Sustainable capsule wardrobe: How to get started
March joins us with some of the biggest events of the season in Hong Kong. There is truly something for every taste! To name just a few, Art Basel will be on the agenda. Clockenflap will get the music and concert fans excited. And for all sports enthusiasts, Rugby Sevens will be on the menu. Furthermore, March is also the month of International Women’s Day on March 8th and for all Brits among us, British Mother’s Day is on March 19th. Many different occasions that call for different attire and styles. Now, you know us, and we got you covered, as always.
Let’s dive in with telling you that you don’t need all that many different outfits, just some key pieces that can be styled up or down, depending on the occasion. Staying true to our promise at MiliMilu to take you from the beach to the city in just one outfit! The key is to work with a capsule wardrobe and a few signature pieces that fit your style and every occasion too. So, then how to get started with a sustainable capsule wardrobe in the first place?
What is a sustainable capsule wardrobe?
Essentially a capsule wardrobe is “a limited selection of interchangeable clothing pieces that complement each other. These are often classic pieces that do not go out of style and are primarily composed of neutral colors. A capsule wardrobe allows you to create a variety of different outfits with a small selection of clothes''.
Key for that small selection of items would be to not go out of fashion, but be versatile, timeless and of high quality. Think t-shirts, blouses, skirts and trousers as your essentials using the least number of items possible.
A capsule wardrobe as such is already sustainable in itself, as it promotes having less clothes and owning more high-quality items that will last you longer. An additional step would be to favor materials that are natural and from organic sources, such as linen, cotton or wool, as well as choosing items that have been produced in an eco-friendly and ethical way, making them pieces of sustainable fashion.
The history of capsule wardrobes
With people getting more aware of the impact of the textile industry on the environment, you would think that the concept of capsule wardrobes is a new trend. But the concept was first introduced in the 1970s by Susie Faux, a British fashion icon. According to Faux, a capsule wardrobe would contain a few timeless essentials, such as skirts and pants that would be completed by seasonal items. The idea took off in 1985 when designer Donna Karan presented her collection of “Seven Easy Pieces” that were designed to take women from the office to a night out with only a few items.
The concept was and still is about functionality and simplicity, having a smaller selection of items available that are well-made and high quality. This would in reverse conclusion help you to eliminate cheap and low-quality items in your wardrobe that aren’t serving you well. The main goal for the items is to be interchangeable, so that you can build countless outfits out of a few items. Typically, a sustainable capsule wardrobe would contain 20-30 pieces, but other sources state that the magic number is somewhere between 33-37 pieces.
Why starting a sustainable capsule wardrobe
There are a few reasons why starting a sustainable capsule wardrobe makes sense, especially in the long run.
- Protecting the environment
Protecting the environment and having a more sustainable lifestyle is for sure the reason number one that comes to mind. Since a capsule wardrobe does not require many pieces, it is an opportunity to invest in more durable, timeless pieces that will last longer. You can choose natural fabrics from organic sources, such as cotton, linen or wool that are gentler to the environment during their production process, but also decompose naturally at the end of their life span.
- Save money
While the individual purchase of an item might be more expensive, you will save in the long run. As you go shopping less often, buy less and think more about what to buy you save money.
- Less stress and less decision fatigue
A capsule wardrobe makes the decision easier on what to wear with fewer options available. At the same time, you get more creative with the items you do have and have fun in the process. Instead of standing in front of a cluttered wardrobe, you have a wardrobe full of clothes that you love, know how to wear, fit you well and leave you feel confident and ready to start your day.
- More time
With all the above said, you have more time to spend on what you love doing, and don’t spend time deciding which outfit to wear, organizing your closet and go shopping to hunt for the newest fast fashion item.
In summary a capsule wardrobe helps you to reinforce your values and to focus on what really matters. The concept sparks your creativity in styling the items you have and leaves you feeling more organized, and confident about your closet and everything in it.
How to get started with a sustainable capsule wardrobe
When getting started keep in mind that a sustainable capsule wardrobe is created out of pieces that build the foundation of your wardrobe. They are pieces that are versatile and do not limit your personal style. They are timeless in style and can be mixed and matched to create various outfits for every occasion. The pieces are functional, useful and fit your current lifestyle.
- Clean out your wardrobe
The first step in creating your sustainable capsule wardrobe is to take all your clothes out of the closet. Put everything on a big pile. You will probably be surprised at how many clothes you have and how few you wear on a regular basis. Did you know that as much as 80% of the clothes in our wardrobe take on dust as the other 20% are rotated on a regular basis. Those are probably the items that you love to wear and make you feel good.
- Pick your favorite clothes
The next step is to pick your favorite clothes and put them on the “Love to wear this” pile. You will probably find quite a few of them in those 20% that you wear over and over again. To sort through the pile, you can go by the following categories: Love to wear this; Not so much; Hard no; Seasonal items. Everything that you don’t love to wear and the seasonal items that are out of season at the moment can go in a box. Store them away. If you don’t miss these items, except the seasonal items, in the next three months, you can give them away. You clearly don’t care much for them, and they probably will serve somebody else more.
- Think about your style
Take a moment to reflect on your style, the colors and materials you like and how the items could be mixed and matched. Do not hesitate to search online for inspiration. One example is Courtney Carver, who is at the origin of Project 333, initiating the idea of a capsule wardrobe in 33 pieces and sharing thoughts and inspiration over on her Instagram account.
Additional tips & tricks to get startedWe all have different preferences and needs when it comes to clothes, so there is no precise formula to follow to start your sustainable capsule wardrobe per se. Roughly you should come up with a balance of tops, bottoms, layers, accessories and shoes. It is less about the exact number of items in your wardrobe and more about being aware what you do have in your closet and making sure that you use them and love to wear them.
One example on how to distribute a rough number of 33-37 pieces would be: 9 pair of shoes, 9 bottoms and 15 tops, completed by 2 dresses and 2 jackets. But again, you might love dresses and need more of them, or you will be happy with 4 pair of shoes, but need more sweaters and jackets. Just to say that it is really about you building a capsule wardrobe that fits your needs and lifestyle. You might even need 2 capsule wardrobes if your job requires a certain attire and your leisure life another.
Finally, a word on colors and tips to make sure your pieces are mixable. Choose a base color such as navy or black. Add essentials in neutral colors, e.g. black, navy, grey, white or beige. Choose one or two accent colors to add some spark to your capsule wardrobe. Add a few patterned items and some layers (sweaters, jackets, coats). Lastly choose your shoes and accessories.
Our favorite pieces in a sustainable capsule wardrobe
Out of all the pieces that have their place in a sustainable capsule wardrobe, such as t-shirts, pants, blouses, jeans and sweaters, we do have 2 items that have the most potential to take you from the beach to the city and right to the event of your choice. Maybe it is just us, as we love dresses and a well-tailored blazer. These two items have, in our opinion, the most potential. A dress can be casual or up styled, while a blazer can elevate your jeans and shirt outfit to the next level. Add shoes to your outfit that fit your occasion and style, some accessories and the right shade of lipstick and you are ready to conquer every party, sports event and art gallery. Choosing a neutral-colored dress or a patterned one, depending on the style that is yours, you can up style or down style it with a few easy twists. Add flats or even sneakers for a more casual or sporty look or heels for a more sophisticated appearance. Choose discreet jewelry or statement pieces and add a bold lip stick for the extra eye-catcher. More ideas can be found in our guide on how to turn your casual look into a dressier one in a few easy steps.
We do hope that we could inspire you to give the concept of a sustainable capsule wardrobe a try, or at least go check your wardrobe for your favorite items and clean out the ones that are hiding in the back, not serving your and cluttering your space and mind. As mentioned before, starting a sustainable capsule wardrobe is less a one-day project, but rather a project that will take some time to establish and then to maintain as well. The goal is to create a shift in your mindset when it comes to the way we consume fashion and the impact this has on the environment. Let us inspire you with our newest collections and all-time favorites over on Facebook, Instagram and of course our website.If you want to get more information about sustainable fashion, the reasons why and the tools on how to get there sign up to our newsletter.