How to Build a Capsule

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The reasons for having a capsule closet are many, and differ from person to person. Some do it to make their lives easier and save time (less choice makes the morning routine easier), to downsize and create more space or maybe even to cultivate a more sustainable and slow closet. These are also some of the perks with a capsule closet, things like freeing up space and time.

So what is the connection between a capsule closet and sustainable fashion. Well, a capsule closet means you buy less and use more of what you already own.

So how do you get started? You need to start by thinking about a few things.

Your Life

When building a capsule one has to have one’s lifestyle in mind. There is no one size fits all when it comes to capsules. This includes the actual size of the closet.

Do you live in a colder climate or where temps change often? Maybe you need an extra sweater or two. Do you live in a rainy region, then it might be reasonable to include rain clothes.

Do you have a strict dress code at work? Or could you manage with your “regular” closet?

Your capsule needs to be built around and suited to your needs and life, so take some time to think about what situations you do find yourself in.

Your Preferences

You’re the one who will be wearing the clothes, so just like with all other purchases you have to assess what you like. Finding your personal style is one of the keys to a longlasting closet and capsule.

Don’t like pants? Then don’t build a capsule around them. Hate dresses? Then leave them out.

This also includes things like color schemes and the excluding or including of prints. What type of shoes and clothes you feel most comfortable in. Those things that you tend to grab after on days when all feels boring.

Your Closet

How many pieces of clothing do you own? Are you used to circulating between 15 pairs of shoes and you love them all? Well, then I say it’s totally fine to continue with it.

Also, do the clothes fit together? Do you have that one odd shirt that only goes with that one skirt you don’t really like and those boots that make your feet bleed? Maybe it’s not a great piece to keep. At least not a piece to include in a capsule.

No number is right or wrong, so you just have to decide for yourself what seems viable to you.

Tips & Tricks

  • The second step to your capsule closet is usually a purge. Get rid of things you have not worn in a year (or pledge to wear it), things that do not fit or that are damaged beyond repair. If there are items you are not sure of and you do not feel ready to part with, put them in a box and leave it for a few months. If you do not miss it after those months you might be ready to let them go.
  • I like to do a (2:1) ratio of tops and bottoms since I usually get more wears out of bottoms compared to tops.
  • Think about how often you are willing to do laundry. If you are fine with washing your clothes every week you could get by with a pretty small capsule. If you’re like me and you dread laundry time, then maybe it’s wise to up the number of items, especially tops, so you can stretch the laundry dates a bit more.

Inspiration?

Some great accounts to follow that post content about capsule closets and sustainable style are:

Anuschka Rees

Wonder Wardrobe

Style Bee

Un-fancy

 

Ready to get your capsule together?

June: Capsule Challenge

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So, summer is here, don’t really know how or when that happened, but I’m excited. My June challenge is a capsule challenge and initially, I had planned on a 30×30 challenge. This means I would have 30 garments to use for all of June. But then I kinda joined a May30x30 on Instagram, so it didn’t really feel like a challenge anymore.

I asked around for some tips and some people thought I should continue for another 30 days, which would have been a fun idea but the weather had changed a bit too much. Some other fun tips were to stick to only one kind of pattern or color, but if you know me you know I barely wear any color or print so that would have been reeeeally tough.

Finally, I settled on the challenge. I would first do a 10×10 (ten garments for ten days) and then a 6×6 (the more extreme of six items in six days). However, I will not be counting shoes this time just to give myself some kind of freedom.

Have you done any capsule challenges? What are your thoughts on them?

Closet goals for 2019

celia-michon-115006-unsplashFor 2019 I have decided to put up some goals for my closet and shopping. Even though I gave up reading fashion magazines in my late teens, my shopaholic behaviours have stayed. I try to be more mindful of what I consume, but when life gets a bit though I tend to turn to shopping, a habit I am trying hard to break. So this year I am putting up some closet goals for myself.

Using what I have

For the time being I am not fully ready for a capsule or complete minimalism. I tried the 10×10 capsule challenge earlier this fall and I did not really enjoy it that much, however I might try a bigger capsule for a longer time during the year. I am planning on using as many parts of my closet as possible (I started keeping track of what I am wearing about 8 months ago) and the ones that I do not use enough, I will be selling or giving to friends.

Responsible shopping

Regarding shopping, I will be buying maximum 12 things in the year, so corresponding to 1 thing per month of the year. To some this might seem like an insane amount, while to others it’s nothing. For me this is a quite small number and I am trying to minimise my shopping over time, since going cold turkey hasn’t worked too well for me in the past. For these 12 purchases I will not be including underwear/basics, accessories or activewear/sleepwear. However, I will keep those to minimal. No going crazy just because I don’t count them.

Further, I will continue to prioritise quality, longevity, natural materials and that they are second hand or sustainably made when possible. I will do my best to avoid spontaneous shopping and instead plan my needs. I am already working on a shopping list for the coming year, since I need to save up for some of the garments. Another important thing is that I will ONLY buy stuff I love. If it’s not a hell yes, it’s a no!

Questions for shopping

When shopping I will keep some questions in mind to make sure I make sensible purchases.

Does it fit my closet?

The garments should fit with my closet – I should be able to create at least 3 possible outfit combinations with things I already own. No thinking that “this would look great if I only had that”…

Will I wear it at least 30 times?

Have you heard about #30wears? It is encouraging people to wear their clothes for longer. A big portion of the fashion impact comes from the actual use of the garments and by using what we own for longer we can increase the garments impact.

Is this worth the price?

Will the future CPU (cost per use) be low enough to motivate the purchase? If you want to have a CPU of let’s say 2€ then you would have to wear a 200€ coat at least a 100 times for it to be worth the purchase. For this reason I tend to only invest in more expensive garment that I know I will be using for a longer time, like coats, bags and shoes.

Personal development

My last closet goal for 2019 is that I want to learn more about sewing and making my own clothing. In Sweden you have basic sewing classes for 3-6 years in middle school and even though I have made both my own dresses and knitted mittens and embroidered table cloths, I am not near the level I would want to be!

I come from a crafty family and both my mom and my grandma used to sew, knit and crochet everything when they were young and couldn’t afford to buy new. My hopes with this goal is that I will be able to make most of my own clothes, so that I can be in charge of materials and cut and so I can get more tailored items that will not need to be taken in or hemmed.

Do you have any closet goals for 2019? Or are you just going with the flow?

My biggest challenges with sustainable fashion

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I am still quite new to the concept of sustainable shopping and conscious closets. Only about a year ago I started to learn more about this topic and more recently changing my own habits. Changing ones habits from being slightly shopaholic and always having new clothes to a more slow lifestyle is hard in itself. Trying to cultivate a sustainable closet comes with additional challenges. Since the world is mainly built on fast fashion and unethical business practices, finding sustainable options can be hard, time consuming and, let’s not forget, expensive compared to regular shopping.

Top challenges

So what are really the main challenges I face when trying to switch over to a more sustainable and ethical shopping habit?

Finding clothing I like

I can be quite picky with style and I tend to like a more expensive and elegant style. With sustainable fashion I feel like a lot of things are either boring and generic, as in all is made super minimalistic in black and white or that everyone is wearing the same Everlane pants, or colorful ethnic fabrics that are just not me. Honestly, I don’t really get the Everlane thing, they are a bit to everyday and plain for my taste, even if I do like some styles. Also they do not really have sustainable fabrics or processes which I would prefer. Also, I do not really feel comfortable in colors, especially when combined with crazy prints. So I tend to feel a bit lost in the middle at times. I have managed to find some brands I like, but they are few.

Finding materials I like

When I happen to stumble onto brands or garments I like, I get disappointed 95% of the time because of material mixes or poly. In my opinion you are not a sustainable brand if you mix in plastic at every chance you get. Sure, there are times when it makes sense, like in socks that would break very quickly without the add in. But in a woolen coat I really do not see the big point in adding synthetics. Synthetics are made from non renewable resources and should not be overused just because it’s cheap. They also make  it impossible to recycle. The fabric recycling techniques available today cannot handle material mixes, only 100% fabrics.

Finding things that are accessible

Taking a normal shopping trip to town or the mall is really not a feasible way of shopping ethically and sustainably. The majority of brick and mortar stores are big brand and fast fashion with bad materials, bad quality and that is way too trend sensitive. So when shopping for sustainable brands you are often dependant on online shopping. I like to shop online, but since smaller brands often do not have the opportunity to offer free shipping and returns it makes it a bit risky to order when you are not sure about sizing.

Finding things that are within budget

Let’s be honest, ethically produced or sustainably made clothing is not cheap. Quality materials are more expensive than polyester and having a fair supply chain where people are being payed fair wages means more expensive end prices. I have a quite high budget and have in the later years mostly shopped in the bridge or affordable luxury category. So it is not as much of a stretch for me to be able to afford sustainable items. However, it is still very expensive especially when looking for high quality materials like cashmere and silk that can be bought for 100€ at H&M. The sustainable ditto is more towards 500€, so the difference is still noticeable.

When it comes to sustainable fashion I have come to terms with the fact that you can’t always tick all boxes. Buying something you really like, with good quality that will last a long time, that is also sustainable and ethical is like finding a four leafed clover, doable but hard. You have to compromise a bit sometimes and go with the best option available. For me, material is one of the criteria I do not like to compromise, for others it might be the ethical production. Whatever are your boxes to be ticked just remember that perfection shouldn’t stand in the way of good.

How you can make your closet more sustainable even if you shop fast fashion

henry-co-573432-unsplashFast fashion and sustainable fashion are somewhat opposites within the fashion industry. However, a lot of people feel they cannot afford buying sustainable fashion or that the style of these brands don’t fit them. So how can you shop sustainable when you shop at fast fashion high street brands?

Well, it all comes down to how much you shop and of what quality. The absolute best thing is to refuse fast fashion all together, with the second best being reduce.

If you love a fast fashion store and you feel you cannot live without it, you don’t have to have to give it up completely. There are ways to minimize your impact that do not include changing your entire closet or only buying ethical brands.

How to have a conscious closet

Buy less

The first thing to do is to refuse and reduce. That means buying less in general and try to avoid things that are just trendy items that will be used once. The goal should be to build a long lasting closet that represents your personal style. If possible, try to see if you can find the item second hand first. There are so many people who wear something for a week and then sell it online or hand it in to a consignment store. So that should always be a first option.

Use what you have

I believe the best way of avoiding unnecessary consumption is to shop your own closet. Most people have a full closet, while still feeling like they have nothing to wear. Take some time to look around to see what you really own, you might find some forgotten favorites that could need some new love. A great way of rediscovering ones closet is to do a challenge, maybe a 10×10 or a capsule closet where you are forced to be more creative with what you already own?

Take care of what you own

By taking care of what you own it will last longer. Make an effort to follow the washing instructions, to not wash or dry more than necessary and to mend things that break instead of discarding. When you take care of what you own, the need for constantly buying new is not as noticeable since you have a full closet of nice looking clothes.

Sell or give away the things you no longer want or use

If you really feel that an item is not for you, then get rid of it. We should not have things that make us feel bad or doesn’t serve a real purpose. When you actually decide to get rid of something, sell it or give away to someone you know would like it. There are issues with donating and recycling clothing so I would try to avoid that if I do not know exactly where the clothes will end up. There are several great ways you can sell clothes online today, everything from eBay to depop, Facebook or the old regular flea market.

Repurpose that which is no longer wearable

If you have a dress of which you no longer like the top, maybe you can turn it into a skirt? A pair of jeans can be cropped off for a new trendy fringed crop length or simply turned into a pari of shorts or a skirt. If all else fails, make something completely new out of it. An old bed sheet can be turned into several small handkerchiefs (perfect for cold season!) and an old towel can be turned into reusable face pads. There are several ways of using old fabric for new things.

Have you made the move to shop sustainably? Or do you still have a love affair with H&M?

 

My clothing philosophy

priscilla-du-preez-638156-unsplashThat fast fashion is not the best option for the environment or the workers has been made quite clear for a while now. However, people keep shopping like there is no tomorrow. 80 billion garments are consumed every year, each item is then worn on average 7 times before discarded. Adding to that the fact that it takes about 7000 liters of water for making one single pair of jeans, one can understand that this is an enormously resource requiring industry. So what can you do about it?

My guidelines for clothing

The perfect option would be to never buy anything and when you do to only buy ethical/sustainable and second hand. But honestly, that is not easy, so I have given me some general guidelines for how to keep a long-lasting closet, that might not always be organic or recycled, but puts focus on buying things that will be used, and for a long time. So what do I focus on when shopping?

Good materials

When it comes to the fabrics the clothing are made of, I like to stick to natural materials. These are made of renewable sources, in comparison to non-renewable man made materials such as polyester and acrylic. They are breathable and help you regulate body temperature better and, in general, I think they are more comfortable. If possible I try to choose an organic or certified option, this is especially important for cotton as it is one of the most chemical heavy productions that also require crazy amounts of water.

My favorite materials:

  • Wool – Keeps you warm. Doesn’t need much cleaning. Long lasting and durable.
  • Silk – Soft as no else. Beautiful. Light and breathable.
  • Linnen – Eco-friendly. Looks good even wrinkly. Light and breathable.
  • Lyocell – Soft. Drapes nicely. Eco-friendly.
  • Organic cotton – Soft. Durable. Easily maintained.

High quality

High quality is not only about buying good materials. It is equally about the garment being well constructed. This means that the seems, hems, buttons, the fit and other parts of the actual construction should be well done. High quality items will last longer since they will not unravel in the seems or just break in general. Since I want to build a closet that will last a long time this is essential.

Timeless designs

Sticking to a timeless design and avoiding major trends gives a more long lasting closet. Style never goes out of fashion and good cuts are always stylish. I am not saying that you can never buy anything “trendy”, but having a closet full of trendy means you will be stuck in a hamster wheel of always needing more because you feel off. Finding a style that suits you will work in the long run. However, just because a Chanel suit is timeless doesn’t mean you should buy it, you should still be true to you.

So all in all I try to choose quality over quantity, to rather spend on fewer and more expensive pieces that are on style and will last. What rules do you follow when shopping?

The 10×10 challenge: summary

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As I wrote about 2 weeks ago and as you might have seen on my Instagram I have done the 10×10 challenge. For ten days I have worn a mix of ten garments and shoes with the hopes of saving some time and getting more creative with using what I already own. So now that my ten days have ended and I have had some reflection time I just wanted to share it. Maybe someone is thinking of doing the same, or just interested in a capsule closet. Well, here is a summary of my experience and thoughts.

How did I do?

So in the ten days I did manage to create ten different outfits. A lot of them were quite similar and simple, but that might also be because of the nature of the garments. I had to do laundry in the middle of the ten days because I was clumsy enough to get all my white items dirty. Then after a few days I also noticed a hole in one of the items, not ideal. However, I think I easily could have done a few more days, but not with much enthusiasm. Overall I would say that I did well on the challenge since I did make it through those ten days, even if the outfits were new the new thinking or special.

Outfits
Three of the created outfits during the challenge

What did I think of it?

It did not really save time for me, which I had hoped. It was actually quite time consuming because I had to do a lot of laundry during the week (to keep up with only ten garments), which I normally don’t have to do that often. Doing laundry in my current housing situation takes a lot of time and effort, since we’re ten people sharing two machines, for which one cycle takes around three hours. Combining that with most people working during the day I have had to get up 3-4 hours before work just to be able to catch an empty machine. The time planning outfits I felt was more of a hassle than usually too, as I wanted to try to not outfit repeat or wear the same thing two days in a row.

Additionally, it did not really spark any new creativity, as I had hoped. I think I dressed pretty much like I usually do, no new revolutionary combination came up (I also did chose a rather basic selection so maybe this shouldn’t be a surprise). I rather felt restricted and bored.

Then there is the temperature or weather problem. I feel like a challenge like this is more doable in a milder, more stable climate. These weeks the temperature has ranged between 3-15 degrees Celsius, sometimes almost in one day. Dressing for this kind of weather is quite hard and when you always need several layers it’s hard to do with such few items. A summer capsule might be the easiest to start out with based on this.

Will I do it again?

Maybe, I’m not sure. I felt it took a lot of effort for me this time around. If I were to do it again it would be during a warmer season. Also, next time I think I would exclude the shoes to, not in a way to get to use more of my shoes (it was quite easy sticking to the two pairs), but because I felt a bit too restricted with only 8 clothing items. I’m up for trying a bigger, longer challenge. Maybe a month or so with 20 garments. I feel that would suit my preferences and habits better.

So all in all, the results of the challenge was maybe not what I expected. But one thing I felt afterwards was a love and longing for my full closet and maybe living with less for a while is also a way of appreciating living with sligthly more.