Creating a Capsule Wardrobe

I do not like the idea that we are slowing down. For many, we are now expected to produce the same output with increased demands on our time. Juggling childcare, anxiety and job instability continues to take its toll. Being at home more often has forced me to think more about the space and all the things it contains. My wardrobe was the last space to get my attention, I suspect it’s due to requiring more emotional labour than the kitchen junk drawer.

In the struggle to find the appropriate dress for an event last year, I began sewing my own. However, like any new obsession, I quickly found more I wanted to make; screenshots and bookmarks were rapidly multiplying. It turns out I wasn’t the only one following this pattern - makers all over the world were adjusting to a new reality at home, embracing the creativity but in turn moving away from the sustainability many of us were originally striving towards. Sewists DIY Daisy and Natalie Ebaugh have introduced #nomakemarch; an opportunity to reflect on consciously creating, rather than making for the sake of it.

This challenge is what reignited my interest in a capsule wardrobe. The concept is nothing new, it appears to have been around long before internet trends. Streamlining your morning routine is one of the top tips for success and having a small collection of clothes that you love is guaranteed to put you on the right path. I have no interest in running a tech company and wearing the same black tee and jeans for the rest of my life but having one less difficult decision in the morning is obviously appealing.

There are no rules to creating a capsule wardrobe, which makes it more of a fluid exploration and expression of creativity. The capsule wardrobe is just a concise way of saying a small collection of clothing that you adore, with the intention of reducing decision fatigue and consumption. The consensus seems to be that you should have fewer than 50 items, including shoes and other accessories - paring down my shoe collection continues to be my biggest challenge, followed closely by concert tees.

Find out how to care for your clothes so they’ll love you back.

The first step is assessing what you have currently, and how those items meet your needs. There should be some flexibility during seasons, your bulky winter coats can be stored away during your summer capsule count. It can also change with you - five years ago a blazer would have been included in mine, but now a denim jacket would suffice. Some common staples include: a great fitting pair of jeans, basic tees in black and white, and a button up shirt.

It is important to have fun playing around with new combinations, or it’s easy to get comfortable matching tried and true pieces, stifling the ability to imagine them worn differently. I’m a millennial so I switched clothes on both paper dolls and online games, it’s the same concept. Nineties colour blocking is back in, and mixing prints is no longer a fashion sin. Old fashion rules seldom apply these days, self-expression reigns supreme.

If you still feel like your wardrobe is incomplete, you should now at least have a clear idea of what is missing. If you have the perfect piece in mind, you are more likely to invest in something you will cherish instead of settling for something that might work. I’ll always advocate for buying second-hand, check out this guide to shopping secondhand clothing if you are needing some inspiration or practical steps on where to start.

When figuring out what to do with your surplus clothing, remember that if you wouldn’t wear it or gift it to a friend - it’s not responsible to offload it to your local charity either. Keep your donations to clothing with plenty of life left, no major holes, rips or stains. If you are still left with some clothing that can’t be used for painting the house, check out ways to upcycle old clothing or find your local textile recycling centre who may be able to use them to create rags, giving them a second life before landfill.


Chanelle is a vegan, amateur athlete, social advocate, environmental enthusiast and blogger at