If you follow fashion media at all you must have stumbled on a concept of capsule wardrobe, Project 333 or even a 5 item wardrobe.
A capsule wardrobe is a minimalist collection of clothes that can be put together in different ways to cover a variety of outfits and occasions.
Have you ever considered it for yourself?
How many pieces of clothes should one buy each year?
Quite recently, The Sustainable Fashion Forum proposed a solution according to which there’d be a cap on how many new items we are allowed to buy each year, and the number is very low - just 5 new items, with a fee for overconsumption (similar to an overdraft fee).
They were inspired by findings of Berlin’s Hot or Cool Institute which suggests that a "sufficient" wardrobe consists of 74 garments and 20 outfits, with purchases of new garments limited to an average of five items per year.
As much as we agree that consumption (and with it, production!) absolutely has to be significantly reduced, we don’t believe consumers should be punished by the government. This kind of a plan would probably hit the most vulnerable the hardest.
Inspired by capsule wardrobe
Educating, informing and inspiring seem like more of a fair and sustainable practice than regulating. I have written about ways to be more sustainable in your fashion choices regardless of your budget before.
If you need inspiration to downsize, I present to you my favorite author on the topic: Jennifer L. Scott. She shared her thoughts and experiences on 10 item wardrobe on a Ted talk many years ago. What she proposes is quite realistic. The idea came to her while studying in France where people seemed to be very well dressed but were wearing the same garments on rotation as opposed to the author’s American way which suggests you shouldn’t be seen wearing the same thing twice in a week or even longer.
How to create your capsule wardrobe
Jennifer L. Scott suggests you allow yourself 10 core items per season (not necessarily new items, mind you). For women that means: blouses, dresses, skirts, jeans and slacks. Then you add extras based on the season and your needs (extras are layering items, outerwear, special occasion wear, things like activewear and gardening clothes for example, and then there are accessories such as shoes, bags, belts etc.). Everything that’s out of season should be neatly packed and stored away.
“I believe that when you take something we all have to do every day - and we all have to get dressed - and you put thought and organization and a gameplan behind it, you can completely change your life,” she says.
The main goal of capsule wardrobe is to really plan your wardrobe for the season and then stick to it. Don’t buy things you don’t need just because you had a hard day or because they are on sale. Since you thought your wardrobe through very well beforehand, you won’t feel like you have nothing to wear while staring at a full closet of mismatched garments.
Here's my capsule wardrobe selection
On my capsule wardrobe collage for this fall/winter I have included some of the pieces I already own and have been wearing on repeat, and some pieces that are still on my wish list for the future. I will purchase those when the need arises.
1) Good jeans (these are from CLOSED, I bought them this season)
2) Camel Coat (featured one is from one of my favourite brands - The Slow Label. I don't yet own one, but it's on my wish-list for the future)
3) Timeless Leather Bag (I am wearing Viva's black crossbody for more than 8 years now)
4) Striped T-shirt (this one is from The Slow Label, I bought it 2 years ago and still wearing it on repeat)
5) Classy beige cardigan (the one on the picture is from Babaa, I adore that brand)
6) Leather Flats (I love these ones from Flattered. Bought them as my wedding shoes and still wearing them for special occasions)
7) Knitted jumper (featured one is from Asket. It's on my wishlist, when I will need one. For now I am wearing 2 others and don't need the third one)
8) White T-shirt (the one you see on the picture is from The Slow Label, bought it 2 years ago)
9) Velvet Trousers (these ones are from American Vintage, also bought more than 3 years ago)
10) Leather Sneakers (these classy Veja sneakers are also at least 5 years old)
11) Timeless Leather Tote Bag (the featured one is Viva's Tote Bag Cognac, our best selling product, loved by all our customers)
12) Short jacket (the featured one is from Bobo Choses, I decided for it this season).
What I also find interesting is the emphasis on looking presentable in all situations, not just when you are with other people. Which means wearing nice pajamas as opposed to holey sweatpants for sleeping. “I could respect myself enough to present myself beautifully at all times,” says Jennifer L. Scott. You could argue that it would be more sustainable to keep the holey sweatpants and not buy new pajamas, but I think feeling good in all situations of life might just prevent you from over consuming and overcompensating in other areas of your life.