Why is ethical clothing important? It’s a common question so let’s answer it with a statistic. Did you know that Australians buy an average of 27 kgs of clothes, per person every year, and 23 of those are sent to landfill? We know, scary right! So how do we mitigate this, how can we shop more ethically? Well there’s one hot craze on everyone's lips that is definitely worth mentioning here, and a topic we love to talk about, the Capsule Wardrobe.Capsule Wardrobe, it’s the new buzzword circulating through the ethical community, but the idea isn’t exactly new. The term “capsule wardrobe” was coined in London, by boutique clothing owner Susie Faux nearly five decades ago. The concept remained mostly dormant with the exception of a few small communities that clearly knew what was up. But now it’s back, and people are paying attention. For good reason too.There are so many benefits to owning a capsule wardrobe but first, for those that aren’t yet fully aware of what a capsule wardrobe is, let us break it down for you. The basic definition of a capsule wardrobe is a well-coordinated, versatile & seasonal closet comprised of roughly 30-38 staple items of clothing, shoes & accessories that can be mixed and matched for repeat wear in your daily life. In summary, when it comes to capsule wardrobes, and minimalism in general - less is best.
Capsule wardrobes are perfect for those that are trying to limit their spending or those that have too much choice, and not enough time or decision power to go through the same “I have no clothes” routine every morning. It’s for those that change their outfit five times before leaving the house because nothing seems to work together. If you just caught yourself saying “that’s me!”, then read on you gorgeous thing, and let’s learn how to live with less together.Why listen to me? you’re right, I’m no expert on the matter, but I’ve definitely walked the talk.I’ve spent the majority of my adult life living completely from a collection of items that fit into one 7kg carry on luggage bag. And that was before I decided to create my own social experiment and move into my ‘smaller than average van’ for 10 months whilst maintaining a full-time job, and a yoga membership in the middle of Melbourne. I did this in an effort to live with only the belongings I absolutely needed to exist and be happy - no excess, just the basics. And if you found yourself questioning whether my yoga membership was really considered a basic just then, the answer is a resounding yes. When you have no room to stand, stretch your legs or shower in your tiny home, then yes, it is definitely a basic. So I’ve learned how to notice when I’m getting a little too carried away in my desires for excess, how to cut down, and how to prioritize. Let me share this wisdom. If you’re considering the benefits of living with less, or if you’re already on a minimalist journey, these tips will help you to create the perfect capsule wardrobe that works specifically for you.
I love lists, I write lists for everything, it’s in my personality, it even says so on my enneagram results, so this part was super fun. What I want you to do is create a lifestyle pie chart to help categorize all of your belongings, and how often you wear them, into an easy visual. For instance, I am fairly active, I work out at the gym, do yoga, walk a lot, skate, and surf. The majority of my leisure time needs to cater to this so I would make this about 40 percent of my pie chart. Next, I would look at work attire, evening attire etc. Once you’ve finished your pie chart, make a list of every item you need for each category (Note: Underwear and pajamas aren’t counted in capsule wardrobes, phew), and how many of each you might need.
Take out everything you have in your closet and place it on the bed. I mean it, everything, and spread it out onto the bed so you can see exactly what you have - continue onto the floor if you really need more room, don’t be shy, you need to be able to see it all clearly.
This is where it gets more exciting (or dreadful if you have a tendency to become overly sentimental about your belongings). This is where you go pretend shopping through all of your displayed items on your bed…and your floor, and ruthlessly sort them into three piles. The “Love” Pile - these are the items that you cherish, you wear them often, they work well with most of your clothes, they’re comfy and they make you feel good. The ‘Like’ Pile - these are the items that you wear occasionally, but not often. Or the ones that you like the look of and keep telling yourself you’ll wear some day. But always end up ditching it when push comes to shove, in which case your trusty go-to favourite always takes its place. The ‘Lose It’ Pile - These are the clothes you just never wear, it’s as though you’ve stopped noticing them at all - you skim past them in your closest like they’re not even an option. They might make you a little self-conscious or possibly you just made a terrible purchase and you could never quite bring yourself to face the facts - you two just aren’t meant for each other.
You know when you get to the counter after a huge clothing haul and the cashier tells you the total price whilst you try to calmly pick your jaw up off the floor, then, in a panicked manner, quickly get rid of half of the items you were just saying “you can’t live without”? Well, this is like that. The Lose it Pile is already out of the picture - that’s on the way to the op shops as we speak. It’s time to look at the Like & Love Pile. Choose the pieces carefully, making sure that everything really does work together, and that it is a needed item.
A few quick reminders to keep in mind when choosing your items: Refer back to your list and begin sorting them into their categories. Pick from your love pile first, refer to the like pile if the love pile doesn’t have a particular item Choose the correct amount of items for each category. It also helps to remember this is seasonal. so if you were considering getting rid of that sweater because it’s Summer and you haven’t worn it in a few months - it might be perfect for your Winter collection. Store your other seasonal capsules away for when they’re needed - you can have a year-round capsule, a bi-annual capsule or a quarter annually capsule - you can design what works for you. Be smart with your basics, neutral tones never go out of fashion and match nearly everything. Go for comfy items that can be dressed up, more often than jaw-dropping outfits that aren’t as comfortable or versatile. It’s totally fine to have a few of these pieces, but if you make it the majority of your capsule wardrobe it won’t be very convenient when you want to go to dinner to eat that bowl of delicious pasta. Feeling like a runway model is great, but feeling comfortable is glorious.
Count how many items you have, be honest with whether that amount will work for you. If you truly think you need a few more shirts or an extra party dress than you currently have in your collection - then go ahead, add it in - it’s the intention that really matters. Check your list to see what’s still missing from your capsule wardrobe, and add it to the new wish-list. You don’t need to go out and buy what's missing right away. Instead, buy as you need it, this way you’ll be sure that you are buying it out of necessity.
If you have items from your like and love piles that didn’t make the cut for your capsule wardrobe and it doesn’t sit well with you just giving them away, then leave them in an open box by your closet for one month. Whatever is taken out during that time you can add to your collection, whatever has remained in the box should be donated along with the Lose It pile to the op shops or other charities in need.
Capsule wardrobes are about consciously trying to minimize consumption, live with less, and maximize efficiency, but it doesn’t have to be serious. And there’s no right way to have a capsule wardrobe, the idea is to use these tips and others that you find, as a guideline and adapt it to better suit your wants and needs. Being an ethical, slow fashion or slow living advocate is about being present, and being accountable for our actions, our impact and our service to the world. So remember to be light, in every sense, and have fun with it.