In October of 2012, I decided to change my shopping habits. I’d learned that the fashion industry is one of the largest industries in the world, and is also notorious for human trafficking and forced labor.
Child workers, alongside exploited adults, can be subjected to violence and abuse such as forced overtime, as well as cramped and unhygienic surroundings, bad food, and very poor pay. The low cost of clothes on the high street means that less and less money goes to the people who actually make them. – Victoria and Albert Museum
For 31 days, I blogged every week day about the exploitative labor issues involved with “fast fashion.” For those 31 days, I wore ten items of clothing, and auctioned off my other clothes to raise awareness and funds for a human trafficking rescue organization. After that month, I felt incredibly free. I’d realized that I used shopping as an emotional crutch to cover insecurity, and my goal going forward was to keep 100 items of clothing in my closet.
Fast forward to 2016.
This year I’ve found my closet and drawers jam packed, yet I feel like I’m constantly taking loads to Goodwill of clothes I don’t want, and yet I still have nothing to wear. So, I set a New Years resolution to make a concerted effort to shop ethically again this year.
Mainly, I’ve done that by just not buying more stuff. But so far, I’ve had two major slip ups: the first was a fancy wedding that I was stressed out about attending, and that led to buying way too many clothes, including a dress that didn’t fit and I’ve actually never worn as a result. The second was getting our family pictures taken; I was stressed about the trip, and mainly about having a big party for Edison’s birthday when I really just wanted to keep it small. That led to several costly shopping trips and a few meltdowns over trying to coordinate our outfits. In both situations, shopping was an emotional comfort and distraction (that didn’t last) and I also didn’t plan ahead enough to have the time to shop ethically, or the budget for it.
But the truth is, even if you think you can’t afford to shop ethically (because when people get paid a fair wage to make clothes or at least have better working conditions, they cost a lot more), or you don’t think you have the time to shop ethically, you actually can still have an ethical wardrobe.
This pyramid from Into Mind explains it best.
Every time I don’t grab that cheap top on sale just for quick hit of dopamine, I’m hopefully helping to keep it out of the landfill and lowering the demand for cheap clothes. When I mend a piece of clothing instead of just throwing it away, and when I shop less, and buy higher quality, it is making a difference.
So this fall, I decided to do another closet cleanse to reset. Although, not as quite as drastic as Fashion for Freedom.
I created a capsule wardrobe! Capsule wardrobes are often around 30-40 pieces of clothing, 37 seems to be a very popular number. The idea is that you choose pieces that can mix and match, and then you just wear those pieces for the set amount of time, and then rotate in new pieces for different seasons. Here’s some links I found very helpful with planning my capsule:
- How To Start a Capsule Wardrobe – written by a food blogger, her reasons were simple: saving time to focus on what she really loved. Includes a helpful printable guide.
- Free Printable Wardrobe Planner – UnFancy, the blog, is where the capsule wardrobe trend started. She has lots of great posts on it, and has been doing it for years.
Here’s all the clothes that I packed away:
I literally emptied half of my closet and didn’t unpack almost my entire tote of winter stuff. I’m not getting rid of anything yet, I’ve just packed it away out of site for now, to be evaluated later.
Here’s my final fall wardrobe capsule:*
- Plumb Tee, from Loft
- Grace and Coffee Tee, from Camplight Apparel
- Black Tee, also from Loft
- Black and White Striped Tee, from Old Navy
- Navy Striped Tee, from a shop in Flagstaff
- Black and White Polka Dot Blouse, from Stitch Fix
- Navy Blouse, from Old Navy, similar
- Plaid Button Up, from Target, similar
- Teal Blouse, from Stitch Fix
- Navy Blazer, from White House Black Market, thrifted. Similar from Loft.
- Chambray Button Up, from Old Navy
- Navy Field Jacket, from JC Penny, similar
- Mustard Cardigan, from Target, similar
- Black Cardigan, from Target probably
- Teal Cardigan, from Target, definitely, similar
- Gray “Take Me to the Sea” Sweater, from Old Navy
- Skinny Jeans, from Target
- Shorts, from Old Navy (because yes, even in October in Phoenix it’s still shorts weather!)
- Navy Chinos, from Old Navy
- Black Dress Pants, from Target
- Black Leggings, from Stitch Fix
- Black Pencil Skirt, from Loft
- Black and White Polka Dot Skirt, from Old Navy, old
- Gray TOMs
- Black Booties, also TOMs
- Gold TOMs, ebay
- Leopard Flats, from Target, similar
- Silver Flats, from Target, similar
32 Items Total
Note that I did not include pajamas, work out clothes, underwear, or accessories in this. I’m still wearing all of those items, don’t worry – I’m just not counting them toward my capsule. Some people do, but I don’t want to not work out because of the excuse of having nothing to wear. So I’ve totally left those categories out.
Now that I’ve lived with this capsule for over a month, there’s a few changes I might make for winter: swapping out the green lace dress for a sweater dress, swapping out the pair of shorts for a pair of boots, and maybe adding a long sleeve tee.
1. It is seriously so easy to get dressed in the morning.
This is a big reason capsule wardrobes are popular! With fewer options to choose from, and more room in my closet to see all of my options together, I can quickly pull together an outfit. This has saved me so much time in the morning, giving me more time to feed Edison breakfast, do the dishes before going to work, or try to beat the traffic to work.
2. My morning routine is less stressful.
Not only is it faster, it’s less stressful because I know that all of the clothes in my capsule are things that A. I enjoy wearing, and B. fit me and look good on me. I have confidence when getting dressed that I’m not going to feel uncomfortable or on edge all day. Also, it makes for less decisions I have to make in a day. Instead of choosing between 60 options, depending on the laundry situation, my options are much more limited. When my days at work are primarily made up of decision making, starting the day with an easy choice conserves my energy for the rest of the day.
3. I’ve never been tired of my outfits.
In fact, there’s still more combinations I haven’t tried! I thought for sure it would feel like I was wearing the same things over and over, but by mixing up the shoes, or sweater, or jewelry, it’s never felt stale.
4. No one has noticed I was wearing the same things over again.
People really aren’t that observant, as it turns out!
5. It’s been great for our budget.
When I decided to do a capsule wardrobe, my first thought was to go all out and buy all ethically made pieces to make up the capsule. Thanks to that pyramid above, I shopped my closet and found everything I needed I already had. I haven’t spent any money on my clothing for a couple months now, and I’m anticipating not needing to buy anything over the winter months either. But I might get a pair of ethically made boots, just for fun 🙂
Have you ever attempted a capsule wardrobe? Would you ever try one? Ask any questions in the comments below!
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