashion. Firstly, the limited number of items in your closet means that you’re forced to think about quality over quantity. As you have a limit each season (say somewhere between 30-50 items), you will only want to welcome in the best. Not any old riff-raff will do. This quickly scoots you out of the fast fashion bubble.
Secondly, as you will be buying fewer items, you can think more about investment pieces. One incredibly well-made LBD that will last you years is worth spending a little more on than five cheap dresses that look like rags after one wash. Shop more sustainably by supporting ethical brands that use natural, organic fibers and manufacture their items with high working standards. A great resource for sustainable brands can be found here. You can also install the DoneGood app or browser extension to steer you in a sustainable direction.
The third perk that I’ve noticed from my capsule wardrobe has been the level of ease with which I can now dress myself in the morning. I no longer look in my closet and feel terrible about what I thought was a lack of style (turns out it was such a bunch of useless clothes masking the right ones). Now, I open the doors and know that everything inside fits me well, feels good and will go with everything else.
So, if you’re warming to the idea but still tentatively side-stepping any real solid commitment, keep on reading for 10 tips that might just help.
Have a closet clear-out. When you’ve got a minute, remove all clothing from every closet and drawer and put it in one big pile. From here, sort into 3 piles: keep (those items you love and wear all the time), maybe (haven’t worn but want to), and donate (things that don’t fit, aren’t comfortable or look terrible on you). It’s imperative that you’re strict with yourself. Grab a friend who’s of the drill sergeant variety if possible to be honest when you look terrible in something. No nicey-niceys. There’s a time and a place for those friends and this definitely isn’t one of them. Once you’ve made your piles, hang up your “keeps.”
Seek inspiration. Think about what imagery makes your heart flutter, style icons you admire, and the kinds of things you like. Get visual for this, so use Instagram, Pinterest, magazines, your favorite movies and TV shows, people-watching, and blogs to collect your data. Store it on a board (either digital or hard copy) and study it. This is you. This is what you love. There’s no scientific explanation for why you like those looks; just own it.
Learn your color palette. Get to know your skin tone (warm, cool or neutral) and what color palette suits you when you take into account your skin, eyes, and hair. Get it wrong and you’ll look tired and sick. Get it right and you’ll look healthy and happy. Try draping different colors around your shoulders and chest in clear daylight. Which look natural and great? Which look out of place? There’s a common misconception that a capsule wardrobe is all black, grey, and white. If those colors look terrible on you, opt for navy, tan, or olive instead. So long as all garments work with each other, it doesn’t matter what color they are. They’re unique to you and your complexion.
Assess your lifestyle. This is where you have to do a clever marrying of your style inspiration with your real lifestyle. It’s so hard if you adore cozy Autumn-chic layers rocked by the ladies of NYC when you live in balmy LA where – let’s be real – you never touch knitted hats and gloves. The same applies to those of us living in rainier climates who long to wear denim shorts and sandals all year *pines.* This will be the most beneficial change you make: committing to shopping for your real life, not the one you wish you were living in your head.
Think about the numbers. Being stringent on the exact number of pieces in your capsule wardrobe isn’t that important IMO. Rather, it’s about ensuring that you have enough for what you need. Services like Cladwell are a great way to keep track of your pieces and will help when it comes to shopping for exactly what you need.
Strategic shopping. Once you’ve assessed what you’ve got in your “keep” pile and thought about what other items you need to add to it, start your shopping in your “maybe” pile. You might have an item in there that you want to incorporate. This will save $$$ rather than going out and buying a new item unnecessarily.
Shop sustainably. Americans produced 15 million tons of textile waste in 2013. That’s roughly 5 million elephant’s worth in weight. Buy well-made garments that are built to last and you can help fight the waste. Also, consider natural fibers to stop microplastic pollution.
Fold vertically. This is aesthetic-pleaser and organizational-savior. For folded items in your drawers, fold and store vertically rather than in stacks (see: Marie Kondo technique) and never lose a tank top again.
Learn how to wash. Washing machines can wreak havoc on your nice clothes if you don’t use the right settings. Wash similar colors and similar fabrics together (i.e. not tough denim with lots of buttons with a delicate cami), and as cold as possible. Oh, and take notice of things like “hand wash” and “lie flat to try” – they’ll make all the difference. Use gentle detergents and remember the golden rule: dry whites in the sun and colors in the shade. This keeps your whites white and prevents your colors from fading.
Befriend a shoe-repair guy. Buy a well-made pair of boots and you’ll be amazed how they last. When the bottoms wear through, simply get them re-heeled to extend their life.
Are you rocking a capsule wardrobe? What are your tips?
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Photo: Eye for Ebony via Unsplash