What is a capsule wardrobe? A sustainable clothing solution.

By Beth Kennedy

So just what is a capsule wardrobe? Those of you who like minimalism are gonna love this...a capsule wardrobe means just owning the clothes you need. This doesn’t mean the very bare basics - it means a few statement pieces that can be mixed and match with the bare basics. It’s essentially a way of streamlining your wardrobe and taking the stress out of fashion so you can actually enjoy wearing clothes that, ahem, “bring you joy” (sorry - I couldn’t resist!). A capsule wardrobe means you spend less time and money on clothes, but you still retain that sense of “damn, I look fresh.”

An example of a capsule wardrobe could be:

  • 2 pairs of jeans
  • 1 pair of formal trousers
  • 3 plain t-shirts
  • 3 “statement” shirts (I am a huge fan of the penguin shirt - see below!)
  • 7 pairs of underwear
  • 7 pairs of socks
  • 1 pair of smart shoes
  • 1 pair of casual shoes / tennis shoes / loafers
  • 1 pair of trainers

gfw penguin shirt

But it all depends on your lifestyle! If you have to be suited and booted for your job then you can customise the wardrobe to suit your needs. For example, replacing a few of the casual pieces with smart shirts.

How do you know if you’re ready for a capsule wardrobe?

It’s time to be completely honest with yourself here. In fact, I’ve made a little checklist to help you determine whether or not a capsule wardrobe is for you. If you tick X or more things off this list then a capsule wardrobe could be your new best friend:

  • You find yourself wearing the same two or three shirts or t-shirts
  • You have a pair of go-to jeans you just love to wear
  • When you’re invited to a party, wedding or any other special occasion you’re known to say “I don’t have anything to wear!”
  • You have items of clothing in the back of the wardrobe that you’re surprised to see
  • You have items in the back of your wardrobe that you haven’t worn yet
  • You have good intentions of upgrading your wardrobe but the thought of clothes shopping fills you with dread
  • Fashion may not be your priority but you still want to look good without going to too much trouble

What you need, my friend, is a plan. A capsule wardrobe is pretty much a clothing strategy. Execute that strategy and the rest will follow. The whole point is to look good with minimal effort. It can be done - it just needs a little bit of investment on your part.

gfw capsule wardrobe

Calculate your capsule formula

Like I said, what you have in your capsule wardrobe really does depend on your lifestyle and career. If your line of work means you have to wear a uniform, such as a firefighter, you won’t need to include ‘work clothes’ in your formula. However, if you work in an office, it’s time to get savvy with your civvies…

A basic ‘work wardrobe’ formula a lot of people use might look something like this:

  • 3 shirts for work
  • 2 blazers
  • 2 pairs of smart trousers / a smart skirt
  • 1 pair of smart shoes
  • 1 pair of smart boots

You might want to throw in some accessories such as a couple of your favourite bow ties, neckties and cufflinks too. This can really add some flavour to your outfit if you mix and match them.

I started with work clothes as we spend a lot of our time at our jobs - usually five out of the seven days of the week!

You should also calculate a formula for casual wear, sportswear and formal wear...so you’re never caught out for any event!

As you can see, a capsule wardrobe is actually made of tiny sub-capsule wardrobes compartmentalised by occasion.

The leisure wear section of your capsule wardrobe is where your personality can truly shine! I’d recommend picking three shirts with statement patterns, three plain shirts, six pairs of bottoms (chinos, jeans, shorts, etc), 3 pairs of casual shoes (boat shoes, loafers, Converse and the like) and, if you’re partial, a couple of snapback caps for the summer (I myself have two favourite snapbacks that match a lot of my outfits - including a black GFW one).

Buy sustainably

Now it’s time to actually purchase the items you’ll need for your capsule wardrobe. The biggest tip I can give you here is to be sustainable. It’s great for the planet but it also saves you a heck of a lot of time and money in the long-run. I’m not saying we all need to rush out and buy designer clothes, oh no, it’s more about being smart about who we buy from.

I’m going to go all Trainspotting  on you now: Choose slow fashion. Choose quality. Choose timelessness. Choose a t-shirt that doesn’t disintegrate after six wears. Choose locally manufactured clothes. Choose bespoke fits. Choose smaller, indie companies who make clothes for the love of it and not the gargantuan profits of multinational companies. Choose sustainable.

Let GFW Clothing help you start your own capsule wardrobe - they do everything from underwear to short sleeved shirts. Happy capsule wardrobe shopping!


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