Capsule Wardrobe and Buying Ethical Clothing

I've been using a capsule wardrobe for about a year and a half. As I was researching and learning more about minimal waste, I started coming across posts about capsule wardrobes. So I started digging, trying to understand the spirit of the concept rather than any one particular plan or version. For those who don't know, a capsule wardrobe is basically a minimal wardrobe that is structured around basic pieces that can all pair well with each other. Project 333 promotes a capsule wardrobe challenge where every 3 months you pair down your wardrobe to 33 items and only use those pieces for the next three months. This challenges you to focus on versatile items that work well together to optimize your options while maintaining a minimal wardrobe.

While I didn't follow Project 333 exactly, I did pare down my wardrobe to about 40 items (not counting shoes, scarves, or undergarments. I stuck with it for a few weeks and seriously loved it. It shrunk the amount of time I spent each morning trying to decide what to wear. Instead, I found that I loved everything in my closet and would be happy to wear anything. It also helped draw attention to what basics or "closet essentials" I was missing. When you fill your closet with items that are versatile, you give yourself more options with fewer items. I ended up purchasing a plain black t-shirt, plain grey t-shirt, blue jeans I love, and a multiway black dress. These are now staples in my wardrobe and probably remain my most worn items. 

What I love about the capsule wardrobe is that it encourages creativity while not advocating for cheap, trendy clothing. If you only allow yourself 40 items in your closet, then you're not so likely to buy the $10 floral pants that you were on the fence about. This saves you money and prevents fast fashion associated waste. The other benefit I've found in using a capsule wardrobe method is that I'm much more focused on items that I feel great in. 

When I do buy new clothing, I'm now much more aware of staple items that I'll wear for a long time and feel good about. I focus on spending my money on clothes that are sustainably sourced and produced, where the companies pay their workers fair wages, and where quality matters. I did recently by a sweatshirt at Target for $15 somewhat impulsively when it was a lot colder than I expected at my parents' farm. But, I've worn it almost every day since (even though the weather has been hot) and I feel great in it. Don't beat yourself up when you slip up, but honestly remind yourself of your big picture values (eg environmental stewardship, saving goals, minimal waste) and ask yourself what led you to make a decision that didn't match those values. If you find that you always buy new clothes when you're sad, maybe build in some accountability and write down some other things you can do to address your feelings: reach out to a friend; take a walk; listen to happy music; pray and read your Bible. 

If you're looking for more specific help or advice starting your own capsule wardrobe, comment below and I'd be happy to help. 

For some eco-friendly clothing companies check out the list below. 

Thrift Stores. I would be remiss to forget to mention thrift stores. Thrift stores are the real eco-friendly shopping. You can save items of clothing from landfills and often find really high quality clothing for way cheaper than if you bought new. I personally struggle to thrift shop because I'm the sort of person who knows exactly what I'm looking for and thrift stores are not made for me. But I'm increasingly working on adjusting to shopping more often at thrift stores first before I buy new. 

1. Pact Organic

I personally have all pact organic underwear. I don't like the idea of wearing underwear with chemicals and dyes so close to a sensitive area. I happened to find Pact underwear on super sale at Target a couple times and stocked up. I love it and couldn't recommend it more highly. It's basic, high quality, sustainably made and comfy. They also have great basics like t-shirts, leggings, tank tops, and more. 

2. Alternative Apparel

Alternative Apparel has a wide variety of clothing for those of you who don't want to sacrifice fashion and trends for eco-friendly options. They are committed to fair wages and safe working environments, low impact dyes and fabrics, and eco-friendly packaging. 

3. Encircled Co. 

This is a Canadian company that is all about versatility and having a low environmental impact. I personally have several of their items that I've gotten as birthday gifts or saved up for. I love their basics and their multiway clothing. They fit right into a capsule wardrobe. 

4. Everlane

Most of my basics now are from Everlane. I love the comfort and quality of their cotton shirts. They focus on high ethical standards for production and on being transparent. They also have a choose what you pay section that is really great. 

5. People Tree

People Tree focuses on ethical and environmentally sustainable fashion. Honestly, they're pretty out of my price range, but if you're a single adult with some extra cash, they seem like a company that is committed to all the right things.