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Guest Blog: 7 Steps to an Ethical Capsule Wardrobe

Posted by Lauren Daniel on

Today I have the pleasure of introducing you to Lauren Daniel, our lovely Store Manager at the Raven + Lily Flagship. I'm so inspired by Lauren's recent adventure in downsizing her wardrobe and creating a "capsule collection". I asked her to share about her journey and the motivation behind this big decision!

Why I Decided to Drop My Overstuffed Closet for a (much) Simpler Capsule Wardrobe

After working at Raven + Lily, my eyes were opened to the idea of  Slow Fashion. As women in America, we buy more than 60 pieces of clothing per year, and fast fashion is causing us to buy without thinking about the impact.

After several occasions of feeling like I have nothing to wear as I stared into my closet stuffed with clothes, I decided I wanted something different. I decided I want to build a wardrobe of intention--asking who makes my clothes and what is the true cost of what I am wearing.

I read about the concept of a “capsule wardrobe”, a minimalist approach to style. It’s a concept that actually dates back to the ‘70s, but is making a comeback. The basic idea is to build a wardrobe with a few high-quality, timeless pieces that mix and match. You store seasonal clothing and only keep what you wear in your closet. Each season, you switch to a new capsule, though some pieces will overlap. Accessories can be trendy, but clothing should primarily be classic. I thought this idea could really work, especially if I build it with ethical clothing.

Here’s how I did it, and how you can too!

1. I Came to Terms With The Idea.

I’d been playing around with the idea in my head for a while, but it was an emotional decision to actually let go of all of my clothes. Then I thought about the colors I enjoy wearing, the styles I like best for my body and considered a wardrobe based solely around those two things, it was an instant feeling of relief. No more digging through my closet—all that will be in there are items I love.

2. I Purged.

I took everything out of my closet--this is an important step so you don’t miss or skip anything. I went through all of my clothing and hung up what I love and wear regularly (this included shoes too!). I then went through what was left. I separated items into “donate” and “sell” piles. I used Instagram to create a “shop my closet” account and sold clothing that was still trendy or in good condition. Then, I sold what I could to local consignment and resale shops. (Other good resources are websites like ThredUp or Twice.) This money came in handy for the 6th step!

3. I Purged Again (for real this time).

This is where things got difficult. (If you have a really hard time getting rid of things, invite a friend over to help for this stage.) Ditch doubles; if I had the same style dress or shirt in several colors or patterns--I got rid of them. No one needs 8+ pairs of jeans! I picked a couple of different washes and shapes that I love and said bye-bye to the rest.

When assessing what to keep, I asked myself, “How many ways can I wear this?” My rule of thumb was if I couldn’t wear it more than 3 ways, it goes. The best thing to keep in mind is versatility—mix and matching will become your best friend when you have less clothing.

4. I Store Seasonal Items.

Part of having a capsule is not having all of your clothes in front of you, which can be overwhelming. For example, I was planning my summer capsule, so I put coats, sweaters, and long sleeve shirts in a storage bin under the bed. Just be sure they are items you love (don’t store anything just because you might want it later).

5. I Counted My Items.

The goal for me was to keep under 40 total items in my closet including shoes (this does not include cocktail dresses, pajamas or workout clothes). Once I had a count, I figured out what else I wanted to add. If you find yourself with 30 tops and 2 bottoms you will likely need to adjust. If you are trying to get an idea of how many pieces you need, try searching “capsule” on Pinterest for inspiration.

6. I Filled in the Gaps.

This is where I used the cash from selling my clothes to invest in some ethical, well made items. I stuck to a budget and decided what items I would need to add to complete my capsule. I had to determine what brands I trusted to provide quality, ethical items (this required some research and probing). Also, shopping second hand store or consignment shops is a great option. Be sure that your new pieces are versatile and will enhance your mixing and matching capabilities. I now have a closet filled with only 38 pieces!

7. I Stopped Shopping.

That’s it. No more shopping for at least 3 months. Shopping should only occur when preparing to fill in the gaps for the next season’s capsule.

Need a little inspiration?

Here’s how I wore the same shorts 3 ways:

Here’s how I wore the same shirt 3 ways:

Want even more tips and inspiration? Check out:

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