Fast fashion, cheap clothing made in giant factories, is has detrimental affects on both the environment and economy. Workers face unethical conditions, garments are fabricated using low-quality, plastic-based materials, and factories waste water and create CO2 emissions. Many people – like you – are looking to make the shift to a sustainable capsule wardrobe. A capsule wardrobe involves investing in fewer timeless, high-quality pieces instead of trendy, cheap clothing. In the long run, this saves you money, minimizes environmental impacts of fast fashion, and allows you to treat yourself to higher-quality, clothing.
However, it is not realistic to expect you to throw out everything in your closet and start from scratch; that would get expensive very quickly! Here is how you can build a sustainable capsule wardrobe.
Evaluate What’s Currently in Your Closet
Throwing out everything that is currently in your closet defeats the purpose of creating a capsule wardrobe; this actually creates even more unnecessary waste. The first step in creating your capsule wardrobe is evaluating what is already in your closet and seeing what you’d like to keep.
Some of the questions that you should ask yourself in this process include:
- What are your favourite articles of clothing? If you have clothes that you wear on a regular basis, you should keep these – they are already staples in your wardrobe. While moving forward, you want to avoid buying fast fashion, you don’t need to get rid of things that you currently wear, as this is a more sustainable choice all around.
- What is high-quality? If there are articles of clothing that you know are from sustainable brands, or ones that are of very high quality that you wish you wore more frequently, you should hang onto these as well.
- Where do you live? A capsule wardrobe is realistic. If you’re living somewhere where it is colder for the majority of the year, your capsule wardrobe shouldn’t mostly consist of your favourite shorts, tank tops, and flip flops. Only keep what you really need, even though its tempting to keep certain articles of clothing just in case.
- What can be altered? One of the keys to maintaining a capsule wardrobe is maintaining your clothing; getting a good piece of clothing tailored is more cost-effective and sustainable than buying something new.
- What makes you feel good? From your wedding dress to your old soccer jersey from the championship winning game, there are some items that simply “spark joy” even though you don’t wear them anymore. Don’t throw these out in the name of a sustainable wardrobe – you deserve the happiness these garments bring to you.
The key thing to remember, when evaluating your closet, is that you want to keep the things that you can see being a part of your style for years to come. You can always rent a dress for a special occasion or borrow an outfit you know that you’ll only wear once from a friend – you can’t get clothing back from the landfill.
Get Rid of Your Old Clothes
Now that you’ve decided what to keep, you’ll also have a pretty good idea of what to get rid of. While it would save time to throw the old clothes in the dumpster and call it a day, there are many sustainable ways to get rid of them.
If clothing is in good condition, we recommend donating it to an organization that will help people in need. Some of our local favourites are:
- Aunt Leah’s Thrift Store, which helps children in foster care transition out of the system,
- The Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre, which helps women living in Vancouver’s downtown eastside;
- My Sister’s Closet, a thrift shop with all profits going to women escaping domestic violence; and
- Dress for Success, which provides work clothing for women who may not be able to afford it themselves.
You can also give clothing away to friends, or put it up for grabs in your local Buy Nothing Facebook group, which allows you to meet others in your community while donating clothes you don’t need.
You can also try to repurpose clothing – turn old t-shirts into rags or even use old clothing for an art project; you can even use old tops to make a t-shirt quilt. If you’re looking for more ideas for upcycling your clothes, check out this blog post from Good On You!
For more insights on creating a sustainable closet, read this blog post outlining the “Swap, Drop and Lock” method from Honestly Alessandra.
Take Proper Care of Your Clothes
After clearing out your old clothes, you’ll want to make sure that you’re taking proper care of the items that you do have to make them last as long as possible. As mentioned above, get to know your local tailor and cobbler. Not only will they able to help with alterations for when your clothes no longer fit, but they’ll be able to professionally fix any wear and tear.
It is also important to properly wash and dry your clothes, including dry cleaning them when needed. Become familiar with what special care your clothes require when being cleaned; it is essential that you always review the care label included with your garment. When possible, we also recommend hang drying instead of machine drying, to save energy. See our guide for the proper care of silk garments here.
Invest in Eco-Friendly Clothing
Now that you’ve cleared out your old clothes and have decided on which existing pieces that you want to keep in your sustainable capsule wardrobe, you can look for gaps – is there anything that you need that is missing? Make a list of what you think you need, and then try to wait a couple of months before buying anything; this will help to evaluate what you really need.
Spending less money on fast fashion also will, when you’re ready to make a purchase, give you the money you need to invest in a higher quality piece of clothing. Don’t be afraid of a high price tag; when a garment is made to last, you’ll save money in the long run. For those on a budget, check out second hand or vintage stores for an ethical choice that doesn’t break the bank.
Do your research before making any purchases – what brands have you already tried? Which ethical brands do your friends like? Limiting your impulse purchases give you the opportunity to evaluate brands’ sustainable practices. Make sure to look out for “greenwashing”, which is when a brand says that it is sustainable but does not put those practices into action. Credible brands should have their sustainability efforts outlined clearly. (You can see an example with NK IMODE’s sustainability page here.)
You can also see a brand’s sustainability practices in action when you follow them on social media or regularly check their website. Are they consistent with their environmental messaging, or are they promoting sustainability only when its trendy? As the world of sustainable fashion is constantly advancing, so should brands’ practices. For example, NK IMODE is launching a new collection this spring that features another sustainable fabric, Lyocell-Cupro. While we have traditionally used silk in all of our products, we saw the opportunity to create luxurious garments with this fabric while showing our customers another sustainable fabric. Stay tuned for our upcoming Kacey collection!
Another good way to find environmentally friendly clothing is by investigating certifications that you want your clothing to have. For example, NK IMODE uses only fabrics that are OEKO-TEX certified; this means that the fabrics are made without chemicals that are harmful to the earth and to your body. In familiarizing yourself with these certifications, you’ll be able to determine brands’ commitment to sustainability.
Sustainable Loungewear Essentials
One thing that is always worth investing is sustainable silk loungewear. Made to last, a matching silk set, robe, or chemise allows you to have the best in comfort while feeling your most luxurious. At NK IMODE, we are committed to sustainably creating loungewear that will make you feel your best for years to come. Explore our entire collection of loungewear essentials here, or make an appointment with our personal shopper today to find the perfect garment for your capsule wardrobe.