Streamlining your closet with a capsule wardrobe can help reduce your impact on the environment, reduce the time it takes to get ready in the morning and remove stress from your daily routines.
If you're wondering what a capsule wardrobe is, or if you're looking for tips on how to create a capsule wardrobe, we've put together a plan you can follow in this guide.
Ready to get started with building your capsule wardrobe? Let's jump straight in.
What is a capsule wardrobe?
A capsule wardrobe is a streamlined collection of clothes that you can wear interchangeably to create many different looks.
The concept was invented in the 1970s by wardrobe consultant Susie Faux and grew in popularity in 1985 when Donna Karan released a collection of "Seven Easy Pieces." The idea behind the collection was to prove that you can build a great foundation for your wardrobe with a few timeless pieces and not compromise on style.
In a capsule wardrobe, you will have fewer clothes, but when built correctly, you won't be missing any essentials from your closet and can mix and match your items to fit any occasion.
Benefits of a capsule wardrobe
- Money-saving: You wear each item more and reduce their cost per wear.
- Eco-friendly: buying less clothing means lower carbon emissions + less waste to landfills = a lower carbon footprint.
- Time-saving: You'll never need to rummage through piles of clothes and not know what to wear again.
- Less stressful: take the stress out of outfit planning with a streamlined wardrobe where everything matches your style.
How to create a capsule wardrobe
Planning is power
Planning your capsule wardrobe is one of the most important steps in creating your collection. You must choose pieces that resonate with your style and color palette.
We've made some suggestions on essential items in a capsule wardrobe below to help you plan your collection, so you don't buy more clothes than you need.
Look for timeless items.
Try to avoid t-shirts and sweaters with oversized logos on the front. These can limit your style and make you feel like you've fewer choices.
When choosing a t-shirt, opt for plain t-shirts, neutral, classic colors like black, grey, beige, or white. That way, they will pair effortlessly with other items in your collection and can be easily reworn.
Buy high-quality items that will last
Another important factor in successfully creating a capsule collection is choosing high-quality products that won't fall apart after a couple of wears.
Choose brands creating sustainable and ethical clothing from materials including organic cotton, recycled cotton, and other robust, sustainable fibers. When looking for sustainable items, check that they are certified by standards such as the GRS or GOTS.
You may pay more initially, but the cost per wear will make your purchase worth it.
Cost study - For example, we chose the New Standard classic white t-shirt for our capsule. Say, we expect to wear one t-shirt around 3x per week. This equals 152 times during the year. So, If we breakdown the cost per wear:
1 x New Standard T-shirt: €38,00
Cost per 50 wears: €0.76
Cost per wear over a year: €0.25
That equates to only 25 cents per wear if we wear the t-shirt 152 times yearly!
If something breaks, fix it
Don't throw away your items if a button falls off a jacket or a zipper bursts on your jeans. Instead, fix them!
Make sure you have a handy sewing kit on hand to sew on buttons or fix any tears. You'll notice this will also save you money long term. Most local tailors won't charge much for small alterations or fixes if you don't have a sewing kit.
What items should I have in a capsule wardrobe?
Below is a guide for essential items to have in your capsule collection. Easily interchange them to build different looks.
An essential part of any capsule wardrobe, perfect to pair with jeans for a casual look or under a blazer for a more sophisticated formal look.
Choose 3 or 4 good quality, sustainable t-shirts made from responsible materials such as recycled cotton. Recycled cotton uses 99% less water, 50% less CO2, and 50% less energy than virgin materials.
We recommend the New Standard classic t-shirt 4-pack in black and white.
Choose two versatile sweaters, one slightly chunky sweater for winter days and one thinner sweater for Spring and Autumn weather.
A tailored blazer for daytime to nighttime looks. Pair over jeans with a white t-shirt and sneakers for a relaxed look, or pair formal shoes for a sophisticated look.
Jeans & Trousers
A good quality pair of sustainable denim jeans and a pair of your favorite trousers.
Pair shorts with a classic t-shirt and style with a pair of your favorite sunglasses during the summer for a breezy summer look.
A versatile skirt that you can dress up or down.
1 to 3 dresses that double as both casual and smart wear.
A good pair of sustainable sneakers are vital for a capsule wardrobe. Choose a pair which are supportive and comfortable for walking. In addition, choose a pair which you can easily dress up or down for casual and formal wear.
Coat / Jacket
A good quality winter coat to keep you warm all winter. Choose a versatile coat such as a padded rain jacket, which will keep you warm during the winter months and dry during wet conditions.
Is a capsule wardrobe sustainable?
Overall, a capsule wardrobe is more sustainable than supporting and regularly buying from fast fashion brands. Buying fewer but better-quality items means you need to buy fewer clothes long-term and prevents clothes from being worn a handful of times before being discarded in landfills.
How we consume fashion has increased dramatically over the past 20 years - with fashion brands producing twice as much clothing as they were in 2000, and this figure is set to keep rising.
It's estimated that global apparel consumption will increase from 62 million tonnes of apparel per year to over 102 million tonnes by 2030.
In addition, textiles (only second behind aluminum) are associated with the highest greenhouse gas emissions per tonne of production.
So, when we link the high GHG emissions with the increased consumption of clothing, it's clear how overconsumption of clothing can have detrimental environmental effects!
Creating a capsule wardrobe is easier than you'd think. Plus, it has benefits such as saving you time and money in the long run and helps reduce your carbon footprint and the number of clothes you buy every year.
There's no perfect number of items to have in a capsule wardrobe. The trick is always to keep your collection of clothes limited, buy high-quality items that aren't going to fall apart after the first few wears, and focus on only keeping items you love and are willing to wear multiple times.